I would like to resurface the conversation of using English in our school. By our school I mean not only the faculty and curriculum of TSE, but also our student body. I mean it, share your thoughts on this with me.
Finland has always been very Finnish. I think everyone loves that a little, even if they choose not to advertise it. I know I’m not the only one who appreciates purposeless drinking, inappropriate but clever wordplay, coffee and silence. It’s good that we acknowledge our heritage. But does it mean doing everything in Finnish?
Exchange students understand why we do everything in our mother tongue; Finnish culture is what they came here to see. The problem is that we don’t involve foreigners. We extend lukewarm welcomes to our parties and move on to organize events that are targeted toward them. This effectively undermines the invitations to regular events.
We’re nimble when it comes to creative event descriptions, video advertisements and humorous promotions on social media. We take deliberate risks in phrasing controversial ideas and themes, and dance on the fine line between what you can and cannot say. But then the gist is translated shortly in English.
Spoken and written English seems to intimidate a big portion of our active student body. We want to accept exchange students and immigrants as our own, but they are constantly shut out by our small actions. Our English content is scarce, for which I am admittedly responsible. The majority seems to feel like it’s a burden to translate content, failing to see the possibilities that it offers.
Honestly, we don’t need to be especially articulate or have the most
eloquent vocabulary, we just need to make an effort.
Did you know that the English language (well, this one big-ass dictionary to be precise) consists of around 230 000 unique words? Finnish is descriptive too, but the language can’t keep up with contemporary fads quite the same.
Problems arise when you try to balance the two languages without confusing anyone. English works on Instagram, because the whole feed is typically in English. But what felt better in Finnish on the drawing board doesn’t work in English anymore, so things need to be reinvented for the gram. Who wants to go through all the trouble. I also understand that it’s hard; everything in our culture can’t be translated, especially in the student environment.
This text isn’t unusually difficult or uncomfortable to read – I hope. I can honestly confess that it took me about half the time to write, compared to it’s would-be Finnish equivalent. That coming from someone who prides himself in being a fluent writer in his mother tongue. A facade, anyone who can actually write will let you know.
The direction I would personally like to see us take as an institution is changing to English completely. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely up to me. The change has to begin with like-minded people taking initiative. I can ask TuKY actives to write in English, but I can’t force them to enjoy and take interest in it. I want to inflict change but I can’t do it alone. It starts with changing our culture towards a more pro-English disposition.
Or, you know, coming up with a dynamic name instead of the monster that is the Association of Economics Students in Turku.
Head of Communications