Swedish: The Gateway to Multicultural Finland

Finland is an officially bilingual country, with Swedish recognized by the state as equal to the Finnish language in education and public life. There are pockets of ethnic Swedes in Finland where Finnish is hardly spoken at all.

In recent years Finland’s leaders have looked to their multicultural western neighbor for inspiration, and have pushed for more immigrants to enrich Finland with the same kind of cultural diversity that has enjoyed such notable success in Sweden. Interestingly enough, the Swedish language is being proposed as a sort of multicultural gateway for new arrivals in Finland.

KGS has an in-depth report at Tundra Tabloids on the wonders of bilingual Finland:

The Finnish state broadcaster YLE2 this past Tuesday (30.11.2010) aired a live broadcast of a studio discussion group on “mandatory Swedish”, a topic that flares up now and then in the Finnish media. Swedish was made the 2nd official language of Finland and its status is recognized in the Finnish constitution. In the 70’s the learning of the Swedish language was made compulsory in schools, so the language of 5% of the Finnish population was forced upon the remaining 95%, and the angst over that decision has remained ever since.

Svensk-Finland stampThe fact remains that there exist two distinct identities in Finland, predictably, based upon the languages of both groups. Such “identity” tension will always remain between the two groups because each side will always act, in what’s deemed to be, in their own self interests. It’s a highly logical, and as I said earlier, a predictable outcome.

Now add to that mix the thought of increased mass numbers of immigrants with a plethora of languages who will be demanding their own rights to use their own languages in Finnish society. But the Finnish-Swedish speakers have a plan, a few of their number (in the live broadcast) announced their party’s intention to grab as many foreigners as possible and steer them into speaking Swedish. They made a case for the Finnish government to get involved and make it possible for immigrants to choose which language to study and to identify themselves with.

One of the Finnish-Swedish participants mentioned the fact that in the late 1800’s, Jews who were allowed to immigrate to Finland by the Russian Czar, learned Swedish, so there’s history on their side of immigrants learning Swedish and integrating into society. But what was left unmentioned, was these Jews spoke Yiddish, a dialect of German and they found it much easier to learn than the host language (at first), and that every Finnish Jew is now fluent in three languages, Finnish, Swedish and English.

It’s just in the coastal areas of Finland and in the island archipelago of Åland that Finnish-Swedes are not learning Finnish, and for the most part, have a completely different identity to that of the Finnish speakers that make up 95& of the country. So now the party of the Swedish speaking minority is actively trying to pull immigrants to its party which explains the Swedish speaking Minister of Immigration and of Europe, Astrid Thors, actions over the last few years.

This is bound to drive an even deeper wedge between the Swedish speakers and the majority of Finnish speaking Finns. It just highlights the fact that different language groups will do whatever possible in securing their future, which creates in the end, a divided society with competing goals. Hardly a recipe for a cohesive, functioning society. The video of the event (in Finnish) is still available here, for the next 30 some days.

Read the rest at Tundra Tabloids, including an overview of the official bilingual policy written by the Finnish blogger Vasarahammer.

4 thoughts on “Swedish: The Gateway to Multicultural Finland

  1. This is exactly why it’s false to say that only Muslim minorities are a problem.

    The Swedes in Finland are hardly fundamentalist Muslims. And yet, they haven’t “integrated” with the Finns (i.e. made babies with the Finns and mixed themselves away).

    Why not? No self-respecting man or woman wants to see their children look, act and talk like foreigners. “Integration” is an insult to anyone with an ounce of loyalty and self-respect.

    Islam just gives Arabs and Africans a God-given mandate to be as obnoxious and belligerent about resisting integration as possible (by way of comparison, Anabaptist Christianity has given the Amish a peaceful and respectful God-given mandate not to integrate).

    If even the similar-looking, similar-believing Swedes are causing problems in Finland, there is no reason to believe that Albanians, Turks and Nigerians are somehow going to behave better.

  2. The moral of this story is, multiculturalism creates a continual friction between the groups as each one seeks to reinforce its position at the expense of the other.

    It’s the exact same phenomenon seen in identity driven politics and in class warfare driven economics, where cultural Marxists pit one identity group against the other, and the economic Marxists pit the so called “have nots” against the “haves”.

  3. Swedish speakers in Finland are confined to the county of Nyland in the south and the county of Ostrabothnia further north. In these counties Swedish is the majority language used in everyday speech and Finnish is hardly ever heard.

    The rest of the country is 100% Finnish speaking.

    The language problems in Finland come from the fact that Swedish is also an official national language which is compulsory in schools in non-Swedish speaking areas where people have little or no use for it.

    Predictably, Finnish speakers don’t like this.

    A solution to the language problem in Finland would be to adopt a model similar to that for Welsh in the UK.

    Swedish could have a protected equal status to Finnish in the majority Swedish speaking areas of Finland and Finns in the rest of the country could learn whatever languages they liked in schools.

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