Legal implications of the constitutional principle of two national languages in Finland: Symmetry with the possibility of asymmetry

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    In Finland, constitutional status as national languages matters a lot for Finnish and Swedish. Against the background of pre-existing rules on bilingualism, Finland was not constituted in 1917 as a pure nation state, which would have meant that only one national language is identified. Because the legislation is enacted in both languages, and the administration and the courts are supposed to implement laws in both languages, the country is formally living up to its constitutional commitments, if not always in practice. Various requirements concerning the national languages need to be fulfilled. It must be taken into account that Finnish and Swedish are the national languages of Finland; the possibility for the two population groups to receive public services in their own languages must be guaranteed in an equal fashion. Everyone has the right to use their own national language in dealing with the public authorities; everyone has the right to receive decisions issued in their own national language; and public authorities shall provide for the cultural and societal needs of the Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking populations of the country on an equal basis.

    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)7–37
    JournalRevista de Llengua i Dret - Journal of Language and Law
    Issue number67
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Swedish language
    • Language
    • equality
    • nationalism

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