Population information, linguistic impacts, linguistic rights
One of the key observations contained in the Report of the Government on the Application of Language Legislation 2017 is that the possibility of entering several mother tongues for a person in the Population Information System should be investigated. A recommendation issued by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to Finland also stated that the expression of multiple identity and language affiliations in the Population Information System should be facilitated.
This report assessed the benefits for the individual of entering several mother tongues in the Population Information System. They include providing a fuller picture of a person’s language identity, and avoiding situations where parents who speak different languages have to choose a language for their child. The possibility of recording several languages could additionally give a more diverse idea of the language resources in Finland.
The impacts of the proposal on the public administration were also assessed. The mother tongue information in the Population Information System is used for such purposes as determining the linguistic division of municipalities, service planning, selecting the language used to contact a person, as well as the criteria for determining the amounts of central government transfers to local government and discretionary government transfers.
The report concludes by examining two alternatives. Alternative A is entering several mother tongues in the system, however always also recording either Finnish or Swedish as the person’s service language. Alternative B is recording the mother tongue and service language as before but incorporating in the Population Information System the possibility of entering one or more languages spoken at home.