English is one of the key languages used in multilingual Finland, but its role and significance vary considerably depending on the field, task and situation, according to a recent study.
The study coordinated by the University of Eastern Finland said that English plays an important role in certain areas of society, said a government press release on Friday.
It said that restricting the use of English could cause significant harm to international cooperation, and would make it more difficult for international experts, workers and students to come to Finland and integrate into society.
A study examined the status of English in three areas of Finnish society: public administration, higher education and the business sector. According to its findings, there are currently very few signs that Finland’s national languages – Finnish and Swedish – are becoming marginalised in Finland.
While the public debate has focused on the idea that English threatens the position of the national languages in Finland, the study does not corroborate this observation.
The results of the study showed that Finland is clearly the main language used in Finland. English is the second most commonly used language in the country and is widely used especially in higher education institutions and the business sector. Swedish is primarily needed in the business sector and public administration.
The study found that there is no reason to restrict or narrow the position of English through legislative means, as doing so would have a negative impact on the activities of organisations and communities.
Designating English as a third national language would not be a workable solution either.
The study shows that there is a need for clearer language policy in society, its institutions and work communities so that all Finns can feel welcome in Finnish society.
Finnish is clearly the main language used in Finland, and it is important to ensure that this remains the state of affairs.
The results of this study do not justify opposing or prohibiting the use of English in situations where people do not have another common language. The study supports flexible multilingualism in all areas under investigation.
As Finland becomes more multilingual, it is important to ensure that discussions on the position of English are conducted objectively and that assessments of its functions and necessity in society are based on systematic research data.