Vergesst Es Nie – In commemoration of the Kristalnacht and the Holocaust!

Tonight we commemorate the Kristalnacht, which took place 1938 on this date. It started off because of a German diplomat got shot by a Jew in Paris and Hitler called for retribution – and then the German Jews had to pay the price. Jewish homes were ransacked, temples smashed, and people got killed. And their only crime was their cultural and racial belonging.

This was the beginning of the Final Solution and the Holocaust. Sadly, this was neither the first or the last racial pogrom in our history. In former Yugoslavia, Soviet Union, Africa, in Israel-Palestine there have been genocides and hatred campaigned against folk groups. It seems that it is a tragic thing we humans tend to do where ever we live.

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In Iceland (and some thoughts regarding the Nordic speech community)

OK, I am in Iceland and the past week has been pretty hectic. The flight went OK and also my short stay in Copenhagen, where I took part in the board for language understanding within the Nordic Council of Ministers of which I have the honor to have been appointed into. The Nordic language community is a hard-to-handle subject of which this post will be devoted to.

The basic idea is that we in the North are living in a speech community which we share with several other countries – we have different languages but due to linguistic, political, and historical reasons they are mutually understandable for us. But it is a complex issue, to say the least – it is the idea of that the people of the northernmost region in Europe who live in – or in countries formerly belonging to – the Scandinavian countries mutually understand one another even though they have different mother tongues. It doesn’t come easy. There is also a need of explaining the division about what is considered Scandinavia, the North, and what is not considered as not being any of the above. It can be a complicated and rather confusing discussion to say the least – even for people living in the area. Scandinavia is the three countries of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The term “the North” refers to Denmark, Norway and Sweden as well as Finland and Iceland, and the associated territories. Neither term does include areas such as Canada, Russia, and/or the Baltic countries (even if it is disputable, according to myself, regarding Estonia). This is so due to linguistic, territorial, political, and cultural reasons that go back as much as a thousand years back in history.

The biggest problem for the Nordic speech community is its peripheries, Finland and Iceland. This is so due to that the language in Finland – Finnish – belongs to a complete different group of languages which cannot even be considered to be of European origin. And Icelandic has stayed intact in its development whereas the other North-Germanic languages (Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian) drifted away from their roots so the language is not mutually intelligible with the others anymore. This constitutes problems of course for the idea of the Nordic speech community. Therefore, in order to prevent the community to break down and collapse it is necessary that the inhabitants in Finland and Iceland know a second language – the language of any of the Scandinavian languages. Another option would be giving in to what some would say be a natural development and use a sc. bridge language – a lingua franca. Even this option comes with two alternatives: 1) use a mixture of the three Scandinavian languages, a variant called Scandinavian (swe:skandinaviska), or 2) English which is the leading language of international discourse, and has acquired use as lingua franca in many other regions.

To give up the struggle in keeping the Nordic speech community intact and start to use English instead seem to be the most convenient option. But many people fear that it will be the beginning of the end for Nordic co-operation all together. There is no need in denying that the fellowship of language is one of the things that binds Nordic co-operation together. And the situation is such as a bit over 80 per cent of Nordic residents have Danish, Norwegian or Swedish as the language they control the best. About 20 per cent speak Finnish and Icelandic, and, in addition, a great number of minority languages are spoken. To be able to keep the community together in one piece, the minority seemingly have to adjust to the majority. Therefore, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are the working languages in official Nordic co-operation (Nordic Council of Ministers homepage). If English would to be used an important administrative domain within the Nordic co-operation would be lost and something that rests on a thousand years of history as its backbone would shatter to pieces. One of the advantages also for the Nordic co-operation is that the North is a sc. natural co-operation platform with a common history, common culture, and more or less common communication system. This is of course an advantage that the European or African co-operation models do not share in the same way and it ought to be something that should be worthwhile maintaining. But this has also to come with a greater understanding and respect for smaller languages that thrives within the Nordic region.

However, maintaining the Nordic speech community requires constant development of the possibilities for strengthening language comprehension. Here the school systems are important tools in order to guide the way – whatever way might to be desired.

(and this is what I study – CIE – Comparative & International Education)

Posted in Scandinavia | 4 Comments

Geeking out ’bout a geek movie

If you truly are a real geek, you notice (and care about) these goofs in the new upcoming Facebook movie – The Social Network. It hasn’t come to Sweden yet, but I think I will watch it in Reykjavik by the end of this week. Would be fun.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1285016/goofs

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P-Floyd! <3

Went on a concert yesterday with the Swedish Pink Floyd cover band P-Floyd. It was magical!

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Free Xiaobo!!

The global left is pissed off. China is pissed off. The Vatican is pissed off. I’m ever so proud of the Nobel Prize Committee. :P

Democracy activist and dissident Liu Xiaobo received the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Or received and received, he’s incapable of receiving it since is is a sc. prisoner of conscience in China. He is not, however, the only prisoner of conscience in China and all of them should be released as soon as possible!

What is important with this award-winner is his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights. Sadly, Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights last year. Only two other laureates have won while in prison, one of them Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991. I think it sends out very clear signals to oppressors all over the world that it is not OK to hinder people from talking and saying their opinion and advocate human rights and basic freedoms.

The best thing about this all is that the Nobel Peace Prize might have recovered a little at least from the errors which been made by awarding Barack Obama (commander of the biggest army in the world) and Al “ManBearPig” Gore etc. Sadly these earlier awards give the Chinese government an easier situation when discussing the Xiaobo- case back at home. Many people who likewise feel sorry for Xiaobo and do think his imprisonment is way over the line will also sympathize with the Chinese Government when they claim that this is just another attack by an American propaganda machine. Hopefully other well-deserved nominees will be awarded further on in the future. Next year I hope for someone from Africa!
This has, in short, been a great Nobel week for humanity. :)

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Tutu is retiring

South African priest and human rights activist Desmond Tutu is finally retired.

In the end the perpetrators of injustice or oppression, the ones who strut the stage of the world often seemingly unbeatable – there is no doubt at all that they will bit the dust.” (followed by roaring chuckle) “Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! The texture of our universe is one where there is no question at all but that good and laughter and justice will prevail.

A world without Tutu will be a bit darker, a little more dull. His legacy will be his life and the story of how this tiny pastor with a huge laugh from South Africa became our global guardian – much more than any American army could induce. Thank you Tutu for all these years and for what you did!

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Banned Books Week

Last week was the Banned Books Week! I think it is a wonderful initiative that I support to the fullest, of course. The practice of banning books is a form of censorship, and often has political, religious or moral motivations. If government officials step in and ban or challenge literature that does not suit their likes, it is a certain sign on that something is not right with this society. However it is not only in the most obvious countries these things occur. In the States for instance, this week is very important because of the redneck Christian groups there supporting book burnings of the Quraan and of other books that are wrong according to them.

Chick with Books has been highlighting one book a day during that week – books that were banned or challenged in the US. She deserves a lot of cred for that!

According to her, the Christians at a 7,600-student school system in rural Virginia want to ban Anne Frank‘s remarkable diary. Why, you may ask? I asked the same question. Until it came out that Anne Frank wrote too much on sexual material and homosexual themes. Deary, deary me. Therefore, it seems that Culpeper County, Va. public school is not going to read Anne Frank at this level anymore but it will perhaps be brought up again as material at a different grade level.

Remember;
Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen
//Heinrich Heine

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