On the grounds that it considers inclusion more important than language, the Nordic Youth Council has decided that it will work in English whenever necessary, a move that runs counter to official Nordic language policy, which specifies Norwegian, Swedish and Danish as the working languages.
“Nordic co-operation has to be open to all, not just an exclusive club for Scandinavian speakers,” the Nordic Youth Council (UNR) said in a statement on 14 April.
“If language leads to exclusion, then it’s time to change the language,” according to the Youth Council. The UNR Presidium has accepted the consequences and decided to use English in its work whenever necessary. The UNR is gathered in Stavanger in conjunction with the Nordic Council’s April meetings.
“We need to understand each other,” says the UNR President, Lisbeth Sejer Gøtzsche. “Some people don’t understand what is being said at the meetings. No matter where people come from, they have trouble understanding the Scandinavian languages,” she added.
As President, she believes that language lies at the very core of the Council’s work. “I’ve come to the realisation that it won’t make me any less Danish or Nordic if we use English at UNR meetings,” she says. She adds that it would be easier to work in the Scandinavian languages if the UNR was to receive greater financial support for interpreters.
“We must accept the fact that knowledge of Scandinavian languages continues to diminish among the younger generations, and that globalisation has made the Nordic countries more diverse. As a result, we shouldn’t take it for granted that everybody in the Region understands and communicates in Scandinavian,” the UNR statement says. The UNR also wishes to draw attention to the need for better coverage of Nordic history and society in the education system.