Online Saami dictionaries in use

Neahttadigisánit (NDS) is fabulous. Google Analytics and logs provide some evidence for why flexible dictionaries are necessary.

Previously I wrote about why it’s important to have dictionaries that incorporate the morphology of a language in word lookups, particularly when the language has a ton of morphology. I went over coverage statistics from a paper me and colleagues wrote to show how well these dictionaries work, but I saved popularity for another time.

A friend of mine posted the following quote on Facebook from latest report of a statistical analysis group focusing on Saami matters, Samiske tall forteller:

There is little quantitative research on the role of the Saami writing languages in the modern Saami community. We need to know more here. For youth, language is particularly important in social media. But, for use of Sami in social media, there is no quantitative knowledge. (pp. 43)

Thus, I felt inspired to provide more quantitative evidence of language use/learning, though not especially in social media, which incidentally is already covered for Twitter by Indigenous Tweets.

Here I’ll present two kinds of statistics: (1) a usage log recording word lookups and translations which helps us find words to add, (2) Google Analytics; for two instances of Neahttadigisánit, one for Northern Saami (with bilingual dictionaries between Northern Saami, and Norwegian and Finnish), and one for Southern Saami (with just Norwegian as a translation language). All of these types of statistics concern a period of 7 months from February 6th, to October 22nd of 2013.

First, the simple numbers from the lookup log, including word lookups from the front page, combined with data from API endpoints:

Individual word lookups
Dictionary set Count
N. Saami ↔ Finnish & Norwegian 148,559
S. Saami ↔ Norwegian 19,642

These statistics match fairly well with visits and individual page views on Google Analytics:

 Unique visitsPage viewsUnique usersPercent returning / new
North Saami 18,232 229,636 4,768 75% / 25%
South Saami 2,379 30,580 828 70% / 30%

Another fun fact to see was also that there were a good amount of people who returned more than 201 times (the highest category Google differentiates for returning visitors):

Power users
North Saami 201
South Saami 14

Another thing to put these numbers into perspective is the population of speakers for these languages across all countries, estimated by Ethnologue:

Estimated language population
North Saami 20,000Source
South Saami 600Source

I’ll leave on this note, and let the numbers do the talking.