Annika Pasanen annika.pasanen at helsinki.fi
Tue Oct 30 11:32:47 UTC 2012

> I am not quite sure I understand what Annika means by "...there should be
> strong evidence about diminishing speakers. There's no sense to replace
> conjectured estimation with another..." Some of the previous numbers are
> 1) several decades old, 2) often claimed to be of mostly older
> (middle-aged and elderly) speakers, 3) guesses made by people from outside
> the language-speaking community, and 4) often proposed during a time of
> less openness regarding minority language use. All of these factors
> suggest that they may be terribly unreliable. Isn't it better to make use
> of more recent estimates provided by the community itself - but taking
> into account several possibly confounding factors if possible?

Yes, Bruce, I totally agree with you: much of the data used nowadays  
is totally unreliable. What I tried to express, was that we should  
avoid attitude "well, nobody knows the number, but 350 seems to be too  
optimistic, so let's say 250". When discussing with Janne, I  
understood, that there was no realible evidence of neither  250  
speakers of Inari Sami, or 150 speakers of Skolt Sami - which is  
remarkably less than estimations not-so-many-decades-ago. Maybe I  
understood wrong, and you have some new information in Helsinki? At  
least Skolt Sami activits seem to think, that there are 250-300  
speakers of Skolt Sami in Finland. Take a look at for instance  
(unofortunately only in Finnish - a website of Saami Nuett  
-organization). As far as I know, Inari Saami language activists still  
use the stimation of 350 speakers, also in recent publications like  
Olthuis - Kivelä - Skutnabb-Kangas (in print)  

And further, about Livonian: There was a group of Livonian activists  
visiting Inari some years ago. Some of these young activists spoke  
Livonian with each other. When visiting Sami Radio, I interpreted  
Inari Sami radio reporter from Inari Sami to Finnish, and then a  
Livonian activist from Finnish to Livonian. Latvian wasn't used. What  
kind of message do we give to the world, if we ignore these speakers  
in our lists? At least there should be some explanations and  
additions, like: "Mother tongue speakers: 1; besides 10-20 L2  
speakers; some reversing language shift going on" or something like  


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