Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The secondary domestic language (Finnish: toinen kotimainen kieli, Swedish: det andra inhemska språket) is the official term for an unpopular subject in the schools of Finland. In Finnish, pakkoruotsi, meaning "compulsory Swedish", is often used in reference to this imposed tuition of Swedish. The term pakkoruotsi may be regarded as derogatory, or maybe rather as revealing some animosity.
"Mandatory Swedish" is politically correct, and it does not show the loaded bitterness as a better term "YOKE SWEDISH" bears, similarly as the Finnish term "pakkoruotsi" expresses.
Widely speaking, "pakkoruotsi" is not only the issue of mandatory Swedish classes in schools, colleges and universities. It may also be used as means of discrimination against Finnish-speakers, when they apply for public servant positions and even against their being eligible to bid their services to European Union tendering. For example, in Vaasa there has been a lot of talk about the language requirements in health care. A knowledge of Swedish is required, as many patients, especially the elderly, are exclusively Swedish-speaking. However, the requirement for a knowledge of Finnish is not enforced as strictly, even if there are many exclusively Finnish-speaking patients e.g. from Laihia.
The shown map is a well-known example of the suggestion that there are large Swedish-speaking areas in Finland. Yet, in the continental Finland out of the 430 municipalities only three – Korsnäs , Larsmo and Närpes – are entirely Swedish-speaking. There is no single unilingually Swedish city. The map also suggests that the cities, such as Helsinki (Helsingfors), Turku (Åbo) and Vaasa (Vasa), would be Swedish-speaking. That is not the case: Helsinki, for example, is a Finnish-speaking city, with more English-, than Swedish-speakers. Except for Åland, Swedish speaking-majorities are confined to 23 out of the 430 municipalities. Of them, the only cities are the small coastal towns of Ekenäs, Kristinestad, Jakobstad and Nykarleby, of which Jakobstad is the largest with 11000 Swedish-speakers.
Please, look at the similar map, and which is not biased, how different it truly is: Unbiased map of Swedish-Finnish language shares. An example to compare with appears at a site maping Finnish dialects.
The relations between Finland-Swedes and ethnic Finns were particularly problematic from the mid-19th century, with Finland's language strife, to the Winter War in 1939. In the University of Helsinki, using Finnish language was totally banned and professors harassed the Finnish-speakers. Only after bitter fighting and demonstrations, Finnish language was accepted. The controversies were gradually solved by numerous provisions advantageous for the Finland-Swedish minority. Today, a major remaining source of adverse sentiments are the mandatory courses and exams in the language of the relatively small minority.
In many cases, pupils have negative expectations towards learning Swedish, which tends to reflect back in the social interaction between pupils and teachers, which creates a negative learning environment, which in turn further contributes to negative attitudes towards the Swedish language, the Swedish speaking minority in general, and Sweden as a country. It's easily argued that such negative attitudes founded in the formative school years might contribute to negative attitudes in the adult population. The attitudes of pupils and adults alike are partly expressed by prejudices which perceive the Swedish-speaking minority as wealthy snobs, which is a historical recollection of the times when the educated and landed class in Finland was Swedish speaking, neglecting the history of the Swedish speaking peasantry.
The status of Swedish as an official language in Finland is protected by Finland's Constitution and to some degree supported by international treaties according to which Åland is to remain exclusively Swedophone. The political party representing the Swedish speakers, the Swedish People's Party, has successfully been a minor partner in most Cabinets since Finland's independence.
The new anti-racism directive EC (2000/43) may put an end to the practice to force Finns to possess attributes of an ethnic group. "In very limited circumstances, a difference of treatment may be justified where a characteristic related to racial or ethnic origin constitutes a genuine and determining occupational requirement, when the objective is legitimate and the requirement is proportionate. Such circumstances should be included in the information provided by the Member States to the Commission." Thus the present Finnish way to demand almost perfect Swedish skills from all educated people and public servants is against the directive.
Swedish teaching for all pupils in primary education was introduced in the 1970s, until then it had only been required in secondary and tertiary education. Governmental service is, since the end of the 19th century, offered in both domestic languages; therefore employees must be proficient in both Finnish and Swedish. The reform was based on a political ambition to strengthen the ties with the Western world through Scandinavia, and to show that Finland was still a part of the Nordic countries, and not an Eastern Bloc country. It also sought to improve social mobility by ensuring that a bad decision on language in the early school years should not become an obstacle for applicants to the civil services.
In the upper secondary general school all the students learn at least two foreign languages, one of which is the other domestic language (Swedish or Finnish). The Finnish speakers take Swedish, and vice versa. Practically all the students took English, either as a compulsory or an optional language; 44 per cent took German and 21 per cent French. Mandatory Swedish has also influenced to the fact that Finns know foreign languages somewhat less than Swedes, Norwegians and Danes. It has been estimated to decrease the GNP of Finland by milliards of euros annually.
- Finland's language strife
- Government regulation on classification of municipalities according to language
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