Maamme

(Hej ni där hemma, det kandee kanske inte läsa det här inlägget. För ni kelar.)

If I had a dollar for every time somebody has called me Swedish here in Melbourne, I would have no money trouble.

I know a lot of people probably don’t care that I’m not from Sweden. Sweden, Finland, Faroe Islands – what’s the difference? Fair enough. What I don’t get is why people have such a hard time understanding that I have nothing to do with Sweden even if I speak the same language, albeit with a different accent.

Swedish is the mother tongue of about 275 000 people in Finland (plus about 25 000 people on an island called Åland). That means about 5,5 per cent of the population. These people are no more Swedish than Danes or Norwegians are. Even less, some would argue.

It’s funny actually, I’ve spent my whole life protesting that the Swedish-speaking Finns would be a separate group with their own identity. A lot of people believe this. I’ve always insisted that it’s just a language, nothing more. When my lecturer asked if I speak Finnish (in order to ask if I understand any Hungarian) I had to add that I also speak Swedish. The class must have thought I wanted to brag or something. For some reason, it was very important to me to say I have two first languages.

To some extent, the Swedish-speaking Finns have their own traditions and their own communities. There are people in Finland who live in a Swedish-speaking family and never learn Finnish because they don’t need to. The most Swedish-speaking town in the world is in Finland, not Sweden.

Some argue that there are Swedish-speaking Finn traditions (for instance, during the first of May, the Swedish-speaking students have their picknick in one park and the Finnish speaking in another. When you graduate high school, the Swedish speakers wear a bigger student cap than the Finnish speakers. Crazy.). Some argue that the Finnish culture elite is in most part Swedish-speaking (i.e. people like Georg Henrik von Wright, Jean Sibelius, Helene Schjerfbeck and even Linus Torvalds spoke and speak Swedish as their first language). Some argue that Swedish-speaking Finns are more socially talented than the Finnish-speaking Finns (which I think, out of all these claims, is most untrue). And many feel that being Swedish-speaking is a part of their identity.

Me and my big, Swedish-speaking Finn student cap.

Putting the issue of a hypothetical Swedish-speaking Finn identity aside, no Finn – whichever language he or she speaks – would cheer for Sweden in the hockey championship – quite the opposite.

So yeah, I speak Swedish. I speak it with my dad, my brother and most of my friends. I read a national Swedish-speaking newspaper. The language spoken in my primary and secondary schools was Swedish. About two thirds of my studies are in Swedish. I know a lot of stuff about Sweden. I also know  lot of stuff about Freedonia.

In spite of this, I really am Finnish. I like Karelian pasties, skiing and the real sauna (at least 80 degrees, by the way). Against my better judgement, I respect authorities. I tend to take things quite litterally. Sometimes I have certain Jante Law tendencies.

Not that I really believe in nationalism, borders, national identities and that kind of thing. However, it says Suomi Finland on my passport. That means Finland in Finnish and Swedish, the two official languages of Finland.

To conclude, Swedish-speaking Finn André Wickström will explain the difference between Finland and Sweden. In Finnish. Hähähähä.

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5 Responses

  1. voj du lilla sara 🙂
    ja vill säga ngt illa men ja saknar dig för mycki så orkar int göra det 🙂

    • Nu MÅSTE du ju säga det, Kyösti. Kom igen! I can handle it.

  2. nähä, det kan jag inte göra min lilla sötnos som är där i downunder!

  3. Oj va stålt ja blir då du använder en bild jag tagit!!!

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