“The leadership of Stockholm municipality either don’t know about the (admittedly new) language law, or they don’t care about it,” writes Stockholm resident Björn Ohlson in his letter complaining about “Love Stockholm 2010”, the city’s chosen slogan for marketing two weeks of events surrounding the royal wedding.
“It’s a very Swedish event. You have the Swedish crown princess marrying a Swedish man in Sweden. It seems sort of silly to give it an English label,” Ohlson told The Local.
Sweden’s new language law, which went into effect in July 2009, establishes Swedish as the main language of Sweden and decrees that public bodies have a particular responsibility to ensure that Swedish is used and developed.
Ohlson’s complaint isn’t the first time that Stockholm authorities have been reported for using too much English following the implementation of the new law.
Just three weeks after the law came into force on July 1st, Nätverket Språkförsvaret (‘The Language Defence Network’) reported the Stockholm council to the ombudsman for its widespread use of English, exemplified by the marketing catchphrase, “The Capital of Scandinavia”.
The network also reported the Stockholm Visitors Board, Stockholm Business Region and Stockholm Entertainment District for their use of English.
Ohlson, who referred to himself as a volunteer member of the “language police”, has long been passionate about preserving the Swedish language, and has written letters to various agencies and authorities to complain about their increasing use of English.
“Already a lot of scientific papers from Sweden are written in English, leaving them inaccessible to Swedes who don’t read English,” he said.
“Who knows where it will end?”
Ohlson rejects arguments made by Stockholm officials that English is appropriate for events such as the royal wedding which are expected to draw a great deal of attention internationally.
He posits instead that using kärlek, the Swedish word for ‘love’, could also help promotion efforts by being both “exotic and captivating” to an international audience.
Ohlson also questioned Stockholm’s efforts to build a whole programme of events around the Crown Princess’s wedding to her fiancé Daniel Westling.
“This ‘Love 2010’ is Stockholm’s little party and frankly, it seems sort of unnecessary,” he said.
“It sounds like the title of some low-grade reality television show.”
Ohlson emphasized, however, that he holds no grudge against the English language itself, merely it’s perceived over-use by public bodies in Sweden.
“I don’t have anything against English otherwise. English in England is fine because that’s where it should be spoken,” he said.
“But we live in Sweden and we have a language law. It’s important to protect the Swedish language and not everybody does.”
Despite his disdain for Stockholm’s efforts to promote the royal wedding, Ohlson nevertheless admitted that he expects to find himself in front of the television on Crown Princess Victoria’s big day.
“I don’t plan to participate in any Love 2010 events, but I can’t promise that I won’t tune in to watch the wedding,” Ohlson said.
“I’m sure it will be a beautiful ceremony.”