Conflict and Compromise in Multilingual Societies: Finland


429 pages
Contains Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88920-283-4
DDC 306.44'6'094897




Reviewed by Carol A. Stos

Carol Stos is an assistant professor of Spanish at Laurentian


This painstakingly researched and richly documented study of language
conflict in Finland begins with a historical overview of the economic,
social, political, and international factors that have shaped—and on
occasion been shaped by—that conflict. The author then explores the
major sociological and sociolinguistic aspects of the tensions between
Swedish and Finnish. In this chapter, as in others, numerous maps and
tables facilitate his investigation.

A particularly fascinating section deals with stereotypical perceptions
of both Finns and Swedes. Also discussed are Finland’s constitutional
and legislative measures regarding language, as well as general societal
changes and developments in usage. McRae argues that linguistic
instability is the central contemporary issue and that “quiet
attrition” is the key social process. He also looks ahead to the
potential con-flict between the Nordic Community and the EU.

McRae concludes by proposing Finland as a multidimensional model in the
comparative method he has employed in this series, and by tantalizing us
with the promise of a fourth volume on the language situation in Canada.


McRae, Kenneth D., “Conflict and Compromise in Multilingual Societies: Finland,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 21, 2024,