• Sweden edition
 
Sweden extends Finnish-language rights

Sweden extends Finnish-language rights

Published: 28 Dec 2012 14:20 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Dec 2012 14:20 GMT+01:00

Half a million of Sweden's 9 million inhabitants either speak Finnish or come from Finnish-speaking families, said Katarina Popovic, head of development at the Unit For Minority Affairs at Stockholm County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelsen).

Finnish was classified a minority language alongside Sami, Romani and Yiddish in 2010 after Sweden ratified two European Union conventions that sought to protect and to promote minorities and their languages.

It is of acute concern for many elderly Finnish-speakers, Popovic told The Local.

"Some lose their Swedish even though they've lived here for many many years, so in these cases we are talking about a very acute need as a person to be able to make yourself understood," she said.

The municipalities of Borlänge, Enköping, Finspång, Luleå, Motala, Sandviken, Uddevalla and Örebro have been added to the 40 places where authorities currently have to offer services in Finnish to residents.

"Previously speaking Finnish wasn't encouraged by the authorities," said Popovic. "These laws are rights-based, not needs-based, so even if you speak Swedish you can ask for contact with public servants to be in Finnish."

Finnish was at first offered only in seven municipalities in northern Sweden, with some also required to offer Meänkieli and Sami.

"Then after some criticism from the European Council, Sweden rewrote parts of the law and extended its reach in 2010," Popovic said.

The government decided just before Christmas that eight more municipalities had to give their residents the option of communicating in Finnish as well as offer their children the right to study in their mother tongue.

The state compensates the municipalities for the cost of offering minority language services.

"There have always been Finns in Sweden, since the Middle Ages, not to mention that Sweden and Finland were one country until 1809. We have a lot of shared history," Popovic noted.

When turning the EU directives on minorities and minority languages into law, Sweden set several qualifying criteria. The groups had to have been in Sweden for more than a century. And the group had to retain a sense of community cohesion.

"Of course it was a process with a lot of discussion and debate. The Sami, who are considered a native people, and Jews aren't big groups, there are many more recent immigrants who make up bigger groups," Popovic noted.

"Then there have been big immigrant groups in the past, such as the Walloons, who no longer speak their language."

Ann Törnkvist

Follow Ann on Twitter here

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

19:42 December 28, 2012 by johan rebel
Come on, if you move to Sweden of your own volition, then learn the language and get on with it. Taxpayer money should not be wasted on providing services in foreign languages.
23:40 December 28, 2012 by Dijondel
Ha ha Johan, try living here in Australien. You are allowed to sit your driving test in a variety of languages. So you can use the roads without being able to speak English.

This leads to, and I am not being at all racist or discriminatiory here, just factual, taxi drivers of Indian, Chinese or Islander persuasion who just can't communicate.

One Fijian went to court and needed the (state-provided) interpreter.

Bills and govt departments all have phone service interpreters.

Mind you, none of us complains when all the street and shop signs in (tourist) China all have English subtitles, do we?
10:20 December 29, 2012 by Decedo
I thought some of us English speakers were bad. My Finnish buddy's dad moved to sweden about 40 years ago. Only works within the Finnish community, all Finnish friends, a few polish workers and doesn't know very much Swedish. His wife does all his company taxes and banking (in Swedish).
11:57 December 29, 2012 by Abe L
It's 2012, soon 2013. Wouldn't it make much more sense to make English an official minority language? Half a million people that speak Finnish compared to at least 6 million (probably more) that speak English.

It would make everything a lot easier for everyone, natives and immigrants.
09:35 December 30, 2012 by pkpekka
To Abe L: English is already a de-facto official minority language. All the forms are available in English and everybody in Sweden speaks English (including government officials). But there is a dramatic contrast when one looks at the rights of the Swedish speakers in Finland and the (comparatively much less prominent) rights of Finnish speakers in Sweden. Not that I am arguing that they should be the same but Finland was part of Sweden at the same time as Sweden was the country that included (colonized) Finland as its territory for 600 years. And similar amounts of Finnish-speakers live in Sweden as Swedish-speakers in Finland. Swedish-Finnish culture has of course been preserved much better in Finland than Finnish culture in Sweden, that is why Swedish see Finns as immigrants and do not so much see the historical connections between the countries/cultures. To Decedo: Prejudices are of course fun. BTW I have never seen a site which crashes this often when you try to submit comments!
Today's headlines
Grounded flights strand Swedes in Tel Aviv
Photo: Matt Rourke/TT

Grounded flights strand Swedes in Tel Aviv

UPDATE: About 270 passengers planning to fly to Stockholm are still stranded in Tel Aviv, and airlines have stated that flights will likely be grounded on Thursday as well. READ  

The Local List
Top ten: Swedish taboos
The butter knife is for butter. Photo: Mats Sandelin/TT

Top ten: Swedish taboos

From standing in line to taking your hols in the off-season, Sweden is a society with customs and faux pas, the Danes might say taboos. Here is a list of ten to watch out for. READ  

Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine
A tank in Horlivka. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky/TT

Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine

A mediator who handles prisoner exchanges between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels said on Wednesday that he feared for the life of a kidnapped Swede. READ  

Vattenfall cuts losses despite 'tough market'
Photo: TT

Vattenfall cuts losses despite 'tough market'

Swedish power group Vattenfall said on Wednesday that second quarter losses had been cut despite trying market conditions, forecasting that energy prices were unlikely to recover in the "foreseeable future". READ  

Swedes 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Swedish actors Peter Johansson, Anna Sahlin and Måns Zelmerlöw. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Swedes 'most beautiful' in the Nordics

Who is the fairest of them all? Swedes are, according to the rest of the Nordic nations in a recent survey. READ  

My Swedish Career
American teams up with Swede to beat cancer
Matthew Volsky holding the Gynocoular colposcope which is used for screening cervical cancer. Photo: Gynocoular

American teams up with Swede to beat cancer

When Matthew Volsky first came to Sweden he didn't think he would stick around. Six years and a pioneering invention later he tells The Local about the medical device which is helping save lives around the world. READ  

Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Arla organic milk. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth

Swedes are spending more and more of their food budget on organic foodstuffs, with major supermarkets reporting double digit increases, according to new statistics. READ  

Swedish police warn of rogue pregnant cow
The cow pictured is not the one in the story, and presumably not cranky. Photo: Mike Groll/TT

Swedish police warn of rogue pregnant cow

Police in southern Sweden have issued a public warning about a pregnant cow on the loose, after two people were sent to the hospital after a hustle with the heifer. READ  

Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
Photo: Mark Lennihan/TT

Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax

With EU countries' treatment of Bitcoin varying vastly, Sweden has asked for clear EU rules stipulating whether or not the cryptocurrency should be taxed. READ  

Google in failed bid for Sweden's Spotify
Photo: Spotify

Google in failed bid for Sweden's Spotify

US Internet giant Google tried last year to buy Sweden-based streaming music service Spotify, but pulled out due to the beefed-up price tag, according to a media report on Tuesday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Blog updates

22 July

Det (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! “Det” is a personal pronoun that can be used in many ways, and it might me confusing if you always translate “det” to English “it”. In this article I will do my best to guide you to how to use “det”. Det replacing a word, a phrase or a clause Let us begin with the less confusing..." READ »

 

22 July

PROTECTING GIRLS FROM ABUSE OF THEIR RIGHTS (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Today (22 July) my Prime Minister, David Cameron, and UNICEF, are hosting the world’s first #GirlSummit in London. The Summit’s aim is to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end the appalling practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM). This is a high priority for the UK government and the Prime..." READ »

 
 
 
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
Society
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
National
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Gallery
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
National
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
National
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
Gallery
People-watching July 11-13
National
Malmö mayor slams Danish beggar ban
National
Swedish anti-abortion midwife sues county
National
Swede's salary chopped for Facebook use
National
Northern Sweden warmest in 90 years
Gallery
'Victoria Day': Crown Princess Victoria turns 37
Politics
Mona Sahlin to fight extremism in Sweden
National
EU tells Sweden to cover up snus flavours
Society
Swede snags assassin role in Tom Cruise film
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

702
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se