Mona FORSSKÅHL, Helsinki slang around 1900: a new slang variety is born > 53

Cet article se propose de décrire les circonstances de la formation de l’argot finno-suédois de Helsinki vers le début du vingtième siècle et de l’examiner à travers les champs sémantiques qu’on peut identifier dans le vocabulaire argotique de l’époque. Les contacts linguistiques entre la bourgeoisie de langue suédoise et la classe ouvrière bilingue, parlant suédois et finnois, ont été d’une importance majeure du point de vue de la création de ce nouvel argot dans les faubourgs d’un Helsinki en plein essor.

At the beginning of the twentieth century Finland was part of Russia. It had been so for almost a hundred years since 1809, when it was taken over from Sweden after a war between Sweden and Russia. During the first decades of Russian influence the Swedish culture and administration in Finland had continued as before, but towards the end of the century Russian influence became stronger. Demands were made for Russian to become the official administrative and military language. The Russian military presence in the country increased and stricter rules for public life were issued. An official censure on all public and private texts, together with tougher methods by the Cossacks and the police in the country, made the Russians very unpopular in the eyes of the local inhabitants.

At the same time there was another major debate going on in the country, in a way connected to the whish of getting rid of Russian influence. This debate did not concern all of the population, just the educated, usually academic and urban circles. The debate was about the status of Swedish and Finnish as national languages of Finland, and even though many of the people involved had Swedish as their mother tongue some were in favour of the idea of “one nation – one language”, namely Finnish. Many of these Swedish speaking Finns thus decided to officially change their mother tongue to Finnish, even though they did not speak nor understand it properly.

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