Why save a minority language? Meänkieli and rationales of language revitalization


  • Juha Ridanpää Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu


This article examines the rationales for language revitalization and their materialization on a local scale. The starting premise is that, due to specific social, cultural, as well as spatial circumstances, there exists a wide variety of rationalizations for why saving endangered languages is important. The complexity of the matter is discussed with regard to Meänkieli, a minority language spoken in northern Sweden, which has a long and unique history of marginalization. The article bases on group discussions conducted with Meänkieli speaking cultural activists in northern Sweden during the fall of 2015 and the spring of 2016. The present examination of the group discussions reveals how the rationales of saving the language are inherently interrelated with questions concerning identity formation, educational principles and the sovereignty of minority groups. The analysis also reveals how, due to the complex nature of local history, there is no consensus on whether the recent progress in language revitalization is unanimously a positive change or not.

Research Papers



How to Cite

Ridanpää, J. (2018). Why save a minority language? Meänkieli and rationales of language revitalization. Fennia - International Journal of Geography, 196(2), 187–203. https://doi.org/10.11143/fennia.74047