The aim of this dissertation is to describe the language choice among Saamis in Övre Soppero, and to relate their language choice to social and cultural factors in order to establish whetheror not there exist systematic connections.
The population studied (55 informants) consists of trilingual Saamis living in the village of Övre Soppero in the far north of Sweden. The informants all speak Saami, Swedish and Finnish.
The study is based on interviews and observations, i.e. partly on information provided by the informants themselves concerning language choice in different discourse situations, and partly on my own observations of their language behaviour in different contexts.
Language choice has been related both to domains and discourse situations and to the social backgrounds and attitudes of the informants. A description is given of the linguistic uncertainty in different discourse situations.
A discourse situation comprises the following elements: interlocutors, the role relationship between them, and the scene and/or activity. The term "domain" is an abstraction of concrete discourse situations. By linguistic uncertainty, I mean the individual's use of more than one language in one and the same discourse situation.
Discourse situations are divided into the following domains: family, circle of friends, casual acquaintances, religion, free time, social participation, consumer activity and public matters. All three languages occur in all domains. In the majority of domains, there is great variation in language choice depending on the discourse situation at hand. The degree of linguistic uncertainty also varies.
Discourse situations have also been divided into groups according to the degree of linguistic uncertainty, and according to whether the situation is personal or transactional. Linguistic uncertainty is low, for example, when the interlocutors' roles are unambiguous and clearly established, whereas it is high when, for example, the interlocutors' roles are ambiguous and varied.
Language choice has also been related to the age, profession, education and geographic mobility of the informants. The thing that most separates the different categories of informants from each other is the fact that the youngest group and those with unspecified professional category more often speak Swedish than the other groups. The former groups have a comparatively higher level of education and are socially and geographically mobile.
The group that most often uses Saami is the professional category "reindeer herders". For this group, the Saami language is primarily a means of communication, whereas the youngest informants use the Saami language as an ethnic marker.
The factors that seem to have the greatest influence on language choice are, for example, whether the discourse situation is public or private, and whether the relationship between the interlocutors is intimate or not, and whether it is intra- or inter-ethnic. Of crucial importance are also the sender's age, profession, social and geographical mobility, and the sender's degree of ethnic consciousness.
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 1984. , 247 p.
multilingualism, language choice, Saami, discourse situation, domain, linguistic uncertainty