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Politics of small languages in Europe Pirkko Nuolijärvi Helsinki, November 23, 2007 Research Institute for the Languages of Finland.

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Presentation on theme: "Politics of small languages in Europe Pirkko Nuolijärvi Helsinki, November 23, 2007 Research Institute for the Languages of Finland."— Presentation transcript:

1 Politics of small languages in Europe Pirkko Nuolijärvi Helsinki, November 23, 2007 Research Institute for the Languages of Finland

2 Finnish among languages the official language in the European Union the national language in Finland the majority language in Finland used by 4,7 million people as a mother tongue the second language in Finland used by people the minority language in Sweden (in northern municipalities) the mother tongue or the second language by hundred thousands outside Finland

3 The largest language groups in Finland The largest language groups in Finland Source: Statistics Finlandlanguage Finnish ,7 % of the population Swedish ,5 % Russian ,8 % Estonian ,3 % English ,2 % Somali ,2 % Arabic ,1 % Kurdish Albanian Chinese Vietnamese German Other Total

4 International treaties on linguistic rights bilateral Nordic more widely international (binding the members of the Council of Europe or the United Nations)

5 Declaration on a Nordic language policy All Nordic residents have the right to acquire both spoken and written skills in a language essential to society so that they can participate in the workings of society to acquire an understanding of and skills in a Scandinavian and an understanding of the other Scandinavian languages so that they can take part in the Nordic language community to acquire a language of international importance so that they can take part in the development of world society society to preserve and develop their mother tongue and their national minority language.

6 Issues to work with Language comprehension and language skills The parallel use of languages Multilingualism The Nordic countries as a linguistic pioneering region

7 Languages in Finnish Acts Constitution 2000 (1919) Language Act 2003 (1922) Sámi Language Act 2003 (1991) Basic Education Act 1998 Other: Act on the Knowledge of Languages Required of Personnel in Public Bodies Administrative Procedure Act Act on the Status and Rights of a Patient etc.

8 Constitution 2000 (1) Constitution 2000 (1) Section 17. Right to one’s language and culture. The national languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish. The right of everyone to use his own language, either Finnish or Swedish, before court of laws and other authority, and to receive documents in that language, shall be guaranteed by an Act. The public authorities shall provide for the educational, cultural and societal needs of the Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking populations of the country on an equal basis.

9 Constitution 2000 (2) Constitution 2000 (2) Section 17. Right to one’s language and culture. The Sámi, as an indigenous people, as well as the Romani and other groups, have the right to maintain and develop their own language and culture. Provisions on the right of the Sámi to use the Sámi language before the authorities are laid down by an Act. The rights of persons using sign language and of persons in need of interpretation or translation aid owing to disability shall be guaranteed by an Act.

10 Language Act 2003 Unilingual or bilingual authorities The right of the individual to use his or her own language Flexible service in both languages Information in both Finnish and Swedish Authorities to ensure language rights

11 Sámi Language Act 2003 Sámi Language Act 2003 Section 12. When dealing with the authorities, a Sámi has the right to use the Sámi or the Finnish language, as he or she may choose. A Sámi has the same right before State authorities also outside the Sámi homeland, when these authorities are hearing appeals against decisions of authorities within the Sámi homeland.

12 The report of the Government to Parliament on the application of language legislation The report is submitted under the Language Act in each electoral period. It deals with the application of language legislation the securing of linguistic rights and the linguistic conditions of Finland.

13 Proposals for measures relating to the operations of the authorities and the courts societal decision-making monitoring and evaluation

14 Basic Education Act 1998 (1) Section 10. Language of instruction The language of instruction and the language used in extracurricular teaching shall be either Finnish or Swedish. The language of instruction may also be Sámi, Romani or sign language. In addition, part of teaching may be given in a language other than the pupils’ native language referred to above, provided that this does not risk the pupils‘ ability to follow teaching.

15 Basic Education Act 1998 (2) Section 12. Mother tongue As mother tongue, the pupil shall be taught Finnish, Swedish or Sámi in keeping the language of instruction. As mother tongue, the pupil may also be taught the Romani language, sign language or some other language which is the pupil's native language.

16 Issues to discuss in Finland (1) How to maintain or to improve the service in Swedish in bilingual municipalities with the Finnish majority the possibilities to use Sámi languages in the authorities; the service in Sámi languages; Sámi teaching outside the Sámi homeland the balance between the use of Finnish/Swedish and English (universities, companies) the status of Karelian in Finland

17 Issues to discuss in Finland (2) How to maintain or to improve the support to the Romani Language in the basic education and in the society the support to the sign language in the basic education and in the society the support to the pupil’s native languages and the bilingualism in the basic education the languages and the culture of all groups in Finland.


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