Today, there are thirty official national cultural societies in the Murmansk region. Nonprofit organizations unite thousands of people speaking Russian and their mother tongue. On the streets you can hear a variety of speeches. The language of the northern people Sami is also considered native to the Kola Subarctic. Today, in the regional museum there will be an open lesson for everyone who speaks or wants to speak Sami. It will be held by Nina Yeliseevna Afanasyeva — famous in the area teacher of the indigenous northern people language.
One of her (without waxing too poetic) missions is a dissemination and preservation of the Sami language. Namely, the Kildin dialect (only four have left, that one is the most common).
— Today it is spoken by the Lovozero area residents and Murmansk Sami, —Nina Eliseevna says. — It has preserved more than others and formed the basis of writing, as it was spoken in a fairly large settlement — Lovozero, and this area was more accessible to researchers.
The Sami language is ancient, but it existed mostly in the oral speech. Recent large-scale studies of it were conducted during the Soviet era — in 1978. At that time the philological expedition to collect lexical material was led by philologist Rimma Dmitrievna Kuruch. In her team there were: a teacher of Russian language and literature Alexandra Andreevna Antonova, a primary school teacher Lazar’ Dmitrievich Yakovlev, a chemistry teacher and native speaker Anastasia Mozolevskaya. Today, the research participants are over eighty years old.
— Anastasia Yeliseevna Mozolevskaya is my older sister. I joined the Sami language regional research group later. The result of their work was a project of the alphabet. It was approved in 1982, and this ABC-book is still used to teach, at least should be, —Nina Afanasyeva says.
— And are there a lot of those who learn the language today? For example, how many students do you have?
— I don’t chase for quantity. Now I, as well as teachers in Apatity and Olenegorsk, won a grant from the government, and we hold a three-month course of the Sami language. There is an average of 8 people in my group. I want to say that today's youth don’t aspire to learn their native language. I think that the biggest problem is that the native language is not spoken in the family. I.e. parents don’t speak with their children their own language. Some offer to learn language by the following technique: teacher comes to the child’s house and takes him to the kitchen, for example, and begins with teaching him the names of all household items. Good idea, but I think it is not for teachers but for parents.
Specialists of one of the research centers analyzed the production of literature, textbooks and manuals in the Sami language. So, only 77 editions have been published since 1982. They felt even small booklets and brochures. It turns out to be half a book per year.
— Why so few?
— Today people write in Sami. They write fairy tales, legends, stories, studies, poems, and tales, but publish it in Russian. Why? We need to ask the writers. For example, the author Oktyabrina Voronova. Her books in Sami are the basis of our literature. Voronova is officially acknowledged as founder of Sami literature. There are many young authors today. One of them is Elvira Galkina. She wrote songs, poems and stories. But in Russian. Bright new book "Saami patterns". Its author — Anastasia Mozolevskaya. She collected historical material about the villages and their inhabitants, who have disappeared off the face of the earth — they were flooded. Work of Mozolevskaya was also published in Russian in small quantity — 250 copies. This year it is planned to be republished.
— One of the most talked about in 2014 is the theme of International Mother Language Day "Local languages and global citizenship education: the role of science". How, in your opinion, is the civil society related to question of preservation of native languages?
— It depends on what do you mean by civil society.
— I mean the voluntarily united citizens; let’s say, associations or organizations that operate independently from the government, who can voice their demands on behalf of the society to politicians.
— I must say that we can’t work in the matter of preserving language independent from government. Because, for example, at the state regional center of the peoples of the north there is a working group on language, but they are not funded at all, so what can they do? Here you need a good support program. I made this proposal public just two days ago at a meeting of the Sami communities and deputy governor of the Murmansk region. Of course, the Sami community, members of our association, the Parliament, other NPOs are constantly involved in a process. We collaborate with colleagues in other countries. For example, Skolt Sami (note — one of the dialects of the Sami) is studied and tried to be kept in Germany. German scientist Mikhail Risler works in the institute of Freiburg. He came to the Kola Peninsula, conducted research here. And I was recently at his house. In Germany, I met with linguists from the United States, Italy, France. They collect information mainly about dialects of Scandinavia. I know that in Murmansk there is a department of the Sami language at the Faculty of Philology of the State Humanitarian Institute. I’ve heard that people even defend their master’s thesis on the themes of our language, but our science is far from real life and situations in the Sami society. I can’t say for how long the activists of NPOs will make attempts. I’m sure only of my family. My son speaks his native language. My granddaughter Anna, we even text messages to each other in our language. So everything is in the hands of native speakers.
Nina Yeliseevna Afanasyeva — ethnic Saami, Kildin dialect native speaker. Born in 1939 in the village Varzino, the Murmansk region. In 1963 graduated from the A. I. Herzen Leningrad State Pedagogical Institute with a specialization in philology. Have been dealing with development and preservation of the Sami languages since 1980. Participated in the creation of the Sami alphabet, elaboration of the Sami-Russian dictionary and many guidance manuals.
Yevgenia Volkova, «7x7»