an anthem without a nation?

June 1, 2011 § 3 Comments

As some of you may know I am interested in anthems as examples of language ideology and planning.  New Zealand’s own anthem underwent cosmetic surgery in the late nineties by becoming more beautiful and bilingual, now beginning with a sequence in te reo Maaori.

An anthem as a national symbol might be understood as a narrative of nation’s character – it’s aspirations towards unity and perhaps even uniqueness – though nations have shared anthems in the past – God Save the Queen, anyone? Other nations reflect the natural landscapes for example Australia’s beauties, rich and rare. Ours doesn’t mention our beautiful islands (nor our inclement weather for that matter), and perhaps strike a note of humility, perhaps an idealised trait of the people, by beseeching God’s protection.

The Saami, known by the exonym, ‘name from the outside’ as the Lapps or Lapplanders, though some Saami react strongly to such nomenclature live across a region of northern Scandanavia and adjacent Russia.  While associated in the popular mind with reindeer herding the Saami  engage in quite varied lifeways.  The recognition of political rights for the Saami is quite developed in the Scandanavian countries, with linguistic and educational rights in some areas, as well as the provision of separate Saami Parliaments in all regions but Russia.

However, this cross-border regionalism of the Saami people is from an outsider’s perspective. To the Saami, those borders are less relevant despite the fact that they crossover and carve up the region they have long referred to as Sápmi.  It is a paean to this ‘land’ that the Saami sing in the firs three verses of the Saami anthem, ‘Song of the Sami people’ and it is this region that the song calls on the sons of the sun to defend.

The Sami language family, a subgroup of Uralic is comprised of ten languages.  The anthem lyrics seem available in many of them. You can read them here  and note the orthogrpahic differences across the varieties and the influence of those national borders on representing the languages.


§ 3 Responses to an anthem without a nation?

  • Jenn G says:

    On a slightly different tangent, you might like to know that the ‘official’ version of the NZSL national anthem has just been released –

    I don’t know who approved this, or how it came about, but its very similar to versions I’ve used over the years. I think this has been about making one version that all people can refer to

  • Sabine says:

    Just remembered I used to be a great fan of Mari Boine, a Norwegian with Saami ancestry. Haven’t heard anything about her recently, but still love her old tapes…

  • Cool I will look her up on Youtube

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading an anthem without a nation? at *b-ling*.


%d bloggers like this: