FSD2979 Opinions on the State of the Finnish Language 2013

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  • Korhonen, Riitta (Institute for the Languages of Finland. Language Planning)
  • Lappalainen, Hanna (University of Helsinki. Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies)


colloquial language, grammar skills, language skills, languages, languages used at work, literacy, mother tongue, national languages, writing skills

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The survey charted citizen views on written and spoken Finnish. Themes studied included, for instance, language change, the relationship between written and spoken language, loanwords from English, and language practices in the public sphere.

Opinions on the use of Finnish and its change were charted. The respondents were asked how important they regarded the well-being of the Finnish language, whether they thought everyday language written by people was careless, whether the language used in factual texts (e.g. reports, news) had become too colloquial, and whether they thought that one can use the kind of language one wants to on the Internet (for example, on Facebook). Reasons for being or not being worried of language change were examined (e.g. "English grammar affects Finnish in a negative manner", "Language change does not mean a deterioration of language").

A number of statements relating to spoken language and language used when greeting and addressing people were presented to respondents who were asked to indicate the extent to which they agreed with them (e.g. "Guests of current affairs programmes on TV and radio may use colloquial language", "I find it irritating that telemarketers often address their customers by first name"). Opinions on the use and acceptability of English loanwords in Finnish were surveyed (e.g. "They bother me because I don't always understand what they mean", "They facilitate communication between people who speak different languages"). The respondents were also asked whether some words or phrases annoyed them.

Regarding written language, opinions were charted on the fact that there are multiple acceptable/'correct' forms in written Finnish as well as who or which institution should be responsible for ensuring that factual texts are written according to language guidelines. Finally, the respondents were asked which issues relating to grammar, structure, and style they occasionally had to consider when writing factual texts.

Background variables included the respondent's age group, gender, education, region (NUTS 3) of residence, mother tongue, languages spoken, and writing and reading habits.

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