Reindeer Mountain, North Norway
Ada Einmo J. is from North-Norwayand belongs to indigenous Sami decent. –
Her First language is Norwegian, but it should have been Sami language whichwas unfortunately lost 2-3 generations back. She works as a choreographer, stage director and lecturer. She is the Co-founder and artistic director of the South Sámi Theatre 1997-2013 and since then,she has been working freelance.
This is my story – the story of my language & my people
They abandoned their language, thusabandoned their way of thinking and understanding. They did not know or see what happened.
Therefore we, the descendants lostthe connection to our roots of thinking, of understanding our nature, our world, lives and ourselves.We inherited the colonizers and the majority’s perspective of ourselves. As the colonizers told us we had to speak their language to be worthy inhabitants, to understand their rules, laws, and thinking.
Their words, their language can only express their understanding of their nature, their world, lives and themselves. Their language does not come from my ancestor’s nature, my ancestor’s world, and works and thus they, the colonizers cannot see our understandings and thoughts and they do not know, nor do they realize.
Our language was not in writing, not in grammar systems, boxes orwith rules, so they said it was primitive, inferior and the tongue of the devil. We were shamed and ashamed. And our language was forbidden in schools and public arenas.
My grandmother said to me and my sister:“Go out and get rid of ‘jeanosen’!!”
We somehow knew we had to go out and play because we were tooenergetic and noisy in the house, but we never understood what was this‘jeanosen’ we had to get rid of.
Asking others in the village about the meaning of the word, they said my grandmother just made up words and mixed the Norwegian grammar around because she was not very intelligent, but just a creative and kind woman.
In my adult age I started to learn my ancestor’s language Sami,and, the word ‘jeanosen’ turned up and I got the explanation.
‘Jeanosen’ means the currents that occur when the water from a big waterfall lands in a strong current river, and these currents go strongly in many directions like many maelstroms. In short, lots of energy is whirling around – like us children having too much energy to be indoors.
In this moment, writing this essay, I catch myself thinking: “My English is not good enough to describe this properly” In the same moment I stop myself and turn my perspective:
The English language is from another nature, another culture, another bio-diversity, another way of thinking; therefore it lacks the words, meanings and metaphors needed for my story to be told by me. The translations and re-writings give it a diluted meaning of my story; my story which is so close to my culture. This happens in translations between every language, as every language is built on the nature the original users and the circumstances they are living in, whichthen gives them their way of thinking.
This gives the world a diversity of ways of thinking andunderstanding between people all over the world. A crucial diversity the world needs to acknowledge,in the same way we need a bio-diversity of plants, birds, insects, animals to keep us all afloat.
If we are not aware of this we fall in the pit of defining and contextualizing others just through our own known context. If we all speak mainstream language, we all get the same mainstream way of thinking and reacting.
My foremother’s loss is that they, with their best intentions for us, left their mother tongue so we, their childrencould go out in the world not feeling inferior and being accepted as equal to the majority/colonizers.