SV: Analysis of ISO 639 and mappings to SIL Ethnologue
Thu, 21 Feb 2002 12:22:25 -0600

Forwarding (with permission) -- I think these comments are useful for=20
these three lists.

The only final comment I'd wish to add to this thread is that dialects=20
listed in the Ethnologue are informative only. SIL would definitely not=20
propose that dialects enumerated in the Ethnologue be considered=20
candidates for any standard set of langauge identifiers.

- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485
E-mail: <>

----- Forwarded by Peter Constable/IntlAdmin/WCT on 02/21/2002 11:07 AM=20

[header snipped]

>> Isn't that *both* the Finnish name for the territory *and*
>> the Finnish name for the dialect?
>> Stefan
>No, not as far as I know. Since you refer to Finnish, i have just
>contacted The Sami parliament consultant in Sami-language and he had not
>heard about it. Klaus Peter Nickel, Samisk Gramatikk 1994, calls the
>dialects in Northern sami; western and eastern OR sea-sami and "inland"
>Audun Lona

I send this letter only to the persons directly involved, and leave it to
you to decide on which lists to post info.

First of all: Eventual mistakes in Ethnologue should be reported, with=20
errors AND corrections directly to Ethnologue. Entries should not be
removed, but corrected.

Then to the issue at hand: The ethnologue lists 3 dialects for Northern=20
RUIJA, TORNE, SEA LAPPISH, and goes on to say that "Two-thirds of all=20
speak Ruija."

This usage is in correspondance with work by Finnish scholars, e.g. the
authoritative Mikko Korhonen "Johdatus lapin kielihistoriaan" (1981)
divides the Northern S=E1mi ("Norjanlappi (lpN) eli pohjoislappi" =3D=20
S. or Northern S.) into 3 dialects: "Tornionlappi (lpTo), Ruijanlappi
(lpFi) and Merilappi (lpM)," i.e. exactly the division of the Ethnologue.
Since most Norwegian Scholars do not know Finnish, the Finnish scholarship
on s=E1mi linguistics is not too well known in Norway, evidently also not to
Audun, fluent in Finnish as he is.

In Norway, the main dialect divide is seen along the east-west axis
(splitting the "Ruija dialect" in two, and Sea and Torne S=E1mi are seen as
more marginal phenomena, both geographically and demographically. Again, I
see no direct disagreement with the Ethnologue data, rather a differece in
focus (and labels).

Note that the OR in the Nickel quote above is not an alternative statement
of the same fact. It is not to be read "western, or sea and eastern, or
inland". Rather, nickel adds (part of) Korhonen's version here. The
difference being that Korhonen pictures status quo 100-150 years ago
(historically oriented as he is), a time before the costal dialects were
influenced by Norwegian and/or inland (western/eastern) Ruija S=E1mi.

My conclusion is thus that the Ethnologue entry for Northern S=E1mi should
not be removed. I find it essentially correct, although presenting a
tradition that is not too well known in Norway. Read by a norewgian S=E1mi =

has an unfamiliar terminology and a new perspective. Although correct, the
Finnish tradition is not and should not be the last word on the issue. To
call Northern S=E1mi "Norwegian S=E1mi" is of course impossible #in# norway
(with 3 S=E1mi lgs), this can only be done by outsiders (luckily not by the

as for the S=E1mi/Sami/Saami issue, I leave that to others.

But i indeed look forward to a revised entry for S=E1mi, that also S=E1mi
scholars (like Audun) can recognize. But I see no reason to throw out the
existing one while waiting.


Trond Trosterud                                     t +47 7764 4763
Samisk institutt, Det humanistiske fakultet         m +47 950 70140
N-9037 Universitetet i Troms=F8, Noreg                f +47 7764 4239