Finland Finnish Culture



To my Swedish readers, a bit of understanding here.

This movement is a direct result of the failed notion of multiculturalism, of which bilingualism plays such a key role. In order to have a cohesive state, the need for a single language with an overriding sense of a single culture is paramount. That’s not to say that people can’t maintain on a private level their sense of fealty to their ethnic background and heritage, but on a public level, there has to be a sense of unity, or the whole enterprise begins to collapse.

Swedish speakers in Finland make up only 5.5% of the Finnish population yet it’s the official second language of the land, I see no need to impose the tyranny of the minority upon the majority. There is no anti-Swedish language movement here per say, just against the imposing of it upon the majority, for entirely political reasons.

NOTE: The Swedish language debate in Finland has gone on as long as I have been living here, and successive generations have maintained the momentum to the consternation of the cultural/political self anointed elite. And in spite of claiming to belong to Scandinavia, much of the Nordic Swedish based language speaking people do not view Finland as a ‘real’ Scandinavian country…solely to the language difference.

finn movement against mandatory swedish language studies 12.8.2013

By Finnish law, if a public initiative gathers 50,000 supporters within 6 months, it will be considered by Parliament. A citizen’s initiative opposing mandatory Swedish-language classes in the Finnish school system has gathered 50,000 signatures since it was launched in early March.

The move was launched by Vapaa Kielivalinta (a group that supports freedom of language choice), the Finnish Alliance, the Finns Party Youth and the National Coalition Party Youth. Their goal is to make Swedish optional, not mandatory as it is now in the school system. Finland is a bilingual country where the other official language is Swedish.

“I believe that this initiative will be taken seriously by Parliament, and it has the potential to succeed,” says Sampo Terho, President of the Finnish Alliance and a Member of European Pariliament.


3 Responses

  1. There is a Swedish language requirement in civil service commonly referred to as “virkamiesruotsi”. A civil servant must demonstrate adequate skills in Swedish to be eligible for the job. For some who have neglected to study Swedish at school this may be a problem.

    Passing “virkamiesruotsi” doesn’t in any way guarantee that the person in question can communicate fluently in Swedish.

    If you remove mandatory Swedish at school, you must also get rid of “virkamiesruotsi”. Otherwise, the effort to remove mandatory Swedish will only make things worse.

    The issue is a hot potato. You should not trust the poll figures presented in the English language Wikipedia article about mandatory Swedish. The polls have given different results depending on who has ordered it.

    The polls ordered by pro-Swedish side generally give more than 50 per cent in favour of Mandatory Swedish. On the other hand, polls from the other side give more than 50 per cent in favour of making Swedish voluntary language at school. I guess it depends on how the question is presented.

    Despite the enthusiasm of those collecting names the petition is likely to fail in the Finnish parliament.

  2. “And in spite of claiming to belong to Scandinavia, much of the Nordic Swedish based language speaking people do not view Finland as a ‘real’ Scandinavian country…solely to the language difference.”

    While that is essentially true, one must remember that Finland was part of the Kingdom of Sweden for a longer time than Southern Sweden (Scania, Halland and Blekinge) has been so far. All Nordic countries share a common Lutheran religion.

    In the Cold war days it was also politically significant for Finland to identify itself as a Nordic country, since the Baltic states were under Soviet yoke.

    1. That’s not in question Vasarahammer, I agree with every word you wrote here, but the perception of Swedish language based peoples outside of Finland, the language barrier creates a separation of identities.

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