Wednesday, October 14, 2009
A multilingual Finnish political history
I forgot to mention this last week: Helsingin Sanomat International had a great piece by Unto Hämäläinen looking at the language skills and language needs of various Finnish political leaders from its independence to the present day. It's one of those great articles which is actually much more profound than it sounds at first. It uses one specific prism, in this case what foreign languages were spoken and needed to be spoken by leaders involved in the country's international relations, to show the profound changes in Finland's geopolitical situation and internal political culture during the period. I won't try and sum it up, if you are at all in interested in Finnish politics or history just read it. Overall though I was left with the image of a tide of cosmopolitanism that went out from Finnish shores after independence leaving all sorts of strange things lying on the beach. But the tide always turns and that lost cosmopolitanism has returned again in the form of Finland's European vocation and its globally competitive economy.