Watching my language

Posted on Posted in news
Janne Saaristo
Image linked in from Sveriges – Photo by Johanna Dickson

On Wednesday I was talking about my album in a radio broadcast. It was the Swedish national radio’s Finnish speaking channel Sisuradio, that had invited me to join their morning show to highlight my album release (here’s a link to the show, it will be available online 30 days after broadcast).

When on the air you have to watch your language, that goes without saying, but a reflection I made was that I really was outside my comfort zone speaking Finnish in a live broadcast. I know you might have actively thought that I write this blog in English even though most of the stories are gathered from my hometown Gothenburg in Sweden, while I have an undoubtedly Finnish name. Some might not have reflected about this at all.

However, let’s get straight to it. My language heritage/knowledge is a bit outside the mainstream, that’s for sure – but int’s not unique. My first ever language to learn was actually Finnish, at home and at school. Until fifth grade I was in a totally Finnish speaking class, and even though living in Sweden I didn’t speak Swedish more than on the playgrounds and my soccer team. And, of course, TV and newspapers (yes, in my childhood, even kids used to read newspapers once in a while). When we moved when I was twelve, I ended up in a rather more Swedish social community, and my Finnish got less used – and therefor also stopped developing.

I have been in contact with Finland, and the Finnish language through the years, through my relatives living there, and through some customers and freelancers located over there. At the same time the Finnish-speaking  society in Sweden has matured, transfered from an immigrant group in the seventies, with a heavy working class identity, to a culturally more self assure community, with a variety of people who has become a natural part of the Swedish society. I guess this happens to all groups of people leaving their homes for other countries. It kind of takes a couple of generations until they feel completely rooted.

For me this development has given another kind of interest in keeping close to my heritage, since it’s possible to be Finnish without being less Swedish. And i would say my stagnation of the Finnish language has stopped, if it hasn’t even developed.

After losing my daily Finnish language injection, I learned all about the Swedish language, like I somehow needed to catch up. Maybe it was some kind of a desire to revenge, but I first ended up becoming a writing journalist, and later I even got myself a candidate degree in the Swedish language. And now I’ve been working with all kinds of text productions for almost two decades. All this has been mainly in Swedish, but by and by, while more of my employer’s business has become international, more and more has been in English.

And now I’m writing a blog in English about my music written in English. I know my English aint perfect, but through my years in the communication industry I’ve learned two important things: 1. You’ll be better by practicing, and 2. You don’t have to be grammatiacally perfect to speak from your heart.

And when it comes to number 2, one of the cornerstones through this project of making an album is to try to do good things and be confident in that my readers and listeners will notice them instead of the mistakes that are bound to happen however much I would try to avoid them. But if I would actively try to avoid making mistakes, I’m afraid I might forget to do good things.

And that’s pretty much how you survive a radio interview in Finnish…