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Seimi is spoken on the Shetland Islands by descendents of the Northern Saami. It was created by Daniel Andreasson.

Seimi -- an Overview

History and background
The Saami were taken as thralls by the Norwegian vikings to the Shetland Islands in the 9th century, where they came in contact with Irish and Scottish Gaels who had been taken as war prisoners by the vikings and used as slaves. The picts who had lived on the islands earlier were driven away or killed. The Saami languages was influenced by Gaelic, but mostly phonologically, and with few loan words. The vikings being the lords on the island gave the Saami slightly better status than the Gaelics. Thus the Gaelics borrowed more words into their languages than the other way around. The Saami had strong ties to their culture and traditions and kept their language free from most Norwegian influences.

In the year 1496, the union king Kristian I gave the Shetland Islands in pledge to Scotland. This led to the vikings' almost totally disappearing from the islands. But the pledge included the slaves - both the Saami and the Gaelic ones. The Gaelic slaves were freed and came to be free men on the islands, while the Saami were kept as thralls. The Saami serfs however were almost as many as the freed Gaelics plus Scottish newcomers and settlers and five years after Scotland's take-over of the Shetland Islands, the Saami revolted in the so-called Great Saami Revolt on March 23rd 1501 which led to the freeing of the Saamis as well. Since then, March 23 is the greatest commemoration day of the Seimi and this year (2001) was the 500 year jubilee of the day the Seimi finally were free men. The year 2001 is a year of festivities where the traditional culture and traditions are celebrated with many festivities and parties.

The Seimi today are mostly shepherds. There are about 10,000 Seimi speakers on the islands. All of the Seimi speak their own language, which is held high by all of the Seimi and not (at least not for the moment) endangered.

The Shetland Islands
The islands are situated north east of Scotland, between the North Sea and the open Atlantic. They are windswept, low and there are no trees. The coast is broken. The weather is foggy and rainy. Of the hundred islands, only 16 are inhabited.

The biggest island is Mainland with its main town Lerwick (S. Lërwic), Yell (S. Eall) and Unst (S. Ëns). Traditional industries have been fishing, sheep and kniting, but the oil industry has grown big in the last decades.

The Seimi Language


The stress is always on the first syllable.

The phonemes are pronounced as in English with the following

th   always [T]
dh   [D]
j    [dZ]
s    [S] before front vowels, otherwise [s]. -> Seimi ['SEjmI]
ch   always [x], ach-laut
lh   [l<vcl>], i.e. voiceless lateral approximant
c    always [k]

The vowels are:

i [I]
e [E]
a [a]
o [O] or [V]
u [U]
ë [@]

The diphthongs are:

ei [Ej]
ae [aj]
ai [aj]
ui [Uj]
ea [ea] rising! Stress the [a].
ia [ja] rising!
ie [jE] rising!

The Verb Phrase


indicative present

bwathaidh 'to come'

        SG        DL           PL
1       bwathan   bwathë       bwathidh
2       bwathadh  bwathveath   bwathivë
3       bwatha    bwathiva     bwathedh

godaidh   'to kill'

indicative present

        SG        DL           PL
1       godan     godë         godidh
2       godadh    godveath     godivë
3       goda      godiva       godedh

indicative past

        SG        DL           PL
1       goden     godaemë      godaedh
2       godedh    godaedë      godaeth
3       godae     godaega      godë

Or put another way:

                  PRES        PAST
I kill            godan       goden
Thou kill         godadh      godedh
(S)he kills       goda        godae
We two kill       godë        godaemë
You two kill      godveath    godaedë
They two kill     godiva      godaega
We kill           godidh      godaedh
You kill          godivë      godaeth
They kill         godedh      godë

The Present expresses both present and future.


daeselaidh  goddi   mis   giall
fight       death   GEN   language
'Fight language extinction!'

lwodadh  giall
create   language
'Create a language!'

Daeselaidh goddi mis giall! Lwodadh giall!

['[email protected] 'gOd:I mIs 'gjal:   'lwOdaD 'gjal:]

Isae minn [Our Father]

Isae minn gae lea daevas is.
Leachedh raesaidh namma mis donn.
Bwathëchedh mà mis donn.
Adaidh mijaedh siemën buivim minn buivi deith.

Our father

Our father who is in heaven.
Hallowed be thy name.
Come your kingdom.
Give us today our daily bread.

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and 
thinking what nobody has thought."  - Albert Szent-Györgyi

Lea eica        waenaidh mae      bwochath waenë
Is  discovery   see      what:REL all      saw 

ja  jordhëchaidh mae      gothëje jordhëchë.
and think        what:REL no-one  thought.

Nhwolgadhus mis moreil

Lea lichëlas sonn gean nhwolgadhus mis moreil
lea, ath cwodal seatha jurdëlaidh sonn geill.

Jordhëchae Nero easa bwochëweisu ala,
ath lei dath bwolin geill jala.

Eibël, munn ejen cwaewëlaidh sonn,
chealcae Cein, muth lei sonn ilmanith ban.

Lea lichëlas sonn gean nhwolgadhus mis moreil
lea, ath cwodal seatha jurdëlaidh sonn geill.


Lea        lichëlas sonn gean    nhwolgadhus mis moreil
be:3SG:PRS happy    3SG  who:GEN rule        GEN moral
'Happy is he, who has as his guiding principle'

lea,       ath  cwodal seatha         jurdëlaidh sonn geill.
be:3SG:PRS that before should:3SG:PRS think:INF  3SG  probably
'that you should probably think before you act.'

Jordhëchae Nero easa      bwochëweisu ala,
thought    Nero not:until hospital    in
'Not until at the hospital, did Nero think'

ath  lei dath bwolin geill    jala*.
that was that fire   probably crazy
'that that fire thing was probably insane.'

[ jala is mostly used of persons, but is here for
  rhyming purposes. ]

Eibël, ejen         cwaewëlaidh munn sonn,
Abel   not:1SG:PAST mean:INF    1SG  3SG
'Hey, Abel, I didn't mean it,'

chealcae     Cein, muth lei sonn ilmanith ban.
say:3SG:PAST Cain  but  was it   too:late then.
'said Cain, but then it was too late.'

Lea lichëlas sonn gean  nhwolgadhus mis moreil
is  happy    3SG  whose rule        of  moral
'Happy is he, who has as his guiding principle'

lea, ath  cwodal seatha jurdëlaidh sonn geill.
is   that before should think      3SG  probably
'that you should probably think before you act.'

A Seimi Farewell Phrase

"May your sheep always be wooly."

Leajaidh seivza du eilo ullujei.

Leajaidh seivza du     eilo   ullujei
be       sheep  of:you always wooly

Short wordlist in non-alphabetical order

sheep               seivza 
always              eilo
forever             ajibeaivei
wool                ullu 
wooly               ullujei 
be                  leaidh
small               ucha
small               wunni
small, minute       meann (gael. borrowing)
mieow v.            nheivuidh
mieow n.            nheivu
mieow n.            miamhail / meam (onomatopoetic)
discover            eicaidh 
discovery           eica 
see                 waenaidh 
what, which, 
 what kind          mae
everyone, all       bwochath 
everything, all     bwoth 
and                 ja 
think               jordhëchaidh 
no one              gothëje
I                   munn
you                 donn
we                  mae
this                deith
that                dwoth
who                 gae
not                 ae
all                 bwoth
many                meicha
one                 ochta
two                 gwochtë
big                 stworis
long                gëlhi
small               ënni
woman               nëssu
man                 diavud
person              ammos
fish                gwoli
bird                lodhi
dog                 beannë
louse               dilhi
tree                mworrë
seed                siemën
leaf                lasta
root                rwothas
bark                beircu
skin                laeci
flesh               cwaji
blood               varra
bone                deici
grease              voja
egg                 monni
horn                cwarvi
tail                seaibi
give                adaidh
green               rwonas

© 2001-2005 daniel andréasson | all rights reserved | rev 2001.03.28