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.