English is no threat to Finnish language

English poses no threat to Finnish language

ENGLISH: Studied from an early age in Finland Photo credit: Pexels/Gustavo Fring

The omnipresence of the English language does not pose a threat to Finnish, a University of Eastern Finland study revealed.

Examining the status of English in Finland’s public administration, business life and universities, investigators concluded that restricting its use could cause “significant harm” to global cooperation.

It would also make it less easy for international experts, workers and students to integrate into society Finnish society, the research team said.

The study was based partially on responses from 1,750 people in public administration, business and higher education, fields where English is the second-most used language and has overtaken the country’s second official language, Swedish.

“Answers from the business community attributed more importance to Swedish but English was still slightly ahead,” the project leader Mikko Laitinen, professor of English Language and Culture at the University of Eastern Finland, told state broadcaster Yle.

So far the public debate on the status of English had focused on claims that English was a threat which could restrict the use of the national languages, Finnish and Swedish, Laitinen said.

“The discussion appears to be guided by a nationalist ‘one nation, one language’ mindset, where languages ​​have fields of use and boundaries. In reality, this is not the case, and should be recognised in the Finnish debate,” he maintained.

Rejecting English could be traced to rapid changes in society, he said, describing the transition from the 20th century’s unified culture to the global, networked society of the 21st century as “astonishingly fast.”

English was once clearly a foreign language and studied in the same way as other foreign languages. “We’re still struggling with that change,” Laitinen suggested.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.