SV: Query - Me=?UTF-8?Q?=C3=A4nkieli_?=and Kven?

Merlijn De Smit at
Tue Oct 30 17:57:47 UTC 2012


I'd agree with Jussi in principle about the need to report on Kven and 
Meänkieli, as these are languages in a political/sociolinguistic sense at
least and that would seem to me to be the perspective relevant to
speaker statistics. But at least as Meänkieli is concerned, such
are pretty much unavailable. Parkvall's book on minority languages in
page 38-)
nicely illustrates the difficulties: in the absence of any official
the amount of speakers is estimated by taking into account pop
patterns on the basis of the last reliable statistics (from 1930). His
is between 15.000-45.000 speakers, probably around 30.000 - big margins,
an upper limit which is the lower limit of estimates available elsewhere. 


Merlijn de Smit

> As the Finnic overview has been compiled by Riho Grünthal, I leave the 
> answer to him. On my behalf I add the following comment:
> Beside the well known problems of how to classify Kven and Meänkieli 
> (linguistic identity and language structure do not have to go hand in 
> hand) there is an urgent practical question which comes to my mind. 
> Where do these numbers come from and how reliable are they? Can you as a

> potential supporter of a distinct entry for Kven and Meänkieli offer 
> independent statistics or back up secondary sources? If this is not 
> possible this would be another reason for retaining the current 
> classification [and elsewhere] to which one could add a separate note 
> including regional variants Kven and Meänkieli. If you have better data 
> to offer, please forward this to us!
> Best wishes,
> Florian Siegl
> On 30.10.2012 15:41, Jussi Ylikoski wrote:
>> 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,
>> Jussi
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