iSikte Sápmi. A digital linguistic landscape

Here, I will present applications that illustrate how mobile technologies are used in Sápmi. In this post today, I describe a mobile digital linguistic landscape.

The application iSikte Sápmi (InSight Sápmi) illustrates the use of mapping tools and augmented reality in order to (re)create a space where the Sami languages forms the linguistic landscape. When official maps and mapping services provide information about the Sami area in the national language, digital technologies enable the production of tools that increase the visibility of Sami presence and languages.

iSikte 2iSikte 1

iSikte Sápmi was produced by Apps Fab AS in 2012, in collaboration with Gáisi giellaguovddáš, (the Sami language center in Tromsø) and exists for iPhone and, since recently, for Android phones. The application was not designed specifically for Sápmi, it exists for other countries and regions, in several languages.

The description of the application by their producers reads:

What is the name of the mountain you can see in the distance? What are the lakes you see in front of you? Point there with In Sight Samiland and you’ll see on the screen what they are called.

In Sight – Samiland shows Sami POIs in Norway. See what’s near you where you travel in Samiland: Mountains, Lakes, Places, Buildings, etc. You don’t even have to be nearby Samiland: You can manually set your location to a place in Samiland to pretend you are there. The app has an offline function as well, that enables the users to select a location and access the data.

The application connects a database of place names to a map, using GPS technology to identify the location of the user on the map. The user can then, through the phone’s camera, get a view of the surrounding landscape with the name of the mountains, lakes and other places. The application has a web 2.0 component – so that users can add contents. Also, it is connected to social media platforms: pictures of landscape annotated with the place-names can be shared on Facebook.

The application makes use of augmented reality, i.e. that a live view of a physical environment whose elements are supplemented by computer-generated input; in this case, text that is supplemented the landscape such as it appears on the screen of a mobile device, through the camera lens.

The adaptation of the app to Sápmi was initiated by Gáisi giellaguovddáš, the Sami language center in Tromsø. Gáisi giellaguovddáš had documented and registered place names in the Tromsø area. Project coordinator Inger Persson explains how she came across the iSikte – Norway app and thought, “this is what I want with Sami place names”. [iii] The data registered by Gáisi giellaguovddáš was then connected to the places’ coordinates, so that they can appear on location through the app. In addition to the data of the language center, place names from other areas in Sápmi were also added to the application. These were provided by The Norwegian mapping authority (Kartverket).

Whereas the number of mobile applications for language learning is growing, iSikte is a particularly interesting example in that it focuses of a neglected aspect of language: the one of the landscape.

Read more about iSikte Sápmi here and here (in Norwegian).

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