Monday, 6 September 2010

Language talk

The debate about whether Swedish should continue to be a mandatory subject of instruction in Finland's schools, and about the general status of the Swedish language in Finland, continues to occupy the columns of the Finnish press. Ten days ago the magazine Suomen Kuvalehti devoted a readers' discussion to "10 common statements" about the subject, including "Finland is a bilingual country", "Everyone must know Swedish", "Swedish-speakers have too much power", "Civil servants must be able to speak Swedish", and so on. Judging from the majority of the large number of readers' comments, the consensus appeared to be a thumbs-down for Swedish as an obligatory part of Finnish education and society, though few seemed to be eager to ban it from the curriculum altogether. Not to be outdone, Finland's main Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet has hosted a discussion of its own featuring the same 10 statements. Oddly enough, the consensus among Hufvudstadsbladet's readers is largely the same -- no one has much objection against Swedish as a language, but they don't want it to be forced on them if they don't grow up in a Swedish-speaking household. An interesting feature of Hufvudstadsbladet readers' discussions in general: it appears that comments written in Finnish are not accepted by the editors, and are routinely deleted from the discussion board...

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