Swedish in Finland

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Swedish in Finland

Post by Theriel » Mon Apr 19, 2004 4:19 pm

Hey, got a question for you guys. How far will Swedish get you in Finland? I have a basic knowledge of Norwegian so picking up Swedish probably wouldn't be too difficult; at least it would be a lot easier than Finnish. But is it even worth the effort, if you're looking for a job, or should you concentrate soley on Finnish and just ignore Swedish?

Swedish in Finland


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Hank W.
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Post by Hank W. » Mon Apr 19, 2004 4:31 pm

If you apply for a job in Mariehamn (Åland islands) or say in Närpes or any small coastal town with a strong minority, Like Pietarsaari, Vaasa or Porvoo then you have some asset. Otherwise the 2nd language understood is English or German...
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Post by Alicia » Sat Apr 24, 2004 11:24 am

I came to Finland with Danish (that I learnt as an exchange student) and I now have forgotten all my Danish and speak Swedish instead.

I think Swedish gets me along the west coast quite well. I live in Vaasa and I have the right to choose Swedish for everything. North to Jakobstad as Hank wrote or even Kokkola (but then that is more Finnish speaking) and south to Närpes and Kristinastad. In Åbo one can also get away with speaking Swedish, as well as on all the islands around there and the Åland Islands.

If I head inland, even 30 km from Vaasa it is already Finnish speaking. Remember that about 6 % speak Swedish and Finnish speakers aren't always so happy about having to speak Swedish to someone.

My last hair cut was in Finnish. BIG MISTAKE!!! I look like an 80 year old church organ player instead of a 23 year old student. I have had to wait for 3 months for it to grow long enough to do anything with it.

Tom and Jerry

Post by Tom and Jerry » Sat Apr 24, 2004 11:52 am

If you come to Finland as an expat for a larger company or a larger international organization, Swedish will be very useful. In all two-language communities you can deal with all papers related to tax and juridical affairs in Swedish.

That is in places like Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo, Porvoo, Kirknummi, Lohja, Turku, Vaasa

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Post by superiorinferior » Sat May 01, 2004 7:40 pm

I learned Swedish (finlandssvenska) from my mother in the states.

How I wish she taught me Finnish, considering where I now live (Helsinki).

I guess what was said above is correct, as I have only been to Vasa (Swedish spelling) one time, but Swedish is a little more commonly spoken in the southern coastal region of Hangö (Hanko), Ekenäs (Tammisaari), Karis (Karjaa) and Kyrkslätt (Kirkkonummi). However, as many Finns will remind you this is FINland with an emphasis on the FIN.

Finnish is basically mandatory unless you want to isolate yourself to about 8,000 other citizens speaking this dying dialect of Swedish.

There is a considerable bit of Finnish animosity towards this minority group, the assertion is that Swedish speaking folks are born with silver spoons in their collective mouths, and I suppose there is a certain degree of truth in that. Many of the Swedish speaking people live rather insular lives, and through these connections jobs, money and power is often kept to those "in the club." But there are always exceptions, and I personally know quite a few Swedish speakers who lived anything but charmed lives.

Most of my friends speak Finnish, and my Swedish speaking relatives don't really get it that they belong to a somewhat privileged club, I don't know, maybe it is just my friend's prejudiced influence rubbing off.

My Finnish is okay, I understand much more than I dare utter. My education has been from the street, mostly. I took a few months of lessons sponsored by the national employment office, but that only made me more confused.

I would like one day to find a good class to improve on the grammar part, as my vocabulary is quite vast....

So, I guess I'd say you need to learn Finnish to some degree to get any real value for money here. It is one of the hardest things I still haven't done, but at least Finnish swear words are extraordinarily creative.

Try it. You may not like it, but you'll get points for the attempt.

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Post by andyfinland » Fri May 14, 2004 8:49 pm

Well I have benn working in a swedish speaking organisation for 7 years and they ALWAYS use their Finnish when speaking in Helsinki, except maybe down the Tammisaari way or Siibbo. So my answer would be not very far.

Still the govenment passed a law that all national etc. documentation must be in Swedish and Finnish.

So there is hope! :D [/quote]

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Post by Caroline » Sat May 15, 2004 6:36 pm

The others have pretty well covered it...depends on where you end up living and on what kinds of friends you make. But after all is said and done, it's still the minority language, and I'd say that in most cases Finnish or English will get you farther. Even though Finns study Swedish in school, not everyone speaks it very well, nor do they necessarily like having to use it. If you really find Swedish easier to learn, it could be helpful in getting you Finnish citizenship though. I used to live in Lohja (specifically Virkkala), where I heard maybe 50/50 or 60/40 Finnish and Swedish, but now living in Oulu I rarely hear Swedish except during the 2-week tourist season.

But have you even tried to learn Finnish? If you haven't, don't necessarily believe everyone who claims it's impossible, etc etc. There are many foreigners who speak it very well, and, quite frankly sometimes I think it's easier than English, which is my native language. Finnish might be easier for you to learn if you set your mind to accept it for what it is, rather than expecting it to be like English or Swedish.
Former expat in Finland, now living in New Hampshire USA.

Remembah whea ya pahked ya cah!

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