University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Cambridge Endangered Languages and Cultures Group > 'A language to catch birds with': Sami values and world-view as expressed in traditional terminology, art and poetry.

'A language to catch birds with': Sami values and world-view as expressed in traditional terminology, art and poetry.

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The Sami are the indigenous people of the northernmost regions of Scandinavia and the Kola peninsula in Russia. The Sami language is divided into ten different dialects, which are not mutually understandable. This paper will take as its point of departure the specific terminology developed to deal with and describe life in an Arctic setting, such as the various terms connected to snow and winter weather conditions. In addition, it will be shown how this terminology also permits room for linguistic play and metaphorical circumlocutions as in the case of those for predators such as the bear and the wolf. Overarching the discussion will a consideration of how, and in what manner, we may say that the cultural values and world-view of the Sami are reflected in their language, proverbs and poetry.

Prof. Harald Gaski, who is himself a Sami, holds the position of Associate Professor of Sami Literature at the University of Tromsø. He is the author of several books and articles on Sami literature and culture, and his wider research interests include the literature of other indigenous peoples. He is currently a member of the international advisory panel for Nga Pae te Maramatanga, a Maori research institute at the University of Auckland, and is regional editor for the journal on indigenous peoples published by the published by this Center, ‘AlterNative’. Prof. Gaski is also Editor-in-Chief for the academic series, ‘Sámi academica’, at the Sami publishing house ČálliidLágádus.

Prof. Gaski’s visit to Cambridge has been made possible by a generous grant from the Managers of the Scandinavian Studies Fund.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Endangered Languages and Cultures Group series.

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