Monday, September 6, 2010

I Helsingissä

If you don't know Finland already, Finland has two national languages; Swedish and Finnish. Sweden ruled over Finland for hundreds of years, and so Swedish the language used for writing, reading, and the government. Because Finnish is such a minority language, as compared with French or English, it is important that Finns learn foreign languages. Perhaps a little of that, as well as some other things, and you get a compulsory Swedish class. Pakkoruotsi, or directly translated, is the enforced Swedish classes that every teen has to take. It is hard, and I would, to go from a Germanic language to one of the Finno-Ugric, and so people generally dislike the language and having to learn it.

I was told that although you needed to speak Swedish to get a job, most Finns will switch to English upon being asked a question in Swedish. The signs also come in Swedish. Oddly enough, but not so oddly, only 6% of the population has Swedish as their äidenkieli, or mother tongue.


Last night I had an orientation of sorts with the Helsinki and Espoo AFS chapters. I had so much fun seeing everyone again! It was also nice to meet all the new and different people! I even meet a boy from the Faroe Islands. When I asked him why Finland, he said it was because it was so different despite being in Nordic Europe; which is only another reason I should make my next exchange be to Denmark.

Anyways, I meet a few Swedish-mother-tongue Finns and got to chat with them in Swedish. Once things got going, the Swedish just rolled right off my tongue! It felt so comfortable and natural! I also got to speak in short with a girl in pure Finnish.

Well, to explain the title and this post, I was asked (Swedish:) 'Var bor du?' (Swedish: Where do you live?) I replied 'I Helsingissä : DD' (Swedish correct answer: i Helsingfors) (Finnish correct answer: Asun (live with the possesive case =I live) Helsingissä (Helsinki. Nk always becomes ng when cases change it. -ssä + i = case ending meaning in).

So, I am living in a place where Finnish and Swedish are constantly struggling against each other, yet I somehow mix up these completely different languages. I just thought that was pretty interesting, and I definetly would like to learn more about exactly why young Finns are saying 'Pois pakkruotsi!' (Finnish: away with the enforced Swedish)