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Nordman & Syrjälä: From official guidelines to the LL: a comparative look at Covid-19-signs in Helsinki and Stockholm
In Welcome to the Forum
Lieselott Nordman
Jun 18, 2021
Thank you for your kind words and your many interesting comments! Being aware of and considering which languages are being used is, probably at least partly, connected to the language legislation in both countries for both national and minority languages, and the fact that Finland is an official bilingual country, Sweden having five official minority languages and both countries having several immigrant languages. In Finland language rights and language use/ language visibility is something that has been a subject for discussion from many perspectives for as long as the country has been independent. Especially how the language rights for the Swedish speaking population are followed by authorities. Being a Finland-Swede (Swedish speaking Finn) myself, questions concerning language policy are very close at heart - which is typical for members of any language minority. Further, the use of different languages has also been debated in relation to the effectiveness of the Covid19-crisis communication. As to differences between legal rules/ laws and recommendation, it certainly is very interesting how the concept “recommendations” is understood and interpreted. Recommendations given by authorities are in fact legally seen very close to rules, at least in Finland. However, the concept recommendation is used when no penalty (fine or the like) follows if you choose not to follow the recommendation. But it is still a strong norm. This has been confusing also here to the citizens - do I have to use a face mask e.g. on the metro, in the shops, or can I choose not to? Interestingly, when I traveled with the metro in Helsinki two weeks ago, the recommendations on using a face mask had now changed into Wearing a face mask is mandatory (information given in Finnish, Swedish and English), hence, no longer being “only” a recommendation. And adhering to official health guidelines as a legitimization instead of (only) to health issues and staying safe, is interesting also as a cultural phenomenon. Finland is said to be a more “authoritative” country than Sweden. When we get further along with our project it will be interesting to see if this is visible in the LL:s in the two countries and in what way. Looking forward to discussing more!

Lieselott Nordman

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