Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Paper session 4

In the beginning of her presentation Sabine Fiedler posed a question of English as a scientific lingua franca. This is definitely a question that concerns Finnish language as well. Lately there has been a lot of discussion whether Finnish is losing its position as a language of science.

Or from another point of view, does using English endanger (the idea of) multilingualism?


  • New terms more a reflection of problems than a way to solve them
  • English as a “native-culture-free code” attempt to justify the hegemony of English
  • English not a genuine lingua franca >>> disadvantages


Coleman continued with his topic that was in part dealing with the same theme. In the beginning he asked why Irish people speak English rather than Irish and why Finnish people speak Finnish instead of Swedish? Coleman as a historian was convinced that the answer was to be found in history of these two languages.

It was interesting that there have been remarkable changes in the amounts of speakers of Swedish and Irish.

Coleman argued that in case of Irish, what has happened could be called a suicide of a language. The Irish people practically gave up their language.

The following quote probably emphasizes well the bottom line: “The Irish people loved their language but they loved their children more.”

For further reading: You Might All Be Speaking Swedish (2009)


In his presentation Olli-Pekka Salo discussed the state of the official languages in Finland.

In recent years there has been less interest in language studies in basic education. Is it the mandatory Swedish that is the root of all evil?

When it comes to public discussion about the mandatory Swedish, there are various voices about the Swedish for all. Swedish speaking personnel is needed but there is also a need for wider variety of language skills.

Arguments often misplaced. Does giving up from mandatory Swedish at school equal with putting an end to Finland’s bilingualism? Does optional Swedish guarantee that a wider range of languages will be studied in future?

In the end of his presentation Salo discussed the future of basic education. It seems that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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