Swedish-speaking Finns are becoming all the more bilingual. That’s according to the latest trend from the Finland-Swedish Barometer survey.
According to researcher Kjell Herberts at the Institute for Finland-Swedish Future Research, one can read this trend by comparing the latest barometer results with surveys done in the past. In 1950, 46% of Swedish-speaking Finns asked said that they had a strong command of both national languages. According to the most recent research, 82% of Swedish-speaking Finns are of the opinion that they have a strong command of Finnish as well as Swedish. (Although it is apparently hard to make a totally accurate comparison, as the questions were asked differently in 1950 as to more recent surveys, and the question does not necessarily imply that one should be fluent in Finnish to give a positive response).
According to Herberts, the situation for Swedish in Finland is made more difficult by those Swedish-speaking Finns who so easily and willingly switch to using Finnish when accessing services. According to Herberts, it is also the case that the more bilingual one becomes, the easier it is to abandon one’s own language. Herberts, however, does not believe that the existence of Swedish in Finland is threatened in at least the short term.
The latest barometer survey also shows that Swedish-speaking young people are significantly less interested in politics than their Finnish-speaking counterparts. 77% of Swedish-speaking youths said that they were either not at all interested or not especially interested in politics.