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Why not just one Scandinavian language?

 Language Learning Forum : Skandinavisk & Nordisk Post Reply
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Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 4633 days ago

4474 posts - 6724 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 41 of 69
06 March 2010 at 6:53pm | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:

All I know is that once you leave Scandinavia you realise that it barely registers on peoples consciousness in the rest of Europe. I don't want my country to be some insignificant region at the outskirts of the map... And I don't want my language to meet the same fate as Welsh or the many dying languages of Russia (to mention some that I have recent information/experience of...)

I realise that there is no immediate danger to Swedish... But the trends are very clear. Smaller languages under heavy influence by larger languages eventually start dying and it only takes a couple of generations.

Scandinavia has (voluntarily) put itself in a position where there are VERY strong influences from English.

Acording to proven experience from across the world and the law of cause and reaction, the outcome is invevitable. It's just a matter of time.

So I am just speculating, for fun, about what possible counteracting measures can be taken. Sadly however, most people don't see the problem. We are not under occupation and nothing is seriously forced down anyones throat (nobody questions compulsory English in schools or ubiquitous English in media), therefore there is no backlash either. Like I said; people will stand up and notice only when the damage is almost completely done, and near irriversible.

The country of Kazakhstan is a really interesting example: It appears most native Kazakhs prefer to speak Russian in most situations and a lot of them don't even know Kazakh. It took less than two generations to get to that point; they had every opportunity to reverse things during the last two decades, but nothing much has happened. We could be heading down the exact same path.


I'd point to the Basque country for an example of people seeing the problem and it not particularly helping. There's been violence, people are extremely divided about what should be done, the language has been actively suppressed, and there's a standard form based on a combination of the major dialects. After all this, there aren't many monolingual adult Basque speakers, and the percentage who speak it fluently even in Basque regions is dishearteningly low. I'm tempted to think standardization contributed to the problem, given discussions I've had with native dialect speakers.

Most of the EU hardly registers on most people's maps in other regions of the EU, I'd say. How much time do you really spend thinking about Portugal? Latvia? Austria?

1 person has voted this message useful



Rikyu-san
Diglot
Senior Member
Denmark
Joined 3722 days ago

213 posts - 413 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, English
Studies: German, French

 
 Message 42 of 69
06 March 2010 at 7:08pm | IP Logged 
I received an email from an Icelandic woman a couple of days ago. We are part of the same international group, but the mail was sent to me personally with no Cc's. It was in English. Without thinking I replied in English. What a shame.

Earlier today I spoke with a nice Icelandic woman who lives here in Denmark. We spoke Danish.

I can't tell you how big the difference is.
4 persons have voted this message useful



Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 4633 days ago

4474 posts - 6724 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 43 of 69
06 March 2010 at 7:09pm | IP Logged 
Impiegato wrote:

I think it is so strange that this has not yet been a real issue on the political agenda in Sweden. If we don't counteract the influence in time, we will lose more and more of our language. I hope Swedes will reflect on this problem more in the future. One way is to promote more literature, music and movies from other countries than English-speaking ones.


Specifically, Swedish / Scandinavian arts need to be promoted. Increasing German, French, etc influence is something I don't think would particularly help.

That said, this is extremely difficult to impose. "Canadian content" laws are subject to a good deal of scorn for a reason, and there have been rants within the last 24 hours about the poor quality of German television (by a native German speaker). Forcing people to be exposed to stuff they dislike backfires, and building up an arts culture people actually like is not something I can think of a model for.

Impiegato wrote:

Another way is to stop switching to English if it is a business meeting with 19 Swedes and one foreigner who can only speak English.


Imposing inconveniences of this sort on businesses is extremely unlikely to have positive effects. If you have a group of business people, and only one common language, it tends to get used (and while this usually ends up favoring English, it doesn't always - if there are some non-English-speakers in a group but everyone speaks another language, I've seen the latter be used).

Impiegato wrote:

We should have a lot more pride in our language. I am already very proud of my language, but I cannot see this pride among most Swedes. Sweden has a lot of great literature, good films and so on. All this will be gone and forgotten if we succumb to the English and American supremacy.


It could definitely be better-promoted. I have next to no idea as to what qualifies as great Scandinavian literature (Ibsen aside). I could certainly look it up, but it's not something which I've ever just stumbled across.

Impiegato wrote:

Another measure that could be taken is to have requirements regarding knowledge of Scanidnavian for foreginers who want to study in our country or want to do a PhD here. High proficiency in Scanidnavian should be a requirement to be promoted in a Swedish company with English as official language. The reason is that most employees will speak Swedish even though English is official.


This would lead to a lot of gaming the system, and promotions of people which aren't merit-based, but I'm not optimistic that it would achieve anything positive.

I don't think requiring Scandinavian language knowledge for PhD students would be to Sweden's advantage. Make the resources available, but don't force it.

Impiegato wrote:

I really want Swedish people to be aware of this extremely important topic, but what really scares me is that the language issue will never be put on top of the agenda. Healthcare, education and the unemployment will probably always be considered more important.


I can't really address this without going far more into politics than I consider appropriate for this forum.

Impiegato wrote:

The reason for adopting English as the language used in international companies is of course saving money. The companies think that they benefit from having only one language, because that means they don't have to translate millions of documents or using interpretors. However, they will lose creativity at the same time. The reason is that languages represent different ways of thinking and expressing symbols of culture, not only means of communication. Another loss is that proficiency in English could be more important than your other skills, if it is impossible to be promoted in the company without speaking and writing excellent English. Therefore it will, in the end, also be a question of human rights, employment and the possibility of participation in society.


Saving money can be a factor, but sheer pragmatism is too. Translation and interpreters and other such overhead can be quite inhibitory. All monetary factors aside, it's amazingly simpler to have everyone at a meeting speak one language, and spontaneous collaboration without a shared language is not common.

1 person has voted this message useful



cordelia0507
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4032 days ago

1473 posts - 2176 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*
Studies: German, Russian

 
 Message 44 of 69
06 March 2010 at 8:07pm | IP Logged 
Volte wrote:
Most of the EU hardly registers on most people's maps in other regions of the EU, I'd say. How much time do you really spend thinking about Portugal? Latvia? Austria?


Well I personally think about it because 1) I normally work with people in lots of different countries (although currently not Latvia). So for that reason I DO think of it. Plus, I am a bit "different", lol... But, of course, I know very well what you are getting at.

Volte wrote:
Forcing people to be exposed to stuff they dislike backfires, and building up an arts culture people actually like is not something I can think of a model for.


Haha, well these days I feel nostalgic when I am remember my childhood... when you turned on either TV1 and TV2 and could choose between Chechoslavakian puppet theatre and "Bingolotto"!   Decisions, decisions.... Or maybe if you were lucky, a German miniseries versus an uninterrupted performance of "Swan Lake" or an opera.... And highly questionable Disney, only on Christmas Eve.. Seriously. Haha.

This excellent setup was of course guaranteed free of junk culture and commercials apart from reminders to change to winter tyres or check your fire alarm.

Obviously, this was a bit "boring" but it had some good points too. No way of turning back the clock though, and I wouldn't want to.But today I am glad that I was not brought up on the same mindless lightweight stuff as some people I come across.


The Canadian law you mentions sounds interesting. I have a lot of respect for Canada. I became a fan of Canada after watching Canadian Bacon.... LOL


Volte wrote:
The companies think that they benefit from having only one language,


Yeah. Forcing strict language laws upon international companies is NOT a good idea. It would be detrimental. The only way to force international business to change about anything, is international laws that hit them from a large part of the industrial world simultaneosly, as has happened to some degree with environmental regulations. If the EU got serious about some kind of language law, then the size of the the EU market would probably force them to adapt. Nothing that Scandinavia did alone would change a thing. But the mere idea of the EU agreeing on anything, in particularly relating to languages is a good joke... Meanwhile even the French are now willing to use English for business.

I have more to say on other comments.... but I will save it for later :-)
3 persons have voted this message useful



Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 4633 days ago

4474 posts - 6724 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 45 of 69
06 March 2010 at 8:15pm | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:

Volte wrote:
Forcing people to be exposed to stuff they dislike backfires, and building up an arts culture people actually like is not something I can think of a model for.


Haha, well these days I feel nostalgic when I am remember my childhood... when you turned on either TV1 and TV2 and could choose between Chechoslavakian puppet theatre and "Bingolotto"!   Decisions, decisions.... Or maybe if you were lucky, a German miniseries versus an uninterrupted performance of "Swan Lake" or an opera.... And highly questionable Disney, only on Christmas Eve.. Seriously. Haha.

This excellent setup was of course guaranteed free of junk culture and commercials apart from reminders to change to winter tyres or check your fire alarm.

Obviously, this was a bit "boring" but it had some good points too. No way of turning back the clock though, and I wouldn't want to.But today I am glad that I was not brought up on the same mindless lightweight stuff as some people I come across.


I personally can't stand watching English-language TV. Most of my natively German/Italian speaking friends love it, for whatever reason. I don't really think there's much that can or should be done about this.

cordelia0507 wrote:

The Canadian law you mentions sounds interesting. I have a lot of respect for Canada. I became a fan of Canada after watching Canadian Bacon.... LOL


The main impact it had on me is a lifelong strong dislike for Celine Dion's music.

cordelia0507 wrote:

Volte wrote:
The companies think that they benefit from having only one language,


Yeah. Forcing strict language laws upon international companies is NOT a good idea. It would be detrimental. The only way to force international business to change about anything, is international laws that hit them from a large part of the industrial world simultaneosly, as has happened to some degree with environmental regulations. If the EU got serious about some kind of language law, then the size of the the EU market would probably force them to adapt. Nothing that Scandinavia did alone would change a thing. But the mere idea of the EU agreeing on anything, in particularly relating to languages is a good joke... Meanwhile even the French are now willing to use English for business.

I have more to say on other comments.... but I will save it for later :-)


Exactly.

Edited by Volte on 06 March 2010 at 8:15pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Impiegato
Triglot
Senior Member
Sweden
bsntranslation.
Joined 3627 days ago

100 posts - 145 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English, Italian
Studies: Spanish, French, Russian

 
 Message 46 of 69
06 March 2010 at 8:55pm | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:
Volte wrote:
Most of the EU hardly registers on most people's maps in other regions of the EU, I'd say. How much time do you really spend thinking about Portugal? Latvia? Austria?


Well I personally think about it because 1) I normally work with people in lots of different countries (although currently not Latvia). So for that reason I DO think of it. Plus, I am a bit "different", lol... But, of course, I know very well what you are getting at.

Volte wrote:
Forcing people to be exposed to stuff they dislike backfires, and building up an arts culture people actually like is not something I can think of a model for.


Haha, well these days I feel nostalgic when I am remember my childhood... when you turned on either TV1 and TV2 and could choose between Chechoslavakian puppet theatre and "Bingolotto"!   Decisions, decisions.... Or maybe if you were lucky, a German miniseries versus an uninterrupted performance of "Swan Lake" or an opera.... And highly questionable Disney, only on Christmas Eve.. Seriously. Haha.

This excellent setup was of course guaranteed free of junk culture and commercials apart from reminders to change to winter tyres or check your fire alarm.

Obviously, this was a bit "boring" but it had some good points too. No way of turning back the clock though, and I wouldn't want to.But today I am glad that I was not brought up on the same mindless lightweight stuff as some people I come across.


The Canadian law you mentions sounds interesting. I have a lot of respect for Canada. I became a fan of Canada after watching Canadian Bacon.... LOL


Volte wrote:
The companies think that they benefit from having only one language,


Yeah. Forcing strict language laws upon international companies is NOT a good idea. It would be detrimental. The only way to force international business to change about anything, is international laws that hit them from a large part of the industrial world simultaneosly, as has happened to some degree with environmental regulations. If the EU got serious about some kind of language law, then the size of the the EU market would probably force them to adapt. Nothing that Scandinavia did alone would change a thing. But the mere idea of the EU agreeing on anything, in particularly relating to languages is a good joke... Meanwhile even the French are now willing to use English for business.

I have more to say on other comments.... but I will save it for later :-)


Is the last thing you wrote really true? With what countries is business involving French companies conducted in English? I am also interested to know to what extent Swedish companies use English when they are in contact with French companies, and how much we lose or how many unsigned contracts there are by not using French instead.

Edited by Impiegato on 06 March 2010 at 8:56pm

1 person has voted this message useful



ruskivyetr
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3675 days ago

769 posts - 962 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Spanish, Russian, Polish, Modern Hebrew

 
 Message 47 of 69
06 March 2010 at 10:44pm | IP Logged 
OlafP wrote:
cordelia0507 wrote:
Och varför är allt det här på engelska?
haha


Jag undrar på det också. Kanske det skulle vara litet ohövlig att fortsätta
den här diskussionen på skandinaviska språken, eftersom den som har börjat
den här tråden talar bara engelska. Men själv skulle jag föredra att läsa
allt det på svenska, norska eller danska.




Jag kan förstå en lite grann svenska :). Om du vill, du kan sriva på svenska :).

The only reason I asked this in English here in this thread was because I thought that it
would be appropriate to ask about the Scandi languages in the Scandi thread. :( Sorry.

Edited by ruskivyetr on 07 March 2010 at 6:36pm

1 person has voted this message useful



cordelia0507
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4032 days ago

1473 posts - 2176 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*
Studies: German, Russian

 
 Message 48 of 69
07 March 2010 at 11:06pm | IP Logged 
Impiegato wrote:
Is the last thing you wrote really true? With what countries is business involving French companies conducted in English? I am also interested to know to what extent Swedish companies use English when they are in contact with French companies, and how much we lose or how many unsigned contracts there are by not using French instead.


Of course it's true! I don't speak French to any useful level and I used to travel to France on business quite often in my previous job. They have to speak English and that's that... Basically they organise it so that those who speak "good" English are the ones who deal with foreigners. None of my English colleagues can speak good French, but I once hired a person just because she spoke fluent French and she worked closely with France to create a training programme for a new piece of software. This was appreciated by the French colleagues. My boss had thought that they should be trained in English but I knew it was a non-starter and just alienate and annoy the French.

I live in England and I have never had a professional job in Sweden so I can't say anything about which language Swedes generally speak with French people. It probably varies. Obviously it's better to speak French but fluent French is not THAT common in Sweden. I don't think there is a an enormous amount of business going on between the two countries, so it's all hypothetical-- dealings with Germany are much more common in Sweden. I really wish I had studied German in school.

Everyone who remembers my rants from a few months back will recall that I have a great solution to all this: Esperanto!! Extremely easy to learn, fair on all, neutral and free of cultural undertones. That's the language I would have preferred to speak on those business trips to France or anywhere else in the EU where I don't have a good command of the local language.

Edited by cordelia0507 on 07 March 2010 at 11:13pm



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