Aland-blog on language policy

Francis M Hult fmhult at
Tue Apr 10 16:32:16 UTC 2007

I inquired about what the government of Åland considers as documentation of Swedish 
knowledge.  I was told that they accept a range of things.  Mother tongue is noted in a 
person's record in the population registry so that may be considered.  An affidavit 
from an employer that indicates someone can speak and understand Swedish may be 
accepted.  An applicant may also be interviewed by a government representative to 
demonstrate abilities in Swedish.  In addition, there is the option of taking a 
Swedish language test (about which I'll continue to inquire).  

The official who answered my question acknowledged the slippery slope of deciding what 
counts as adequate knowledge of Swedish.  At any rate, Åland's government seems pretty 
flexible about how they evaluate this and on the surface it does not seem related to 

Åland has an interesting history around its language policy and its autonomous 
government.  For a brief history:


On Tue, Apr 10, 2007 at 10:37:03AM -0400, Christina Paulston wrote:
> I don't really think Swedish speaking Finns ( called Finn Swedes) can 
> be called ethnically Swedish because over the hundred of years you have 
> had so much exogamy and such similar cultures.  I would expect most of 
> them to identify first as Finns  nationally and only second as Swedes 
> and then not as Swedish Swedish. At this point the labels make little 
> sense. Tove, are you there - how do you feel.  But Hult should have 
> answered your question.  I just came across the info in a footnote in 
> some EU newsletter (when we still had paper and ink).  I am grateful to 
> Francis for the elucidation.  Christina
> On Apr 4, 2007, at 4:29 AM, Anthea Fraser Gupta wrote:
> >Do they define 'Swedish speaking' as 'able to speak Swedish' (a 
> >language test), or 'habitual speaker of Swedish' (in practice an 
> >ethnic test)???
> >
> >I'm not in favour of the establishment of reservations or ethnically 
> >limited zones (my family would never get anywhere to live!).
> >
> >Anthea
> >
> >*     *     *     *     *
> >Anthea Fraser Gupta (Dr)
> >School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT 
> ><>
> >NB: Reply to a.f.gupta at
> >*     *     *     *     *
> >
> >________________________________
> >
> >Åland has one of the most interesting pieces of "language policy I
> >know.  You cannot buy land there unless you are Swedish speaking.  I
> >don't know what brilliant politician was responsible for that, but we
> >all know that monolingual Anglophones buying property in the Gaeltaecht
> >(for summer cabins and the like) was in some measure helping the Irish
> >shift to English.  Won't happen on Åland.  Christina
> ><winmail.dat>

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list