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Linguistic minorities in Sweden, FAQ (the s.c.nordic FAQ)
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The home pages for the Usenet newsgroup soc.culture.nordic
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Linguistic minorities in Sweden, FAQ



Table of content:

1.
A fair treatment of the minorities
2.
State service for minorities
3.
Education in minority languages
4.
Education on minority languages
5.
Separate education for the minorities
6.
Special rights for the Finns
7.
A multilingual society
8.
Immigrants versus native minorities
9.
The Tornedalen Finns and the Lapps


Table of contributors:


Henrik Ernø, <erno@wotan.ens.fr>
Magnus Hurd, <Magnus.Hurd@itn.hh.se>
Roland Johansson,
Pieter Kuiper,
Jorma Kyppö,
Jens Stengaard Larsen,
Malte Lewan, <cml@df.lth.se>
Jyrki Nuotio,
Jari Oksanen, <jari.oksanen@oulu.fi>
Johan Olofsson, <jmo@lysator.liu.se>
Björn Palmén, <bpalmen@megabaud.fi>
Jari Partanen, <jari.partanen@utu.fi>
Lennart Regebro, <lennart@regebro.nu>
Jarmo Ryyti, <ryyti@jyu.fi>
Kimmo Samuli Saarinen, <ks54079@kaarne.cs.tut.fi>
Per-Arne Sandegren, <erapasa@era-t.ericsson.se>
Kent Sandvik,
Magnus Selhammar,
Kaj Stenberg, <Kstenber@kruuna.helsinki.fi>
Kari Yli-Kuha, <ylikuka@sqc.fi>
Björn Vennström,

1. A fair treatment of the minorities

> Q 1a: Finland has proven how a tiny minority of only 6% of the
> population can be granted almost equal rights regarding societal
> service. Why is Sweden not willing to treat the minorities in the
> same way as Finland does?
A 1a: The native minorities in Sweden are much smaller than the minority in Finland with Swedish mother tongue, and has also played a must less prominent role in the history of the state and society. It would be more appropriate to compare the minorities in Finland with Russian, Romani and Sámi mother tongues with the minorities in Sweden with Finnish, Romani and Sámi languages as their mother tongues. Both in Finland and in Sweden the situation for these native minorities has been improved in recent years.

> Q 1b: That sounds promising, but where are the nursing homes and
> home-service for elderly with staff speaking minority languages?
A 1b: In Tornedalen, at the border to Finland, the staff has of course the same capacity to speak the local dialect of Finnish as all other inhabitants. But in the rest of Sweden this question has got much less attention than deserved.

> Q 1c: Where are the Finnish language street signs and road signs in
> those parts of Sweden where Finns are a substantial minority?
A 1c: In Sweden geographical names are not given in two versions, as in Finland, but instead the villages with Sámi or Finnish names are referred to with these names on all maps and road signs. Swedish cartographers have however noted Swedish names for many villages with non-Swedish origin, and in other cases the spelling is Swedified, as with the towns Haparanda and Kiruna.

The street signs are a question to be decided by the local municipality, and in the Tornedalen municipalities it is the Swedes who are a minority of the voters. If the Finnish speaking majority in Haparanda (including 33% immigrants from Finland) has decided to use Swedish street signs, then...
...where is the problem?

> Q 1d: Wouldn't it be necessary to support the minorities who live in
> other parts of Sweden where they constitute a minority also in the
> respective municipalities, with laws stipulating their rights as a
> minority in bilingual municipalities, as for instance with road signs
> also in Sámi language.
A 1d: Yes, that might be right, but honestly, it's no big question in Sweden. The Sámi living in towns speak Swedish anyway.

...versus the immigrants

> Q 1e: No, but a lot of Finns live in towns as Södertälje and Eskilstuna.
> They would be gained by a law with guarantees for linguistic minorities.
A 1e: Sorry, here is a misconception. The Finns in these towns are recent immigrants, and would not be understood as minorities in this respect.

> Q 1f: So there's no way for equality?? You say, that Sweden don't have
> to do like Finland does and the others don't like that Finland would do
> as Sweden does. - Kind of fatality I would say.
A 1f: The dispute in Finland is interesting to follow, and those often repeated references to the practice of the neighbor country might stimulate us from Sweden to mingle in the battle. Some Finns also seem to make what appears to be an error grounded on a limited knowledge about the differences between the country of Finland and that of Sweden, and their recent history.

The central difference in this question is most probably that in Finland the languages of the inborn minorities are debated, while in Sweden instead the languages of the immigrants who have been received the last 50 years are of major importance. Finns and Finland-Swedes were the first bigger group of those, but not at all the only. Hungarians, Italians, Greeks, Spaniards, Turks, Persians, South-Americans, Africans and far-Asians have followed. This is a situation very different from the Finnish, with less than 2% immigrants compared to 20% in Sweden.

Another important difference is that the most immigrants in Sweden are rather evenly dispersed, so that no major concentrations of immigrants with a certain language exists. In Finland the native Finland-Swedes live in two or three rather distinct areas where Swedish majorities aren't uncommon. The highest concentration of Sweden-Finns are in some municipalities around Stockholm, but nowhere the descendants from Finland constitute a majority among the immigrants, let alone among the population as a whole.

2. State service for minorities

> Q 2a: In Finland the minority can demand a juridical process to be in
> ones own language. Wouldn't it be fair if the minorities in Sweden had
> the same right?
A 2a: Really, aren't you exaggerating? Well, let's assume you are right, ...but remember how some of the (five different) Sámi languages are spoken by only a few hundreds of people. It would turn out to be rather hard to find unchallengeable officials for the trials. Instead the courts are required to use translators whenever needed.

> Q 2b: In Finland state officials are required to talk and write the
> minority language. Wouldn't the same be applicable in Sweden?
A 2b: This is only for the mother tongue of the 6% minority, not the other, is it? In Sweden the native minorities are much smaller.

The official attitude towards minorities were fairly similar in Norway, Finland and Sweden till the 1960s. From 1930s to 1960s the policy in Finland was to assimilate Sámi and Romani in the Finnish society. Speaking the Sámi language wasn't accepted in schools. No teaching in Sámi (or Romani) was arranged, Sámi or Romani could not be used when dealing with authorities. Especially with Sámi this was fairly successful, and Sámi language was hardly ever used so that Finns could hear it. Romani kept their language better.

Finland never registred ethnic data on Finnish citizens in population censuses. Language and religion data can be found in official registers, and these indirectly can be used for counts on certain ethnic minorities (like Tartars and Sámi). Situation started to change in the same time as in other Nordic countries, from the 1960s. For Sámi, Finland was perhaps the first to improve their official status, but Norway, modelling its legislature after Finnish model, has made greatest changes, and the Sámi position is stronger in Norway than in other Nordic countries.

> Q 2c: But couldn't one at least require the Swedish employers to regard
> capability in minority language as a merit and a ground for rise of
> salary?
A 2c: Yes, one would think so. This is also relevant for immigrants.

> Q 2d: Wouldn't it be fair if the Swedish King held his new years
> speeches also in the minority languages?
A 2d: Yes, but the Swedish King has enough problem with his own mother tongue. To require him to master other languages would give the same impression as when the Pope bless people on twenty different languages.

> Q 2e: The absence of national TV and Radio channels for the Finnish
> minority in Sweden, despite several contacts and agreements between
> the governments of Finland and Sweden, is certainly one of the biggest
> scandals. At the end it turned out the Finnish tax payers have had
> to pay both for a nation-wide distribution of Swedish TV in Finland,
> and additionally for the erection of transmitters in Stockholm for the
> Finnish TV program, while in the rest of Sweden the Finns have to pay
> expensive fees to receive Finnish TV via cable transmission. Is there
> anything you can say to your defense?
A 2e: Most of the Finnish minority in Tornedalen can receive the Finnish TV without any new transmitters being constructed. In the rest of Sweden there are no concentrations of the native minority. Cable transmission is the most efficient, and what's wrong with Finland contributing to the costs for transmission of Finnish TV to Finnish citizens in Sweden? The immigrant programs in national radio and TV are not neglectable. A Finnish TV news program every day, for instance.

Anyway, according the news, Sweden is going to increase the amount of the radio programs in Finnish language within two years. When the digital radio broadcasts starts, some space is reserved (up to ten hours per day, if I remember correctly) for them. The broadcasts will be nationwide, the programs are a construction of national and local broadcasts. Receiving of these broadcasts requires a digital radio, that at this moment are more expensive than the current analog radios.

3. Education in minority languages

> Q 3a: Why are the Swedes using the chauvinist term "home language" for
> the mother tongue education for minorities?
A 3a: Chauvinist? No, it's not intended as a chauvinist term. The main reason is that this education is not only for native minorities or for newly arrived immigrants, but also for the 2:nd generation immigrants. The education is not restricted to them with a non-Swedish mother tongue, but instead aimed particularly at them who have Swedish as their native language but have parent(s) and relatives with another mother tongue.

The term "home language" (hemspråk) has thus a broader definition than the term "mother tongue" (modersmål). It is thus possible for those with a multilingual background to have a "home language" which is not strictly the "mother tongue". Some cultural groups have by tradition a different language of instruction than the "mother tongue" (e.g. Berber speakers in Northern Africa, Punjabi speakers in Pakistan). In the Swedish system these people can get home-language instruction in the language chosen by the parents (most often Arabic and Urdu, respectively).

Another reason is that at the time when the "home language" instruction was introduced the term "modersmålet" (the mother tongue) on the schools' schedules would have been understood as "Swedish" by most teachers and adults, why another term was invented in order to cause less confusion.

The native minorities are for practical reasons also covered by the same law, instead of a separate. This could be criticized from a principial point of view, but in practice the relative position for the minority languages has been strengthened for each revision of the law.

> Q 3b: Why does not Sweden want to admit that there are people with 
> different mother tongues in the country. They do not even make
> statistics about how many speakers of what language there is.
A 3b: The statement that Sweden shouldn't admit the existence of people with other mother tongues must build on some kind of misconception. The word modersmål ("mother tongue") is for instance used in the legal definition deciding which pupils are entitled to the instruction in home language. On the other hand is it true that the Swedish state doesn't ask the residents about their race, religion or mother tongue. One could maybe think that the State is curious enough as it is?

> Q 3c: Why is this mother tongue education given after the regular
> school day?
A 3c: That is different at different schools, but the intention is often to avoid a situation which might contribute to a feeling of stigma among immigrant pupils. When this education in parental mother tongue is given instead of other classes, then the result has been that the pupils often prioritize the other class instead - particularly if something funny is planned.

> Q 3d: Why are the teachers in "home language" ambulant?
A 3d: The number of registered "home languages" is about 125. It goes without saying that most schools have too few pupils to fill the need for a full time teacher, and as the supply on good teachers in these languages is limited, they are each engaged in many schools.

And of course, if the parents and the pupils had been more interested in the education, then it would have been possible to engage more teachers full time - in any case in the biggest immigrant languages and on the bigger schools. Now, the truth is the opposite: among more than 200 thousand immigrant kids in the classes 1-9 less than 60 thousand participate in the education.

4. Education on minority languages

> Q 4a: Why do some people in Sweden not want the minorities to have their
> education in their own language?
A 4a: Once upon a time Finns and Lapps were seen as inferior, and it was though to be a favor to give them the Swedish culture as a gift. At the end of the 19th century, and particularly after the Russian revolution and the hostile appearance of the new Finnish state, it was also regarded as a strategic danger to have isolated non-assimilated "foreign peoples" concentrated in a vulnerable part of the realm.

It's hard to say how many Swedes have such opinions today, but if they have then they do not articulate it in public debates. Today the only officially visible opinion is that the (six) schools for Sámis rightfully have most of the education on the mother tongues of the pupils in the first grades. Many have however Swedish as mother tongue. (In Tornedalen nearly all pupils now know Swedish when they start school.)

> Q 4b: A problem is the feeling of inferiority among the minorities.
> Giving Finnish language an official status as a minority language would
> certainly give quite a lot of prestige in a very easy way. If it is
> officially recognized, that Finnish language is a traditional part of
> Sweden/Norway, this has a big effect on people's subconscious, and
> people learn to think, that it is important to preserve the Finnish
> language.
A 4b: Preserving the minority culture (including the language) in the Tornedalen would not be a problem for Swedes to accept or gratify, and the historical record is not regarded as anything to be proud of. But it is so to say not on the agenda for Swedes in general. In the Swedish society there is no tradition regarding the importance of language. The Swedish language has been the language of the administration, of the education, of the church and of the people. Swedes have never learned to think about languages as anything important to preserve. But say culture, and I believe you will be understood at once.

...versus immigrant languages

> Q 4c: But the new minorities, they who have moved in from other
> countries?
A 4c: That's quite another thing. Some Swedes have been less charmed by the recent immigration, and also they who have advocated the reception of refugees in the last 20 years have done this assuming the immigrants to integrate in the Swedish society. Separate classes for immigrants from certain countries is scary for them who fear future ethnic conflicts.

By the way: I wouldn't think that too many Swedes would support the idea of preserving the 125 languages of the about 900'000 immigrants who have moved to Sweden in the last 50 years.

Another interesting question is why the Finnish government has been less active than many other governments of aliens immigrated to Sweden. Many foreign citizens have organized afternoon schools and summer camps to enhance the bonds to the culture of the parents, and many states much poorer then Finland have given considerable financial support. Also some minorities with Swedish citizenship have done so without external support. Estonian and Jewish schools were established in Stockholm a long time ago.

Are the Finns more vulnerable to inferiority-feelings than other immigrants, and is it then the duty of foreign governments to cure this?

> Q 4d: Why do minority kids have to go to school under much worse
> circumstances than Swedish speaking kids?
A 4d: Immigrant kids, you mean? Well, if you think they would have a better time in a separate class with education in their mother tongue, then you forget them who belong to the smaller groups of immigrants who can not fill a class. You also forget their future. It's not at all sure they will have a better life in a society where the Swedes have not learned to know the 2:nd generation immigrants as class mates and friends.

5. Separate education for the minorities

> Q 5a: Is there in Sweden for instance a parallel education system for
> the linguistic minorities comparable with the education system for the
> Swedish speakers in Finland?
A 5a: No, the Sámis, the Gypsies and the Tornedalen Finns are seen as too few to motivate parallel systems of secondary schools. But there are six elementary schools for Sámis where the educational language gradually shift from Sámi to Swedish.

> Q 5b: The 500'000 Finns are the biggest linguistic minority. Do they
> have all-Finish elementary schools, high schools, trade schools,
> institutes and universities? In Finland the minority has this all.
A 5b: This figure is a gross exaggeration. 30'000 is a good estimation for the native minority. The immigrated Finns, who together with their children might count to ten times as many, can not be compared to the native minority in Finland - they are well beyond the relative size of the Swedish speaking minority in Finland, but the difference is that between newly arrived immigrants and groups of people who have lived somewhere for nearly a tousand year.

But to return to your question: In Sweden there are however some dozen special immigrant classes in some elementary schools where practically all of the education is in Finnish, as well as there are some classes with teaching in other immigrant languages. There are also some Finnish schools run by parent cooperatives.

> Q 5c: OK, there are single classes in some schools where all education
> is in a minority language, but why are there no whole municipality
> schools?
A 5c: In Sweden, except Tornedalen, the minorities are not concentrated enough to give reason for own schools. Further, many would oppose such ideas questioning if that wouldn't be a sign of exclusion of the minorities from the Swedish society. If you ask about the immigrants, then the same argument is even more valid.

> Q 5d: Why do some people in Sweden oppose municipal schools where the
> linguistic minorities have their education in their own language?
A 5d: The fact that the Finnish people in Tornedalen have had this idea is hard to explain, but after all the pupils have to live in the Swedish society, where the Swedish language is dominant.

People who oppose education on immigrant languages do probably oppose segregation while arguing for a good mastering of Swedish as giving the pupils the best chances in their lives. It is of course also possible for the immigrant communities to use the Danish system for alternative schooling, now also adopted by the Swedes, and establish their own schools.

> Q 5e: Is it fair to require the minorities to pay both taxes which fund
> the municipal schools and then to pay additionally for private schools?
A 5e: The private schools are funded through taxes as well as the municipality schools. (Note to all the anti socialist s.c.n:ers: in Denmark the alternative schools were championed by the socialists, while the conservatives were against. In Sweden it's the liberals who propose "free" schools.)

> Q 5f: Didn't the Swedish government recently restrain the
> tax-funding of immigrant schools?
A 5f: Sweden is stripping funding for free schools, true. Some of them are Finnish, some have other objectives. The cutting of funds has nothing to do with Finnish education, though. There are three reasons for why fundings are cut:
1) Sweden is going broke, and tries to save everywhere
2) Swedish politicians dislike everything that is not scrupulously controlled by them and
3) Many free schools are more efficient (though less expensive), parents like them. This causes embarrassment and lack of pupils in the state schools.

It has 1995 been decided that the municipality and the schools have to bargain about how much the schools will receive. If they don't agree, then the municipality will stand there with more pupils to educate. This is not a measure against immigrant schools, but against private schools in general.

But actually this is really a point which has been debated in the parliament: The Social Democrats argued immigrant education to be primarily a municipal responsibility equal with education for non-immigrants. The opposition championed tax-funded private schools as a means to strengthen the position of immigrant communities vis-à-vis the municipal administrations.

> Q 5g: What about changing the atmosphere of discrimination and establish
> a Finnish university in Stockholm. And give for those, who somehow are
> reluctant to admit they are Finns and not "real" Swedes a possibility to
> show it. What is wrong with this idea? The number of minorities is
> relatively same in Sweden and Finland, who has Swedish universities.
A 5g: Well, the Swedish universities in Finland were founded a long time ago, when the educated class in Finland was dominated by them with Swedish mother tongue. The Finns in Sweden are free to found new universities in Sweden, but don't expect this to be an easy matter. It would be less complicated for Sweden-Finns to go to universities in Finland. The idea seems to be more expensive than efficient.

6. Special rights for the Finns

> Q 6a: To compare other groups with the Finns can't be fair. Aren't the
> Finns many more than the other minorities?

A 6a: Not much:
0,30% Tornedalen-Finns (all born in Sweden)
0,17% of them live in the three Tornedalen municipalities
0,17% Swedish citizens defining them selves as Lappish
0,10% of them speak any Sámi language

The numbers of people with Sámi or Tornedalen-Finnish mother tongues are however considerably lower.

The Finns were the first larger group of immigrants, and they still constitute the largest of the groups. Particularly if you include the 2:nd generation. It must however not be forgotten that the migration has been directed to Finland since 1970, that the second generation in most cases have Swedish as their native language, and that maybe as many as 25% of the immigrants from Finland are Finland-Swedes.

In recent years the number of pupils with has outnumbered the immigrant pupils with Finnish mother tongue.

Since 1945 over 900'000 immigrants have settled in Sweden. Only the last ten years 293'000 refugees have applied for asylum in Sweden. Over 200'000 of them have been granted permanent residence permit.

If the 1,8% Finnish 1:st generation economic immigrants of the last 50 years should be given certain rights, then why not also the people born in

...or what do you say???

This could be compared with the two biggest native minorities.

> Q 6b: Finland and Sweden were once one country. That should count for
> something, shouldn't it?
A 6b: The long period during which Finland and Sweden really constituted one country together is maybe a stronger argument, but it is 185 years ago, and our recent historical experiences from the European continent has shown such connections to be a cause of conflicts which maybe best are avoided by accepting the sovereignty of the current states.

But due to the Nordic cooperation and to the position as both the biggest minority language and the biggest immigrant language Finnish has a unique position among the foreign languages.

> Q 6c: Since the 16:th century Finns have settled in Sweden and formed
> long living communities, for instance in Värmland and in Stockholm.
> Wouldn't this be a reason to acknowledge the Sweden-Finns by making
> their language an official language in Sweden?
A 6c: This is not a unique situation for a language group in Sweden. There are also long historic and cultural presence of Germans, Danes, Norwegians, Dutch, Walloons and French to name a few. These presence have for some of these groups not been any weaker than the Finnish one. Common for all these immigrant groups is that they have come in waves during certain periods of time and assimilated or moved back.

There has been turks here since the time of Karl XII, and Turkish is a large immigrant language. Should we also grant Turkish status of official language? There has been colonies of French, German and English speaking in Sweden for centuries, and immigrants coming in all the time speaking those languages. Should French, German and English also be official languages? If not, why should Finnish be that? Because it is the largest immigrant language? Where should we set the limit?

> Q 6d: But Finnish has been spoken by natives of Sweden for the last
> thousand of years! Wouldn't that be a reason for the arriving Finns to
> get the same rights as the Swedish minority in Finland?
A 6d: In this case the immigrant should off course have the possibility to use the school system of the minority, anything else would be ridiculous. However, this possibility can only be used in the area where the minority live. For the German immigrants to Denmark this would mean in Sönder-Jylland, For Danes in Germany, in the Northern part of Schleswig-Holstein, and for the Finns in Sweden this would be in Tornedalen.

However, to demand that schooling should be provided outside of the native area of the minority is ridiculous. The Germans have no obligation to provide schools for Danes in Bavaria, likewise the Danes have no obligation for Germans in Odense and the Swedens have no obligation for Finns in Halmstad.

Or do you mean that since the immigrants comes from a country that have a national, established minority in the country, they should in return be required reciprocal rights? - That's not the rule anywhere, is it?

> Q 6e: I now see the problems with my arguments but maybe a combination
> of the exceptionally big Finnish population with the long historic and
> cultural presence of Finns in Sweden together give me some ground?
A 6e: That's more like it. Both your arguments in themselves are quite shaky, but together, they may carry some weight. In this fashion you could try to argue for giving some of the classic minority rights to immigrant Finns (Swedish officials speaking Finnish, regionally subsidized radio channels etc). And the lower your demands would be, the lesser strength your arguments would have to have. And of course, the rights could only extend to those regions where big Finnish communities can be found. Scanians shouldn't have to pay for a national Finnish TV-channel because there is a population of (at most) 10% immigrant Finns in for example Botkyrka (4'500) and Eskilstuna (5'500). Likewise, other parts of Sweden shouldn't need to pay for a national Danish channel just because there are a few percent immigrant Danes living in Scania (probably a growing figure).

7. A multi-lingual society

> Q 7a: So, we Finns are not unique, but give minority rights as in
> Finland to any language group that enters Sweden.
A 7a: That could be rather expensive depending on what rights we are talking about.

Today there is a right to education in parental mother tongue, which outshines the rights in Finland.

Swedish officials (and health care personell and others...) are also required to engage translators when dealing with people who need so. ...Actually regardless of citizenship and, at least in theory, including not only residents but also tourists.

Other arrangements of this type could be considered if they are not outrageously expensive (since all immigrant groups must be relatively equal in their rights ...though consideration of size and thereby economic feasibility could be taken).

The health care field, not to forget social service for elderly, is important. Bilingual people must become rewarded for their knowledge. Law regulations to enforce bilingualism to be counted as a merit for applicants to any position in societal service wouldn't be unthinkable, but to let immigrants ground demands on language capability for officials at state and municipalities, that is surely some steps too far.

> Q 7b: Why cannot the Swedes tolerate coexistence of languages?
A 7b: Swedes have (since the 15:th century and except for the royal court) had virtually no contact with people speaking other languages than Swedish, and no experience of multi-ethnic towns as for instance Viipuri or to a lesser degree Helsinki, or a multi-ethnic province as Ingria ("Ingermanland"). Only in some rural areas a local dialect coexist with a taught form of standard-Swedish.

Many Swedes simply don't think the bilingual situation in Finland is something for a monolingual country to strive for, thinking Finland would be more efficient and less prone to social tensions if it was monolingual.

> Q 7c: Why are other languages tolerated only as a
> temporary phenomenon while people are "assimilating"?
A 7c: Other languages ARE tolerated. What is not tolerated is bad competence in the Swedish language, which de facto dominates the Swedish society, and which you are dependent on to master if you have to use it for important communication with others in Sweden - as for instance at work.

> Q 7d: So which society is more racist? In Finland both Swedish and
> Finnish language are coexisting and the kids can have their education in
> their own language. Alas the situation in Sweden is worse. Why cannot
> Sweden tolerate Finnish language?
A 7d: The Finnish society is no doubt more xenophobic and more aggressive toward groups felt as different. It's in Finland you have to be careful not to speak the wrong language in some towns, not in Sweden. The Finnish treatment of the Finnish-speaking refugees from the Leningrad district is a sad proof, the Finnish refusal to receive refugees in the last 20 years is another.

On the other hand; individuals in Finland seem to have much more freedom to express their individuality than in Sweden.

> Q 7e: One big mistake is to assume that if a person lives in
> Sweden  he/she must forget his/her own language, isn't it?
A 7e: Yes, but it's no common mistake in Sweden.

> Q 7f: Do you really believe that most Finns want to forget
> their own language?
A 7f: Nobody is forgetting his or her language. Some children get another native language than one or two of their parents. It's a fact some kids do. It's no law. Nothing says they must - and some people have proven the opposite. Some Jews for instance. No-one believes Finns wanting to forget their mother tongue. No-one is forcing immigrants to forget their language. But languages which you have limited use for do not get learned by the kids.

The fact that immigrants can highly profit from learning the language of the new country is not specific to Sweden.

> Q 7g: Could this case be an example of the so called hostage
> syndrome, when the victim start to "understand" and even
> defend his/her victimizer?
A 7g: No. It couldn't. Jews have been here since Gustav III, and still some teach their children both hebrew and yiddish. They don't seem to understand the victimizer.

(And that has all the time been without any help from the state.)

8. Immigrants versus native minorities

> Q 8a: Why are some Swedes always nagging about immigrants opposed to
> native minorities? Aren't the Finnish speakers who are born in Sweden
> now a new native minority?
A 8a: No, not really. It is highly questionable whether a group of newcomers to a territory from the beginning should have exactly the same rights as the ones who have been living there for many generations. In principle, the native population can stop immigration completely when they so wish. That's an effect of sovereignty (or autonomy). When they choose to allow immigrants, they are able to do so while keeping whatever restrictions they like on the immigrants. Some people point out that the immigrants are free to come or not and also that it might in some cases be a solely altruistic act on the part of the native population to allow the immigrants to come. This is of course not all of the truth. Immigrants can also be advantageous for the receiving society due to many factors, as for instance their level of ambitions, their age distribution, their contribution of contacts and knowledge of foreign cultures and languages, and in the long run surely also their contribution to the genetic pool of the population.

> Q 8b: So what's so special about the Finns being immigrants? Aren't we
> all equal, all human beings?
A 8b: It's an interesting idea you bring forward, but it would reform the political world we live in totally. The concept of sovereignty would be entirely eroded. Groups of people could move into other territories and immediately claim them and transform them into whatever they wished. Nobody could stop them because all people must at all times be treated equally. I think we have to cool down with your utopias a bit. It's a good thing that settled people can feel secure in the short term, that they can decide over their ancient lands and the speed with which they want to extend the decision making to include newcomers.

The basic feature for being an immigrant, whatever nationality, is that if one moves, by choice or necessity, to an other culture, then one has an obligation to integrate in this culture. (Note to the PCs, it does not mean to give up ones own national culture or language!)

> Q 8c: A recent Finnish encyclopedia compute the number of Finns in
> Sweden to 400'000, and tells that 200'000 pure-Finns to have become
> Swedish citizens. The InfoBook CD-ROM Encyclopedia says the number of
> native Finnish speakers in Northern Sweden is around 50'000.
> Do you really accuse the encyclopedia to present false figures?
A 8c: The number of naturalized Finns is definitely lower. The total number of now living Swedish citizens born in Finland is 130'000. The following figures come out if one assumes 25% of the immigrants from Finland to be Finland-Swedes (or Åland-Swedes) and then use the official Swedish population statistics (end of year 1994):

95'000 Finns who have switched from citizenship of Finland to Swedish
60'000 immigrated Finns with remaining citizenship
55'000 Immigrants from Finland with Swedish mother tongue
25'000 Sweden-born Finns with citizenship of Finland
15'000 Finns born and residing in the Tornedalen municipalities
15'000 internal migrants from Tornedalen to other parts of Sweden

If one assumes the number of 2:nd generation immigrants to be approximately equal to the number of 1:st generation immigrants, then one would arrive at figures in level with this encyclopedia. These 2:nd generation immigrated Finns do however not necessarily speak Finnish, nor do many of them identify themselves as Finns.

Many, among Finns probably the most, of the 2:nd generation immigrants have parents with different mother tongues. According to anthropological surveys among Swedish immigrants such youths are very unlikely to have another native language than Swedish. Finns are less likely than other immigrants to require their children to master the less usable parental mother tongue. - One could ask: cause or effect of less contacts with the grandparents?

Regarding the Tornedalen minority one must consider the total population of the three municipalities which cover most of the Swedish side of the Torne river valley. 24'000 is their total population, of which at least some 4'000 are Swedes, about as many are immigrants from Finland - and additionally some residents are of Sámi origin. Figures around 50'000, as the Tornedalian-Finnish organization presents, are hard to believe. Particularly as the organization itself reports 3'000 members.

> Q 8d: This means, that the given figures over immigrants lack all of the
> children?
A 8d: No, usually not. In the Swedish debate the used figure is often 20%, of which 8% are thought to be 2:nd generation immigrants with Swedish citizenship but at least one immigrated parent. (18,8% would be more precise.) The statistics over second generation immigrants is however not so well known among Swedish debaters.

> Q 8e: Now, when is someone an immigrant, and when not? Are the 90'000
> Finns who have moved from Finland to Sweden and then got Swedish
> citizenship still immigrants?
A 8e: They are 1:st generation immigrants until they die, or until they migrate back to Finland again. Their kids are 2:nd generation immigrants, also until they die. If they really are recognized as immigrants or not depends on them and their actions. If they identify themselves as immigrants or not, that might depend much on how they are perceived by the society around, but also on their upbringing.

An important reason why they aren't recognized as a minority is if they have not formed communities within which their minority-culture and language could thrive. Instead the opposite has occurred, particularly among the economical immigrants, which also has been the official goal for the Swedish policy.

Finnish immigrants belong to them who in high degree use Swedish at home and where the 2:nd generation have the weakest capability in the mother tongue of their parent(s). And this despite the fact that the Finnish immigrants due to their nordic citizenship and the number of immigrants in each town has been the immigrants who has been the very most favored with societal service including right to education and support in the mother tongue of their parents.

> Q 8f: Some of the Finnish speakers are probably born in Sweden
> from parents who immigrated some decades ago.
A 8f: We're not talking about many tens of thousands any longer. The experience from the gratis education in mother tongues of ones parents shows this clearly. Only about 1% of the pupils in the mandatory school study Finnish, despite the Finnish claims that 5% of the population being Finnish. (It could be noted that many pupils registered as having Finnish mother tongue chose to study "Swedish as a second language" but not Finnish. Thus the percent pupils registered as students of Finnish is not identical to the percent of pupils with Finnish mother tongue.)

> Q 8g: How many years do the immigrants have to wait until they are not
> anymore immigrants, but a minority?
A 8g: Since they are not recognized as an autochthonous minority, but as a newly immigrated group, they will not be recognized as a minority unless they form communities isolated from the rest of the society, where a minority-language and minority-culture could thrive. - Some might also point to EBLUL's unofficial hundred year rule for indigenous populations.

9. The Tornedalen Finns and the Lapps

> Q 9a: Are the 15'000 Finns from Tornedalen who have moved to the south
> also immigrants?
A 9a: Maybe internal migrants is a more precise choice of words.

> Q 9b: Also Swedes acknowledge how the autochthonous minority is
> neglected, ignored and forgotten by many Swedes, or in best case
> the Fennophones confused with the Lapps. Isn't this a despicable sign of
> Swedes being reluctant to human rights in their own country but eager to
> preach for foreigners?
A 9b: Maybe. On the other hand one must conclude improvements to have been done since the 50:ies, and one must remember how 90% of the Swedes live far away from these minorities. Very far away, actually. 10% of the population live in the northern half of the 1600 km long country. Tornedalen lies in the very furthest North.

The problem is also that the Tornedalians have not seemed to present their case to the Swedish audience. If the audience will hear or not can be determined first then. The Finnish immigrants, which are the Finns ordinary Swedes know as neigbors and collegues, don't propagate for the autochthonous minority either.

> Q 9c: Certainly the diversity of Sámi culture cannot really be a
> serious obstacle in recognizing the Sámi minority officially?
A 9c: No. It shouldn't be. But it's a strong argument against pointing out one of the Sámi languages on a national level to be "more" official than the other. And the existence of very small languages, with less than 1'000 speakers, makes it not easy to argue for national laws giving equal rights for all Sámi speakers, not to mention demands on governmental officials to master these languages.

> Q 9d: Aren't the autochthonous minorities too few to gain political
> power, and therefore in need of mandatory regulations in the national
> law?
A 9d: Yes, the Sámi families (or tribes) who make their living from reindeer tending are spread out over many rural municipalities and counties, and constitute only minorities in each of them. That's a reason why their representatives, the Nordic Sameting, are recognized by the national government.

The situation for the Tornedalen Finns is different. In all three municipalities at the border to Finland they constitute the majority. Many of them have also moved to Kiruna, Gällivare and Luleå, where there also are many immigrants from Finland and from other countries. Here the Tornedalen Finns are not differentiated from all the other "newly" arrived families.

The Finnish inhabitants in Gällivare are not identified as Tornedalings - neither by themselves nor by the Tornedalings. Swedish officials do however usually count the few original inhabitants of the Norrbottens Finnbygd, who all had Finnish mother tongue, together with the natives on the Swedish side of the Torne river valley - if they don't forget them totally.

> Q 9e: Because Tornedalian Finnish is, in practice, a dialect of
> standard-Finnish, I guess it would be standard-Finnish which should be
> recognized as an official language in Tornedalen?
A 9e: Don't be so sure. The Tornedalians put a great pride in their own variety of Finnish, which has not been developing together with the rest of the Finnish language after 1809, when the nationalistic and romantic Fennophone movement lead forward to a standard Finnish which is used when writing and resitating written Finnish. Many words in their dialects are particular, just as the Sweden-Finnish used by and for immigrants in Sweden is adapted after terms in the Swedish society. - The Swedish taught and officially used in Finland is also different from the Swedish used in Sweden.

When education on standard-Finnish was tried in Tornedalen some years ago, the results were bad. Due to the relative closeness to their mother tongue it was described as even more difficult than using the totally different Swedish language in the education.

[ End of FAQ ]



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