“Ziva, what are you exactly?”
That’s a very good question, beautiful Rena. Mike seems to think I’m a three-armed Swede living in Finland, eating bark bread and bathing in vodka. Sadly that’s not entirely true. I am Finnish. I was born and raised in Finland and will never ever identify with a Swede, the vegetable OR the nationality. However, I was born into a minority. Much like the French-speaking population of Canada, about 5% of all Finns speak Swedish as their mother tongue. This is probably due to the fact that for 600 years Finland was a part of Sweden and a few Finns inevitably learned Swedish during that period of time. For the rest of the population, 600 years wasn’t enough time to master the difficult language, and that’s why the rest of Finland still speaks Finnish and sound like idiots when they try to speak any other language. The Swedish-speaking part of the population is also prettier.
Finnish-speaking Finns in a sauna.
Swedish-speaking Finns in a sauna.
Now, because there are both Swedish-speaking Finns (like little old me) and Finnish-speaking Finns, there are two official languages in Finland. This means that while I’ve gone to school in my mother tongue, Swedish, I’ve studied Finnish ever since third grade. And since Finns have acknowledged the importance of understanding at least a little English, we learn English is school as well. Then, after 7th grade, we can start learning other languages too. In short this means that I’m bilingual when it comes to Swedish and Finnish, fluent in English in both writing and speech, have studied French for eight years without ever understanding a word, and taken two years of Spanish and one year of German with better results than I got from the eight years of French. Damn those French and their silly little language.
So to answer your question, beautiful Rena, I’m a three-armed Swedish-speaking Finn who eats bark bread and bathes in vodka. Just don’t call me Swedish, that will make me mad. *