Revitalization of minority languages as a way to promote well-being in the North

Niina Kunnas
2003 International Journal of Circumpolar Health  
Background. In this paper I discuss the interdependence between the revitalization of minority languages and well-being at the population level. Objectives. The paper aims to describe the history and current status of three northern minority languages, Kven, Meänkieli and Viena Karelian, and the ways in which revitalization of these languages and restoration of their linguistic rights could enhance the well-being of the speakers of these languages. Methods. A number of research findings are
more » ... ented to show that being a minority language speaker constitutes an economic, social and health risk. The potential psychic and physical adverse effects of linguistic exploitation are also discussed. Results. It is further demonstrated in the paper that non-existent linguistic rights may have a negative impact, not only on the overall well-being of the minority, but also on the group's economic status. Positive findings on minority status are presented concerning the speakers of Swedish in Finland and the speakers of French in Canada. Conclusion. It is also shown that the development of a minority language and functional linguistic rights may prolong the life expectancy and well-being of the minority members and have a positive economic impact, not only on the minority, but also on society as a whole.
doi:10.3402/ijch.v62i4.17584 pmid:14964767 fatcat:d3nddapvkzbs5gb2o53emxihf4