Thursday, 30 December 2010

The background to the language situation

In the latest issue of the Finland-Swedish journal Nya Argus (nr. 11-12, 2010) linguistics professor Fred Karlsson considers the present uneasy situation surrounding the status of the Swedish language in Finland above all through the prism of the past. In doing so he raises some interesting points that are sometimes forgotten: the men who in the 19th century worked to establish Finnish as Finland’s national language were, after all, Finnish Swedes. Snellman, Forsman and other representatives of the country’s Swedish-speaking intelligentsia helped to bring about a peaceful linguistic revolution, but were soon regarded as traitors by their own Swedish-speaking compatriots. Karlsson also examines the nowadays neglected role of the Finnish linguist and politician Emil Nestor Setälä (1864-1936) who single-handedly drafted Finland’s declaration of independence in 1917 and also wrote an important work on the language law of 1922, in which he emphasized that although Finland had two languages, this did not mean that Finland had two nationalities: “Finland’s people are one.”

The essay also traces the history of pakkoruotsi (tvångsvenskan or “compulsory Swedish” – the preferred translation “mandatory Swedish”  seems like a bit of a euphemism) – in Finland’s schools, pointing out, somewhat drily by reference to online discussions, that compulsion is not usually the way to make friends. There are, however, difficult decisions to be made. An education minister of the Kekkonen era is quoted as saying that if compulsory Swedish is abolished, it will be replaced by another language, “and that language is not Spanish”. Karlsson believes that it’s incumbent on Finland-Swedes to keep a low profile in the current language debate, and to leave it up to the Finnish-speaking majority and their political leaders to draw up guidelines as to their situation in Finland, Europe and the constantly changing modern world.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

WikiLeaks and extremism

This article in Reason magazine looks at some aspects of the WikiLeaks operation that seem to have been largely ignored by its supporters.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Nordic Council Literature Prize 2011

The complete run-down of candidates for the 2011 Nordic Council Literature Award is as follows (NB Norway's Beate Grimsrud wrote her novel in both Norwegian and in Swedish versions):


Josefine Klougart
Stigninger og fald
Novel, Rosinante, 2010

Harald Voetmann
Novel, Gyldendal, 2010


Erik Wahlström
Novel, Schildts, 2010

Kristina Carlson
Herra Darwinin puutarhuri (Herr Darwins trädgårdsmästare)
Novel, Otava, 2009 (Swedish translation, Janina Orlov)


Gyrðir Elíasson
Milli trjánna (Bland träden)
Short stories, Uppheimar, 2009, (Swedish translation, John Swedenmark)

Ísak Harðarson
Rennur upp um nótt (Stiger upp om natten)
Poems, Uppheimar, 2009, (Swedish translation, John Swedenmark)


Beate Grimsrud
En dåre fri
Novel, Cappelen Damm, 2010

Carl Frode Tiller
Innsirkling 2
Novel, Aschehoug, 2010


Beate Grimsrud
En dåre fri
Novel, Albert Bonniers Förlag, 2010

Anna Hallberg
Colosseum, Kolosseum
Poetry Collection, Albert Bonniers Förlag, 2010

Faroe Islands

Tóroddur Poulsen
Útsýni (Utsikt)
Poetry collection, Mentunargrunnur Studentafelagsins, 2009, (Swedish translation, Anna Mattsson)


Kristian Olsen Aaju
Kakiorneqaqatigiit (Det tatoverede budskab)
Novel, Forlaget Atuagkat, 2010

Åland Islands

Sonja Nordenswan
Blues från ett krossat världshus
Novel, PQR-kultur, 2009

The Sami Language Area

Kerttu Vuolab
Bárbmoáirras (Paradisets stjerne)
Novel, Davvi Girji OS, 2008

(Via the Nordic Council)

Friday, 3 December 2010

Mr Darwin's Gardener

Otava's Hanna Kjellberg reports that Kristina Carlson's novel Herra Darwinin puutarhuri (Mr Darwin's Gardener) [2009], my translated excerpts from which were published in Books from Finland magazine earlier this year, has been shortlisted as one of the Finnish candidates for the 2011 Nordic Council Literature Award.