The Nordic Youth Council (UNR), the youth political organisation of the Nordic Council, has decided that it will allow the English language to be used when necessary in meetings. This goes against the official Nordic language policy which stipulates that the working languages are Swedish/Norwegian/Danish (which are mutually intelligible).
According to UNR, Nordic cooperation should be open to all individuals in the Nordic countries and not be an exclusive club for those that can speak a Scandinavian tongue.
UNRs president Lisbeth Sejer Götzsche said that she had come to the conclusion that speaking English on occasion would not make her any less Danish or Nordic. However, she pointed out it would be easier for UNR to operate in solely the Scandinavian languages if it received more support for interpretation.
It’s hard to understand why this decision is necessary. Finnish-speaking Finns, Icelanders, Greenlanders and the Faeroese all must study one of the mainland Scandinavian languages (in practice Swedish for Finnish-speaking Finns and Danish for the others) in school. UNR seems to be sending out a signal that says the education systems are failing to perform their roles. It also seems to be conceding and even collaborating with the English take-over of various domains which is damaging for the vitality of the Scandinavian languages. Of course, English is a global language and it’s convenient that we have such a tongue – afterall, this blog is written in it to reach out. But the Nordic Council and its youth wing are meant to be forums for the Nordic countries – it’s not an entity that encompasses the wider globe. English or any other non-Nordic language simply shouldn’t be necessary.
Picture is of the Nordic Youth Council’s members. Source: Nordbild/norden.org