Re: [langue-fr] L'anglais est-il une langue universelle ?

From: Paul Keinanen (
Date: Sat Dec 30 2000 - 16:22:14 EST

On Sat, 30 Dec 2000 06:16:38 -0800 (GMT-0800), John Cowan
<> wrote:

>On Sat, 30 Dec 2000, Elliotte Rusty Harold wrote:
>> I'd like to see that claim backed up a little. You're coming from
>> Canada, and Quebec in particular, which is possibly the most
>> universally bilingual place in the Americas.
>Actually not. Officially bilingual countries like Canada and Belgium
>are so because their citizens are in fact mostly monolingual. Actual
>bilingualism is usually higher in countries with only one official

In Finland in order to become a civil servant, get an academic degree
or even pass the matriculation exam you have to pass tests in both
Finnish and Swedish, although the mandatory Swedish exam in the
matriculation exam is currently debated.

About 7 % of the population in Finland speaks Swedish as their mother
tongue and I would estimate that 90 .. 95 % of those living on the
South coast of Finland are truly bilingual, i.e. you can not tell from
the Finnish accent that their mother tongue is Swedish. However, the
situation is different on the West coast and in the archipelago.

Pupils in schools are required to learn one or two foreign languages,
of which English has usually been the first one. However, nowadays
more and more parents put their children to classes with more "exotic"
language (typically French, German, Spanish or Russian) as the first
foreign language and English as the second foreign language by
motivating that the children will learn English from the media
pressure anyway :-).

>> Trilingualism and more is I'm afraid just too
>> much to ask of most people who aren't full-time language
>> professionals or naturally gifted with languages.
>In Europe and North America, yes. In India and Africa, it's downright

Returning to the topic of this mailing list, in the 7 bit character
set era, we had a common character set only with Sweden but not with
any other neighbouring country. With the introduction of ISO 8859-1
only created a common character set also with Norway, but this
character set does not support the Sami languages spoken in the
Northern parts of Finland, Sweden and Norway, neither does it fully
support Estonian and of course not Russian.

Hopefully Unicode will become popular in our neighbouring countries,
since this would simplify data exchange a lot.

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