Speaking the Same Language

It was 2001 and I had just landed my first airline job at a multinational airline. Even though it was just customer service at a contact center, it was a dream come true and I was excited. I was 23, studying marketing, and bright-eyed about the future. It would be full of flights, cultural exchange, and languages.

With this job I finally had the world at my fingertips! The swanky office walls were covered with world maps. Red pins indicated the airline’s hubs, and together with a bucketful of blue pins mapping partner airlines’ destinations, the world was as good as conquered.

Everyone in the office was perpetually making travel plans and swapping sassy insider travel hacks. It was my first encounter with the ubiquitous office coffee machine, where I would fill my airline mug with hot chocolate whilst chatting with colleagues.

Two other students started working there the same week as me, and beaming with wonder and excitement, we were handed generous staff benefits and thick operative manuals. Our first task was to learn airline lingo – airport and city codes, airline codes, and abbreviations used in bookings.

The company had an internal newsletter, printed in newspaper form, and its content was featured in three languages: Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish. While my Swedish was quite fluent at the time, it was still a foreign language for me, a language learned through school and practice. Most of the other employees were native Swedish-speakers. But whatever our native tongue, we employees were just expected to pick up Norwegian and Danish through exposure, and I quite liked the challenge.

I was a language nerd and an airline was the perfect employer for me. I read the newsletter in the tram on my way home from work, deciphering all the wonderful little quirks of these languages, side by side in their own columns, all without any internet dictionaries whatsoever.

Once, the Danish CEO arrived for a visit and held a speech for us in Danish. Now, Danish is the trickiest of all three languages for us Finns to understand, because it sounds more like Dutch than Swedish – reading it is quite a lot easier than listening to it. But we made do, and tried our best to understand. Nobody complained – after all, the company’s internal language was Swedish, close enough!

Years later, I was answering Nordic phone calls at another large airline and many of the customers spoke to me in Norwegian, while I answered back in Swedish. Norwegian is one step closer to Swedish, my comfort zone, than Danish and it went well. The customers were unanimously happy to get service in their own language and I was happy to deliver it. I was learning more and more each day, feeling quite fluent. I felt like I could indeed conquer the world, just like the red and blue pins dotting the wall.

My language skills served me well for a while. Swedish is a compulsory language at school over here, and, I’m sure you would agree, compulsory is never good. For most Finns, it was – and still is – their least favorite subject at school. Because it’s compulsory and also because the two nations are hard-core rivals in ice hockey.

And so, for many years, knowing Swedish well gave me a competitive edge on the job market, combined with my airline experience. I went on to work in other positions in different niches of the industry, at one point working with Norwegian customers at a Finnish B2B-travel agency in France. By then, my French was quite good too, and sometimes I’d accidentally mix up the two, though they were not at all similar. French and Swedish just happened to occupy the same part of my brain. My Swedish was better, but my French more top-of-mind.

And then I had my brief Spanish-in-France and French-in-Greece stints, both stories I might tell some other day. Along with many similar ones with different combos. I traveled for a decade.

And then… it all came to a halt. For the past ten years or so, the only language I’ve needed at work was Finnish. My other languages have shrunk away, disappeared in silence. All I have left are the two languages I’m bilingual in: Finnish and English.

As for my Finnish colleagues without any international background, for whom English is a foreign language, many are embarrassed by their rusty English skills since they too have had no use for it. We’ve been working in a Finnish-language bubble, not even bothering to get web pages properly translated because the company culture is what it is. No one talks about long haul travel hacks at the coffee machine and we don’t have company mugs. (People don’t seem to mind.)

I’ve moved on from the travel industry into a far less exciting field of business. I’ve grown up and I have bills to pay. Airline jobs were always quite unreliable.

But wait. Something else has happened, too. While this Finnish bubble was developing at my last two work places, a surprise twist has occurred in our growing capital, just outside my office building’s walls. It’s recently come to my attention that Finnish is no longer used in most cafes or restaurants.

What do I mean? I mean that if a Finn goes to a restaurant in the Finnish capital, they can no longer get service in Finnish, the local language. All of the hospitality industry’s work force now seems to speak English. How did this happen? What were Finns doing while their language was being shoved aside?

I don’t mind speaking English at a restaurant but what about older generations? Are they no longer welcome to receive service in their own language in their own home town? This recent development is confusing and disconcerting.

As someone who used to love chatting in Swedish and getting replies in Norwegian, smirking at how Norwegians called an airplane a “machine” and at how cute their very own singing kind of intonation was, I find it odd that foreign workers are not willing – or required – to try to learn Finnish at a cafe job. Doesn’t the Finnish language have any cute quirks at all? Did they even try to look for any?

And are customer service jobs no longer wanted jobs for Finnish speakers? Do they just aim for CEO straight out of school? Finnish speakers still represent the majority of customers. Can you imagine this happening in your country – a foreign language taking over?

On a global scale, Finnish is a tiny language, spoken by less than 6 million people. Is it fading away with declining birth rates?

From a language nerd’s perspective, I’m a bit worried: all languages are worth keeping, as they are a key to the culture and, dare I say, the very soul of the speaker. Diversity is always a good thing, but not all aspects of local culture need to be bulldozed. The local language is a diversity, too, if it’s not one of the world’s major languages. This is something the country’s Swedish-speaking minority has been talking of for a long time, but no one has been listening.

I feel like Finns have all too happily handed away the keys to their soul in exchange for a feel of international belonging, which I recognize all too well and don’t judge. As a small country, it’s important for Finns to learn other languages (because there is little incentive for anyone to learn such a complicated language as Finnish), but previous generations managed to do so without losing the right to get served coffee in their own language. Now English seems to be taking over. I love English, it’s my preferred language. But we are in Finland!

As for language skills at the work place, it turns out none are needed anywhere anymore. Swedish customers are served in Finnish or English. (And Finnish customers are served in English.)

And jargon is back big time. Big Words are the new language of today. Just like airport codes in the airline business, abbreviated to save space in written communication and to be uniform throughout the industry so that they are understood by all, no matter the local language, marketing too has its own codes. Codes of conduct.

It’s all about the image, as marketing pros well know, and how you present things. Use jargon and throw in some mysterious acronyms and English words translated in a weird way. When googling for a definition, Finnish trend jargon is nowhere to be found: if you don’t know what they’re talking about, you’re not going to find out. You’ll be left out.

It’s like deciphering that old newsletter in the tram without a mobile phone, except less fun because you feel silly, outdated. It’s not an adventure but a struggle. Never mind crafting your thoughts into an easily approachable, tempting read. Using jargon and trend words are all you need in Finnish professional life to appear competent. The less sense it appears to make, the higher you rise in status. No one dares to ask you what you mean.

The next step is probably ordering coffee in jargon?

(By the way, that sour barista girl still speaks Finnish. Some things haven’t changed.)

 

The photos are from several trips to Italy

126 responses to “Speaking the Same Language

  1. I realize that societies evolve but I agree with you that it’s a good idea to retain your national language as the default language in your country. I, of course, also agree with you that the advent of trendy words and jargon is annoying on many levels, and seems to be the done thing in many countries. Things change, but must they change into gibberish? *meh*

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  2. Ahhh, Finnish language must not disappear! It’s not related to any other language still in existence, right? (Or maybe remotely to Hungarian?) I’ll see if I can trick my uncle to learn it, he loves linguistic challenges. I find this quite hard to imagine: a Finn comes into a bar, orders in Finnish and is given a strange look? 😮 I remember some years ago when I visited (my) Slovenia in the summer and no seller or barman or any worker spoke to me in Slovenian (even though they were native) because the center of Ljubljana was (and is still) occupied by foreigners. I got really upset.

    Other than that, your post has the scent of nostalgia after the good old days. Oh yes, we still caught them by the tail, and did the youth right. Very well done for having learned so many languages.

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    • At school we were taught it’s only related to Hungarian. But it must also be related to Estonian since Estonian is much more similar to Finnish than Hungarian! 😊 Oh how fun if your uncle was to learn it! Reminds me of an airline pilot I once flew with who had learned Estonian purely by watching tv – he then carried on astonishing conversations with an Estonian flight attendant we had – grammar and all from just tv!!!! As for ordering in a bar/cafe/restaurant, it depends. Some places they will ask you to repeat your order in English. Increasingly so.
      And yes, you said it so well: we caught the good times by the tail. Hope they come back 💕

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  3. I think it’s terrible that the hospitality industry is forcing workers to speak ONLY English.

    As a uniliguist (what some consider another name for an American) I admire people who speak multiple languages. I would love to be able to read Don Quixote, the works of Guy de Maupassant, Balzac, or any number of other European writers in their native language. In high school I took Spanish for four years but those were wasted hours as I never could hold a conversation with a Spanish speaking person or read a Spanish newspaper and understand it.

    Starting in fourth grade when I had to do my first expository and creative writing I have been in love with the English language and I suspect writers in other countries feel the same way about their mother tongue.

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    • I think it’s not that they are forced to speak English but they are foreigners living here who don’t bother to integrate with the local culture, causing gaps between social groups. Perhaps assuming locals aren’t interested in making friends, due to the introverted mindset of Finns. Well, this is just my interpretation. As someone who’s lived in 6 different countries, I think it’s a shame, because learning about the culture I had moved to was always so much fun. Seems like a lost opportunity for both parties.
      Being in love with your own language is a great starting point for understanding and respecting other languages. As for your Spanish, I think you just needed a chance to use it on a regular basis in real life. I studied French for 12 years but could barely say my name until I went to study and work in France. Even then it took a long time!!! 😁

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    • Sometimes David, reading in another language is a great advantage. I have been frustrated several times when someone has read the same novel as me, but in the native language the book was first produced in. During our discussion of the books, which I read translated into English, it transpires that certain words, critical to the plot, were translated incorrectly, or if not incorrectly, in such as way that changed the meaning and nuances of words and character’s personality. I felt cheated! We must hold onto to minor languages and there are some institutions in the US that try to do just that. Maybe you could take up Spanish again?

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  4. Wow! I am impressed by your language learning ability. I live in Texas and English is the language, but there is quite a bit of Spanish spoken around as well. I have never really been able to pick up Spanish though.

    I am afraid that the growing inter-connectedness that the internet brings is going to spell the end for hundreds of languages around the world as the information that people want is not available in those languages. English has a huge lead on most other languages in this regard. As I travel around the world, there is almost no incentive for an English speaker to learn another language. It is sad, but it is a sign that humanity is rapidly moving from isolated cultures to a growing human culture. Maybe that’s good, maybe that’s bad. I don’t know.

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    • Spanish in the US is interesting. I once flew through JFK and the terminal we were at was 100% in Spanish (we were going to Latin America). I found it odd and surreal, I was wondering, am I really in New York right now?! It was like I was already in a Spanish-speaking country. I found it odd that the airport had not thought to serve us flying from Europe on a connecting flight in English, just assuming all Europeans know Spanish?? I actually love practicing languages so I didn’t mind, I understand Spanish well. But as a former airport worker, it felt like a bad business decision. Airports compete for customers, too.
      You make a good point: maybe it’s not all bad that humanity is becoming one group. Maybe we will understand each other better then.

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  5. Oh, languages! Such a complicated thing! In Spain they are one of the main source of problems when dealing with nationalist regions. Spanish and regional languages are supposed to be co-official, but nationalist governments use their regional languages as a mean to discriminate and separate more and more from Spain… I’m aware that these “small” languages are important and part of our cultural richness, but it is so sad to see how some people use these languages to manipulate…

    But I can understand what’s happening in Finland. Sweden is too similar! I lived there for two years and I never felt the need to learn Swedish… Well, I guess if I would ever wanted to work in my field after Uni (I was a lawyer in Spain) I would had to learn Swedish at some point… But being a student, it was totally unnecessary for me!!!

    Now living in Switzerland I see the importance of learning more languages. While in Sweden I could survive perfectly in English, here simply I can’t!!! I’m learning High German… Next step will be learning Swiss German, which right now seems like a totally different language for me… But that’s what I need if I ever want to be integrated in the Swiss society, hehehe.

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    • Finland has a small island where the language is 100% Swedish and they have wanted to seperate from Finland for a long time though they don’t protest about it much. Language affects your identity, and so I can understand the position of minorities. In Lapland, there’s also a Sami-speaking minority which is quite isolated from us over here in Helsinki. I guess their numbers are decreasing too.
      I’m happy you’ve decided to learn German 😊 It will bring you new realisations about the locals’ mindset and bring you closer to them, I’m positive!

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    • Interesting that language can be used as a barrier. I guess this ties into Snow’s earlier belief that it is part of identity. Did you not pick up any Swedish at all, in Sweden, Mercedes?

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  6. In my provincial albeit due to a growing student population from abroad more and more cosmopolitan city, more and more we are adressed in English in café’s. That is because workers there are almost exclusively students, so yes, the Spanish, German and Chinese students need jobs too. In Amsterdam English seems to be token language. It won’t take long before all university studies will be in English only. Dutch is going to be a language for use at home, among friends and for old folks like me 🙂 The problem is that a large amount of of our history and culture (poetry, prose, music, all that) is in the Dutch language and it will consequently dissapear for the popular eyes and ears, and only be accesible for scolars and, well, old folks like me. That is a disturbing thought. I find it good to have a lingua franca, and preferably English (after all that is why we are able to communicate with each other). I do hope national languages will find a way to survive next to a World Wide Common Language (WWCL), be it English or perhaps in the future Chinese.

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    • Oh, so this is already happening in Holland. I think we’re headed down the exact same path. Most of these English-speakers are young, so I imagine they are students or maybe they moved here because their partner is Finnish. Why come here if the local culture and language aren’t interesting? Do they come for the welfare benefits or free education? I remember meeting up with a blogger from NZ once, who complained that Finland is so ”Finnish”! 😂 As for having a lingua franca – yes, I’m happy we are all able to communicate with each other, that’s very important too!

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  7. It would be absolutely terrible if the wonderful Finnish language disappeared into obscurity. There nothing like it (apart from.perhaps Hungarian) and I would be saddened if more people spoke English. Countries need their sense of identity and language is vital to that. I started learning Finnish a few years ago and now I want to get back to it!

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      • Yes, it was fun. When I used to come as a visiting teacher I enrolled for some Finnish classes and at home I worked through a book and on-line materials with the lovely title ‘From Start to Finnish’! I was never fluent and could understand much more than I could speak but you know what it’s like, if you don’t speak a language, you easily forget – or at least I do! I think I’ll make it my belated New Year resolution to resume my studies. xx

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  8. “The less sense it appears to make, the higher you rise in status. No one dares to ask you what you mean.”
    Gosh that would make a good topic for a satirical novel or movie.
    It’s language skills are disappearing and I totally agree that losing a language takes something away from cultural diversity. Language is so invested with identity. You must resist and hold on to language skills and use them, when you visit cafes and restaurants.
    Australian academic Professor Manning Clark lamented how immigrants might lose their native language in the barrage of English that one gets in Australia. Even though we have all come from somewhere else. There are moves to save the indigenous languages from extinction.
    So glad the barista girl is stubborn!

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    • The first part of your comment makes me think of Amélie Nothomb’s book about a Belgian woman who works in a large Japanese corporation and slowly gets demoted and demoted. It’s an absurd satire and just very observant and well written. And yes, I so agree, language is so closely tied to identity! I know it first-hand: learning English before Finnish made me feel like I wasn’t Finnish when we first arrived here and 30 years later I still have that feeling. Only now I’ve realised it’s not just a feeling, it’s how I see myself, my identity.

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      • That sounds like a great book. I must try and look for it in the library. I can relate to a certain extent. If I am with my Scandinavian friends, most are polite and only speak English when I am there, because my aural ability to understand their language is so poor. If Language is written down, I feel quite competent but listening… ah… need practice. However, some folks continue to speak in their own language when I am there, (which is their absolute right). I encourage them to do that sometimes, as it helps me get my ear in for the language, but it does make one feel like an outsider. If I had moved to Scandinavia, I am sure this feeling would be overwhelming for me. Yet, I see your identity as being blessed (albeit with various struggles) – you have been privileged to see perspectives of another culture a visitor or tourist can never have. You are like the bridge between nations! So I am glad you have resolved this concept of identity for yourself. And you will always be an AussieFinn to me! ❤

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        • Hahah, thanks, Amanda! 💕 My family does have a unique Aussie-Finn background and it’s something not most of my co-workers for example know about me. But it still influences my mindset and behaviour, even how I comprehend matters. Like this morning at work I was listening to a presentation in Finnish but the slides were in English (this is another trend!). My brain couldn’t decide which mode to switch into and it made me miss the first 30 minutes – very hard to concentrate! I’m sure everyone else was just listening and ignoring the slides 🤪

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  9. I love languages and I love the culture that goes with a language.. Speak English as a global language but fight to keep your minority language.. It’s a sad world where everyone speaks English albeit some very badly with accents we don’t understand..Keep the home language burning.. 😉

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    • I agree. It’s an interesting topic for me also in the sense that I grew up speaking English and never identified with Finns who didn’t have expat/third-culture-kid backgrounds. I still keep regularly running into Finnish words that I don’t know the meaning of and I think in English. So I’ve never been a defender of Finnish. But now this… this is just ridiculous! You cannot expect everyone to order in English! I find it very disrespectful. Like ”I’m not going to bother learning your language though I live here. Maybe you should learn mine.” No, in Finland you need to make an effort to learn Finnish. Period. 😁

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      • I live in France and in this touristic village exactly the same thing.. not many English living here speak French.. The kids are learning however as they go to the local school..Totally disrespectful and more effort needs be made when you move to another country.. ;-(

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        • I agree! Though I also remember when I lived in Paris, I wanted to speak French all the time and improve, but the French just kept on talking to me in English, even though my French was better than their English. Sometimes it felt like they wanted to practice their skills too, and sometimes it just felt like prejudice against my non-French appearance!

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  10. Language is the country’s identity and soul which I look forward to learn some basic words whenever I visit a new country. I hope when I visit Finland someday, there will be people greeting me in Finnish! It would be sad when it is replaced by English. It seems that the trend is starting in many places. Here in Borneo, although Malay is the national language in Malaysia, there are many local dialects from difference races. Even the Malay language is different and unique here where other parts of Malaysia do not understand it. I hope it stays that way 🙂 The younger generation now tends to speak in English too. Local dialects are fading..sadly. As for my generation now, we mostly speak mixture of few languages like english, mandarin, malay plus few local dialects! 😀

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    • I like the sound of that mixture! 😁 I also just in general like it when people make the effort to understand another dialect or language. Like when I had those chats with Norwegians, them speaking one language and me another. There’s just somethibg very uniting about it: our languages are different but we can find a middle way where we both understand each other.

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  11. Though our language (in your case Finnish, in my case Vietnamese) is not widely used, it’s still a part of our cultural identity. If they don’t exist, we might be annexed to our big neighbours. English is my preferred language, but I’m annoyed when seeing a pure English menu in the cafe/restaurant. They might serve international guests, but hey we are in Vietnam 😛

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  12. Great post. I loved it. It was interesting to read thoughts of another person who has worked for an airline in addition to me. I worked for our national airline nearly 40 years. I have told about jobs in my About-me-post. My favorite language is French. I have in my home about 1500 French books.

    Have a good day!

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    • Kiitos, Matti! I remember we have talked about airline jobs before, I think it was on your about-page. But 1500 books in French?! Oh là là! Have you read them all? I used to love this book shop in Paris, rue de Buci, I think. Maybe. Nice memories. Hauskaa illanjatkoa!

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  13. Very interesting. I wouldn’t have guessed that a native language would be at risk in its own land. I’ve seen where old languages become lost with migration to new lands – it’s the first step towards losing a cultural heritage – but I wouldn’t have thought it also true of countries ceding economic growth to bigger influences. I wonder if this is true primarily of urban centers?

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  14. Great post! As a language nerd and a translator I can totally relate to your feelings. Even though it is definitely important to speak English, be international and open to the world, I feel like we must not lose what keeps us grounded to our native country and its culture – language. But at the same time, speaking other languages is so important, as it opens so many doors, both professionally and personally!

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    • Thanks for your perspective! As a 3rd culture kid, I never had a proper native language, because my parents’ language wasn’t my own and I spoke another language. And that gave me an identity unrelated to a nation, but still it was an identity. I do think it’s important to keep small languages alive, just like small businesses when global giants arrive and take over. Nuances just make life more interesting. It would be boring if suddenly there was just one language everywhere – like the Starbucks of languages! 😁

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  15. I’m from England living in a sort-of English speaking county (the USA). Even though our language is bulldozing over all the other languages in the world, many people here are suspicious/afraid that immigrants who continue to speak their own language will lead to the ruin of this country. And this while those who lead this country are doing their best to butcher the English language by distorting it to the point of it becoming nonsensical.
    I’m hopeless at learning languages, but have not yet sunk to the level of my favorite English stereotype of ‘speak slower and louder and they must surely understand.’
    It’s not that hard to learn at least some words of the language in any country being visited. Make the effort; it’s appreciated. And if you move to another country to live and work, the same is true.

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  16. English everywhere now? That is weird…
    (But I like the concept of learning a language by exposure). Try to keep your languages alive traveling. Scandinavia isn’t that far? And probably is affordable?
    Quand au Français, je ne crois pas que tu aies oublié…
    A +

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    • Oh Brieuc, Scandinavia is everything but affordable 😂 Oslo is the most expensive place I’ve ever set foot, much more expensive than Tokyo or London. Also Finland is super expensive and traveling from here costs. We don’t even have Ryanair here. I used to keep up my languages by reading and watching films but niw TV5 Monde is no longer available here and I can’t find French films anywhere. Any ideas where to look? Netflix etc are all localised too 😢 As for reading, after kids I’ve lost my concentration skills!! I’ve become a skimmer, I just quickly skim through articles and leave books untouched! J’ai pas oublié tout mais beaucoup… je comprends bien mais peux pas raconter… A plus, bonne journée! 😊

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      • Sorry to hear that. I don’t know about TV5 Monde. We stopped seeing it a long time ago and I suspect they’re saving money by cutting back on countries. As for Netflix et al, it is becoming everyday more “Nationalized”. Can’t access more than 20-25% of what Americans can get. Mexico is a piracy country! Grrrr.
        I have a suscription to le Point. It is not too expensive. And it gives news on France and the world… That could be an option. Though I find news everywhere so depressing, I’m trying to ignore them. 😉
        Bon week-end “Lumi”.

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  17. I have been saving your post for a few days so I could take my time reading it. Language is a huge deal to me; I grew up speaking a second language with my grandparents (Greek), I became fluent in Spanish, proficient in French, and somewhat capable in Italian, German, and a few others. I love learning languages, and I agree very strongly that language is a big part of cultural and other identities.

    When it comes to English, I think there’s a polarity. On one side (good), it is the language that has become the lingua franca for much of the world, and that’s OK if it’s used to unite and be a bridge. But there’s another side, and that is linguistic arrogance (the whole “English Only” movement), which is awful. Why is English considered “better” than other languages spoken by smaller numbers of people? For that matter, why is it better than languages spoken by large numbers of people, like Spanish in the U.S.?

    Letting Finnish lapse in your day-to-day transactions in Finland strikes me as folly. It’ll be a death knell for more than a language, but I do think using both English and Finnish is fine. From my own perhaps radical perspective, I don’t believe in “Any Language Only.” Sociolinguistic studies have shown that countries that overtly allow more than one language to be spoken are more stable politically and socially. It does not bother me one bit when there are signs in Spanish in the U.S. I do believe all of those signs should be in English also, and I do think all immigrants to ANY country should have an obligation to learn that country’s language.

    I’m basically agreeing with everything you say (I think), but I’m babbling on! I could write another 5 paragraphs on the use of ridiculous acronyms and buzzwords! And I always love reading about your past life; it’s one I would have loved to have also!

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    • Such an interesting comment! I didn’t know those things about you – so, you have Greek blood in you? 🤗 I still remember a few words/phrases of Greek from my summer working there (2006) and the language had an exotic air to it – it sounded familiar but still so hard to follow.
      Like you, I spoke Spanish and Italian quite ok at some point, too, and loved the synergy between the languages (+French). One language just naturally lead to another!
      As for a lingua franca: yes we need one. 😊
      Finland actually already has two official languages: all the signs, labels, etc must be in
      both Finnish and Swedish. Kids start learning other languages quite early at school and since tv isn’t dubbed, like in some other countries, they do hear quite a lot of English and other languages. So it’s not just a one-country language. But I know what you mean and I agree! 😊 Thanks ao much Lexi for reading this post with thought. Happy ”Friend’s Day”, as Valentine’s is called over here!! 💕

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      • My mom is 100% Greek! I used to go in the summer with my grandparents.

        Oh, yes, I totally know that Finland is not a one-language country! It is admirable! As are many other multilingual countries. I was more referring to the U.S.’s English Only movement, which just seems counterproductive.

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        • 100% Greek!!! But you are so blonde!! (Shouldn’t make assumptions! Oops!) How cool. I used to have a friend who was half Greek, half Finnish, and with her two sisters (one of them her identical twin), they spent summers in Thessaloniki with their dad and always spoke so warmly of it. I was left with the feeing that Greece is a lovely and welcoming place, which was confirmed later on when I visited. Come to think of it, now I remember a post of yours, about having a meal with your relatives… involving lamb? There was a surprise twist. Your post, right? One of the very first ones I read here on WordPress!

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          • Yes! That was my very first post. My mom is actually a blonde, brown-eyed Greek (unusual) and my dad is Scottish by heritage. Quite the mish-mash! I did not get any Mediterranean coloring at all although my two sisters are dark-haired and eyed.

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            • Your very first post! 🤗 Wow! I’m happy I remember it. It was a good one! Mine was stupid and I probably deleted it at some point.
              I bet you tan better than the average Scot though? I always wanted a Mediterranean coloring – and thicker hair with curls! Instead, it’s the exact opposite 😂 (Oh, and I do remember you visited Helsinki, too)
              But no wonder you became a traveler with that mixture of dna 😊💕

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  18. A very interesting post! And one that has generated a lot of conversation!
    I think the service industry here (in Australia) is a bit different. My Brazilian friend was just telling me the other day that people tend to mistaken him for an Italian person. On two separate occasions at two different local Italian restaurants, the wait-staff have tried talking to him in Italian, and he had to tell them he was Brazilian and didn’t understand a word they were saying.
    Staff at Asian restaurants and shops also seem to like speaking in their native language if they think you might know it too. It seems people here will take any chance to not speak English!

    Liked by 1 person

    • How odd, Pistachios! (Love calling you that! 😂) Why do you think that is? Do they long for home or feel left out of society? You’d think that they’d be motivated to fit in and stay for the long run, Australia being practically paradise on earth! 😊 Unlike our cold dark country over here. I can see why foreigners here aren’t invested: they are just passing through. Just like I was, too. Still here.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. It seems so sad that they wouldn’t at least make the effort to speak Finnish. When I visited the Highlands of Scotland, I learned are schools that teach Gaelic so that the language won’t be lost. Hopefully, Finland will endeavor to not let their language completely disappear.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Enjoyed this post. Well Written and I knew a bit about your airlines work experience and language skills – so reading this Have me more details. I like how you brought the metro back up at the end and other elements in the writing (delightful in fact because so many people do not know how to write eloquently).
    And the English speaking in the cafes would baffle me too.
    Hmmm

    Liked by 1 person

      • Good point about the different styles of blog posts – and it also comes
        Down to how much time we have to
        Craft as well as our mood and desire to share or write!
        And I actually came to your blog from equinxio’s recent post ((for some reason Snow, your posts never show up in my reader….) anyhow – his style of writing has a succinct popping mode with a way that is so his own! Love it – anyhow – you are right so many styles and variances with each blogger depending on their mode!
        Oh and I also loved how you shared your changes as an employee – I love studying the world of work –
        And when you said generous benefits and thick manual – those rich details add to the shared experience of course – but also remind me that many workers never experience benefits or
        Other perks –
        Hmmmm

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m a big fan of Mr Equinoxio and his distinctive style and you’re right, it’s become his niche. I wonder why you can’t see my posts in the reader – hmm. My reader feed is actually very limited too, I only see the same dozen bloggers’ posts through I follow probably 200 blogs or something. I just figured everyone stopped blogging, but maybe the problem’s in the reader..?
          As for benefits and perks, my current job has none and it’s like the other employees there don’t even know what they’re missing, so they don’t ask for anything more (is that the the secret to happiness???). I definitely look back on those airline days with warmth, though now I wouldn’t want to work in the industry anymore (kids, climate anxiety, all the attacks everywhere, corona virus etc…plus the long commute!). After my office jobs in the airline business, I worked as a flight attendant, too, and I would regularly hear from people (who were not flight attendants themselves) that the job isn’t that glamorous anymore. But it was! Weeks on end at 4-5 star hotels and resorts around the world, everything paid for AND you were getting salary for it too. If that isn’t glamorous, I don’t know what is. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Enjoyed your reply – and yes – maybe the secret to happiness is sometimes not knowing what you are missing – or something like that.
            And Seth Godin has some good articles about the new wave of businesses that the youngest generation will be exposed too – not a lot of perks and no longer is it where someone stayed securely at one job for decades and then retires – well that had been waning for decades but think we will see it more for Gen Z.
            And yeah – the way you described the experience does sound a bit luxurious and adventurous –
            Oh and my reader has the same bloggers too and now I think I will try and find a new way to visit the blogs I really want to. I had to stop email updates because it was a chore and overwhelming at times. And that is not what we are here for – eh?
            And wishing you a good rest of februaru

            Liked by 1 person

  21. Interesting thoughts. I admire your fluency in so many languages, it’s not a talent I share. I am surprised by the fact that English is so prevalent, because I’ve been so many places where it’s not spoken. If you lived where I do you’d think Spanish is taking over the world. Good food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Pingback: I've seen the future, it smells of weed.·

  23. This was a really interesting read, thank you. Although the English language is undoubtedly the international language of communication, I hate to think that it is eating away at the use of other languages and cultural identity.

    Liked by 1 person

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