Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Finland is bi-lingual

Did you know that Finland is a bi-lingual country?

As there is a minority of 6 % Finns that have Swedish as their native tongue, everything in Finland such as Laws and even the texts on food packages has to be labelled in Finnish as well as Swedish. Well, anyway, I have tried to find out if it works in practice and have come to the conclusion that it is quite over advertised.

In places where you by law are entitled to get service and help in your native language, and as it happens to be Swedish for me, I get no help at all. Try to ring some place, like the tax Office and they pass your call around until your call is lost somewhere. When I ring back about the same subject speaking in Finnish there always is someone who can answer my questions. And you are supposed to get medical care in Swedish too and I have not yet met but one doctor who was Swedish speaking, and he was a Finn too, but had studied and worked for long periods of time in Sweden.

I guess that in the public health care and every government run Public office there are people working who speak Swedish as their native tongue, why not make them kind of liaison officers to help people?

I mean, my Finnish is pretty good after having lived here as long as I have but when it comes to complicated law terms and paragraphs I am lost. I have heard that even the Finns themselves have difficulties to understand the Office language there is, so how am I supposed to get what they say, or write for that matter?!? I know that on the coastal areas there are even cities that are completely Swedish speaking, and I have even heard of foreigners learning to speak Swedish in those areas to cope with their daily lives but learn no Finnish at all! How is that for a controversy?

Anyway, I am glad I still can relax and speak my native language meeting people in some places here in Finland. Must be quite strenuous for all the foreigners living here who can not speak their native language anywhere.

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