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Swedish in Finland: How the language of the ruling class became the language of an oppressed minority (and lived through the change).

Mon, February 1, 2010 | BUR 337

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Finland was a part of Sweden from roughly 1200 until 1809, when Finland was ceded to Russia. During these six centuries, Swedish was established as the language of the ruling class, and the language of administration and education.

            During the Russian era, Finland went through a period of national awakening, and the Finnish language began to gain new ground in official and educational circumstances. Swedish was not abandoned, however: Finns held on to the official status of Swedish, largely in order to prevent russification.

            After Finland became independent in 1917, Finnish and Swedish were given an equal status as official languages used in any official interactions. At present, all legislature is still published equally in both languages, both are used as languages of education in all levels, etc. Practically, however, using Swedish is often a problem—to the extent that Finland Swedish seems to be turning into a language of an oppressed minority.

Sponsored by: Germanic Studies

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  • Center for European Studies

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