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Competitiveness / Education & Research



Fears in Finland that English-language invasion threatens the country's language, culture

Monday, 11 March 2013
Finland fears that English language is a new threat to its culture, something that has not been talked about a lot in the past.

Like the other small Scandinavian countries, to be relevant in the international scene, a stronger language has to be used for business, science and technological development as well as overall competitiveness. This is why the English language has been a big deal in the Finnish intellectual circles but that has now come under fire from some sectors of the society, which accused the growth of the language as a threat to the county's identity and culture.

According to the Finnish broadcaster, Yle, today more and more university courses are being offered in English. This has ignited disheartening reactions from some sectors of the Finnish academic establishment who see this development as eroding Finland's official languages and also culture.

Nowadays it's not uncommon for Finnish researchers to only publish scholarly papers in English. Given the dominant role of English in the wider academic world, wouldn't switching to English make sense? are some of the questions asked by observers in teh academic world.

"No!," not according to Pirkko Nuolijärvi, who advocates on behalf of the country's two official languages.
"It's important that both languages are used in academic circles. If we don't, we may start losing words and expressions, which will lead to impoverished vocabularies in daily life, too,” said Nuolijärvi, who heads the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland to the Finnish broadcaster Yle.

That viewpoint is however has been strongly challenged by another authority,  Mari-Anna Suurmunne, head of international relations at Aalto University who told Yle that  in contrast to those who object English, English, is the better language to use.
"We even want our janitor to be able to communicate in English," Mari-Anna Suurmunne, said adding that "Our new language strategy calls for a blend of teaching in Finnish, Swedish and English, but everyone who works here has to be able to speak English."
By Team

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