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(Jan 11, 2013) Finnish speakers in eight additional districts in Finnish Language Rights Expanded in Sweden, ICE NEWS (Jan. 6, 2013); Ann Törnkvist, Sweden Extends Finnish-Language Rights, THE LOCAL (Dec. 28, 2012).)

The new districts are Borlänge, Enköping, Finspång, Luleå, Motala, Sandviken, Uddevalla and Örebro. Finnish-language government services will now be offered in 40 Swedish districts. (Finnish Language Rights Expanded in Sweden, supra.) Approximately 5.5% of the country's people speak Finnish as a primary language or come from a Finnish family; it therefore is a matter of potential interest to half a million people. Finns have lived in parts of what is now Sweden since medieval times; the two countries did not separate until 1809. (Törnkvist, supra.)

The national government will compensate local authorities for the costs of providing public services in an additional language. (Id.)

Recent figures show that over 5.5% of Sweden's population speaks Finnish or originated from a Finnish family. Although there is a need for services in Finnish, particularly for older Finnish speakers, the right to request government services in Finnish is not dependent on any demonstrable need. According to Stockholm County Administrative Board spokesperson Katarina Popvic, aging citizens may "lose their Swedish even though they've lived here for many, many years, so in these cases we are talking about a very acute need" for use of Finnish for communication. (Id.) She also made it clear that "[t]hese laws are rights-based, not needs-based, so even if you speak Swedish, you can ask for contact with public servants to be in Finnish." (Id.)

Author: Constance Johnson More by this author
Topic: Languages More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Sweden More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 01/11/2013