Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sweden to phase out Å, Ä and Ö
Published: 1st April 2007 00:12 CET

A parliamentary working group has proposed scrapping Sweden's 'complex letters' Å, Ä and Ö, citing globalization and technological competitiveness as the main factors.

The Swedish government will now launch an inquiry into the matter, with a full recommendation anticipated in the autumn.

"Language is constantly changing and we must be prepared to meet the linguistic challenges of the modern world," said the Centre Party's Åsa Bäckström, who chaired the working group.

"Communication barriers are a hindrance to competitiveness, so we should do whatever we can - within reason - to eliminate them," said Bäckström in a press statement.

The change will not be addressed by legislation, but the government is expected to attempt to phase out the use of the three letters over a period of five years with a series of economic incentives.

These will target the technology, media and publishing industries with reduced VAT for computer hardware and software, newspapers and books which stop using Å, Ä and Ö.

Instead, advised the working group, Å should be replaced by AA, Ä by AE and Ö by OE. Many international media already use these letter combinations when reporting on Swedish affairs, Bäckström pointed out.

The plan is supported by the Swedish Association of Technology Employers.

"When you look at the cost to Sweden of keeping these letters, you can see the benefit of scrapping them," said the association's chairman, Torbjörn Nilsson.

"To a large extent this process has already begun for individuals or companies that use the internet in their communication. Email addresses and web site addresses simply ignore these letters - and people simply just that."

However, the move has not been welcomed by all. The Swedish Institute for Language and Learning in Ystad noted that other countries seem to be more inclined to stand up for their cultural and linguistic heritage.

"What we see in Germany and France, for example, is the complete opposite of this. Like them, we should be guarding our language, not giving it up," said press officer Göran Åklund.

Båstad council was also quick to reject the move.

"We already have enough trouble with English-speakers who think the name of our town is amusing. If the Å becomes a regular A it will just make things worse," said Social Democrat councillor Pär Öberg.

"We might as well go the whole hog and include an R."

The Local (news@thelocal.se/08 656 6518)

4 comments:

Linnea said...

From the April Fool's edition of The Local.

(Learning these vowels is hard, though! I wouldn't mind...)

Sally said...

hahaha
I'm so easily fooled....loved it.

Sally said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sally said...

Ha! I was talking to Shan on Sunday and she had read this piece elsewhere and was OUTRAGED! How could they! I think that whoever wrote this "got" lots of victims!