La búsqueda del tesoro, ¿dónde están los libros infantiles en lenguas minoritarias en HelMet? el caso de español.
In English below
Ahí estamos, frente a la estantería de la biblioteca del barrio, pensativos y alguna vez, un poco frustrados, preguntándonos: ¿por qué encuentro tan poca literatura infantil en lenguas minoritarias, como español? La respuesta a esta pregunta es válida para otras lenguas de herencia: porque la mayoría de los libros están en los depósitos de HelMet esperando que los reservemos y llevemos a casa.
¿Entonces, cómo hacer para que esos libros lleguen a casa? De esto trata este artículo. Compartimos nuestra experiencia con la colección de literatura infantil en español de HelMet, una colección con más de 1500 títulos. Creemos que este ejemplo puede ayudar a otras familias a buscar libros en sus propios idiomas.
La manera eficaz de acercarnos a las colecciones es usar el sitio web http://www.helmet.fi al que accedemos con el número de usuario de la biblioteca o nuestros hijos con el propio. Seguramente, si ya hemos usado el buscador del sitio, es sencillo ubicar esos libros que nos interesa; máxime si conocemos el nombre del autor o la editorial o el de una colección en particular o directamente el título del libro.
Sin embargo, si recién nos familiarizamos con la literatura para la infancia e intentamos buscar recomendaciones para la edad de nuestros hijos, sabemos por experiencia propia que no es sencillo. Por ejemplo, al explorar el sitio de HelMet (en finés, sueco o inglés) con la palabra clave “literatura infantil en español” o términos similares, nos lleva a un resultado increíble: (0) cero sugerencias. ¿Cómo es posible?
Hay que aclarar que, en general la búsqueda de literatura en lenguas minoritarias es un poco más compleja. A esto se suma que el personal de las bibliotecas no necesariamente está siempre preparado para asesorar a las familias acerca del inmenso mundo de la literatura infantil, y mucho menos aquella publicada en español, o cualquier otra lengua de herencia fuera de las nacionales.
Aun así, estas colecciones de literatura infantil en lenguas minoritarias existen. En el caso de la “Colección de literatura infantil en español” hay catalogados 1566 títulos para la infancia y 258 títulos más, que se recomiendan para jóvenes. Este número de títulos varía de mes a mes, esta era la situación la última vez que la consultamos: 20.2.2021. Mensualmente en el sitio de HelMet se publican las nuevas adquisiciones de todas las lenguas. Vale consultar y ver qué hay de nuevo aquí (helmet.fi).
La búsqueda del tesoro
El camino para encontrar lo que estamos buscando, es familiarizarnos en el sitio web con la opción “búsqueda avanzada“. Cómo en la búsqueda del tesoro, necesitamos una clave. En este caso es un asterisco (*). Sí, abajo lo verán, en las orientaciones de los Kolibríes.
Los Kolibríes indican dónde y qué completar para acceder a la colección de literatura infantil en español
¡Atención con el Kolibrí amarillo! En Hakusana/keyword: vamos a colocar el asterisco (*). Después de completar la forma, como indicamos en la imagen y dar clic en buscar. Así, estaremos frente a toda la Colección de literatura infantil y juvenil en español disponible para llevar a casa.
Hay muchos libros por explorar, por eso al ingresar el catálogo sugerimos activar luego el casillero Genre, que está ubicado en el extremo inferior izquierdo. Este casillero nos ayudará, a organizar una búsqueda más precisa, por categorías, según la edad o intereses de nuestros futuros lectores. Estas categorías están sólo en finés. Seleccionamos y tradujimos algunas para ustedes:
- Espanjakielinen kirjallisuus/ Literatura en español: 863
- Kuvakirjat/ Libros álbum: 680
- Käännökset/ traducciones: 545
- Kertomukset/ Cuentos ilustrados: 314
- Sadut/cuentos: 99
- Huumori: 85
- Sarjakuvat/ Historietas: 58
- Fantasiakirjallisuus/ Literatura fantástica: 87
- Helppolukuiset/ Primeros lectores: 61
- Klassikot: 38
- Paksulehtiset/ Cartoné (libros para los más pequeños): 51
- Runokuvatkirjat/ Poemas ilustrados: 29
- Suomenkielinen kirjallisuus/ Literatura finlandesa (traducciones) 34
Con estos recursos y los que vayamos explorando en las propias búsquedas, podremos animarnos a descubrir nuevos autores preferidos y a sacar muchos libros para leer en familia, para leer y entusiasmar a que nos lean. El sitio permite hacer listas de libros preferidos, para próximas lecturas, ordenarlos para que lleguen a la biblioteca más cercana a casa o al trabajo si resulta más sencillo. Y, sobre todo, esta colección permite que continuemos regalando palabras nuevas.
Una rápida descripción de la colección en español.
Entre estos libros infantiles existe una gran variedad. Hay libros para pre-lectores, libros para primeros lectores y para lectores avanzados. Para pre-lectores encontraremos libros bilingües, con pictogramas; también, libros que no son necesariamente literatura como los primeros libros para morder y ampliar el vocabulario, por ejemplo. Para los lectores, podremos llevar a casa novelas, clásicos, traducciones de autores reconocidos, libros de fantasía, aventuras, historietas, leyendas y cuentos populares, y muchos libros álbum. Incluso, hay varios libros de autores reconocidos de la literatura para adultos que pretendieron escribir para la infancia.
En el caso de esta colección, poco menos que la mitad de la colección son libros traducidos desde otros idiomas (545). Por ejemplo, algunos clásicos Tove Jansson (FI), Tuutikki Tolonen (FI), Timo Parvela (FI), Astrid Lindgren (SV) Sven Nordqvist (SV), Roald Dahl (UK), Mark Twain (EU), J. K. Rowling (UK), Lauren Child (UK), Cornelia Funke (DE), Hans Christian Andersen (DK), Eric Carle (EU). A esto se suman algunos libros de las grandes compañías audiovisuales.
Entre los 863 libros de autores e ilustradores hispanohablantes encontramos a: Isol Misenta (AR), Isidro Ferrer (ES), Paloma Valdivia (CL), Micaela Chirif (PE), Andrés Guerrero (ES), Graciela Montes (AR), Jordi Sierra i Fabra (ES), Luis Pescetti (AR), Ivar da Coll (CO), Elvira Lindo (ES), Manuel Marsol (ES), Jairo Aníbal Niño (CL), Emma Wolf (AR), María Cristina Ramos Guzmán (AR), María Teresa Andruetto (AR), María José Ferrada (CL), Pep Bruno (ES), Daniel Nesquens (ES) entre muchos más. ¡Les animamos a que los conozcan!
Creamos nidos de lectura, creamos comunidad.
Lukupesä, “Nidos de lectura”, es el nuevo proyecto de Kulttuurikeskus Ninho para promoción de la literatura infantil e inclusión de las familias. El proyecto ofrece a madres, padres y otros interesados, un programa holístico para apoyar y desarrollar prácticas de lectura en español, portugués y en otras lenguas minoritarias. Nuestro Lukupesä está compuesto por una serie de sesiones de capacitación y talleres alrededor de este tema tan lindo como es la lectura en la primera infancia. A la vez, ayudará a las comunidades a aprovechar la infraestructura y los servicios existentes en la ciudad (ejem. bibliotecas y sus colecciones) no siempre tan accesibles desde la perspectiva de los inmigrantes.
Otro de los componentes de Lukupesä serán visitas guiadas por las colecciones de libros infantiles en HelMet por medio de sesiones cortas online en primavera y otoño donde esperamos buscar junto con otras familias libros infantiles para leer en casa. Las sesiones ofrecerán un punto de encuentro con información práctica sobre la mejor forma de encontrar buenos libros y autores según las edades y el interés de los niños.
Para más información les invitamos a estar atentos a nuestros medios sociales donde compartiremos estos eventos: Kolibrí Festivaali Facebook o Instagram: @kolibrifestivaali.
La colección la hacemos crecer en comunidad.
En nuestro caso, la literatura infantil en español y portugués, los libros de editoriales de América Latina representan una cantidad bastante menor en la colección de HELMET, respecto de las ediciones hechas en España o Portugal. Desde Kulttuurikeskus Ninho y con el apoyo de las embajadas de América Latina en Finlandia, estamos trabajando para ampliar la diversidad y la cantidad de libros para la infancia, juntos sumamos más de 100 títulos nuevos en los últimos años.
Si queremos influir en la variedad de libros que las bibliotecas compran para las colecciones no dejemos de enviar nuestras sugerencias, aquí es dónde.
Recuerden mientras más libros llevemos a casa más esfuerzos dedicará HelMet a cuidar y hacer crecer estas colecciones. ¡Qué viva esta comunidad lectora en crecimiento!
¡Buena búsqueda y buenas lecturas!
The treasure hunt: Where are the children’s books in minority languages in Helmet? The case of Spanish
There we stand, in front of the bookshelf at the local library, thinking and sometimes a little frustrated, wondering: Why do I find so little children’s literature in minority languages, such as Spanish? The answer to this question is valid for other heritage languages: because most of the books are in Helmet’s storage facilities waiting for us to reserve them and take them home.
So, how do you get these books home? That is what this article is about. We share our experience with HelMet’s collection of children’s literature in Spanish, a collection with more than 1,500 titles. We believe that this example can help other families to find books in their own languages.
The effective way to approach the collections is to use the website www.helmet.fi which we access with our library user ID or our children access with their own. Certainly, if we have already used the site’s search engine, it is easy to locate the books we are interested in; especially if we know the name of the author or the publisher or the name of a particular collection or the title of the book.
However, if we are new to children’s literature and try to find recommendations for our children’s age level, we know from our own experience that it is not easy. For example, browsing the HelMet site (in Finnish, Swedish or English) with the keyword “children’s literature in Spanish” or similar terms leads to an incredible result: (0) suggestions. How is it possible?
It should be noted that, in general, the search for literature in minority languages is a little more complex. In addition, library staff are not necessarily always prepared to advise families about the vast world of children’s literature, let alone that published in Spanish, or any other heritage language outside the national languages.
Even so, these collections of children’s literature in minority languages do exist. In the case of the “Collection of children’s literature in Spanish” there are 1566 titles catalogued for children and a further 258 titles recommended for young adults. This number of titles varies from month to month; this was the situation when last consulted: 20 February 2021. New acquisitions in all languages are published monthly on the HelMet website. It is worth checking and seeing what is new here (helmet.fi).
The way to find what you are looking for is to familiarise yourself on the website with the “advanced search” option. As in a treasure hunt, we need a key. In this case, an (*) asterisk. Yes, you will see it below, in the Kolibríes guide.
The Kolibríes indicate where and what to fill in to access the children’s literature collection in Spanish.
Pay attention to the yellow Kolibrí! In Hakusana/keyword: we will insert the asterisk (*). After filling in the form, press Search. Thus, we will see the entire Collection of children’s and young people’s literature in Spanish available to take home.
There are many books to explore, so when entering the catalogue, we suggest you activate the Genre box at the bottom left corner. This box will help us to organise a more precise search, by categories, according to the age level or interests of our future readers. These categories are only in Finnish. We select and insert a few for you:
- Espanjankielinenkirjallisuus/ Literature in Spanish: 863
- Kuvakirjat/ Picture books: 680
- Käännökset/ Translations: 545
- Kertomukset/ Illustrated short stories: 314
- Sadut/Short stories: 99
- Huumori: Humour 85
- Sarjakuvat/ Comics: 58
- Fantasiakirjallisuus/ Fantasy literature: 87
- Helppolukuiset/ First readers: 61
- Klassikot/ Classics 38
- Paksulehtiset/ Board books (for the youngest children): 51
- Runokuvakirjat/ Illustrated poems: 29
- Suomenkielinen kirjallisuus/ Finnish Literature (translations) 34
With these resources and those that we explore in our own research, we can encourage ourselves to discover new favourite authors and to take out many books to read as a family, to read and find excitement in being read to. With these resources and those that we explore in our own research, we can encourage ourselves to discover new favourite authors and to take out many books to read as a family, to read and to get excited about being read to. And, above all, this collection allows us to continue to give away new words.
A brief description of the collection in Spanish
Among these children’s books there is a great variety. There are books for pre-readers, books for early readers and books for advanced readers. For pre-readers we will find bilingual books, with pictograms; also, books that are not necessarily literature, such as the first books for chewing and expanding vocabulary, for example. For readers, we will be able to take home novels, classics, translations of well-known authors, fantasy books, adventures, comics, legends and folk tales, and many picture books. There are even several children’s books by well-known literary authors.
In the case of this collection, just under half of the collection are books translated from other languages (545). For example, a few classics like Tove Jansson (FI), Tuutikki Tolonen (FI), Timo Parvela (FI), Astrid Lindgren (SV) Sven Nordqvist (SV), Roald Dahl (UK), Mark Twain (EU), J. K. Rowling (UK), Lauren Child (UK), Cornelia Funke (DE), Hans Christian Andersen (DK), Eric Carle (EU). This is in addition to a number of books by major audio-visual companies.
Among the 863 books by Spanish-speaking authors and illustrators were: Isol Misenta (AR), Isidro Ferrer (ES), Paloma Valdivia (CL), Micaela Chirif (PE), Andrés Guerrero (ES), Graciela Montes (AR), Jordi Sierra i Fabra (ES), Luis Pescetti (AR), Ivar da Coll (CO), Elvira Lindo (ES), Manuel Marsol (ES), Jairo Aníbal Niño (CL), Emma Wolf (AR), María Cristina Ramos Guzmán (AR), María Teresa Andruetto (AR), María José Ferrada (CL), Pep Bruno (ES), Daniel Nesquens (ES) among a few others. We encourage you to get to know their works!
We create reading nests, we create community
Lukupesä, “Reading Nests”, is Kulttuurikeskus Ninho’s new project for the promotion of children’s literature and the inclusion of families. The project offers mothers, fathers and other stakeholders a holistic programme to support and develop reading practices in Spanish, Portuguese and other minority languages. Our Lukupesä is made up of a series of training sessions and workshops around the beautiful topic of early childhood reading. At the same time, it will help communities to take advantage of existing infrastructure and services in the city (e.g., libraries and their collections) that are not always so accessible from a migrant perspective.
Another component of Lukupesä will be guided tours through the children’s book collections in HelMet by means of short online sessions in the spring and autumn, where we hope to search together with other families for children’s books to read at home. The sessions will provide a meeting point with practical information on how best to find good books and authors for children’s age levels and interests.
For more information, we invite you to stay tuned to our social media where we will share these events: Kolibrí Festivaali Facebook or Instagram: @kolibrifestivaali.
We grow the collection as a community
In our case, children’s literature in Spanish and Portuguese, books from Latin American publishers represent a much smaller number in the HELMET collection than those published in Spain or Portugal. From Kulttuurikeskus Ninho and with the support of the Latin American embassies in Finland, we are working to expand the diversity and quantity of books for children together we have added more than 100 new titles in recent years.
If you want to influence the range of books that libraries buy for their collections, please send HelMet your suggestions.
Remember, the more books we take home, the more effort HelMet will put into caring for and growing these collections. Long live this growing reading community!
Happy searching and happy reading!
Lau Gazzotti, Adriana Minhoto, Verónica Miranda, Andrea Botero y toda la gente linda que hace Kulttuurikeskus Ninho ry www.ninho.fi y Kolibrí Festivaali www.kolibrifestivaali.org.
Lau Gazzotti, Adriana Minhoto, Verónica Miranda, Andrea Botero and all the beautiful people of Kulttuurikeskus Ninho ry www.ninho.fi y Kolibrí Festivaali www.kolibrifestivaali.org.
A busca do tesouro, onde estão os livros nas línguas minoritárias no Helmet? O caso do português!
In English below
Nos vemos parados em frente à estante da biblioteca do bairro, um pouco frustrados, pensando: porque encontro poucos livros infantis nas línguas minoritárias, como o português aqui? A resposta para essa pergunta, que também e válida para outros idiomas menos falados, é que a maioria dos livros estão guardadas nos depósitos do Helmet apenas esperando nossa reserva para os levarmos para casa.
Então, como fazer para que tenhamos acesso a eles e possamos leva-los para casa? É justamente sobre isso que vamos falar neste artigo! Vamos compartilhar nossa experiência com a coleção de literatura infantil em português do Helmet, uma coleção com mais de 400 livros. Esperamos que com esse material, possamos ajudar outras famílias a encontrarem exemplares em seus próprios idiomas.
A maneira mais eficaz é usar o site da Helmet é utilizando nosso número de usuário da biblioteca, ou com nossos filhos usando o número deles. Certamente já estamos habituados com o mecanismo de busca do sistema para encontrar algo de nosso interesse, usando o nome de um autor ou obra.
Porém, com a literatura infantil, sabemos por experiência própria que essa busca não é fácil. Temos que nos familiarizar com ela para tentarmos encontrar recomendações para a idade das crianças. Por exemplo, ao navegar no site Helmet (em finlandês, sueco ou inglês) com a palavra-chave “literatura infantil portuguesa” ou termos semelhantes, chega-se a um resultado incrível: (0) zero sugestões. Como é possível?
A busca de literatura em línguas minoritárias, é um pouco mais complexa. A isso se soma o fato de que os bibliotecários nem sempre estão preparados para ajudar às famílias neste imenso mundo da literatura infantil e muito menos dos livros em português, ou qualquer língua que não sejam as nacionais ou inglês.
Mesmo um pouco mais “escondidas”, as coleções de língua minoritária existem. Sim, elas existem! No caso de literatura infantil em português neste momento, em fevereiro de 2021, encontramos 412 livros infantis e 36 livros juvenis. Este número varia mensalmente e vale consultar o que há de novo aqui (helmet.fi).
A busca do tesouro
O melhor caminho para encontrar o que buscamos é se familiarizar com o site de Helmet e encontrar a opção “busca avançada”. Assim como na busca de um tesouro, precisamos de uma senha! Neste caso, ela é um é um asterisco (*). Sim, você o verá nas diretrizes dos Kolibríes na imagem abaixo.
Os Kolibríes te indicam como fazer a busca por literatura infantil no Helmet
Atenção ao Kolibrí amarelo! Em Hakusana/keyword: vamos colocar (*) asterisco. E em kieli/language colocamos português. Depois de fazer isso, basta clicar em “buscar”. Assim, teremos toda a coleção de literatura infantil e juvenil disponíveis para que possamos escolher e levar para casa.
Depois que clicar em busca, aparecerão muitos livros para explorar, por isso, sugerimos ativar a caixa Genre localizada no canto inferior esquerdo. Selecionar esta caixa ajudará, de maneira muito simples, a organizar uma pesquisa mais precisa, por categorias que se referem à idade ou interesses de futuros leitores. Infelizmente, os gêneros estão disponíveis apenas em finlandês, mas nós traduzimos alguns para você:
- Portugalinkielenkirjallisuus/ Literatura em português: 256
- Kuvakirjat/ Livro ilustrado: 210
- Kertomukset/ Contos ilustrados: 108
- Sadut/ Contos: 56
- Sarjakuvat/ Histórias em quadrinhos: 15
- Huumori/ Humor: 11
- Fantasiakirjallisuus/ Literatura de fantasia: 19
- Klassikot/ Clássicos: 7
- Paksulehtiset/ Livrinhos de cartão (para os menores): 9
Com esses recursos e com os que vamos conhecendo ao usar a ferramenta de busca, podemos nos animar a descobrir novos autores e reservar muitos livros para lermos em família. O site também permite fazer uma lista de livros favoritos para as próximas leituras e solicitar para que cheguem na biblioteca mais perto de casa ou do trabalho, o que for mais conveniente. Com certeza, esta coleção nos permite que continuemos aprendendo palavras novas com nossos filhos.
Uma olhada rápida pelos livros em português
De certo, há uma grande variedade de livros infantis que vão desde livros para pré-leitores, livros bilíngues, livros com pictogramas, livros para primeiros leitores e até para leitores avançados, como romances, clássicos, traduções de autores reconhecidos, livros de fantasia, aventuras, histórias em quadrinhos, lendas e contos populares e muitos livros de figuras. Além disso, há livros que não são literatura, como os primeiros livros para morder e expandir o vocabulário, por exemplo. Existem até vários livros de autores reconhecidos de literatura adulta que se dispuseram a escrever para crianças.
No caso dos livros em português, dos 412 livros juvenis e infantis que encontramos, 118 são traduções para o português. Por exemplo, Tove Jansson, Astrid Lindgren, Antoine Saint Exupéry, Beatrice Alemagna, J. K. Rowling, Hans Christian Andersen, Hergé, para citar alguns. Além de livros das grandes empresas de cinema e animação.
Entre os 256 livros de autores e ilustradores que falam e escrevem português, encontramos Yara Kono, Catarina Sobral, Madalena Matoso, Ana Saldanha, Joana Estrela, Ciça Fittipaldi, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Luísa Ducla Soares, Fernando Pessoa, Rui Lopes, David Machado, José Saramago, Jorge Amado, Alice Vieira, Ana Maria Machado, Rui de Oliveira, entre outros.
Criando ninhos de leitura, criando comunidades
Lukupesä, “sala de leitura em tradução literal ou ninhos de leitura” é o novo projeto de Kulttuurikeskus Ninho para a promoção da literatura infantil e inclusão das famílias. O projeto oferecerá aos pais e outros interessados um programa para apoiar e desenvolver suas práticas de leitura na língua de herança. Nosso Lukupesä é composto por uma série de seções de capacitação e oficinas sobre este tema tão lindo e importante como é a leitura para primeira infância. Por sua vez, também ajudará as comunidades para aproveitar a infraestrutura e serviços já existentes na cidade (como por exemplo as bibliotecas e suas coleções) que as vezes parecem não ser tão acessíveis da perspectiva dos imigrantes.
Outro ponto importante do Lukupesä serão as visitas guiadas pelas coleções de livros infantil no Helmet por meio de seções curtas e online a serem realizadas na primavera e outono, onde esperamos ajudar na busca de livros infantis para ler em casa. Os encontros oferecerão um lugar com informação prática sobre a melhor forma de encontrar bons exemplares de acordo com idade e interesse.
Para mais informações, convidamos a todos a curtirem nossas redes sociais, onde vamos compartilhar os eventos Kolibrí Festivaali Facebook e Instagram: @kolibrifestivaali.
Fazemos a coleção crescer em comunidade
Em nosso caso, a literatura infantil em espanhol e português de livros de editoras da América Latina representam uma quantidade pequena na coleção do Helmet em comparação aos exemplares da Espanha ou Portugal. Nós do Kulttuurikeskus Ninho com o apoio das Embaixadas da América Latina na Finlândia, estamos trabalhando para aumentar a diversidade e quantidade de livros para a infância e juntos já somamos mais de 100 títulos novos entregues nos últimos anos.
Para deixar sugestões sobre a novos livros, podemos acessar este link.
Lembrem-se que quanto mais livros em português levamos para casa, mais esforços o Helmet dedicará para cuidar e fazer crescer estas coleções, vamos aumentar a demanda!
Viva esta nova comunidade de jovens leitores!
Boas buscas e boa leitura!
The treasure hunt: Where are the books in minority languages in Helmet? The case of Portuguese!
We find ourselves standing in front of the bookshelf of the neighbourhood library, a little frustrated, thinking: why do I find so few children’s books in minority languages like Portuguese here? The answer to this question, which is also valid for other less spoken languages, is that most of the books are stored in the Helmet storage facilities just waiting for our reservation to take them home.
So, how do we make sure we have access to them and can take them home? That is precisely what we are going to talk about in this article! We will share our experience with Helmet’s collection of children’s literature in Portuguese, a collection of over 400 books. We hope that with this material, we can help other families to find copies in their own languages.
The most effective way to use the Helmet website is by using our library user ID, or with our children using their user ID. Certainly, we are already used to the system’s search engine to find something of our interest using the name of an author or work.
However, with children’s literature, we know from experience that this quest is not easy. We have to familiarise ourselves with it to try and find recommendations for the children’s age level. For example, browsing the Helmet website (in Finnish, Swedish or English) with the keyword “Portuguese children’s literature” or similar terms, yields an incredible result: (0) zero suggestions. How is this possible?
The search for literature in minority languages is a little more complex. Added to this is the fact that librarians are not always prepared to help families in this immense world of children’s literature, let alone books in Portuguese, or any language other than national or English.
Even a little more “hidden”, minority language collections do exist. Yes, they do exist! In the case of children’s literature in Portuguese at the moment, in February 2021, we found 412 children’s books and 36 young adult books. This number varies each month and it is worth checking what is new here (helmet.fi).
The best way to find what we are looking for is to familiarise ourselves with the Helmet website and find the “advanced search” option. Just like in a treasure hunt, we need a password! In this case, it is an asterisk (*). Yes, you will see it in the Kolibríes guidelines in the image below.
The Kolibríes show how to search for children’s literature in Helmet
Pay attention to the yellow Kolibrí! In Hakusana/keyword, we will insert (*) asterisk. And in kieli/language, we will insert Portuguese. After that, press “Search”. We will have then the entire collection of children’s and young adult books available for us to choose from and take home.
Once you click search, many books will appear for you to explore, so we suggest activating the Genre box located in the bottom left corner. Selecting this box will help, in a very simple way, to organise a more precise search by categories that refer to the age or interests of future readers. Unfortunately, the genres are only available in Finnish, but we have translated some for you:
- Portugalinkielinen kirjallisuus/ Literature in Portuguese 256
- Kuvakirjat/ Picture books: 210
- Kertomukset/ Illustrated short stories: 108
- Sadut/ Short stories: 56
- Sarjakuvat/ Comics: 15
- Huumori/ Humour: 11
- Fantasiakirjallisuus/ Fantasy literature: 19
- Klassikot/ Classics: 7
- Paksulehtiset/ Board books (for the youngest children): 9
With these resources and those that find by using the search engine, we can encourage ourselves to discover new authors and book many books to read as a family. The site also allows you to make a list of favourite books for future readings and request them to arrive at the library nearest your home or work, whichever is most convenient. Certainly, this collection allows us to continue learning new words with our children.
A glimpse at the books in Portuguese
There is certainly a wide variety of children’s books ranging from books for pre-readers, bilingual books, books with pictograms, books for early readers and even for advanced readers, such as novels, classics, translations by renowned authors, fantasy books, adventures, comics, legends and folk-tales and many picture books. In addition, there are books that are not literature, like the first books to chew on and expand vocabulary, for example. There are even several books by well-known literary authors who have taken the time to write for children.
In the case of books in Portuguese, of the 412 young adult and children’s books we found, 118 were translations into Portuguese. For example, Tove Jansson, Astrid Lindgren, Antoine Saint Exupéry, Beatrice Alemagna, J. K. Rowling, Hans Christian Andersen, Hergé, to name but a few. As well as books from the big films and animation companies.
Among the 256 books by authors and illustrators who speak and write Portuguese, we find Yara Kono, Catarina Sobral, Madalena Matoso, Ana Saldanha, Joana Estrela, Ciça Fittipaldi, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Luísa Ducla Soares, Fernando Pessoa, Rui Lopes, David Machado, José Saramago, Jorge Amado, Alice Vieira, Ana Maria Machado, and Rui de Oliveira, among others.
Building reading nests, creating communities
Lukupesä, “reading room” in literal translation or “reading nests” is Kulttuurikeskus Ninhos’s new project for the promotion of children’s literature and inclusion of families. The project will offer parents and other stakeholders a programme to support and develop their reading practices in the heritage language. Our Lukupesä is made up of a series of training sections and workshops on this beautiful and important topic as early childhood reading. In turn, it will also help communities to take advantage of already existing infrastructure and services in the city (such as libraries and their collections) that sometimes seem not so accessible from the perspective of immigrants.
Another important feature of Lukupesä will be guided tours of the children’s book collections in Helmet through short, online sections to be held in the spring and autumn, where we hope to help in the search for children’s books to read at home. The meetings will offer a place with practical information on how best to find good books according to age level and interests.
For more information, we invite you to stay tuned to our social networks, where we will share the events on Kolibrí Festivaali Facebook and Instagram: @kolibrifestivaali.
We grow the collection within the community
In our case, children’s literature in Spanish and Portuguese from books by Latin American publishers represent a small number in Helmet’s collection compared to copies from Spain or Portugal. We at Kulttuurikeskus Ninho with the support of the Latin American Embassies in Finland, are working to increase the diversity and quantity of books for children and together we have already added over 100 new titles in recent years.
To leave suggestions about any new books, login at this link.
Remember, the more books in Portuguese we take home, the more effort Helmet will put into looking after and growing these collections, let’s increase demand!
Long live this new community of young readers!
Happy searching and happy reading!
Lau Gazzotti, Adriana Minhoto, Verónica Miranda, Andrea Botero e todas as pessoas lindas que fazem parte do Kulttuurikeskus Ninho www.ninho.fi e Kolibrí Festivaali www.kolibrifestivaali.org.
Lau Gazzotti, Adriana Minhoto, Verónica Miranda, Andrea Botero and all the beautiful people who are part of Kulttuurikeskus Ninho www.ninho.fi and Kolibrí Festivaali www.kolibrifestivaali.org.
Mångfald och inklusion via språk
(In English below)
Idag, i februari och mars, vi firar våra modersmål, språk i allmänhet, och de möjligheter och glädje de språk som vi talar ger oss i våra dagliga liv. Idag talas det över 140 språk som modersmål i Finland, vilket betyder att vi har en mängd olika sätt att uttrycka oss och se världen omkring oss.
Luckan är ett finlandssvenskt kultur- och informationscentrum där vi jobbar med en bred repertoar av kultur, utställningar och evenemang, barnkultur, ungdom och integration. För oss är svenskan ett viktigt språk och det språk vi använder mest. Det är språket som binder oss samman, modersmål för många av oss och våra kunder och ett fönster till Svenskfinland för de som integreras på svenska och lär sig svenskan som andra, tredje, eller fjärde språk, och så vidare. I vårt dagliga arbete möter vi också människor som talar engelska, finska, franska, arabiska, ryska, somaliska, och många andra språk. Dessa språk är våra kollegors, kunders, samarbetspartners och besökares modersmål eller andra språk som de använder.
Att tala olika språk betyder att vi kan kommunicera med varandra och lära oss om varandra och olika sätt att uppfatta världen, men språk kan också skilja oss från varandra. Språkfrågor som vi stöter på i vårt arbete kan handla om valet mellan finska och svenska, om hur man kan säkerställa att barnen med annat hemspråk lär sig tillräckligt bra svenska i skola,, eller om man borde uppmana barn att lära sig hemspråket i ett samhälle där språk inte alltid ses som en rikedom.
Språkval vi gör i våra dagliga liv påverkar andras liv och vi måste vara medvetna om det, speciellt om vi jobbar med människor som har andra modersmål, men också annars, eftersom våra språkval kan betyda att vi utesluter andra som skulle vilja delta och bidra.
Det finns olika sätt att inkludera språk i våra arbete och hobbyer för att öppna upp våra svenska eller finska rum till personer med annat modersmål och språk. Flerspråkig information och marknadsföring fast verksamheten sker på ett språk låter folk veta vad som pågår. Att hälsa på flera språk och klargöra att kommentarer och frågor kan ställas på olika språk, synliggör flerspråkigheten för dem som talar majoritetsspråket, samtidigt som det blir lättare att använda det språk som känns bäst för en själv. Korta sammanfattningar på olika språk kan väcka tankar genom att uttrycka det som diskuteras på ett nytt sätt, medan de också säkerställer förståelsen för alla som deltar. Att hålla tal och visuella presentationer på olika språk kan göra det enklare att följa med och färdigskrivna texter och presentationer kan även sändas ut på förhand för deltagare att kunna förbereda sig, oberoende av språk. Lättspråk gör innehållet mer tillgångligt, men att tala lätt betyder inte bara att man talar långsamt och tydligt, utan det är ett kunskap som man lär sig.
Att vara språkmedveten kräver lite extra framåt tänkande från de som talar majoritetsspråket, men man blir snabbt van och belöningen blir större än besväret. Det tar tid att lära sig ett nytt språk, så att öppna upp verksamheter och rum till invandrare och andra som lär sig ett nytt språk ligger hos de som redan talar det språket de andra lär sig, både språkmässigt och i allmänhet. Vi behöver granska våra egna attityder och fördomar angående språk. Folk som inte talar svenska eller finska perfekt, kan av andra uppfattas som enklare, även när vi vet att det är inte sant. Transspråkande, att använda all ens språkkunskaper, oberoende av de imaginära gränser som vi uppfattar mellan olika språk, kan också uppfattas negativt, att man blandar språk. En öppen, positiv attityd till språk betyder att vi lär oss mera, förstår mera, och inkluderar fler, samtidigt som den förstärker allas språkliga och kulturella identitet.
Diversity and Inclusion through Language Use
Today, and during the months of February and March, we celebrate our mother tongues, languages in general, and the possibilities and joy the languages we speak give us in our daily lives. Over 140 languages are spoken in Finland today as mother tongues, opening up a multitude of ways in which we can express ourselves and perceive the world around us.
Luckan is a Swedish-language information and cultural centre, working with a wide variety of culture, exhibitions and events, children, young people, and integration, and for us at Luckan, Swedish is of course an important language, the one we use the most. It is the language that ties us together as a community as well as a place of work, the mother tongue of many of our colleagues and customers, and a window to the Finland-Swedish community for many of the people integrating in Finland and learning Swedish as a second, third, or fourth language, and so on. In our daily work, however, we come across English, Finnish, French, Arabic, Russian, Somali, and many other languages as well, whether they be the mother tongues or spoken languages of our colleagues, customers, cooperation partners, or visitors.
While languages mean we can communicate with one another and learn about each other as well as about different ways of perceiving the world, they can also separate us from one another. Language-related questions and issues we come across in our work include questions about whether to learn Swedish or Finnish to be able to become a part of the local community, how to ensure that children with other languages as their mother tongue grow up knowing enough Swedish, and whether to encourage a child to learn the home language in a society that doesn’t always see languages as a richness.
Language choices we make in our everyday lives affect the lives of others, and we must be conscious of them, especially when we work with people speaking a different language, but also when we don’t, as not thinking about the language choices we make can mean we exclude people who would like to participate and contribute.
There are different ways to include languages in our workplaces and hobbies, and to open up our Swedish-language or Finnish-language spaces to people who have different mother tongues and speak different languages. Multilingual information and marketing materials are an important way of letting people know what is going on, even if the languages spoken at the events and spaces are Swedish or Finnish. Greeting people in different languages and clearly stating that comments are welcome in as many languages as possible makes multilingualism visible for those speaking the majority language, as well as making asking questions and changing languages if necessary easier for those who cannot necessarily participate in the majority language. Short summaries in different languages can provide food for thought in expressing the things said in a different way, as well as making sure everyone understands what is being discussed. Speaking and presenting slides in two different languages makes following easier, and slides and texts can even be sent to participants beforehand, giving them time to prepare, regardless of their language. Speaking simple Swedish or Finnish makes understanding more accessible, but learning a simple language is not just speaking more slowly with clearer enunciation, but a skill in itself, meaning that one has to take the time to learn it.
Language-consciousness requires extra effort and forward-thinking from the part of the majority language speakers, but when it becomes a habit, it comes naturally, and the rewards outweigh the inconveniences. Language learning takes time and effort, so the responsibility of opening up activities and spaces to immigrants and other language-learners, language-wise as well as otherwise, lies within those who already speak the languages others are learning. We need to take the time to examine our preconceptions and prejudices. People speaking less than perfect Swedish or Finnish, can by some be perceived as being simpler, even when we know that this is not the case. Translanguaging, using all of one’s language skills in several languages, regardless of the boundaries that we imagine to exist between languages, is an important resource in communication, but is often also viewed negatively, as mixing languages. An open and positive attitude towards languages and language use means more learning, understanding, and inclusion, as well as strengthening the language and cultural identities of all involved.
Skrivare / Author
Skrivaren jobbar som en integrationskoordinator och ambulerande handledare för familjer med barn i svensk skola eller dagis på Kompetenscentret för svensk integration inom Luckan integration, med fokus på social integration. Du kan ta kontakt i frågor gällande svensk integration, familjer och att öppna upp verksamheter för icke-svenskspråkiga på firstname.lastname@example.org. För mer information om Luckans integrationsarbete se integration.luckan.fi.
The writer works as an integration coordinator and guidance counselor for families with children at Swedish-language schools and daycare centres at the Competence Centre for Swedish Integration at Luckan Integration, focusing on social inclusion. You can be in touch with questions related to Swedish integration, families, and opening up the activities of organisations to non-Swedish speakers at email@example.com, and find more information on the work Luckan does at integration.luckan.fi.
Embracing Saami Culture with the Help of Literature
In November 2009, on Universal Children’s Day, a group of Inari Saami teachers, parents and children travelled to the capital to meet Finnish politicians including President Halonen. The purpose was to campaign for more school books in Inari Saami language. An official complaint about the situation was presented to the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman. The situation has gradually improved since but there is still a severe lack of culturally appropriate learning materials for Inari Saami speaking children.
Anarâškielâ Servi ry (Inari Saami Language Association) was established in 1986 by Veikko Aikio, Ilmari Mattus and Matti Morottaja. The Inari Saami language nest was later established because there was a genuine concern the Inari Saami language might disappear and be lost forever. At first learning materials for Inari Saami speaking children were so scarce, the language nest staff had to translate books from different cultures by glueing the new text on books to cover the original story. One might wonder why Northern Saami books were not used as there was already a decent selection of children’s literature available. For an outsider it may be hard to understand that these are two different although closely related languages. The idea would be similar to suggesting to Estonians to start learning Finnish, a bigger language, instead of their own language.
There are more books and materials to choose from in Northern Saami because there are approximately 30,000 Northern Saami speakers. It is the majority Saami language spoken in Finland but also a language spoken in Norway and Sweden, so resources are not limited to Finland alone. There are still only approximately 450 Inari Saami speakers, along with Skolt Saami, it’s still a minority’s minority language amongst Saami speaking people. All three languages are represented in the local school in Inari. I wanted to help with making learning materials for Inari Saami children because my children attended the language nest. The language nest is a total immersion language nursery, where the core work for language revitalisation is done. Below is a link to a documentary telling about the language nest and the language revitalisation work of Anarâškielâ Servi ry. After leaving the language nest the children usually progress to the Piäju, similar to the language nest but for older preschool children. From there the children can progress to school, where they can continue their education in Inari Saami language. As more children progress from the language nest, the number of Inari Saami speaking people has increased since the making of this video: Reborn (YouTube).
I have been cooperating with Anarâškielâ Servi ry to publish bilingual Inari Saami/English children’s books to help the learning materials situation. I write the stories in English, illustrate the books and then they are translated into Inari Saami by Petter Morottaja, the son of one of the main people in the revitalisation work here in Inari. My wife is also Inari Saami and a folklorist, so she is able to help me with the stories. First of all I wrote and illustrated a book for older children called “The Forgetful Squirrel” and was then asked to make books for younger children. The main character of the original book, an Inari Saami boy called Sammeli, was the inspiration for the series of books which tell of him and his adventures in the “Eight Seasons of Lapland”. The books are in Inari Saami to provide much needed materials for the children learning Inari Saami in the language nests and local school. This way there are culturally appropriate learning materials for Inari Saami speaking children, that also offer them the opportunity to learn English. Tourists who speak English can purchase the books from Sámi Duodji, Siida museum, Hotel Kultahovi in Inari and other places including Arktikum in Rovaniemi and online from Anarâškielâ servi ry.
This way they can learn about the local language and culture, and the revenue can help to fund further books and learning materials for the future.
When I was asked to write this blog, I read about the philosophy behind
Culture for All and was proud to contribute to something so worthwhile. I thought about a seminar for the project “Toward a More Inclusive and Comprehensive Finnish Literature” I was invited to attend, hosted by the Finnish Literature Society (SKS). The seminar led to an anthology “Opening Boundaries: Toward Finnish Heterolinational Literatures”, in which I was very happy to be included. It’s wonderful that there is a concerted effort being made to foster and promote the inclusion of immigrants in Finland and to celebrate their contribution to Finnish society. People have different talents, whether they are writers or artists or make a positive contribution to the wealth of the country in some other way. Similarly Finnish people living in other countries can take their ideology and talents with them to a new country, where they have the chance to make a positive contribution to their new environment, whilst sharing and promoting knowledge of their home country. In the acknowledgements, editor Mehdi Ghasemi wrote “Without their invaluable support, the implementation of the project and the publication of this book would not have been possible.”
There is an African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” Without the persistence and endeavour of countless people working for Anarâškielâ Servi ry in the language nest or Piäju, school teachers or kind people providing grants for Inari Saami literature, there would be even less learning opportunities than presently. Chances are the Inari Saami language would have disappeared like other forgotten Saami languages. Even if you just took the time to read this blog, you made a contribution. One more person understands the need for Inari Saami speaking children to have learning materials in their own language.
Lonottâllâm – Sharing, Autumn story (PDF)
The children, who have attended the language nest, Piäju and school in their own language, have now started to make their own contribution to Inari Saami culture. Some have written articles for the digital magazine Loostâš, Wikipedia articles and translated books from other languages into Inari Saami to increase the volume of literature available. Reading about different cultures is a very good way to learn and increase understanding and appreciation of those cultures. If Finnish people had an opportunity to read Inari Saami literature in Finnish, they would have a chance to learn about a language and culture indigenous to Finland, adding to the collective wealth of the country. In the same way that Finnish literature and books from writers of other countries have added to the wealth of Inari Saami literature, Inari Saami children should have the chance to see themselves represented in Finnish culture and shown in a positive light. Usually Saami children only see themselves in adverts encouraging tourism to Lapland. They grow up seeing Saami people shown often unfairly and inaccurately, sometimes even disparagingly, on postcards or comedy programmes from which negative stereotypes can endure for decades.
There is still a chronic shortage of culturally appropriate learning materials for Inari Saami speaking children, and funding for Anaraskiela Servi ry is a constant struggle. If bilingual Finnish/Inari Saami literature was included in the school curriculum, there would be sufficient funding for books, and both Finnish and Inari Saami children would benefit.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child covers essential rights regarding social welfare including political, social, economic and cultural rights. It states that children should have the right to develop to the fullest. Inari Saami speaking children should have the right to learning materials in their own language in their indigenous country, and Finland should give them this opportunity.
A quote from American philosopher William James says: “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” It’s very easy though to lose motivation when you don’t feel valued or appreciated. We are all to some extent products of our environment, and when Inari Saami speaking children aren’t represented and made to feel they matter, they are at an immediate disadvantage and consequently may not accomplish their potential.
Finland is often applauded for having one of the most progressive education systems in the world. Supporting Inari Saami language revitalisation and the indigenous children of its country, would give Inari Saami children a voice and a chance to add to the narrative of Finland.
Lee D Rodgers
Lee Rodgers is originally from Manchester, where he worked as an artist before attending university in Manchester and Helsinki. He lives in Inari with his Inari Saami wife and family. He has been cooperating with Anarâškielâ Servi ry, The Inari Saami Language Association to help with Inari Saami language revitalisation. Lee Rodgers has written a series of bilingual Inari Saami/English books based on the adventures of a young Inari Saami boy called Sammeli in the “8 Seasons of Lapland”. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or www.anaraskielaservi.fi.
Kirjastoissa tarvitaan kielten ja kulttuurien osaajia
(in English below)
Suomessa on yhä enemmän perheitä, jotka ovat monikielisiä. Suomessa on yhä enemmän lapsia, jotka kasvavat monikielisessä ympäristössä.
Yli 400 000 Suomessa asuvaa ihmistä puhuu äidinkielenään jotain muuta kuin suomea, ruotsia tai saamea. Suurimmat kieliryhmät ovat venäjä, viro, arabia, englanti ja somali.
Tilastokeskuksen tilastoissa puhutaan vieraskielisen väestön määrästä, joka on kasvanut voimakkaasti. Vielä 2000-luvun alussa vieraskielisiä asui Suomessa reilut satatuhatta, nyt määrä on yli kolminkertainen.
Olen miettinyt kirjastojen mahdollisuuksia palvella monikielisiä ja vieraskielisiä yhteisöjä. Asia nousi ajankohtaiseksi viime marraskuussa, kun valmistelin keskustelua teemasta suomalais-ruotsalaisen kulttuurikeskus Hanasaaren kulttuuripolitiikan päivään.
Kirjastojen työntekijöistä vain noin prosentti puhuu äidinkielenään jotain muuta kuin suomea tai ruotsia. Tämä hätkähdyttävän pieni luku tuli esiin kirjastoalan järjestöjen tekemässä kyselytutkimuksessa.
Miksi kirjastoissa on töissä niin vähän vieraskielisiä? Pitääkö olla huolissaan kirjastojen kyvystä palvella monikielisiä yhteisöjä?
Oma mututuntumani on, että kovin on vaikeaa työllistyä kirjastoon, jos ei hallitse täydellisesti suomen kieltä.
Eräs kirjastoalan oppilaitos järjesti joitakin vuosia sitten muuntokoulutuksen korkeakoulutetuille maahanmuuttajille. Muuntokoulutuksen piti pätevöittää kirjastoalan työtehtäviin. Heistä hyvin harva loppujen lopuksi työllistyi kirjastoon.
Kulttuuriala ja myös kirjastoala näkee itsensä mielellään moninaisena ja kaikille avoimena. Alan työntekijöitä yhdistävät tasa-arvon ja yhdenvertaisuuden ihanteet.
Niin kauan kuin työntekijöiden edustama maailma on hyvin kaukana yhteiskunnassa vallitsevasta väestörakenteesta, emme voi puhua moninaisuuden toteutumisesta.
On tärkeää, että eri ammateissa toimii erilaisia ihmisiä. Lukuisat tutkimukset kertovat, että eri-ikäisistä, eri sukupuolta olevista, erilaisista taustoista koostuvien ihmisten tiimit pääsevät usein parhaaseen lopputulokseen ja niiden kyky ongelmanratkaisuun on huomattavasti parempi kuin keskenään samanlaisten ryhmien.
Asiaan on herätty. Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö julkaisi juuri Kulttuuripolitiikka, maahanmuuttajat ja kulttuurisen moninaisuuden edistäminen -työryhmän loppuraportin. Sen mukaan ”väestön moninaistuminen on otettava — huomioon kaikessa taide- ja kulttuuripoliittisessa suunnittelussa ja päätöksenteossa.”
Raportti esittää myös haasteen: ”taide- ja kulttuuriorganisaatioiden pitää tunnistaa syrjivät rakenteet ja rekrytointikäytännöt ja tunnustaa niiden eriasteinen olemassaolo omassa toiminnassaan.”
Käytännössä tämä tarkoittaa, että taide- ja kulttuurilaitoksiin, myös kirjastoihin, pitää palkata kaiken tasoisiin tehtäviin lisää monikielisiä ihmisiä ja lisää maahanmuuttajia.
Mitkä ovat kirjastoalan ”syrjivät rakenteet ja rekrytointikäytännöt”? En tiedä, mutta veikkaan, että yksi liittyy koviin kielivaatimuksiin.
Kirjasto on paljon muutakin kuin kirjat. Se on palvelu, joka tarjoaa sivistystä ja osaamista kaikille yhteisössä. Hyvän kirjastotyöntekijän edellytys ei voi olla täydellinen kielitaito.
Libraries are in need of language and culture experts
Finland is home to an increasing number of multilingual families. Finland also has an increasing number of children who are growing up in a multilingual environment.
More than 400,000 people living in Finland speak a language other than Finnish, Swedish or Sami as their native language. The largest language groups are Russian, Estonian, Arabic, English and Somali.
The statistics of Statistics Finland show the number of foreign-language speakers, which has grown strongly. At the beginning of the 2000s, a little more than one hundred thousand foreign-language speakers lived in Finland; the number has now more than tripled.
Lately, I have been thinking about our libraries’ ability to serve multilingual and foreign-language communities. The issue became topical last November when I was preparing a discussion on the topic for Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre Hanaholmen’s Cultural Politics Dialogue Day.
Only about one per cent of all library staff speak a language other than Finnish or Swedish as their native language. This strikingly low figure came up in a survey carried out by library organisations.
Why are there so few foreign-language speakers working in libraries? Should we be concerned about our libraries’ ability to serve multilingual communities?
My personal feeling is that it is very difficult to get a job in a library if your command of Finnish is anything short of perfect.
Some years ago, a library institute organised conversion training for highly-educated immigrants. The conversion training was supposed to qualify the immigrants for work in libraries. In the end, very few of them were employed in a library.
The culture sector, much like the included library sector, likes to view itself as a diverse sector that is open to all. Employees in the sector share ideals of equality and non-discrimination.
However, as long as the world represented by these employees is a far cry from the demographic structure of our society, we cannot say that we have achieved diversity.
It is important that there are different kinds of people operating in different professions. Numerous studies show that teams of people of varying ages, genders and backgrounds often achieve the best results and have a much better problem-solving ability than uniform groups.
Decision-makers have become aware of this issue. The Ministry of Education and Culture recently published the final report of the working group on Cultural Policy, Immigrants and Promotion of Cultural Diversity. It states that “the diverse demographic structures must be reflected in all artistic and cultural-politic planning and decision-making”.
The report also poses a challenge: ”Artistic and cultural organisations must identify discriminatory structures and recruitment practices and recognise their varying degrees of existence in their own activities.”
In practice, this means that artistic and cultural institutions, including libraries, must employ more multilingual people and more immigrants for jobs at all levels.
What are the “discriminatory structures and recruitment practices” in the library sector? I do not know, but I am guessing one of them has to do with stringent language requirements.
The library is much more than just books. It is a service that provides education and knowledge for everyone in the community. Flawless language skills must not be a prerequisite for working in a library.
Kirjoittaja / Author
Kirjoittaja on Suomen Kirjastoseuran toiminnanjohtaja.
The author is the Executive Director at Finnish Library Association.
Kirjasto kutsuu yhteisiin lukuhetkiin – monella kielellä | Libraries invite you to share reading moments – in many languages
[In English below]
Lasten ja nuorten lukemiseen kannustamiseksi tehdään työtä usealla taholla. Jo varhain aloitettu yhdessä lukeminen on tärkeää. Lukeminen on mukavaa aikuisen ja lapsen välistä yhdessäoloa mutta se myös kehittää lapsen kieltä ja puhetta, kuuntelun ja keskittymisen taitoa sekä sanavarastoa.
Riitta Salin peräänkuuluttaa omassa blogitekstissään vanhempiin kohdistuvaa työtä kun puhutaan oman äidinkielen säilyttämisen ja ylläpidon merkityksestä. Oman äidinkielen opettajat ovat tässä keskeisessä asemassa. Kirjastoilla taas on tarjota aineistoja, joilla voidaan tukea perheen yhteistä lukuharrastusta monilla kielillä.
Suomessa on meneillään useita valtakunnallisia lukemista edistäviä kampanjoita ja hankkeita. Lukuliike on hallitusohjelmaan kirjattu jatkuva ohjelma, jonka tavoitteena on edistää Suomessa asuvien lukutaitoa, lapset ja nuoret edellä. Lukuliike pyrkii laajentamaan lukutaidon käsitettä ja tuomaan esiin monilukutaitoa sekä monikielisyyttä. Tämän vuoden alusta opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö on antanut lasten ja nuorten lukemista ja lukutaitoa edistävien kirjastopalvelujen valtakunnallisen erityistehtävän Seinäjoen kaupunginkirjastolle.
Hyviä esimerkkejä käytännön lukutaitotyöstä on monia mutta tässä voidaan poimia esiin vaikka Niilo Mäki-instituutin Lukumummit –ja vaarit (Reading grandmas and grandpas: seniors reading with children at school). Lukumummi ja -vaari -kerhossa eri kulttuureista tulevat mummit ja vaarit lukevat lapsille kirjoja omalla äidinkielellä. Tapahtuma järjestetään iltapäivällä monikulttuurikeskusten kerhoissa. Lapset pääsevät tutustumaan oman kielen kirjoihin ja oppivat uusia sanoja mummien ja vaarien kanssa. Kerhoja on jo useilla paikkakunnilla eri puolilla Suomea.
Lapsille ja perheille tulee olla lukemista tarjolla eri muodoissa. Perinteinen paperinen lastenkirja on monille se rakkain mutta monikielisten digitaalisten aineistojen, e-kirjojen ja äänikirjojen, tarjonta ja käyttö lisääntyy ja kirjastojen tulee voida tarjota niitä asiakkailleen nykyistä helpommin. Tällä hetkellä kirjastojen e-aineistojen käyttäminen on asiakkaalle haastavaa, sillä ne ovat useilla eri palvelualustoilla. Tämä heikentää monikielisten aineistojen yhdenvertaista saavutettavuutta.
Monessa kunnassa varhaiskasvatus, koulut ja kirjastot ovat jo ottaneetkin käyttöön maksullisen Lukulumo – monikielisen kuvakirjapalvelun (Ruotsissa nimellä Polyglutt). Lukulumosta löytyy yli 300 suomenkielistä kuvakirjaa, joista monia voi kuunnella ja katsella yli 45 kielellä. Kirjat palveluun ovat valinneet lastenkirjallisuuden asiantuntijat. Lapset voivat kehittää niin suomen ja ruotsin kielen kuin myös oman äidinkielen taitojaan. Lapset voivat tutustua samaan kuvakirjaan omilla kielillään.
Pohjoismaat, Norja, Tanska ja Ruotsi, tarjoavat jo yhteistyössä monikielisiä e-kirjoja ja äänikirjoja asiakkailleen World Library –palvelussa. Monikielinen kirjaston on seurannut projektin etenemistä useita vuosia. Toivottavasti Suomen kirjastot voivat liittyä mukaan palveluun lähitulevaisuudessa ja näin saada valikoiman digitaalista aineistoa asiakkaidensa käyttöön.
Tammikuussa 2020 Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö myönsi 250 000 euron avustuksen kansallisen e-kirjaston selvityshankkeen käynnistämiseksi. Helsingin kaupunginkirjaston vetämän hankkeen tavoitteena on parantaa e-kirjojen alueellista saatavuutta ja kansalaisten yhdenvertaisuutta ja tasa-arvoa koko Suomessa. Kun lähitulevaisuudessa yleisten kirjastojen tarjoama laaja digitaalinen kokoelma on kaikkien yleisten kirjastojen asiakkaiden käytettävissä yhdeltä palvelualustalta, myös monikielinen aineisto on helpommin kaikkien saavutettavissa. Selvitystyön raportti julkaistaan helmi-maalikuussa 2021.
Monikielisen aineiston saavutettavuuden lisäksi on vielä kysyttävä miten yhteiskuntamme monimuotoisuus näkyy Suomessa julkaistavissa lastenkirjoissa. Lastenkirjat kuvaavat suureksi osaksi enemmistökulttuuria. Tätä näkökulmaa selvittää Goethe-instituutin lastenkirjallisuuden monimuotoisuushanke. Useassa Ruotsissa julkaistussa lastenkirjassa seikkailee jo monikulttuurisen ja monimuotoisen taustan omaavia lapsia. Lapsen ja nuoren olisi tärkeää löytää kirjoista samaistumisen kohteita, hänen elämästään tuttuja hahmoja ja tarinoita.
Libraries invite you to share reading moments – in many languages
Efforts are being made in many areas to encourage reading among children and young people. It is important to start reading together with the child at an early age. Reading is a pleasant shared activity for an adult and child, and it also develops the child’s language and speech, listening and focusing skills and vocabulary.
In her blog post, Riitta Salin calls for measures aimed at parents in the context of retaining and maintaining one’s own native language. In this regard, native language teachers play an important role. Libraries, on the other hand, can offer materials that can support a family’s shared reading hobby in a variety of languages.
There are currently nationwide campaigns and projects under way in Finland to support reading. The Literacy Movement is a continuous effort laid down in the Government Programme, which aims to promote the literacy of Finnish residents, with a focus on children and young people. The movement aims to expand the concept of literacy and highlight multiliteracy and multilingualism. From the beginning of this year, the Ministry of Education and Culture has assigned the special national responsibility related to library services that promote reading and literacy among children to the Seinäjoki Public Library.
There are plenty of great examples, one of which is Niilo Mäki Institute’s Lukumummit ja -vaarit project (Reading grandmas and grandpas), which involves grandmothers and grandfathers from various cultures visiting schools to read books to children in their own native languages. The events are held in the afternoon in the context of club activities offered by multicultural centres. This introduces children to books in their own language and learn new words together with experienced readers. Many of these clubs have already been established throughout Finland.
Reading must be available to children and families in a variety of forms. Many love traditional printed children’s books best, but the offering and use of multilingual digital materials, e-books and audio books is increasing, which is why libraries must be able to make them more easily accessible to their customers. At present, accessing the e-materials of libraries can be a challenge to customers since they are scattered across multiple service platforms. This hinders the equal availability of such materials.
In many municipalities, early education, schools and libraries have introduced the multilingual picture book service Lukulumo (named Polyglutt in Sweden), which is subject to a fee. The service features more than 300 picture books in Finnish, many of which can be read and listened to in more than 45 languages. The books for the service have been selected by experts in children’s literature. Lukulumo enables children to develop their proficiency in Finnish, Swedish and their own native languages, for example by reading the same picture book in many languages.
The Nordic countries of Norway, Denmark and Sweden have already joined forces to offer multilingual e-books and audio books to their customers through the World Library service. The Multilingual Library has been following the project’s progress for several years. Hopefully, Finnish libraries will be able join the service in the near future and make its selection of digital materials available to their customers.
In January 2020, the Ministry of Education and Culture awarded a grant of €250,000 to initiate a project to investigate the possibility of establishing a national e-library. The aim of the project run by the Helsinki City Library is to improve the regional availability of e-books as well as equality and equal opportunity among citizens throughout Finland. Making the vast digital collections offered by public libraries available to all library customers through a single service platform in the near future will ensure that everyone can access multilingual materials much easier than before. The investigation report will be published between February and March 2021.
In addition to securing the accessibility of multilingual material, we must also ask ourselves how the diversity of our society is reflected in the children’s books published in Finland. Children’s books largely depict the majority culture. This perspective is being explored by the Goethe Institute’s project focusing on diversity in children’s literature. Many children’s books published in Sweden already feature children with a diverse and multicultural background as their protagonists. It would be important for children and young people to discover identifiable things in the books they read, along with familiar characters and stories.
Kirjoittajat Eeva Pilviö ja Riitta Hämäläinen työskentelevät Monikielisen kirjaston informaatikkoina Helsingin kaupunginkirjastossa. Monikielinen kirjasto on opetus-ja kulttuuriministeriön rahoittama palvelu.
The writers Eeva Pilviö and Riitta Hämäläinen work as information specialists at the Multilingual Library of the Helsinki City Library. The Multilingual Library is a service funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Yhteisöjen ja yksilöiden monet kielet
Monikielisyydestä puhuttaessa on kuitenkin koko ajan otettava huomioon yksilöllinen ulottuvuus. Kuvitelma siitä, että yhdellä ihmisellä voi olla vain yksi äidinkieli, oli jonkin aikaa vallitsevana kansallisvaltioiden nousun myötä 1800-1900-luvuilla, ja aiheutti paljon pahaa vähemmistökielille suomalaisessakin yhteiskunnassa. Ajateltiin jopa, että useamman kielen oppiminen jo lapsena on haitallista ihmisille. Vaikka tutkimus sittemmin on osoittanut täysin vastakkaista, yksikielisyyttä ihannoivat käsitykset elävät edelleen. Käsitys elää voimakkaana Venäjän nykyisen hallinnon kielipolitiikassa, joka jatkuessaan voi johtaa suhteellisen nopeasti vähemmistökielten kuolemiseen.
Ruotsissa Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, maan suurin humanististen ja yhteiskuntatieteiden rahoittaja, julkaisi äskettäin vuosikirjan RJ:s årsbox 2019: Det nya Sverige, joka koostui muutaman kymmenen sivun katsauksista eri asioihin. Yksi katsaus käsitteli kieliä, ja sen on kirjoittanut Mikael Parkvall Tukholman yliopistosta. Katsaus on kiinnostava ja sisältää hyödyllistä tietoa. Toisin kuin valtio Suomessa, Ruotsin valtio ei rekisteröi kansalaisten kieliä. Niinpä Parkvall on tehnyt paljon työtä selvittääkseen Ruotsissa puhuttuja kieliä 2010-luvulla; hän julkaisi tuloksiaan kirjassa Sveriges språk i siffror (2015). Selvityksen mukaan suurimpia äidinkieliä ruotsissa v. 2012-13 olivat suomi, arabia, serbokroaatti-ryhmä (Jugoslavian hajoamisen jälkeen poliittisista syistä erillisiksi ajautuneet kielet), kurdi, puola ja espanja.
Kielten luokittelun hankaluus käy Parkvallin katsauksesta ilmi: Ruotsin virallisessa tilastossa tunnistetaan vain yksi saamen kieli, vaikka kielitieteilijät nykyisin erottavat yhdeksän saamen kieltä, joista useita puhutaan Ruotsin alueella. Ruotsin eri murteita ei eroteta toisistaan eri kieliksi, mutta suomi ja meänkieli erotetaan, vaikka moni kielitieteilijä pitää niitä saman kielen murteina. Kuten tästäkin näkyy, kielten luokitteluun julkisessa hallinnossa vaikuttavat aina myös politiikka ja kulttuuriperintö.
Se mikä Parkvallin katsauksesta melko yllättävästi puuttuu, on yksilöllinen monikielisyys. Hän on selvittänyt perusteellisesti ruotsalaisten äidinkieliä, mutta ei puhu lainkaan siitä, millaista yksilöllistä monikielisyyttä Ruotsissa on (paitsi se, että jotain muuta kieltä äidinkielenään puhuvat osaavat tavallisesti myös ruotsia). Hän suhtautuu pessimistisesti monikielisyyden mahdollisuuksiin säilyä. Tässä minua kiinnostaa vertailu antiikin ja keskiajan Sisiliaan, jota olen itse tutkinut. Siellä kaksi kieltä, kreikka ja latina, säilyivät ainakin tuhat vuotta rinnakkain, paikoittain todennäköisesti 1500 vuotta. Kyse oli toki kahdesta korkean prestiisin kielestä, joita molempia käytettiin (eri aikoina) kirkon ja hallinnon piirissä.
On kiinnostava nähdä, miten tilanne kehittyy nykymaailmassa. Joko ymmärretään, että valtiot eivät ole yksikielisiä, vaikka niin usein ajateltiin kansallisvaltioiden muodostumisen aikana? Syntyykö jännitteitä monikielisten suurkaupunkien ja maaseudun välille? Toivon ainakin, että kestävän monikielisyyden arvo yksilöille ja yhteisöille ymmärretään myös 2020-luvulla.
Kalle Korhonen on Koneen Säätiön tiedejohtaja, joka oli vastuussa myös säätiön kieliohjelmasta (2012–2016). Hänen taustansa on antiikintutkimuksessa, ja hän on klassisen filologian dosentti Helsingin yliopistossa.
MONIKIELISYYS – uhkana mahdollisuus?? | MULTILINGUALISM – opportunity from a threat?
[In English below]
Suomalainen yhteiskunta monimuotoistuu ja samalla monikielistyy koko ajan, varsin nopealla tahdilla.
Varsinkin pääkaupunkisedulla muualta tulleita, muita kuin suomea tai ruotsia äidinkielenään puhuvia on jo liki 20% väestöstä, joissakin Itä-Helsingin kouluissa jo reippaasti yli puolet kaikista oppilaista. Eilen, istuessani bussissa matkalla harrastukseeni, edessäni istuva mies puhui kaverilleen somalia, takana istuvat naiset keskenään venäjää ja vieressä istuva nuori nainen puhelimeen englantia. Tämä on arkipäivää ja tulevaisuuden kuva.
Monikielisyys tarkoittaa myös paljon muuta kuin ympäriltä kuuluvaa puhetta. Suomen peruskouluissa muualta tulleille, muun kuin suomen-, ruotsin- tai saamenkielisille oppilaille, tarjotaan mahdollisuutta oman äidinkielen opiskeluun kahtena tuntina viikossa. Tätä opetusta tarjotaan valtakunnallisesti ainakin 60 eri kielessä. Kyseessä on loistava mahdollisuus, jos sen merkitys vain ymmärretään ja mahdollisuutta käytetään hyväksi.
Oma kieli, äidinkieli, on sydämen, tunteiden, identiteetin ja ajattelun kieli. Kieli vahvistaa kulttuurista identiteettiä, oman kulttuurin tuntemusta ja siteitä omaan kieliyhteisöön ja entiseen kotimaahan. Äidinkieli on myös jokaisen perusoikeus: kaikilla Suomessa asuvilla ihmisillä on oikeus kehittää ja ylläpitää omaa äidinkieltään.
Äidinkieli on se kieli, joka opitaan ensin ja johon samaistutaan. Kaksi- tai monikielisellä on itsellään oikeus määritellä äidinkielensä, ja niitä voi olla yksi tai useampia. Suomen väestörekisteri ei kuitenkaan tue tätä. Syntyvän tai Suomeen muuttavan lapsen äidinkieliä voi rekisteriin merkitä vain yhden ja tämä määrittää kielivalintoja myös koulussa. Toki nykyään äidinkielen voi helposti muuttaa tai lisätä äidinkielen lisäksi toisen kielen asiointikieleksi.
Kieli on tärkeä sekä oman minuuden tiedostamisen että kieltä puhuvaan yhteisöön liittymisen kannalta. On tärkeää, että lapsi oppii äidinkielensä riittävän hyvin, sillä äidinkieli on perusta lapsen ajattelulle ja tunne-elämän tasapainoiselle kehitykselle. Äidinkieli on myös tärkeä väline sekä uusien kielten että kaiken muunkin tiedon oppimiseen ja omaksumiseen. Oman äidinkielen vahva hallinta tukee näin myös muiden aineiden opiskelua.
Olen toiminut viimeisten vuosien aikana uudessa yhdistyksessä, nimeltä Oman äidinkielen opettajat ry. Yhdistys ajaa nimenomaisesti oman äidinkielen opettajien ja opetuksen asemaa, missä onkin vielä todella paljon kehittämistä. Haluaisin kuitenkin peräänkuuluttaa myös vanhempiin kohdistuvaa työtä. Vieraskielisten vanhempien informoiminen oman äidinkielen opiskelun mahdollisuuksista on liian usein edelleen varsin sattumanvaraista: opiskelumahdollisuuksien lisäksi vanhemmat tarvitsevat informaatiota siitä, mikä merkitys oman äidinkielen, joka usein on myös kotona puhuttu kieli, kunnollisella osaamisella on kaiken oppimisen taustalla.
Opetushallitus toteaa sivuillaan: Vastuu lasten oman äidinkielen tai omien äidinkielien ja kulttuurin säilyttämisestä ja kehittämisestä on ensisijaisesti perheellä. Vastuuta ei kuitenkaan voida asettaa, jos ei varmisteta sitä, että vastuun kantamiseen on riittävä tieto.
Oli äidinkieli tai sen määrittely mikä hyvänsä, olennaista on se, että useampien kielten osaamisen merkitys kasvaa koko ajan. Tulevaisuuden työnteko, varsinkin asiantuntijatyössä, perustuu siihen oletukseen, että tekijä hallitsee useamman kielen, vähintäänkin ymmärrystasolla. Tällöin on hyvä ymmärtää, että kieli on voimavara niin kielen käyttäjälle kuin ympäröivälle yhteiskunnalle.
Suomen kielivaranto ei ole koskaan ollut niin laaja kuin nyt. Tätä olemassa olevaa kielten monipuolista kirjoa ei pidä hukata vaan eri kielten osaajien merkitys on tunnustettava. Yhteiskunnallisesta näkökulmasta katsoen monipuolinen kielten osaaminen ja olemassaolo on rikkaus, joka pitää osata hyödyntää koko kansakunnan parhaaksi. Tällöin monikielisyydestä todellakin kasvaa mahdollisuus.
MULTILINGUALISM – opportunity from a threat?
Finnish society is becoming more diverse and, at the same time, multilingual at a very rapid pace.
In the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, in particular, nearly 20% of the population speak a language other than Finnish or Swedish as their native language and, in some schools in Eastern Helsinki, so do well over half of the pupils. Yesterday, as I was sitting on the bus on my way to my hobby, the man sitting in front of me was speaking to his friend in Somali, the women sitting behind me were speaking to each other in Russian, and the young woman sitting next to me was talking on the phone in English. This is commonplace, and a vision for the future.
Multilingualism also means much more than the speech you hear around you. Finnish comprehensive school offers pupils from other countries, whose native language is not Finnish, Swedish or Sami, the opportunity to study their own native language for two hours a week. These lessons are offered nationwide in at least 60 different languages. It is a great opportunity, if only people understand its importance and exploit it.
One’s own language, mother tongue, is the language of the heart, emotions, identity and thought. Language strengthens cultural identity, knowledge of one’s own culture and bonds with one’s own language community and former home country. Native language is also a fundamental right of everyone: all people living in Finland have the right to improve and maintain their native language.
Native language is the language that is learned first and identified with. A bilingual or multilingual person has the right to define his or her native language and may have one or more of them. However, the Population Register Centre of Finland does not support this. Only one native language can be entered in the register for a child born or moving to Finland, and this also determines language options in school. Of course, nowadays, one can easily change or add a second language as an alternative service language alongside the native language.
Language is important both in terms of awareness of self and in terms of joining a community that speaks the language. It is important that a child learns his or her native language well enough, as the native language forms the foundation for the child’s thinking and for balanced emotional development. The native language is also an important tool for learning and acquiring new languages and all other information. A good mastery of one’s native language also supports the learning of other subjects.
In recent years, I have worked for a new association called Oman äidinkielen opettajat ry (Association for teachers of native languages). The association advocates the status of teachers and teaching of native languages, which still has a lot of room for improvement. However, I would also like to call for work on parents. All too often, informing parents of the possibilities of studying their native language is still rather inconsistent: in addition to learning opportunities, parents need information about the importance of proper knowledge of their native language, which is often also the language spoken at home, as a basis for all learning.
The Finnish National Agency for Education states on its website: Responsibility for preserving and developing children’s native language(s) and culture rests primarily with the family. However, responsibility cannot be imposed if it is not ensured that sufficient information is available to bear the responsibility.
Whatever the native language or its definition, the essential thing is that the knowledge of the importance of knowing more languages is increasing all the time. Future work, especially in the field of expert work, is based on the assumption that employees know or at least understand several languages. A such, it is good to understand that language is a resource both for its user and for the surrounding society.
Finland’s language reserves have never been as extensive as they are now. This existing diverse spectrum of languages must not be lost; instead, the importance of people who know different languages must be recognised. From a social perspective, the diverse knowledge and existence of languages is a wealth that must be exploited for the good of the whole nation. This will really help multilingualism become an opportunity.
Riitta Salin on toiminut pitkään monikulttuurisuussektorilla, niin monikulttuurijärjestöjen kuin oman äidinkielen opetuksen parissa.
Riitta Salin has long been involved in the multicultural sector, both in multicultural organisations and in the teaching of her own native language.
Romani – who does the language belong to?
“The Romani language is an Indo-European language, of the Indo-Iranian branch’s Indo-Aryan subset. It is a daughter to Sanskrit and sister to Hindi, Maratha and Urdu. European Romani dialects are divided into 4 main groups: the northern dialects, the Balkan dialects, the Valakian and the central dialects. The Romani spoken in Finland is a northern dialect, of its northwestern group whose historical center is in the German area.”
–Kimmo Granqvist, a., Kotimaisten kielten keskus
The research tradition of the Romani language started as early as the 1700s, when it was noted that Romani was one of the Indian languages which wandering groups of people originating in India spoke outside of India.
Research into the Romani history and culture started at the same time. And it is true that as people with oral culture and wandering lifestyle, our history would seem much shorter and more vague, if there had not been research into it from the authorities and a little bit from ourselves, too. Now we know that we are the largest minority in Europe, about 10-12 million people who have lived in Europe for 800 years or so, but information about us is still scarce. As individuals we are not interesting, as a group we are a problem – a black spot; poor and marginalized people, out of reach from civilization, human rights and equality. It is an awkward position and climbing out from there is difficult because it makes us victims and casts blame on others, whether we want that or not.
As a mother tongue, about 4 million people speak Romani in Europe, for others, the language has disappeared either totally or it remains as a household language or just a slang-like vestige of phrases and words.
Despite all our hardships and misery, we have always had something of interest, and that is our language. Interest in the Romani language just keeps growing. Today there are linguists, universities and large projects involved in the research. Top scientists, highly educated and knowledgeable people all over Europe, and the project costs are in the millions. As a mother tongue, about 4 million people speak Romani in Europe, for others, the language has disappeared either totally or it remains as a household language or just a slang-like vestige of phrases and words.
Majority researchers have compiled and recorded many variations of the language in a written form. They have created glossaries, dictionaries, grammar books and descriptions of the language. The characteristics of the language have been bases for graduate studies and thesis, articles and studies. Dialect maps and studies into changes and the effects of migration have been completed.
In some countries the Roma themselves have started teaching. Especially in the Eastern European countries there are schools for the Roma, and they are taught Romani in them. You can study Romani at University level at least in Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland and Sweden. As far as I know, Romani studies have also been conducted in Austria, England and France. In Macedonia, a small company produces TV programs and news in Romani, some countries have radio programs, e.g. Sweden and Spain, and some countries publish newspapers in Romani. All vital steps in preserving the language.
In Finland and Sweden, we have a small population of the Roma, about 14000, and none of them speak Romani as their mother tongue. In the beginning of 2000, about a third of them spoke it at home but that number keeps diminishing, too. The situation here is the same as in the rest of Europe, we do not have the resources we need.
All this work may seem very good news, but the reality is not quite as good. A group of people, twice the number of Finland’s population, and only a few thousand are offered learning and study material, including both children and adults. And these numbers are just guesstimates. Books in Romany probably number a few thousand. In Finland and Sweden, we have a small population of the Roma, about 14000, and none of them speak Romani as their mother tongue. In the beginning of 2000, about a third of them spoke it at home but that number keeps diminishing, too. The situation here is the same as in the rest of Europe, we do not have the resources we need.
So, what is this all about?
In my mind, it is about ownership—who really owns the Romani language. We, the Roma, feel that the language was stolen from us. It has been taken over by the majority linguists, scientists, researchers, universities, EU projects—all those who know it better than we do and know what it is, where it came from and how it is written.
And yet, despite the records kept, we feel that our language was not just stolen, it was confiscated.
On one hand we understand how important it is that our language has been studied, recorded and preserved. Structures, words and idioms have been saved. Without that work, many of the Romani variations would have faded from our memories, and as carriers of oral history, we would not even recall which parts of the language had been lost. Along with the language, we have lost a lot of skills, values, history, legends, entire Roma universes, and those we will never retrieve. Even though the collected recordings only hold a fraction of what was lost, what remains is priceless. And yet, despite the records kept, we feel that our language was not just stolen, it was confiscated.
As a written tradition and a case study, the language exists but it is out of our reach. Taking possession of the language feels like theft, its preservation feels like confiscation, because we have not received anything back from the researchers. Not the glossaries, grammar or the written form that is vital for its development. Not the literacy campaigns, not even the appreciation it deserves, its significance or any efforts to revive it.
And when we have asked, wished, begged to have our language back, to use it, we are not heard, because the language has been confiscated for the use of people who are more important and more capable than we are. When those people write a book or teach us to write books, we are not pleased, but, apart from a few trained teachers, we say that it’s a foreign language, pig Latin, but definitely not Romani. And when we write the Romani we know they say the same to us.
Why is that?
Because in many areas Romani is only a spoken language that people cannot read, and we must remember that many Roma cannot read in any language. When you cannot read, you cannot understand what is written. And when you learn to read, you cannot understand what you are reading because the written language conveys ideas that do not exist in Roma Life, in a way that is not similar to the way the Roma use the language.
Or maybe we can say that a person who learns the language but does not live among the Roma cannot write about things that would deeply touch the Roma. Not things, concepts, humor, values, not in a living, touching, teaching way, but rather, as a version of the writer’s own culture. This is why it is hard for us to understand the written language, because it does not describe the Roma culture in the Romani language, it describes the majority’s idea of the Roma life from their point of view. They use the language in a way that feels dead to us, a forgotten language because we have moved on speaking it, and at the same time, the language structures used in books seem to be about 100 years behind us, with all the new words not ours, in a way ahead of our comprehension, and vice versa.
Yet, now that a written language exists, we still live in an oral, spoken culture. We would love to learn the written language and teach it, to preserve our language but it is painful. It is like covering a living flower with a sticker that shows how a flower should look like. And that hurts, it pains the heart and soul and yet we must try because that is the only solution we have. Our people have a million other needs, and the cry for help for those needs is louder and more urgent. We who cry help for the language will not be heard, because we want something that already exists for everyone else, they cannot see that we do not have it yet.
We dream about a life where Romani would translate Roma literature to stand alongside world classics.
We would like to have conversations similar to those about the Finnish language in the great language war. We want literary researchers to make simple language guides and materials which would include elements from the spoken language as images through which the language could bloom with more vim and vigor, thus allowing us to merge more readily the written and the spoken language. We would love to have all kinds of books that we could read, learn by heart, color, study and fold into dog ears. We dream about a life where Romani would translate Roma literature to stand alongside world classics.
To reach these goals we need big book projects, where the written and the spoken words meet and the material created will speak to a Roma soul and be comfortable on their tongue.
Books that will include words and pictures that the Roma use to describe their lives, hunger, begging, cold, joy, the solidarity in poverty, cold toes in rubber boots in the dead of winter, the joy of a spring day, sister’s wedding, cousin’s fight, get-togethers, where accordions are played and the old folk get up to show how people used to dance, a brother with weak lungs who will never grow up, a horse that is more important than a car, the stray dog that became the children’s friend, the games the children played, treasures found at the dump, missing your father, mom’s arms, granny’s potato soup, new cell phone, cars, brand name clothes. The sky where the sun shines for everyone, the stars that where above every village before the street lights came, flower wreaths in the summer, first love, new caravan. That everyday Roma life where the whole extended family lives, goes to schools, works and lives in different countries all over the Europe. And all this in the Romani language, too.
Päivi Majaniemi works at the Finnish Roma Association. She taught herself the Romani language as an adult through books and a university course, and has encountered the problem of ownership regarding both written and spoken language when writing and teaching Roma textbooks.
Kurdish literature in the Nordic countries – some recommendations for improvements
Kurdish is one of the major immigrant languages when it comes to a number of speakers in the Nordic Countries. Like many other immigrant groups, Kurdish immigrants have settled in the Nordic countries—many due political or security reasons, some seeking work. Due to severe restriction on the Kurdish language and culture in Kurdistan – especially in Turkey and Iran, but previously also in Iraq and Syria – many Kurds have fled Europe, including the Nordic countries, to be able to preserve the Kurdish identity, e.g. to be able to freely use their native language. This has been especially important for Kurdish writers. Publishing in Kurdish was illegal altogether in Turkey up until the 1990’s. Although not totally prohibited in Iran, Iraq or Syria, there too have been – and mostly continue to be – severe restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language in the public domain, for example in education, commerce and broadcasting.
Although Kurds are a relatively new minority group in the Nordic countries, Kurdish literature has already a history of several decades of activities in the Nordic countries…
An active era for the Kurdish literature in the Nordic countries began in the 1980’s with poets like Cegerxwîn, novelists like Mehmed Uzun and authors of children books like Mehmed Emîn Bozarslan, beginning to publish their works in Sweden. In the 1990’s, when Kurdish language and literature was still under severe restriction and pressure in Kurdistan, a dozen or so Kurdish literary and cultural journals where published in Sweden, some more and some less regularly. Hundreds, if not thousands, of different Kurdish book titles where published mainly in Sweden, but to a lesser degree also in Denmark and Norway. Kurdish writers have also found a writers’ union in Sweden. There is also a Kurdish library for gathering and providing materials in Kurdish and on the Kurds in other languages.
Although Kurds are a relatively new minority group in the Nordic countries, Kurdish literature has already a history of several decades of activities in the Nordic countries with hundreds of books and dozens of journals published as well as at least one library and one writers’ union found. But on the other hand, the publication in Kurdish has plummeted in the Nordic countries over the past years. Currently no Kurdish journal is published on a regular basis in the Nordic countries, the majority of the publishing houses have been closed down and even the only Kurdish library is under threat of closing down.
Recommendations for improvements
Recently a report on the conditions of the Kurdish literature in the Nordic countries was commissioned by the Culture for All Service. The report introduces several recommendations for improvement in order for the Kurdish literature and literatures in other immigrant or other non-dominant immigrant languages to thrive and survive:
Public libraries and schools with Kurdish-speaking pupils or students should acquire more Kurdish books and other material. Literature reading events should be organized for Kurdish and other immigrant authors and translators to read out their books for library visitors.
Kurdish and other immigrant writers should receive grants or other financial support for writing literature and publishing it. Not all literary works have to be published in the form of printed books, but possibly also as portals, blogs, vlogs or social media groups or platforms centering on producing or distributing literature.
A common virtual platform should be created and maintained for immigrant writers.
Kurdish and many other non-dominant language teachers and students in the Nordic countries are in desperate need of proper digital material to be used in schools, colleges and universities for studying the language. Production of the material could be undertaken as a project for instance under a national board of education.
Courses introducing creative writing should be held especially targeting adolescents but also adults. Many Kurds, and other immigrants, having left their country of origin and home, as well as family and friends, and forced to live in exile, would benefit from the ability to express their sufferings and other experiences in the form of literature. Participants should be encouraged to write in their native language or in the main language of the country of residence or possibly in both.
Current translation of the Nordic literature into Kurdish and other immigrant languages is largely ad hoc with no overall plan or objective. A program or project should be prepared to plan what major literary works should be translated from the official or dominant Nordic languages into Kurdish and other non-dominant languages and what literary works should be translated from these languages into the Nordic languages.
A common virtual platform should be created and maintained for immigrant writers. The platform should include sections for writing in immigrant languages as well as sections introducing immigrant writers and excerpts of their literary works translated in the official or dominant language of the country of their residence.
Membership in the national writers’ union of the Nordic countries should be made possible also for writers of minority and immigrant languages residing in the country. Events introducing majority and minority/immigrant writers to each others should be held and/or supported.
Husein Muhammed (born in 1980 in Iraqi Kurdistan) is a Kurdish lawyer, writer and translator living in Finland since 1994.
Once upon a time, in the winter of 2014, there was a woman living in Reykjavík, Iceland who saw an add on Facebook about a creative writing workshop at one of the city libraries. She thought to herself “ætti ég?” And signed up. At the workshop, she met women she had never met before. The facilitator, poet and artist a rawlings, led the workshop, inviting each woman to write in (m)any language(s), within any genre, and to try out translating, editing, and working together with texts of their own creation. At first, the woman felt nervous about all the things she was invited to try and to work with all these new women. Nonetheless, she found the atmosphere empowering, challenging her to continue. As the workshop came to an end, friendships had already been made within the group, and several of them decided to continue meeting to write and work together.
A few weeks later, the woman received an email about another workshop, facilitated by a rawlings. She did not think twice about signing up. She even sent out emails to her new friends to encourage them to join her. And there they met again, at the City Library, with more new women. This workshop was five months long. The woman thought to herself “en spennandi!” Participants were given different tasks and tools to try out, and the woman soon realized that these fourteen female bodies shared experience and strength that might not have been revealed had the workshop not been for women only. Many of them also shared the joy / relief / therapeutic method of getting thoughts and feelings out on paper. Each expressed herself with words / sounds / body language, on her own terms.
At the end of the workshop, the women realized that there was a gap in the Icelandic publication industry for marginalized writers and poets, whether it be because of language, background, gender, social status, genre, or simply their last name. Nine of the women started working on a writers’ collective, and in August 2015, Ós Pressan was born. The woman thought “hvers vegna ekki við!”
Once upon a time…
Once upon a time, in summer 2016, there was a woman drinking beer with friends in Reykjavík, Iceland. They started talking art and books and the woman said that she had been studying publishing and been involved in publishing projects and working on a Master’s thesis on multilingual art. One of these friends told her about a writing collective which evolved from a writing workshop for women hosted by angela rawlings. “Klingt super spannend!” The woman did not think twice about joining the next meeting.
At the meeting, she found herself surrounded by a type of humans that was previously unknown to her: Óssers. They discussed the publication of a journal called Ós – The Journal, and the woman immediately knew that she wanted to be involved in the creation of this journal and that the ideas behind this initiative were close to her heart. When the woman left Iceland to finish her studies in Amsterdam, she kept close contact to Ós Pressan and contributed to the the journal. After her return, the connection to Ós Pressan became even stronger.
Óssers sind fantastisch! When joining Ós Pressan, the woman had expected an interesting publishing initiative and reading events. Ós Pressan and the changes in the current Icelandic linguistic landscape also inspired the PhD project that she is now working on. To her, what is most important about Ós Pressan is the aspect of community and connections. What the woman did not dare to expect was the characteristics and dynamics of Ós Pressan as a group. Óssers are radical. Radically open to all backgrounds, languages, genres, identities, sexual orientations etc. Óssers redefine Icelandic literature and who counts as an Icelandic writer. Óssers provide spaces and Óssers trust people to learn and grow. Above all, to be a part of Ós Pressan, one only has to want to be a part of Ós Pressan. That’s it. Welcome.
Now in its third year, Ós Pressan is putting its fingerprints on the sheets of Icelandic literature. Each of the board members has contributed in their own, special way. With the trust and support from other members each continues to explore her own talents and interests and discover new ones. It has been a privilege to meet writers and poets who, had it not been for this initiative, may not have had the opportunity to be noticed and welcomed into the Icelandic literary scene. Reading their submissions, discussing them within the Ós board, seeing them in print and giving the opportunity to listen to works being read by the authors, at times in an unfamiliar language, has been one of the greatest experiences.
Now, the women smile and wonder “hvað gerist næst?”, “Was geschieht als Nächstes?”
In Other Wor(l)ds – Nordic Dimensions of Multilingualism
Three years later, the two members of Ós Pressan mentioned above, are invited to Helsinki, Finland, to participate in a seminar called In Other Wor(l)ds – Nordic Dimensions of Multilingualism. On arriving to the country they immediately notice the beauty in this bilingual world they find themselves in. Fallegt! Schön! At Hanaholmen they get settled in, have an early dinner and consume the amazing nature, the ocean, the big trees, the fire outside in the lanterns and the overwhelming sky above us all. They go over their notes for tomorrow’s presentation and then turn to bed early. Tomorrow will be a busy day with a lot of new friends in the fields of multilingual literature.
After Frühstück the seminar starts with some more coffee and chats among the group of participants which, when looking through the list of participants and their organizations or fields, varies with people from libraries, universities and institutes, museums and culture centers, a researcher, a writer, publishers and a teacher. The program varies from a presentation on promoting multilingualism and language diversity in Iceland, to a presentation of a report on the Sámi literary field in the Nordic countries, to a presentation of the forthcoming report on Nordic – Kurdish literature. It is interesting to hear how people in the other Nordic countries are trying to figure out ways to promote and support the non-dominant languages in their countries through literature. They are passionate about their work because it is important for them personally to keep those languages from fading out or disappearing from their community.
The Writing Workshop
After a productive morning it’s time for their presentation on Ós Pressan and their mini writing workshop. While talking about the collective and publishing house and what changes have taken place since its founding in 2015, a slide show of photos from various events, workshops and exhibitions was screened. Then participants are invited to take part in a mini writing workshop. Sheets are spread out from the first two issues of the multilingual literary journal Ós – The Journal, which they can choose from a poem or a short story, in full length or in a form of an excerpt. Everyone present is invited to use the text as an inspiration for another text or visual, or to create and respond to the text. Most of the texts which were chosen are written in English, which was the main language of the seminar. But within the ten participants at this mini workshop are several languages: Icelandic, Spanish, Finish, Sami, Swedish, German and probably many more.
At the beginning some were hesitant about in what language they should write and asked us what to do. Since Ós is all about welcoming new voices to the platform of literature, we turned the question back to the participants, saying there was no rule. That we are open to all languages. For about 20 minutes we all sat in this creative and energetic silence working on our own creation. It could be felt on ones skin how ready everyone was to use the opportunity to process everything from this seminar and use it to create something of their own making. When the time had passed we went around in a circle and each person read aloud or talked about their new text, translation of the original text or showed the visual poem they had created. It was a wonderful experience to sit and listen to something so fresh as a recently created literature, even if it was in a language someone in the room didn’t understand at all. This mini workshop was proof of how simple it can be to facilitate a workshop where (m)any language(s) can be written or heard or spoken.
When reading through the new pieces, it is interesting to see the playfulness in many of the texts—mixing languages, focusing on the sounds and translating them to another language and following what the original text lights up in the writer. How a simple title about memories being like salt can turn into a new text about the salty water of the ocean, being on holiday and reading the book Taran. How a story about Frankenstein and breast cancer can inspire a new piece about who´s playing God in this human life and what we fear. How a page from a story can be turned into a poem. How an English translation of a political poem about Polish people can be a memory trigger to anarchy in a 7 year old mind about the monkey who ate red chillies. How an excerpt from a story can simply be turned into a visual poem. Just to give a few examples.
“Hvað gerist næst?”, “Was geschieht als Nächstes?”, “What happens next?”
Anna Valdís Kro is a kindergarten teacher from Iceland, has been writing since she was young. She writes short stories, lyrics, and poems. Anna writes for children and adults in different types of languages.
Lara Wilhelmine Hoffmann is a PhD student working in the research project “Inclusive Societies: The Integration of Immigrants in Iceland“ at the University of Akureyri in North Iceland. She is also active in the artistic and cultural field.
Ós Pressan is a non-profit initiative designed to bring out and promote new authors, to create an inclusive writing community and to challenge the reality of the publishing industry in Iceland.
More information: https://www.ospressan.com/, https://www.facebook.com/ospressan/
From Tarzan to Ananse – how African traditional children stories could promote multiculturalism
Have you heard the story about how the Spider captured the Python, a bunch of bees and the Leopard? What about that one about how the Hare managed to steal milk from Buffalo? Well, I could go on, and on, and on about these Ghanaian traditional children stories that are little known here. Story-telling has been a long tradition among many cultures in Africa, passed down from several generations.
Long before the days of radio and television, even before the appearance of the automobile, Africans entertained themselves with story-telling. Growing up in rural northern Ghana, we the children used to pile up on straw mats after dinner like canned fish, listening to each other’s stories in the open yard of the compound or jostling to sit in a semi-circle closer to grandpa or grandma to narrate the stories to us. Most of these stories were often accompanied with a song and everyone would join in a chorus. This would go on well into the night until our voices begin to fade and we drop off, one after the other in sleep.
Ananse as hero and villain
Spiders may be viewed elsewhere in the western world as scary and fearsome but in many of these folktales the Spider is very often the hero. Indeed, in the Akan language, one of the numerous Ghanaian languages, ananse is the word for spider. Indeed, the word ananse has become synonymous with story-telling. Anansesem means stories, it also means saying things that are too wild to be true. In other stories, it is the Hare that is the hero. These two creatures are portrayed as very clever, cunningly manipulating other animals and dominating them with the sheer use of their wit.
In one story for instance, Ananse, comes upon a lion who has captured an antelope and just about eat her. Meanwhile the antelope is protesting loudly and yelling for help:
“Please let me go, let me go. You promised you won’t eat me. How can you be so ungrateful after what I have done for you?”
“No, no, no”, roars Lion. I have been in the ditch for three whole days and haven’t had anything to eat, says Lion”.
“You are the only piece of food around and, even though I promised not to eat you, if I let you go, I am going to die of hunger”.
And then just when Lion opens his jaws to crack Antelope’s head, Ananse appears on the scene.
The Lion had fallen into a deep ditch and Antelope had helped him out with the promise that the Lion would not eat her. But no sooner had the Lion climbed up from the ditch than he had pinned down the antelope and about to eat her.
When Ananse bursts onto the scene. He finds Antelope crying and pleading to be released. After hearing the narration of Antelope, Ananse realizes that not only has Lion been ungrateful, he had also broken the promise he made to Antelope.
Ananse feels sympathy for Antelope and wishes that he could help her. But how? He comes up with a simple trick. He first rebukes Antelope for being gullible enough to believe that Lion would keep his promise knowing that Lion eats antelopes for a living. After that he turns to Lion.
“Lion, I don’t understand, I don’t believe the story”, pretends Ananse. “I am not at all convinced that compared to you, how a small creature like Antelope could help you out of that steep ditch”, says Ananse.
“Show me how it happened”, he says.
At that point Lion releases Antelope and jumps back into the ditch in order to demonstrate how it was until Antelope passed by and helped him out. Of course, Antelope would no longer stay around to help Lion climb out of the ditch for the second time. Neither would Ananse, after tricking Lion out of his meal for the day.
The stories are hugely entertaining, full of fun, drama, suspense and intrigue. For instance, even though Ananse and Hare are always playing the tricksters who can fool other animals, events can also sometimes turn them into villains when they overplay their hand.
In another instance, Ananse’s son Ntikuma, returns home with lots of food and a magic drum that can throw up plenty more food whenever the drum is hit. Ntikuma instantly becomes the darling and hero in Ananse’s household because it is a difficult food scarcity season. Ananse is not pleased that his son has become the centre of attraction and not he.
Ntikuma provides him all the instructions that led him to the big find – it is from a very, very deep well where an old lady resides. She is surrounded by a lush farm with different kinds of food crops and vegetables.
The next day Ananse heads straight to the well determined to surpass his son. He does find the old lady but instead of following her instructions, Ananse defies every one of them. In fact, he is not particularly polite to the old lady. So, he refuses to pick the small drum and instead grabs the big one, thinking that it would contain twice the amount food and perhaps, more of something else.
Upon returning home Ananse orders the whole village to come to his house for a special feast. He announces to everyone what was to happen and after that began to hit the drum as instructed by the old lady. To the horror of the starving people who came eager to fill their stomachs, instead of the promised delicious food, human eyeballs begin popping up and dropping all around them.
Instruments of cultural transmission
Besides entertainment, these traditional folk stories were the vehicles through which the elders transmitted the culture and societal norms to the younger generation. The stories invariably carried educational messages about proper conduct in the society such as humility, open-heartedness and respect for adults and elderly people.
There is a case to be made that making these stories available to Finnish kids in their own language could play an important role in minimizing racial, ethnic and anti-immigrant attitudes in Finland and thereby help bring down barriers to multi-culturalism. When Finnish children gain access to the stories through animated cartoons, radio programmes in books, the stories would most probably be their first form of contact with Africa, so to speak. It would help create a positive perception of a distant and little known Africa, contrary to earlier generation of kids who grew up absorbing stories about Tarzan, which generally portrayed Africans as primitive savages. To a very large extent, the enduring negative attributes about Africans still held by many Europeans stem from misrepresentations in early writings about Africans by Europeans such as stories of Tarzan and Tintin. Perhaps, it is now time to flip the narrative by replacing the images of Africa represented by Tarzan with that of Ananse and the Hare.
However, a vast quantity of the stories from these various African cultures remain undocumented. A few of them are randomly published in English and French, and there may be a few others in Finnish and in other Nordic languages, but they are hard to come by. Therefore, there is a need to put in an effort to have these stories documented and consistently published in accessible languages to children around the world, in order for them to enjoy some aspect of African cultural heritage.
by Linus Atarah
Featured image: The illustration on the cover of the book The Pot of Wisdom. Ananse stories by the Canadian-Ghanaian author Adwoa Badoe and illustrated by Baba Wague Diakite.
The writer Linus Atarah is Ghanaian-born journalist. He studied Mass Communication and Sociology in Tampere University. Linus is a double-award winning journalist who has won journalists’ awards in Finland and in his home country Ghana.
Our library – my language
Reading and library services should be accessible to all – regardless of their language. Multilingual Library brings services to the customer’s local library.
Free access to education and libraries is a strength which may have made the greatest contribution to equality. The library services are based on the Public Libraries Act, which was reformed just a while ago.
The library is open to all, and it must be available and accessible to everyone.
The needs of Finnish- and Swedish-speaking customers must be given equal weight.
The needs of the Sámi-speaking customers must be taken into account in the Sámi native region.
To safeguard linguistic and cultural rights, the needs of other local language groups must be given due attention as well. At the end of 2017, 373,500 persons with a mother tongue other than Finnish, Swedish or Sámi lived in Finland. According to population statistics, approximately 160 different languages are spoken in Finland. The number may be even higher. How can we acknowledge the needs of all these language groups in our libraries?
Library workers and decision-makers showed great foresight when the Ministry of Education and Culture assigned Helsinki City Library with the task of providing library services for persons with other native languages and acquiring materials for joint, nation-wide use.
Global cooperation enhanced internationalisation, which affected the composition of the library customer base as far back as the early 1990s. The Nordic countries had considered solutions for arranging library services for different language groups. Library workers and decision-makers showed great foresight when the Ministry of Education and Culture assigned Helsinki City Library with the task of providing library services for persons with other native languages and acquiring materials for joint, nation-wide use. This was how Multilingual Library got started. Multilingual Library is given an annual operating grant by the ministry.
Reading in one’s own language is a right that belongs to everyone.
Today, Multilingual Library is the local library for all library customers, regardless of their place of residence in Finland. Reading in one’s own language is a right that belongs to everyone. Even if you move from one country to another, your mother tongue will always accompany you. Being well versed in your own mother tongue improves your chances of learning the language of your new home country, too. This is indicated by international studies. Furthermore, it emerged that there are, in fact, more people in the world who are bi- or multilingual than monolingual, and they use several languages fluently.
Multilingual Library reaches users in their own neighbourhoods, because they can order material to their local libraries free of charge.
Multilingual Library has a selection of more than 20,000 works in different fields, intended for readers of all ages and listeners of audio books and music. Non-fiction books, poetry, thrillers, biographies, history, popular fiction, fairy tales, picture books, world music—the number keeps growing by approximately 2,000 new titles annually. Multilingual Library reaches users in their own neighbourhoods, because they can order material to their local libraries free of charge. So, we encourage you to inform your local library about your wish to read material in your own language. Russian Library, serving the Russian-speaking population, operates on the same principle.
The story diploma, intended to nurture storytelling, contains a book list specifying the languages that a certain book is available in.
Various actors have made efforts to promote reading among children and young people. It is important to start reading together with the child at an early age. The story diploma, intended to nurture storytelling, contains a book list specifying the languages that a certain book is available in. Thus, families and children in day care centres and playparks can pick a book that can be read simultaneously in each child’s mother tongue. The Story train (Satukaravaani) brings storytelling sessions in various languages to children’s local libraries. The storytellers can be found, for example, through Helmet libraries’ joint language database for storytellers. If you are organising an event, you can use the database to borrow a storyteller or someone who can give you book tips in your own language.
Besides promoting reading among children and young people, we must pay attention to persons with reading disabilities and ensure that they have access to printed publications – in various languages, too. The Marrakesh Treaty makes it easier to publish works and exchange them between countries. Worldwide, less than seven percent of all published books are available in an accessible format, such as audiobooks. Celia library works to remove these barriers and serves the whole nation.
We hope that as many libraries as possible will participate in the annual Multilingual Month (Satakielikuukausi), which is a great opportunity to highlight multilingual materials and services.
Riitta Hämäläinen works as a Multilingual Library information specialist at Helsinki City Library.
Call to action – the Indigenous language challenge!
This year we celebrate the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages. The purpose of the year is to make the situation of the Indigenous languages of the world more visible. In order for the linguistic rights of the Indigenous people to be guaranteed and the languages preserved and transferred to future generations, strong investments, knowledge and will to preserve the languages are needed.
The different Sámi languages spoken in Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia, as well as the Inuit languages spoken in Greenland belong to Indigenous languages. Like many of the Indigenous languages around the world, the Sámi languages and Greenland Inuit languages are on UNESCO’s list of endangered languages. Some of the languages like the South, Lule, Inari, Skolt, and Kildin Sámi are defined as severely endangered, others like the Ume and Pite Sámi are seen as critically endangered and others like North Sámi, East Greenlandic/Tunumiit oraasiat and North Greenlandic/Qaanaaq Inuktitut are seen as definitely endangered. West Greenlandic or Kalaallisut is the official language of Greenland and it is defined by UNESCO as vulnerable.
Multilingual Month calls out to the Nordic organisations, institutions and individual agents on the fields of arts and culture as well as the educational field to participate in the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages by highlighting the situation of the Indigenous languages in the Nordic countries, by arranging events in relation to the theme, by spreading information in the Sámi languages and Inuit languages and by increasing contents and programs in Sámi languages and/or Greenlandic languages in their activities!
The Sámi and Greenlandic languages, literatures and cultures should be made visible in the schools and universities in the Nordic countries, as well as in Nordic media and culture! We can all contribute in various ways to strengthen the visibility and awareness of the Indigenous of the Nordic countries.
Some ideas on how to promote indigenous languages in the Nordic countries
- Learn phrases in Sámi or in Greenlandic! On the trilangual web page (Finnish, Swedish, English) Say it in Saami, by the poet Niillas Holmberg and the documentary film maker Katri Koivula, you get concrete help for different everyday situations – in all three Sámi languages spoken in Finland. Oqaasileriffik, the language secretariat of Greenland, offers a helpful web page with information on Greenlandic and a dictonary.
- Learn about the Sámi people, Sámi languages and Sámi culture. The oktavuohta-website offers information in Finnish on Sámi issues for educators and others interested. The site is produced by the Sámi Parliament and the Finnish National Agency for Education. The site samer.se, produced by the Sámi information centre in Sweden offers information on Sámi culture in Swedish. Say it in Sámi also gives a short introduction into Sámi culture in English.
- Promote literature in the Indigenous language of the Nordic countries and invite Sámi and Greenlandic writers to perform at literary events arranged in the Nordic countries. Information on the Sámi literarary fields and ideas on how to promote Sámi literature can be found in Johanna Domokos report Čálli giehta ollá guhkás – A Writing Hand Reaches Further. Recommendations on the improvement of the Sámi literary field, which she has written and edited for Culture for All. The report is written in English and the recommendations for improving the Sámi literary field can also be found in various Sami languages, Finnish and Swedish on the Nordic Multilingual Month’s website. At the web site of the Greenlandic writers’s union you find information (in Danish) on Greenlandic writers. Check also the project Allatta! for young aspiring writers in Greenland.
- Include Sámi and Greenlandic languages, artists and cultural agents in the events, the courses and the program that you organize. Add information on these languages and culture in all the information and materials that you provide through your different communication channels!
Rita Paqvalén is the Executive Director of Culture for All Service. She has a background as a researcher and lecturer in Nordic literature and is one of the initiators of the Nordic research network DINO – Diversity in Nordic Literature. Since 2013 Paqvalén and her team at Culture for All has been working with several projects related to multilingualism in the field of literature and culture in the Nordic countries, and has produced publications, as well as arranged several seminars and events in relation to the subject. Culture for All is the initiator of the Nordic Multilingual Month and one of the main organizers of the Finnish version of the month Satakielikuukausi.
When Kullervo met Araweelo
we could learn more about Nordic-Somali poetry, literature and storytelling
It was more than ten years ago when I had my first, unexpected contact with Somalian storytelling. I was working as a museum guide at Ateneum, Finnish National Art Gallery, and my task was to focus on the art related to Kalevala, which has the position as the Finnish national epos. Young pupils that had arrived to Finland from Somalia less than three years ago listened to the story of Kullervo, an unfortunate character, who cannot avoid causing destruction and pain whatever he tries to do, and finally ends up killing himself after accidentally sleeping with his sister. We looked at Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s painting Kullervon kirous (Kullervo’s curse) which depicts a furious teenage boy lifting his fist towards the sky, while a dog sniffs a half loaf of bread in his feet. According to the story, inside the bread there is a stone, and if you know this, you can distinguish it in the painting.
“These stories used to be sung,” I explained in a school visit related to the same program. “That was the way to remember them before they were written down. You can sing all the lines of this book,” I continued and sang some verses from a randomly opened Kalevala-book with a monotonous melody.
“Really?” asked one of the pupils looking at me incredulous. He wanted to open the book himself.
“Can you sing this one as well?” he continued.
“Yes. Anyone can, it´s very simple, just a few notes. You can try.” I answered and followed the lines with my finger while I sang.
“We have these stories too!” he said then.
After that he told me about a female queen who castrated all the men in her reign and about a girl who succeeded to escape her monstrous mother. The cannibal mother’s name was Dhegdheer and the queen was Araweelo. His Somalian-born classmates contributed to the story with details and started to argue about the correct version of the plot. I was fascinated by the enthusiasm and ability of these children to communicate their stories to me with their still very fresh Finnish language.
…through the stories and paintings related to this epos, we could form a bridge that connected two very distant worlds of stories.
To be honest, I had never been really a fan of Kalevala, even though in my job as a guide I told the stories with an enthusiasm that I wanted to offer for the museum visitors. The process of constructing the Finnish national identity has elements that make me feel uncomfortable. But now I truly found it interesting; through the stories and paintings related to this epos, we could form a bridge that connected two very distant worlds of stories. For this group, what impacted them most was the story of Kullervo, and the fact that all the stories could be sung.
The Nordic countries, especially Sweden, have become important areas of publishing literature in Somali language.
I guess that a similar feeling of touching a rich but invisible world, has happened to many people who have worked with initiatives related to Somalian storytelling and poetry in the Nordic countries and elsewhere in the Somali diaspora. Several literary scholars (eg. Ahmed Artan Hanghe, Bogumił W. Andrzejewski, Giorgi L. Kapchits) have written about the varied genres, their specific metrics, contents, performative contexts and other elements of Somalian poetry, storytelling and literature. Many collections of Somalian folktales have been done and are also available in English and/or in Nordic languages. Projects related to literary and/or Somali mother language education have created formats to continue, adapt and renew the Somalian storytelling traditions. Some of them have collected texts that have been published as books or online. Somali book fairs have been yearly traditions at least in Finland, Sweden, Canada and Britain apart of Hargeisa, and their close connection to worldwide distribution channels of Somali language literature shows interesting features of a unique, transnational literary field. The Nordic countries, especially Sweden, have become important areas of publishing literature in Somali language. The Swedish support system of literature has also permitted a rather wide publication activity of children’s books. Even easy-reading books and a children’s journal in Somali language are published in Sweden.
It is not a field of roses. Many of the initiatives related to Somali language receive aggressive reactions from racist and xenophobic groups.
In many cases there has been a fertile dialogue between the expertise of Nordic Somali inhabitants and the literary, cultural or educational elements of the receiving country. These are echoes of the work that the diasporic Somali communities have done to develop and cultivate their literary tradition, both inside the Somali-speaking language community and in dialogue with the other inhabitants of the new home countries.
It is not a field of roses. Many of the initiatives related to Somali language receive aggressive reactions from racist and xenophobic groups.
As the written Somali language is so young, established as late as in 1972, the oral forms of poetry have had an important role in preserving and forming the stories and their aesthetics. Maybe this was the reason why singing some verses of Kalevala attracted the pupils who first told me Somalian stories. Before having the written versions of poetry and literature, the relation between the author and the reader has been different, and I wonder whether something of that is still left in Somalian literary context. I refer to the collective nature of creation.
Professionalism is often understood as a synonym of good quality.
I may be wrong, but during the years I worked with art, culture politics and diversity, I had the feeling that from the lenses of the Finnish art field, there are difficulties in recognizing and appreciating collective forms of art creation. It is considered something less worthy. Our culture demands first of all professionalism—professional artists who do art as their profession and can prove that. Professionalism is often understood as a synonym of good quality. But when art is strongly rooted in the life of a community, the question of professionalism becomes complicated. Then, the question of quality is not a question of professionalism—these two words are not synonyms anymore. The question that should be asked is different, but I do not know what it should be. How does art contribute to the meaning of people’s lives? What do people do with art, what kind of importance does it have? What is quality?
What if the roles of the creator, performer, commentator, curator and audience would be different? Maybe the development towards more and more specific roles and expertise has also elements of loss and alienation. Maybe it would be possible to imagine an ambiguity, instability of roles, different from the ones that we are used to. Isn’t our art field often looking for changes like that anyway? But when there is art that does not respond to the fixed roles and structures of our own art fields, it often becomes invisible for us. Our measuring functions with the criteria of professionalism, as if professionalism would always be a synonym of quality.
There is internationally awarded contemporary literature created by Somali authors and there are individual creators that our art field needs as a proof for professionalism.
With these reflections I do not mean to insinuate that there would not be professionalism in the literary field of the Somali diaspora. Of course there is, there are professional writers, poets, editors, book fair organizers, etc. There is internationally awarded contemporary literature created by Somali authors and there are individual creators that our art field needs as a proof for professionalism. The most well-known among them is probably Nuruddin Farah, who switched his writing language from Somali to English to reach a wider audience and received the appreciated Neustadt prize for his production. Some of his books have been translated to Finnish and are at least occasionally read by literature students also in our universities.
But apart from that, there may also be a field of literary and poetic creation in Somali language that has collective elements. If I am not wrong and if these collective elements exist, in my opinion they should be considered very valuable.
Our time needs other protagonists.
I have followed a bit freely the flow of my thoughts. Though my title may have promised an encounter between Kullervo and Araweelo, it does not happen in this blog text. I could have imagined how the queen Araweelo castrates Kullervo, so that he´ll never sleep with his sister, and he does not have to kill himself for feeling too guilty. But no, I did not do it. They are characters of the past who do not respond to our needs to construct the story of our time. Our time needs other protagonists. We are more interested in seeing who they are and what will happen between them. Knowing that in the past of our worlds of stories, an imaginary encounter could have changed the course of history, may still create connections that find their personifications in the stories of future and our time.
Outi Korhonen is an art educator who worked for years with projects related to multilingualism and cultural diversity in the arts field, e.g. coordinating Multilingual Month. In her projects as regional artist for cultural diversity (2011-2014), she facilitated also projects related to storytelling in Somali language. Now she has returned to teach visual arts for children and youth, assuming the need to restart learning things from the beginning every day.
Projects related to Somali language in this page: https://multilingualmonth.org/tag/somali/
A blog text related to Nordic-Somali book fair in Pasila: Encounters of language and poetry at Nordic Somali Festival (https://multilingualit.org/2016/12/12/nordic-somali-festival/)
 A Swedish writer Oscar Trimbel cancelled the distribution of his bilingual Swedish-Somali children’s book Farfar har fyra fruar at Göteborg book fair after being threatened by racist groups. I myself received insults with sexual contents in an online magazine’s discussion in 2011 after I had written a reader’s opinion in Helsingin Sanomat (the biggest Finnish newspaper) about the need to have Somali language teaching in any Finnish university when there was none. The text was written with the director of Finland-Somalia association, who was so used to being insulted that he only laughed at the comments he received, though they were much worse than the ones I got. This made me understand how different positions we have in my country.
 Nuruddin Farah’s book Maps (Karttoja) became familiar to me when I studied literature at Helsinki University. It was included in the reading programme of a course of literary analyses.
ROMANI PUBLICATIONS FOR CHILDREN IN THE NORDIC COUNTRIES
By 2019, in all countries in Europe where Roma live, a number of publications for children varying from materials to support the education of the Roma to original books by Roma authors with tales, short stories, poetry and educational materials have appeared. These are primarily bi-lingual books written in Romani and/or in the language of the majority in the country of publication, published under various circumstances, but most of them reflecting the Romani culture and identity. Romani children literature, original and in translation, is among the first genres to be developed dating back as soon as the immergence of Romani literature as part of fully (though for only a decade) developed Romani literary landscape in the 1920-30s in the Soviet Union to serve the needs of the Romani population and its enlightening the spirit of the new regime.
The landscape of the Romani kids´ publication in the Nordic countries is not a homogeneous one.
Nowadays, books for children have been among the most numerous publications written and published by and for Roma, because of the importance of the Romani children education and strengthening Romani culture and identity through it. The landscape of the Romani kids´ publication in the Nordic countries is not a homogeneous one. Romani children´s and young adult literature production depends on the local circumstances among which national policies in the field of education, minorities, language policies, activism, as well as on individual factors. Instead of providing an exhaustive list of the productions and authors, which is anyway impossible, I would suggest a typology of the common development, genres and topics that we observe in Romani publications for children in the Nordic countries.
…in Denmark and Norway no special policies to support Romani language education are taking place.
In Sweden and Finland, there are state-supported initiatives for the production of educational materials for Romani children, as in the two countries Romani is recognized as a minority language, while in Denmark and Norway no special policies to support Romani language education are taking place. In the 1970s, the Swedish government started implementing measures for educating Roma, both children and adults. At that period a couple of Romani language works appeared in Sweden. In 1979 Amari šib (Our language), a language learning brochure appeared to be republished in 1982. Various educational materials are produced today in all Romani dialects spoken in Sweden with the support of Skolverket, the National Board of Education. In Finland, the Romani activists Viljo Koivisto (in the 1980s), Miranda Voulasranta and Henry Hedman have authored several educational publications that are applied in education today. In Denmark a couple of primary education books were published by Selahetin Kruezi.
There are also lots of tales, fairy tales and story books based on narrations from the Romani community. Examples of Romani language publications are the Kalradash folklore tale books by Monica and Dragan Caldaras (1983), Living Water collection of tales by Mikael Demetri and Angelina Dimiter-Taikon (2002) in Sweden, Fairy-Tale Bag of Romaniuk by Inga Angersaari’s (2001) in Finland, as well as Real Stories and Tales by Maria Barinka Lakatosova and Robert Lorentsen in Norway (2016).
The Swedish literature scene appears to be most developed to a great extent due to the involvement of Gunilla Lundgren who inspired/co-authored/edited a great part of the Romani books.
Fiction books on contemporary topics inspired by autobiographic experience or life-narrative with rich illustrative materials (graphics, pictures or phonographs) are also popular. The most famous one is the Katitzi book series by Katarina Taikon published in Swedish that has become part of the Swedish mainstream literature canon. The Swedish literature scene appears to be most developed to a great extent due to the involvement of Gunilla Lundgren who inspired/co-authored/edited a great part of the Romani books. Sofia Taikon, Ramona Taikon-Melker, Erland Kaldaras, Domino Kai and Fred Taikon have published such books in Sweden. In Finland, a couple of publication have been co-authored by Helena Blomerus, Satu Blomerus and Helena Korpela.
The commonalities that we see in Nordic Romani literature for children is not only in terms of the genre’s diversity, but also in terms of the narrations and Romani collective representation.
The commonalities that we see in Nordic Romani literature for children is not only in terms of the genre’s diversity, but also in terms of the narrations and Romani collective representation. The common topics are: Romani authors´ interpretations of oral narratives existing in the Romani communities; Narratives about a collective self (of a Romani girl or boy, and her/his experience within the community and majority society) often based on autobiographical experience; Narratives in text and visuals related to Romani history and way of life in the past and present. In this respect we can say that Nordic Romani children and youth literature is comparable with the developments of other minorities´ literatures in the Nordic context and globally.
Sofiya Zahova is a postdoc researcher at the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Language, School of Humanities, University of Iceland where she works on the project Romane Lila. The entangled history of Romani identity politics and Romani publications (funded by the Icelandic Research Fund – RANNIS). Her main interests are in the field of Romani Studies, History and Ethnography of the Balkans and Eastern Europe. She is author of the books Montenegro after Yugoslavia: Dynamics of Identities (2013, in Bulgarian), History of Romani Literature with Multimedia on Romani Kids´ Publications” (2014) and of the UNICEF-commissioned report Research on the Social Norms which Prevent Roma Girls from Access to Education (2016, in Bulgarian and English).
Multilingualism and Polyphony in Immigrants’ Literature in Finland
Immigration and globalization have broadened the definition of Finnish literature that was traditionally defined as a piece of literature written by a Finn in Finnish in Finland for Finns. As a result of immigration to Finland, some immigrants have produced and continue to produce literary works that deal with Finnish culture, society and history in Finnish or several other languages. In addition to their mother tongues, a great number of immigrant authors master different languages and employ them simultaneously in their works. The existence of such works in Finland and their coexistence with Finnish literature have both challenged the traditional definition of Finnish literature and have generated multilingual and polyphonic literature.
The project [on multilingual Finnish literature]…aims to increase the visibility, readability and research on literary works written by immigrant authors in Finland, writing in the dominant or non-dominant languages but know themselves affiliated with Finnish culture, history and society.
At the Finnish Literature Society (Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, SKS, https://www.finlit.fi/en), wherein work is based on an up-to-date knowledge and understanding of the roots of the culture, as well as the contemporary profile of a multicultural and multilingual Finnish literature, we are conducting a project, entitled “Toward a More Inclusive Finnish Literature,” on multilingual Finnish literature. The project, which has started in January 2018, aims to increase the visibility, readability and research on literary works written by immigrant authors in Finland, writing in the dominant or non-dominant languages but know themselves affiliated with Finnish culture, history and society.
The database [on immigrant authors residing in Finland]…will include the information of seventy immigrant authors, such as their updated biographies, list of publications and photos of many of these authors, as well as the views and interviews of some of them.
Since there did not exist any database on immigrant authors residing in Finland, we have spent some time to build the database, which will include the information of seventy immigrant authors, such as their updated biographies, list of publications and photos of many of these authors, as well as the views and interviews of some of them. The database is updated on regular basis as the project proceeds. Right after that, we selected a number of immigrant authors based on their professionality (quality of their published works), activity (quantity of their works) and diversity of nationality for the first round of interviews. We contacted them one at a time, asked those who were interested to send some of their published works to us, and after reading them, we had an in-depth and technical interview rather than a general one. Up to this date, fifteen authors have been interviewed, and the other selected ones will be contacted and interviewed hereafter.
The seminar also familiarized immigrant authors with the activities of the SKS and our co-organizers with a focus on their supportive missions for immigrant authors.
At the SKS, we also organized a one-day literary seminar – entitled “Today’s Literature, Tomorrow’s Literary History: Do Immigrant Authors Transform Finnish Literature?” – in October 2018 in the main building of the SKS. The seminar, which was co-organized by some organizations, including Culture for All and Globe Art Point, gathered a number immigrant authors as well as scholars, researchers and anyone interested in the literature produced by immigrants in Finland. The seminar also familiarized immigrant authors with the activities of the SKS and our co-organizers with a focus on their supportive missions for immigrant authors. In addition, it provided the grounds for us to be acquainted with the potentials of authors and see how we can work together to find a way toward increasing their visibility and readability.
The anthology [entitled ‘Toward a More Inclusive Finnish Literature’] will include some of the unpublished literary works in different genres by about thirty immigrant authors in about twelve different languages, and this would make the anthology the most inclusive, collective and comprehensive one ever published on immigrant authors in Finland.
We have also planned to publish a multilingual anthology, entitled Toward a More Inclusive Finnish Literature, in 2019. The anthology will include some of the unpublished literary works in different genres by about thirty immigrant authors in about twelve different languages, and this would make the anthology the most inclusive, collective and comprehensive one ever published on immigrant authors in Finland. The publication of this multilingual anthology manifests some aspects of multilingualism and polyphony that exist in Finland, introduces some of the immigrant authors residing and writing here, as well as provides an opportunity for their works to be seen, read and heard.
Mehdi Ghasemi received his PhD in English Literature from the University of Turku, and now he is a postdoctoral researcher at the Finnish Literature Society, the University of Tampere and the University of Turku. He has already published five scholarly books and thirteen papers in peer-reviewed scholarly journals with three more papers in the pipeline. He is also a fiction writer, writing his works in the hybrid genre of noveramatry (a combination of novel, drama and poetry all in one line). He has already published three fiction books, including Flight to Finland: A Noveramatry, How I Became a W Finn: A Noveramatry and Finnish Russian Border Blurred: A Noveramatry, with the fourth forthcoming one, A Farewell to the Earth and Kepler-438b.
Will learning the language of the country one inhabits lead to seamless integration?
Blog-entry by Tania Nathan
The effects of our globalising world has been that of gain, and loss. There is no denying the gains some have seen from our shrinking borders, but that too has not been without costs. With increased migration, comes the intermingling of cultures, and a certain amount of conflict. Some parties insist on assimilation while others root for integration – both are in itself problematic concepts. At the forefront of this discussion, is language. Will learning the language of the country one inhabits lead to seamless integration?
In my work with young migrants, asylum seekers and refugees I have seen a strong desire that drives them to learn the lingua franca of Finland. This motivation comes from a series of reasons – the need to fit in, to be understood, and to find a place in this new society that they now call home. Yet, there is a need to preserve the diversity of languages that make up their own mother tongues, especially as they learn a new language. Why is this?
We have seen the mistakes made in the past when minorities have had their mother tongues actively suppressed, along with their expressions of culture – be it through shared celebrations, religions, histories, and clothing. The death of cultural diversity is a loss for us all, and is something that must be struggled against actively. A homogenous world is a boring one, lacking in nuance and variety. We should encourage people to practice their cultures, so that they flourish and can have healthy participation in a society that accepts them as they are. How can this be done? In one simple and effective way, the mother tongues of minorities, indigenous groups and migrants must be protected and given room, especially as they work towards learning a new language and identity in the society they have chosen to call home. That way, a mutual respect can be fostered between both parties, and both parties stand to benefit.
In order for languages to stand the test of time, they must adapt to the changing times, and also changing situations. The struggle and adaptation of languages and cultures to new times, environments, and norms is what will allow it to endure. A diversity of cultures and languages will not result in the ‘watering down’ of any one culture in the society it inhabits, because no culture exists in a vacuum, and we are all prone to change and growth. This, is a good thing. Also, in order for ‘integration’ to work, it must provide opportunities for equality and participation.
Another endeavour to encourage more representation has been undertaken by Ruskeat Tytöt, a non-profit media organisation in Finland with its motto ‘For brown people, by brown people’. RT has created creative writing courses for 14-29 year old persons of color who are girls (and all other genders beyond the normative ‘male’) through workshops and courses. This way, the normative voices and ideas in the media can be diversified, and the experiences of all kinds of people can be normalized in a society where everyone can and should have an active participation. The young adults studying Finnish at Vantaa’s Institute of Adult Education for one, are motivated to learn because they want to participate in this society. They want to have an active role in study and work life and have the same opportunities as everyone else. Naturally, they sometimes find the nuances of the new language they are trying to learn difficult. It is useful to remind them then, that they have already successfully grasped the intricacies of their own mother tongue which they do speak fluently. This is crucial to remember, that those struggling to learn Finnish may already be experts in two or three other languages, some with complex writing systems completely different to the Latin alphabet and with thousands of years of history backing them up. To give that credit and respect, will help new learners realize that their own languages are valuable and important, and that knowledge can be used to help them learn this new language. That way, the cultural differences we so cherish in our world can be preserved and given room to grow.
The more visibility and room we make for migrants, persons of color, and the indigenous in Finland, the more we benefit, because only when we understand each other, and hear the stories and songs of those around us, can we recognize that there is more to unite us, than divide us. When it becomes normal for representation of people of color by people of color (as well as all other groups), and for all languages to have a place in our society, only then can we turn the idea of integration on its head and talk about a society that is really united.
Tania Nathan is a writer, educator and poet who lives and works in the Uusimaa region.
Blog-entry by Sebastian Drude
The year 2019 is the ‘International Year of Indigenous Languages’. On this occasion, you may have wondered, “what exactly is an indigenous language”?
So, what exactly is an indigenous language? Starting with the expression itself, there are two words, and the meaning of each, “indigenous” and “language”, seems at first straightforward. Things are more interesting, though.
Let’s first consider “language”. It is clear that in this context, we do not mean “language” in general, a not countable word (similar to “wisdom”) referring to the human capacity to communicate via highly structured symbolic systems of sounds, gesture signs, written characters and the like. We here speak of individual languages, entities such as what we call “English”, “Finnish” or “Rapa Nui”.
For individual languages, there is the hairy problem to draw a line between a language and a dialect. And here we do not use “dialect” in the often pejorative and usually prejudicial sense of “inferior, underdeveloped, oral language”, often applied to indigenous languages. This use should be abandoned altogether. Instead, “dialect” is used here in the usual neutral sense of “linguistic variety of a language which is specific for a certain geographical region”.
…socio-cultural factors such an official status in a country, an established orthographical norm and an independent literary tradition may also make mutually intelligible dialects to be recognized as different languages.
The main linguistic criterion to establish whether two varieties are different languages or not is mutual intelligibility – if speakers of one cannot understand the speakers of the other without learning it, then these must be different languages. There are, however, complications, asymmetrical intelligibility for instance, or dialect chains, such as the Sami languages. Then, socio-cultural factors such an official status in a country, an established orthographical norm and an independent literary tradition may also make mutually intelligible dialects to be recognized as different languages. Taking such cases into account, most linguists would agree that there are roughly 6500 known languages, of which around 6000 are still spoken in the world today.
In turn, “Indigenous” originally means “native”, or being original to/from a certain place. If this was all to it, then any and every language would be “indigenous”, as they all come “originally” from some place – even abstracting from the problem of how far back we go in history to determine the “origin” of a language. But obviously, it would feel odd to call “English” an indigenous language, not even an (let alone the) indigenous language of England. Intuitively, it would be more natural to call, to stay on the British Islands, the Celtic languages (Irish, Welsh, Scottish-Gaelic, Manx, …) “indigenous”, although we know that their speakers, too, arrived some 1000 years earlier. Going back far enough, one could argue that only Basque and possibly the Sami languages are the true “indigenous” languages of Europe.
…the international year is a good moment to remind ourselves of the importance of linguistic diversity, and that languages are an asset for a society, even if they are not native (such as languages spoken by immigrants) nor minority (several languages, for instance, are endangered although they are spoken by a majority of a certain region).
Therefore, “indigenous” does not only mean “native”, but it implies a contrast with another people or, in our case, language, which arrived later and which to some degree is more hegemonic in the wider area. This is obvious in a colonial context, where the languages of the colonial powers were imposed over the languages which were spoken in the Americas and large parts of Africa and Asia before their arrival. In this sense, an indigenous language of a certain area is typically a native language to that area which is now a minority language co-existing with some other, socio-politically stronger language which has arrived later to the same region. The term is highly politicized and sensitive – for instance, the Chinese government claims that there are no “indigenous languages” in China, possibly to avoid problems of legal liabilities which come with the status of “indigenous” – internationally it is recognized that the rights of indigenous groups need special protection. Independently of such fights over words, it is clear that the coming year of indigenous languages covers all native minority languages, whether they are being recognized as “indigenous” by their respective governments or not. I would also defend that the international year is a good moment to remind ourselves of the importance of linguistic diversity, and that languages are an asset for a society, even if they are not native (such as languages spoken by immigrants) nor minority (several languages, for instance, are endangered although they are spoken by a majority of a certain region).
“What does this all have to do with multilingualism?”, may you, reader of this blog on this topic, have asked yourself. There are several answers to this question.
One interesting fact to point out in this context is that historically and even nowadays, multilingualism is much more common among speakers of indigenous languages than among speakers of non-indigenous ones. In many regions of the world, speaking not only your ‘own’ language, but also that of neighboring groups and peoples, was and is normal, the default case. In some regions, for instance in Central and Western Africa, it even does not make sense to single out one specific language as one person’s single mother tongue, as people grow up with several languages which are connected to several places or social groups to which they all belong in one way or another.
It is in the decision to use the indigenous language in different situations, especially with and among the youngest generation, that the fate of the survival of a language is fought.
Even more obviously, as follows from our clarification of the meaning of the term, an indigenous language is by definition in contact with another hegemonic language, and that means that many, often all, speakers of the indigenous language are at least bilingual. It is in the decision to use the indigenous language in different situations, especially with and among the youngest generation, that the fate of the survival of a language is fought. For most endangered languages, and therefore for the preservation of linguistic diversity itself, they key for their staying alive is a stable, actively maintained bi- or multilingualism.
Sebastian Drude is the Director of the Vigdís World Language Centre at the University of Iceland. He obtained a Dr.Phil.-degree in linguistics at the FU Berlin in 2002. From 1998 on, he studied the Awetí language in central Brazil. He held a Dilthey-Fellowship at the University Frankfurt, was later Head of ‘The Language Archive’ at the MPI in Nijmegen, and General Coordinator at CLARIN ERIC.
Wouldn’t it be better, if we all spoke the same language?
By Gáppe Piera Jovnna Ulla / Ulla Aikio-Puoskari
In 1992, Michael Krauss issued a warning that came to be observed worldwide. Krauss’ message was that during the next century, 90% of the languages still spoken by mankind will disappear unless there is a decisive change working towards their survival. The majority of the world’s endangered languages are indigenous languages. Languages becoming endangered means that their transition to new generations is compromised (under threat) and in many cases even lost altogether. All Sámi languages are endangered languages, according to UNESCO classification, and the Inari and Skolt Sámi spoken in Finland are severely endangered.
The activity of language communities surprised researchers
The activity of indigenous and minority linguistic communities in protecting, revitalizing and working on developing the linguistic rights of their own languages has been enormous and has become a great surprise for many researchers. In the Sámi community, the Northern Sámi language work started already in the 1960s and 70s. The conscious revival and the protection of many other Sámi languages began in the 1980s and 90s. The most effective method of revitalizing an endangered language seems to be a language nest method adopted from Aotearoa Maoris and adapted to the Sámi community, which has resulted in the growth of new generations of children with native Sámi language skills, with the Inari Sámi, which had already become almost exclusively the language of the elderly, becoming the language of instruction throughout elementary school! The Sámi community has developed dozens of different methods to ensure the transition of languages to new generations, of which there are descriptions available within my report published in 2016.
The academic counter-reaction surprised the language communities
Developing the status of indigenous’ peoples and minorities’ languages has also given rise to an academic counter-reaction that is surprising and even strange to me. Scientists questioning the development of linguistic rights most favourably consider the improvement of the status of these languages and the revitalization as an attempt to protect something that (already without assistance) belongs to the past. Why resist the inevitable and natural linguistic modernization? Why limit the lives and mobility of people belonging to minorities by staying in a language with limited access? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone to speak one language, the main language of our countries or English language? Why connect language with ethnic identity? Are the languages not just communication tools and local agreements, where the dismantling of them does not mean a profound change in people’s lives? Some theorists still consider the protection of the linguistic rights of minorities as a factor that also weakens the unity of a nation-state and creates inequality.
Does the improvement of the status of a minority language really mean resisting development and is the preservation of an original language an effort to stick to the past, in poverty and in a pre-modern way of life, as was widely believed in the 1950s?
From the point of view of the Sámi community, the strangest thing is the view in opposition to the development of linguistic rights, according to which the preservation of the minority’s indigenous/original language and the act of choosing it, e.g. as the language of education for children, is tantamount to irresponsible parenting. According to this, those preserving their minority language will mainly become happy slaves, who may indeed guarantee linguistic and cultural continuity, but are condemned economically and socially to a lower position than other groups. Minority language is thought to remain only in an isolated state, outside the rest of the world, and best in a situation where the language-speaking population remains illiterate. This criticism is exacerbated by the claim that the preservation of minority languages prevents linguistic modernization, as well as the social and occupational mobility of speakers. Minority language is thought to merely have emotional value or meanings supporting identity. Majority language is thought to be primarily instrumental in value, enabling both economic growth, social mobility and modern life. Essential in this criticism is the act of setting minority and majority languages as mutually exclusive. In any case, the preservation of the minority language—also in the bilingual situation—is considered to be a matter of being excluded from the majority language community and its interests.
The revitalisation of the Sámi languages reinvigorates the whole community
The experiences of the Sámi community regarding the importance of their own language are completely opposite to the above described experiences. The development of language-related rights has allowed the Sámi community to modernize in their own language and has not at all meant isolation into monolingualism. The development of linguistic rights has meant expanded opportunities for the use and development of indigenous languages, as well as the re-learning and transfer of a lost language to new generations. The maintenance of bilingualism and multilingualism has thus also meant an expanded labour market and mobility opportunities in the home country and even across national borders. The modern Sámi community has created new jobs e.g. to the public and to the Sámi administration, as well as to the Sámi media, public services, education and many other areas of life. Sámi language skills have become a major contributor to employment. Increasing the use of the Sámi language has thus increased the instrumental value of the language, while also showing the great importance of language for the identity and cohesion of the whole community and its members. There is also a team of researchers who are now refusing to merely report on changes in languages and linguistic communities. A large number of researchers work closely with linguistic communities to support and assist them in their language work.
The revitalisation of Sámi language revival has become the most visible goal of Sámi language work in recent decades. The revitalisation of languages reinvigorates the whole community, breaks down the traumas that have passed from generation to the other, open doors to their own history, to their own self and the Sámi people in neighbouring countries. For my part, I know that the act of re-learning a language gives a feeling of reinvigoration and a sense of becoming complete, similar to that of healing from a serious illness. Despite being endangered, the Sámi languages are still the first learned native languages, which is valuable, as well as historically speaking marvellous!
Happy Sámi National Day! Active Indigenous Languages Year 2019!
Gáppe Piera Jovnna Ulla / Ulla Aikio-Puoskari works as Secretary for Education Policy for the Sámi Parliament of Finland and is the head of the Office for Sámi education and Instruction material, https://www.samediggi.fi/toiminta/koulutus-ja-oppimateriaali/. She is also an educational policy researcher and has published comparative reports and articles on Sámi education in Finland, Sweden and Norway. A report on the best practices in Sámi language revival and national language policy in the Nordic countries, published in 2016 in Finnish and three Sámi languages can be downloaded here: https://dokumentit.solinum.fi/samediggi/?f=Dokumenttipankki%2FSelvitykset%20ja%20raportit.
Aikio-Puoskari is the responsible editor of www.oktavuohta.com, the Sámi Education Information Center.
Translated by: Razan Abou Askar
Eikö olisi parasta, että kaikki puhuisimme yhtä ja samaa kieltä?
teksti: Ulla Aikio-Puoskari
Michael Krauss julkaisi vuonna 1992 varoituksen, joka huomattiin kaikkialla maailmassa. Kraussin sanoma oli, että seuraavan vuosisadan aikana 90 % ihmiskunnan vielä puhumista kielistä tulee katoamaan, ellei niiden eloonjäämiseksi saada aikaan ratkaisevaa suunnanmuutosta. Valtaosa maailman uhanalaisista kielistä on alkuperäiskansojen kieliä. Kielten uhanalaistumisella tarkoitetaan sitä, että niiden siirtyminen uusille sukupolville on vaarantunut ja monissa tapauksissa jopa katkennut kokonaan. Kaikki saamen kielet ovat Unescon luokituksen mukaan uhanalaisia kieliä, Suomessa puhutut inarin- ja koltansaame vakavasti uhanalaisia.
Kieliyhteisöjen aktiivisuus yllätti tutkijat
Alkuperäiskansojen ja vähemmistöjen kieliyhteisöjen aktiivisuus omien kieltensä suojelussa, elvyttämisessä ja työssä kielioikeuksien kehittämiseksi on ollut valtavaa ja tullut monille tutkijoille suurena yllätyksenä. Saamelaisyhteisössä pohjoissaamen kielityö käynnistyi jo 1960- ja 70-luvuilla. Monien muiden saamen kielten tietoinen elvyttäminen ja kielen suojelu käynnistyi 1980- ja 90-luvuilta alkaen. Tehokkain uhanalaisen kielen elvyttämisen menetelmä lienee Aotearoan maoreilta adoptoitu ja saamelaisyhteisöön sovitettu kielipesämenetelmä, jonka tuloksena uusia äidinkielenomaisen saamen kielen taidon omaavia lapsia on kasvanut jo paljon ja inarinsaame, joka oli jo ehtinyt muuttua lähes yksinomaan vain vanhusten kieleksi, on nyt koko peruskoulun läpi jatkuva opetuskieli! Saamelaisyhteisö on kehittänyt kymmenittäin erilaisia kielen uusille sukupolville siirtymistä varmistavia menetelmiä, joista kuvauksia löytyy mm. vuonna 2016 julkaisemastani raportista.
Akateeminen vastareaktio yllätti kieliyhteisöt
Alkuperäiskansojen ja vähemmistöjen kielten aseman kehittäminen on synnyttänyt myös akateemisen vastareaktionsa, joka on minusta yllättävää ja outoakin. Kiivaimmin kielellisten oikeuksien kehittämistä kyseenalaistavat tutkijat pitävät näiden kielten aseman parantamista ja revitalisaatiota pyrkimyksinä suojella jotakin, joka kuuluu jo auttamatta menneeseen maailmaan. Miksi vastustaa väistämätöntä ja luonnollista kielellistä modernisaatiota? Miksi rajoittaa vähemmistöihin kuuluvien ihmisten elämää ja liikkuvuutta pysyttäytymällä rajallisia käyttömahdollisuuksia tarjoavassa kielessä? Eikö olisi parasta, että kaikki puhuisimme yhtä kieltä, maidemme pääkieltä tai englantia? Miksi liittää kieli yhteen etnisen identiteetin kanssa? Eivätkö kielet ole vain kommunikaation välineitä ja paikallisia sopimuksia, joiden purkaminen ei merkitse kovin syvällistä muutosta ihmisten elämässä? Jotkut teoreetikot pitävät edelleen vähemmistöjen kielellisten oikeuksien turvaamista myös kansallisvaltion yhtenäisyyttä heikentävänä ja eriarvoisuutta synnyttävänä tekijänä.
Merkitseekö vähemmistökielen aseman parantaminen tosiaankin kehityksen vastustamista ja alkuperäiskielen säilyttäminen pyrkimystä pitäytyä tiukasti menneessä ajassa, köyhyydessä ja esimodernissa elämäntavassa kuten vielä 1950–luvulla laajasti uskottiin?
Saamelaisyhteisön näkökulmasta kaikkein oudoimmalta tuntuu se kielioikeuksien kehittämistä vastustava näkemys, jonka mukaan vähemmistön alkuperäiskielen säilyttäminen ja sen valitseminen mm. lasten opetuskieleksi, merkitsee vastuutonta vanhemmuutta. Vähemmistökielensä säilyttävistä tulee tämän mukaan lähinnä onnellisia orjia, jotka takaavat kyllä kielellisen ja kulttuurisen jatkuvuuden, mutta ovat tuomittuja taloudellisesti ja sosiaalisesti muita ryhmiä alhaisempaan asemaan. Vähemmistökielen ajatellaan säilyvän ainoastaan eristyneessä tilassa, muun maailman ulkopuolella ja parhaiten tilanteessa, jossa ko. kieltä puhuva väestö pysyy luku- ja kirjoitustaidottomana. Tämä kritiikki kärjistyy väitteeseen, jonka mukaan vähemmistökielten säilyttäminen estää kielellisen modernisaation sekä kieltä puhuvien sosiaalisen ja työperäisen liikkuvuuden. Vähemmistökielellä ajatellaan olevan ainoastaan tunteenomaista arvoa tai identiteettiä tukevia merkityksiä. Enemmistökielellä ajatellaan olevan ennen muuta välineellistä arvoa, joka mahdollistaa sekä taloudellisen nousun, sosiaalisen liikkuvuuden että modernin elämän. Oleellista tässä kritiikissä on vähemmistön ja enemmistön kielten asettaminen molemmin puolin toisensa pois sulkeviksi. Vähemmistökielen säilyttämisen ajatellaan joka tapauksessa, myös kaksikielisessä tilanteessa, merkitsevän enemmistökielisen kieliyhteisön ja sen suomien etujen ulkopuolelle jäämistä.
Saamen kielten elvyttäminen tervehdyttää koko yhteisöä
Saamelaisyhteisön kokemukset oman kielen merkityksestä ovat täysin vastakkaiset edellä kuvatulle. Kieleen liittyvien oikeuksien kehittäminen on antanut saamelaisyhteisölle mahdollisuuksia modernisoitua omalla kielellään eikä se ollenkaan ole tarkoittanut eristäytymistä yksikielisyyteen. Kielellisten oikeuksien kehittäminen on merkinnyt laajentuneita mahdollisuuksia alkuperäiskielen käyttämiselle, kehittämiselle, menetetyn kielen takaisin oppimiselle ja sen siirtämiselle uusille sukupolville. Kaksi- ja monikielisyyden ylläpitäminen on siten merkinnyt myös laajentuneita työmarkkinoita ja liikkumismahdollisuuksia kotivaltiossa ja jopa valtioiden rajojen yli. Moderni saamelaisyhteisö on luonut uusia työpaikkoja mm. julkiseen ja saamelaishallintoon, saamenkieliseen mediaan, julkisiin palveluihin, koulutukseen ja monille muille elämänaloille. Saamen kielen taidosta on tullut merkittävä työllistymistä edesauttava ansio. Saamen kielen käyttömahdollisuuksien lisääminen on siten merkinnyt kielen instrumentaalisen arvon kasvamista, samalla kun nähtävissä on myös kielen suuri merkitys koko yhteisön ja sen jäsenten identiteetille ja yhteenkuuluvuudelle. On syntynyt myös tutkijajoukko, joka kieltäytyy nykyisin pelkästään raportoimasta kielissä ja kieliyhteisöissä tapahtuvista muutoksista. Suuri joukko tutkijoita toimii läheisessä yhteistyössä kieliyhteisöjen kanssa, tukien ja avustaen niitä niiden kielityössä.
Saamen kielten elvyttämisestä on tullut saamen kielityön näkyvin tavoite viime vuosikymmeninä. Kielten elvyttäminen tervehdyttää koko yhteisöä ja purkaa sukupolvelta toiselle siirtyneitä traumoja, avaa ovia omaan historiaan, omaan itseen ja saamelaisiin naapurimaissa. Omalta kohdaltani tiedän, että kielen takaisin oppiminen antaa samanlaisen tervehtymisen ja kokonaiseksi tulemisen tunteen kuin vakavasta sairaudesta parantuminen. Uhanalaisuudestaan huolimatta saamen kielet ovat edelleen myös ensiksi opittuja äidinkieliä, mikä on arvokasta ja historiaa ajatellen ihmeellistä!
Hyvää saamelaisten kansallispäivää! Aktiivista alkuperäiskansojen kielten vuotta 2019!
Gáppe Piera Jovnna Ulla/ Ulla Aikio-Puoskari työskentelee Suomen Saamelaiskäräjien koulutussihteerinä ja johtaa sen koulutus- ja oppimateriaalitoimistoa. Hän on myös koulutuspolitiikan tutkija ja julkaissut vertailevia raportteja ja artikkeleita saamelaisopetuksesta Suomessa, Ruotsissa ja Norjassa. Vuonna 2016 suomeksi ja kolmella saamen kielellä julkaistu raportti saamen kielten elvyttämisen parhaista käytännöistä ja kansallisen kielipolitiikan linjauksista Pohjoismaissa on ladattavissa Saamelaiskäräjien dokumenttipankista. Aikio-Puoskari on saamelaistietoa opetukseen tarjoavan www.oktavuohta.com -sivuston vastaava toimittaja.
Sign language e-library of Finland
Online Sign Language eLibrary of Finland has a version in Finnish and Swedish.
The library, run by the Finnish Association of the Deaf, has collected materials since 2014. The video material consists of six categories from sports to children’s program.
Digital learning and playing space in Somali for children
Finnish National Agency for education (Opetushallitus) has published a new, playful learning platform to support Somali mother language teaching at schools. The platform is open for all and it includes alphabet exercises, short stories, songs and interactive vocabulary exercises for children between ages of 5 and 13.
Multilingual Month congratulates the creators of this excellent learning platform!
We tested the platform as non-Somali speakers and noticed that the platform offers a possibility also for non-Somali speakers to learn basic things about Somali language in a fun way.
Somali language learning material from Finnish National Agency for Education
Previous Somali language material (2014) from the Finnish National Agency for Education
(Tip: if you have problems with entering the 2014 platform, you can pass the username and password request with any word)
Pictures in this post: screenshots from the learning platform; Copyright: Finnish National Agency for Education
Sano se saameksi – Say it in Sámi
Say it in Saami features the first online Saami phrasebook on the Internet containing informal language, and its goal is to help the endangered languages. You can listen to the phrases in North, Inari and Skolt Saami. The website also features five short documentary films, a quick guide to Saami culture and a soundboard in North Saami.
The website and online dictionary have versions in Finnish, English and Swedish.
The Say it in Saami project began is a collaboration of Finnish documentary filmmaker Katri Koivula and Saami poet Niillas Holmberg.
Picture: from Say it in Sámi -website
illustration: Lille Santanen