SV: Query - Me=?iso-8859-1?Q?=E4nkieli_?=and Kven?

Jussi Ylikoski Jussi.Ylikoski at
Tue Oct 30 13:41:59 UTC 2012

Dear colleagues,

Thank you for a very interesting discussion!

One heretical question from behind the Finnish language: When presenting a list of more than forty Uralic languages, is it OK to ignore fact that thousands of people identify themselves as speakers of the Kven and Meänkieli languages, and those varieties of the Finnic branch have also been recognized as independent minority languages in Norway and Sweden, respectively?

Surely, the present-day legal status has not been achieved without discussion, and the arguments in favor of the independence of Kven and Meänkieli from Finnish do contradict many of the traditional ways of doing and seeing things in Uralistics. However, if the authorities as popular (and democratic) as Wikipedia or as authoritative as Ethnologue and International Organization for Standardization regard Kven and Meänkieli as languages of some kind as well, could not "We, the Ura-list" do that as well? As for the numbers of speakers, I personally only wish to refer to the second-hand information of Ethnologue and Wikipedia (6,500 or 2,000-8,000 for Kven, 40,000-70,000 or 79,600-109,600).

Is it perfectly OK to ignore facts such as these, perhaps by referring to the traditional Finnish dialectology and the (earlier) mutual understanding between the Finnic speakers in Finland, Sweden and Norway? At least within the discussion as detailed as we are seeing here? (For example, Akkala Saami, alive or not, seems to have gained its scholarly independence - both from Skolt and Kildin - only quite recently.) Florian mentioned that the overall intention of the list is "to arrive at a reasonably realistic estimation which can be used e. g. in teaching, research or PR work." There are also many attempts to revitalize the use of Kven and Meänkieli, but what kind of signals are the Uralists giving in our PR work if we just bluntly state "Finnish, 5 300 000, Finland and elsewhere"? Kven is Finnish, Finnish is not endangered, ergo Kven is not endangered?

Best regards from Guovdageaidnu,


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