Language and time

The beginning of the Skolt Saami Language Memory Project speeds up history, that is, the inevitable entropy of a endangered language. The end of the project slows it down again to the point of exhibiting a frozen distribution of a language in time.

Usually one considers language to be distributed in space, by its agents in their geographical area. One can also consider the history of a language - its development and transformation. But seldom, if ever, do one witness a language distributed in time. One word at a time – throughout the months, or years – the installation in the East Sámi Museum will parse through the dictionary depending on the amount of visitors passing by.

(One side effect of this distribution will be the disassociation of the language from the normal identity discourse of indigenous people. Legally, to be counted as Saami you have to document that your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents spoke a Saami language. Language is the principal marker of your identity, which may increase cultural isolation. In this case the language will be given to all – putting into question this identity marker).