In celebration of International Mother Language Day, we’re delighted to share this post written by Tommi’s mum, Marjukka, about what her mother language, Finnish, means to her.
The best description I have heard of mother-tongue was made by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, when she described it as being like skin. The second language, by contrast, is like a pair of jeans, which fits well and feels comfortable but will never replace the skin.
My mother-tongue, Finnish, is the language of my identity, and the language of my deep feelings. Through it I can describe my joys and sorrows, anger and delight much better than I could in any other language. If I hit my thumb with a hammer, nothing releases the pain better than “voi perkele” (devil) and when I get Sudoku numbers wrong, the frustration is vented with “voi paska” (oh shit). Just recently I remembered a word “hämäränhyssy” – the twilight time when my parents would sit silently in semi darkness just relaxing and waiting for the evening to come. Even now, at the age of 67, the word brings to my mind a beautiful sense of peace and harmony.
So how could I have ever spoken soft, caressing, loving words of baby talk to my two sons in English, since I hadn’t heard them from my mother and father? My language to my children had to be Finnish! And it still is. The best thing, however, is that it can now be Finnish, English or Finglish – since some things are easier described in the language they occur.
I have a strong Finnish identity, despite having happily lived in beautiful Great Britain for over 45 years. My accent reveals me to be a Finn even if I say just “yes”. Could it be that I want to be noticed as a Finn? My parents raised me with a love of the language: the happy memories of my father reading Moomin adventures, or my mother chatting and laughing with her numerous sisters. As a teenager, the romantic words of the Finnish melancholy tango songs moved me to tears. And there are so many words which just can’t be translated into English. Just like there are words in English which are hard to translate into Finnish.
So my mother tongue is my identity, my soul, and my tool. English is my very useful second tool, and I am very grateful I have learned to use that tool well, but it will never be my soul or my identity.
This month we are publishing Tourism, Public Transport and Sustainable Mobility edited by C. Michael Hall, Diem-Trinh Le-Klähn and Yael Ram. In this post, Michael discusses the under-researched relationship between tourism and public transport and the many positives to be found in tourist use of public transport.
Public transport is something that has become a major focus for many cities and regions in recent years. For cities, this is often connected to the need to cut traffic congestion and reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet climate change goals. For regions, especially in rural and peripheral areas, public transport is about connectivity and access, and ensuring that people who live in such places have links to shopping, services and schools. Yet tourism is hardly mentioned in any of the usual public transport literature.
In many ways this is really surprising given how visitors and tourists are often substantial users of public transport services. For example, Diem’s research in Munich, which we discuss in the book, suggested that 78.5% of tourists used public transport. In London, the figures are even more impressive, with Transport for London suggesting that 93% of inbound tourists to London use public transport. Of course, in the case of London, the underground and double-decker buses are potentially an attraction in themselves, though this is something shared with many other destinations, for example, ferries in Stockholm, trams in Melbourne and street cars in San Francisco. If you include active transport, you could also now add cycling in Copenhagen or walking the High Line in New York. However, one of the great challenges is that this data is often not collected. Public transport agencies only tend to collect from residents, while many destination management organisations don’t collect data on the type of transport that visitors use, especially once they have actually arrived at a destination.
Nevertheless, a number of cities and destinations are now starting to see great advantage in encouraging visitors to use public transport, as they do permanent residents, in order to reduce traffic congestion. For example, some Swiss cities provide free bus access for hotel guests and for airport transfer. However, there are other benefits as well; tourists get to have a more direct experience with local people and the place they are visiting, which can improve the quality of the destination experience and increase likelihood of return visitation. For many public transport systems though, there is also recognition that tourists are helping to support the maintenance of the system to the benefit of locals. In the case of some ferry services to some of the islands in Finland and Scotland, tourists are clearly important users of the system, especially in summer, and the public transport services are therefore helping to get the tourist to spend out of the main centres in such situations, while also showing tourists more of the country. There are also many benefits for a tourist in not having to drive, as they are able to see more of a destination and not have to contend with unfamiliar road signs and roads.
Given that tourists are not usually seen as a significant market by public transport companies, there clearly remains a number of challenges in encouraging tourists to use public transport in many situations. As we discuss in the book, foremost among these is high quality and up-to-date information that is easily accessible. Ideally this should also be available in languages other than that of the destination and/or be accessible by a translation service. Cost is also significant and this is not just the direct economic cost of using the service but also ease of use, travel times and the extent to which different modes of transport are coordinated so as to make connections easy.
Overall we found that tourist use of public transport at destinations can have many positives, particularly with respect to developing more sustainable cities and contributing generally to reductions in emissions from transport use. However, the real challenge is to try and encourage more tourists to use public transport for longer distance travel. In some cases this is harder for structural and design reasons, i.e. the services just don’t exist or there’s no or insufficient capacity for carrying luggage, but in some parts of the world this is beginning to change. For example, in Europe and China we are seeing the development of new high speed rail routes and in the United States and Australia these possibilities are increasingly being discussed as a focal point of economic development and as a means of reducing both air and car congestion along major routes. In addition, some countries are developing long-distance cycleways as a means of encouraging long-distance active transport.
In terms of the future we are undoubtedly going to continue to see more focus on public transport as a core part of the sustainable mobility mix, and we think public transport, economic development and destination agencies are increasingly recognising that they can work together to encourage and promote tourism. However, as well as ongoing concerns over climate change, congestion and tourist support for public services, we see the other big issue as the growth in autonomous vehicles. This is going to have enormous impacts in the future on employment in the tourist transport sector and visitor experiences, as well as on public transport provision. Uber, for example, has major interests in autonomous cars and that, combined with their disruptive impact on taxi services and public transport, is going to create a whole new set of challenges. And we can imagine that if we are doing a new edition of the book in five years’ time, rather than consider autonomous public transport at the end of the book in the futures section, we will probably have to have a separate chapter allocated to it because it will be happening now!
For more information about this book, please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Tourism and Transport by David Timothy Duval.
In the first of a new series of posts where we get to know more about the Channel View team, we ask Tommi some challenging questions!
Some of our readers may already be aware that Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters is a proudly independent publisher and that we were founded in the late 70s by Mike and Marjukka Grover. Our Managing Director, Tommi Grover, took over the running of the company from his parents in 2006 and has led the team ever since. In this post we’re hoping to give you a little insight into the man behind the company!
As your parents set up the company, it probably seemed like a given that you would follow their footsteps into publishing, but did you ever consider a career outside of publishing?
Many different careers! After admitting to myself that I wasn’t going to be Britain’s first ever cross-country skiing Olympic champion, I considered a variety of different options including becoming a barrister, and even tried my hand at selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. However, I eventually came to the realisation that the book industry was where I wanted to be. Not necessarily publishing, but somewhere in the book trade.
Ah, so we can deduce that you’re keen on winter sports! As there aren’t many opportunities for skiing in the UK, do you have a favourite destination elsewhere?
I do. I always try to get to Finland at least once in a winter, and as the southern winters are getting less snow cover, for the last few years I have been going to the Kiilopää fell centre on the edge of the Urho Kekkonen National park. The countryside is beautiful so to spend a day skiing around the trails is the perfect way to get away from daily stress, and the smoke sauna followed by a quick dip in the avanto is the perfect restorative for tired muscles at the end of the day!
Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised you chose Finland! (Readers may not know that Tommi is British-Finnish, his mother’s family comes from Oulu in north-western Finland). We know that you do a lot of travel both as part of your job and for fun, what’s the most interesting journey that you’ve ever been on?
I have spent my whole life travelling, whether that was wintery train/boat journeys to get to spend Christmas in Finland with my grandparents, or summers spent wandering around Europe in a camper van, my parents brought me up to understand that the journey was as much a part of a good holiday as the destination. It really is hard to pick one interesting journey as there have been so many! I’ve always enjoyed travelling by train and boat, as you tend to meet people in a different way than you do travelling by plane. I’ve struck up a few close friendships while travelling, and met a whole host of interesting people.
One of the biggest regrets about modern travel is how most of the interesting ferry journeys from England to Europe have long since been closed down. My favourite was always the Harwich to Hamburg route where, after crossing the North Sea overnight, you would then spend the morning travelling down the Elbe. On approaching Hamburg, there was a particular point where a band would play and welcome the ship into the city. I think most of the time they replaced the band with loud speakers, but I remember once or twice seeing a live orchestra, and it just felt very special.
Another favourite of mine was the night train from Paris to Bologna. Often the train would arrive around dawn, and you would get off the train just as the sun would come up and the city started to open its eyes, almost as if the sun itself was saying “welcome to Bologna!”
These all sound like great journeys, and I’m sure you’ve got many more in store! Aside from your international travels, do you spend much of your weekends out and about closer to home?
I spend most weekends indulging in my other favourite Nordic sport of orienteering. In short, it is running with a map and compass, trying to visit a set series of locations in the forest (or city) as fast as possible. During the winter, we have a Night Orienteering league which is the same thing but in the dark with headtorches. The pleasure of running on your own and finding the control points in the middle of a dark forest is matched by the drink and meal together afterwards where we can each compare notes and discuss where we got lost!
Not too lost, I hope! Thanks for sharing your stories of your travels and sports with us, Tommi. To finish up, let’s hear your response to these quick fire questions!
Summer or winter? Both! And I love Spring and Autumn too… Theatre or cinema? Theatre. I love the fact that live performance is never the same twice. Sausages or steak? Steak. Football or rugby? Ice hockey. Moomins or Donald Duck? Moomins Tea or coffee? Good coffee. If it can’t be good coffee then tea is a safer choice! Pop or classical music? Ooh tough question. Pass. I quite like silence.
Thanks Tommi! We promise to have the office radio off sometimes!
Keep an eye out for posts about the rest of the team over the next few weeks!
“Calls for Latinization of Ukrainian alphabet on ‘civilizational grounds’ anger Russians” “Are drugs the answer to language learning?” “MPs divided on compulsory Swedish language education”
Recent news headlines from around the world show how we are constantly surrounded by language politics and policies. Often the news items in question have historical and spatial links to policy issues and discourses elsewhere or in another time – or to both.
Our observations on multi-sitedly linked language policies led us to work on the book Language policies in Finland and Sweden: Interdisciplinary and Multi-sited Comparisons. While our empirical cases are located in Finland and Sweden, similar debates are going on everywhere in the world. We saw examples of (potentially nationalistic) policy discourses in which concepts like “minority”, “official”, “main”, “domestic” and “foreign” were used to construct the political field and became sources for ideological constructions. “Language” turned out to be an even heavier political argument than we initially thought.
The comparisons between Finland and Sweden show for example that in spite of the shared long history of the two countries, the language political climate has developed in very different ways. In Finland, the present policy discourses still highlight a historically strong consensual ideal of state bilingualism, visible in the equal legislative status of Finnish and Swedish. At the same time, looking at educational settings, the Swedish language gets “defamiliarised”, i.e. constructed as a foreign, not a domestic, language.
In Sweden, in turn, the arguments advocating Swedish as the “main” language of the country are based on the ideal of the Swedish language enabling democratic participation in society. However, the support for Swedish has often also entailed losing possibilities to sustain heritage languages.
These kinds of frictions in language policies directed our focus to the apparent clashes between language “policies” and “practices” at different levels. These are often studied separately by either researchers interested in macro level politics and policy making, or researchers studying micro level use of language in interaction. We soon realised that observing the levels separately would not help us to understand their intertwined nature. Instead, we wanted not just to combine micro and macro analysis of the historical and the contemporary, but to see them as dialogical, feeding and construing each other.
This theoretical idea comes alive in the analyses of parliamentary discourses as a nexus of interrelated discourses, constructions of standard language ideals, embodied immigrant experiences of a lack of language, ethnic activism, and media discourses, among others. For us, the chapters opened a whole new world of a constantly changing sociolinguistic space, where just a minor change in a description of a status of a language or change in the amount (and status!) of a migrant group affects the whole field and the related political discourses. The separate cases emerged as stills of a film or details of a painting where everything has a crucial part in the entirety.
We hope the book helps you, too, in understanding language policies as historically and contemporarily intertwined, in other words, as multi-sited. We also strongly believe that the same strategy is applicable to any field of political discourse.
Last month Tommi and I attended the 20th biennial Sociolinguistics Symposium which took place in Jyväskylä, Finland. We were very much looking forward to the conference and visiting Finland at this time of year, as the 24 hour daylight makes “Juhannus” (Midsummer) a really special occasion. Tommi, being an English-Finnish bilingual, knows the country, language and culture well and was able to explain all the traditions of “Juhannus” to me, as well as translate many footballing terms as I attempted to follow the World Cup on Finnish TV!
Our stand was well-placed in a lovely, airy atrium where the coffee breaks were held. It was a really lively space as the delegates streamed in between sessions to socialise over the coffee and Finnish culinary treats. I was pleasantly surprised by the Finnish food that I tried during our stay and particularly enjoyed Karelian pies (rice pies), Rieska (potato flatbread) and Reindeer stew.
As well as co-manning our stand Tommi ran a lunchtime workshop on publishing an academic book and took part in the roundtable entitled “Academic publishing and access to knowledge: A discussion on current trends, challenges, and possible futures”. Such events are great ways for us to engage with the delegates and hear their thoughts, questions and concerns about academic publishing.
To make the conference extra special, the organisers arranged for the delegates to enjoy traditional Finnish Juhannus celebrations by running a lake cruise to a Midsummer party on an island. There we enjoyed a kokko (bonfire), buffet and humppa dancing. Much fun was had by all before we travelled back in the extraordinary midnight sun! Thank you to the conference organisers for putting on such a fun evening and doing an excellent job at hosting the conference. We are already looking forward to the 21st Sociolinguistics Symposium.