The government has incurred the wrath of the former head of the Language Council of Sweden (Språkrådet), Olle Josephson, who has reported the Government Offices (Regeringskansliet) to JO for contravention of the recently adopted language law.
Josephson, who is a professor in the Nordic languages at Stockholm University, considers the use of English in the government’s email addresses as a political problem.
“It is a statement that Sweden can not be governed in Swedish, but in English instead. One should contact the Government Offices in English – a very strong symbolic statement, which is against the law.”
The new language law, the first of its kind in Sweden, came into force on July 1st.
The new law stipulates that Swedish is the main language of Sweden and establishes that public bodies have a particular responsibility to ensure that Swedish is used and developed.
“The purpose of the language law is to preserve a multilingual Sweden with Swedish as the main language, and the purpose of my report to JO is to put to the test just how strong that tool is,” Josephson says.
“If JO does not instruct the government to change this, and if the government does not change this, then we have to pretty much draw the conclusion that it is sham legislation.”
In his report Josephson concedes that there may be grounds to use English language email addresses but at the same time questions why it would be harder to understand socialdepartmentet.se instead of social.ministry.se.
Mari Ternbo, head of information at the Government Offices, explains that when the email addresses were introduced ten years ago it was presumed that they would be used primarily in contact with foreigners.
Within Sweden it was expected that more traditional means of communication would be used.
“Since then the development has shown to have been quite different,” Ternbo concluded, stating that the issue will be reviewed later in the autumn.