An interview with Vígdis Finnbogadóttir


Language policy is the theme for this issue of DialogWeb, which acts as an introduction to some of the many aspects of language and language policy.

It is a great honour for us to be able to publish an interview with Vígdis Finnbogadóttir, who served as president of Iceland from 1980 to 1996. Finnbogadóttir, who is today a Goodwill Ambassador for Languages at the UN, has always been a dedicated advocate of the importance of language skills, both with regard to the mother tongue and foreign languages. In this issue of DialogWeb she shares her views on the significance and many roles of languages.

This issue’s Norwegian article gives us an example of how Norwegian language lessons have led to increased effectivity and improved job satisfaction among municipal employees.

Deaf and hard-ofhearing people who speak sign language as their mother tongue constitute a language minority within a minority. An article from the Åland Islands describes sign language users and sign language education.

One  aim is to make Nordic languages and cultures seem “cool” to young people. In Denmark, a number of enthusiasts function as language pilots, making students aware of the many exciting possibilities within Nordic languages and cultures. A Nordic language campaign conducted in the Faroe Islands is one of the concrete initiatives inspired by the Nordic language policy.

If students won’t go to foreign countries, the foreign countries must come to them – this is a motto at the University of Malmö in Sweden. Internationalisation has been included in the curriculum at the university to give students access to competences provided by an international study environment.

At the University of Turku in Finland, 200 students are currently studying Nordic languages. They are often surprised by how difficult it is to learn Norwegian and Danish. A professor of Nordic language suggests that perhaps Swedish teaching in Finnish schools should include more more Danish and Norwegian elements.

One-quarter of the Estonian population only speaks Russian, and active efforts are now being made to ensure that they learn Estonian. These courses are made possible by the economic support that Estonia receives from abroad for this purpose.

Thanks to the motley linguistic landscape of the Nordic countries, Nordic residents have many exciting opportunities to broaden their linguistic horizon. DialogWeb 2/2011 casts light on some of these opportunities.


The interview with Vigdis Finnbogadottir>>