Page 162 - FUD20

Basic HTML Version

migration towards the south” (Wiklund 1910: 4) and the Saami had not reached
their southernmost areas ”until in our days” (Wiklund 1925: 114).
Even today one can meet representatives of Scandinavian studies who talk
about the Saami as an alien people in Sweden, and dislike the term ”aborigi-
nal people” to describe the Saami, since it is impossible to know whether
they were in fact the first inhabitants. That argument would, however, pertain
to the Swedish-speaking population as well, since no language was spoken
on the Scandinavian peninsula during the Ice Age. The ethnic identity of the
first populations in Scandinavia will remain unknown, as regards both south
and north Scandinavia. Palaeolithic finds cannot be connected with any pres-
ent-day group of languages, but only bear witness to the presence of human
beings. Even if this is so, we can, of course, study the contacts between
speakers of Saami and speakers of Scandinavian languages.
According to the traditional view, the Saami arrived rather late in such
central Swedish areas as Jämtland and Härjedalen (the later area is situated
on the same latitude as Røros in Norway). This opinion also prevailed in ar-
chaeological research, but was challenged when Inger Zachrisson (late over-
view given in MÍG 33 ff.) investigated anew some graves in Vivallen in Här-
jedalen. Although the graves were dated to the 11
century, she found them
predominantly Saami (Zachrisson 1997: 80, 124, passim). Thereby she pushed
the borderline of Saami presence farther to the south and further back in
time. Her investigation was met with harsh criticism as well as with enthusi-
astic support. The whole question could seem unimportant, but apart from its
interest to scholars in history and prehistory, it also has a political dimension.
It is an essential question to the south Saami to know whether their presence
in the southernmost areas has a history of some 1000 years instead of a cou-
ple of hundred years as Yngvar Nielsen maintained. The Saami are just one
of a number of harassed peoples in Europe thought of as an alien group in a
country. Therefore, an investigation based on indisputable facts is needed.
2. Are there indisputable facts in linguistics?
In the following I will try to show that the results of research into lan-
guage can constitute such indisputable facts that are needed to corroborate a
theory. Even if human language is, in one way, ephemeral, it can neverthe-
less provide arguments that can hardly be ignored.
Many linguistic arguments are, however, too vague to be suitable. That
does not mean that they are incorrect, but just that they are too imprecise to
form a sharp argument. When, e.g., Ole Henrik Magga (2012: 114) shows