Abstract

South Saami is a small and endangered Saamic language, spoken in a large area in Sweden and Norway. It is an underdescribed language with some material dating back to the 1880s. This thesis project is the first comprehensive documentation and descriptive work on the language since the 1940s. Focus in earlier descriptions was mainly on morphology, whereas most issues in phonology are not solved and many morpho-syntactic features are undescribed. The last generation of speakers which learned the language in a continuity as a first language are today the oldest generation. Their language in use is largely undocumented and shows features of grammaticalization and language change that have not been studied. My goal is to make up for these gaps and produce a typologically informed description of South Saami. The data used for it come from my collaboration with native speakers; the results are thus based on the spoken language and synchronically oriented.

In this talk, which marks the half time seminar of my dissertation project, I am focusing on two issues: First, I present the language situation of South Saami, including the state of description, my data, where the language is spoken, who the speakers are and what the driving forces in the language community are. Second, I present my descriptive work so far; I offer a brief overview of the sound system and summarize my findings in the pronominal systems. I then present the verbal system in South Saami, which reflects on work in progress of the classification of verbs and the use of verbal categories.