FSD3418 Language Barometer 2008
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- Herberts, Kjell (Åbo Akademi University. Social Science Research Institute)
bilingualism, customer service, language, language discrimination, language policy, minority groups, minority language users, public services
The Language Barometer has measured the quality of language services in bilingual Finnish municipalities since 2004. All 43 bilingual municipalities in Finland were included in the study. The aim of the study was to find out how satisfied minority language speakers were with the municipal and state services offered in their mother tongue. The study was funded by the Ministry of Justice and the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland.
First, the respondents' use of Finnish and Swedish in different contexts was charted (e.g. in shops, school, local public transport, at work etc.), and the respondents were asked about their mother tongue and language skills. Experiences of municipal and state services were surveyed with questions on whether the respondents had received the services in the language they first used during their visit as well as how they would rate the services on a scale 4-10 from the perspective of minority language users. The surveyed municipal and state services included, for example, social and health care services, libraries, sports facilities, and local tax offices.
The respondents were asked to evaluate how their language use differed during weekdays and the weekend. The study also examined whether the respondents' children went to a Finnish or Swedish-speaking school. Finally, the respondents' opinions were examined on the availability of municipal and state services in their mother tongue, and they were asked whether they thought the services had developed for the better or for the worse in the previous few years. Views on whether special measures should be taken to preserve Swedish-language service in the future were also charted. Additionally, the respondents' views on the relationship between Swedish and Finnish speakers in their municipality and their awareness of their linguistic rights were surveyed.
Background variables included the respondent's age (categorised), gender, mother tongue, municipality of residence, highest level of education, marital status, employment status, and household size.
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