Southern Saamic

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The Southern Saamic languages constitute the southern branch of Western Saamic. Two languages are distinguished: Ume Saami in the north, and South Saami in the south.

Characteristic features

Typical features of Southern Saamic include:

  • Preservation of word-final vowels in the third syllable.
  • Split of original short stressed vowels according to the original openness or closeness of the syllable.
  • Gemination of consonants after short stressed vowels, leading to the effect that consonantal gradation is reduced in Ume Saami and totally absent from South Saami.
  • Heavy umlaut in the stressed syllable that was strongly phonologized by neutralization of unstressed short vowels.
  • The unmarked word order is SOV for main verbs but SVO for auxiliaries.

Dialectal differences

In South Saami, consonantal gradation is lost altogether, and unaccented vowels are reduced in the second syllable of trisyllabic words. In Ume Saami, both are preserved.

In Ume Saami, contracted non-low vowels are raised in certain verb forms. In the illative singular, -je has analogically spread to all stem classes.

In South Saami, zero copula is regular in 3rd person present (including periphrastic tenses and possessive constructions). The predicative possessor is marked by the genitive and not by the locative.