Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Must answer

The Discrimination Ombud requires an explanation of the Language Council's definition of a "Norwegian".


[language] The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombudsman (LDO) has quickly taken action and hastily written a letter to the Language Council in which they formulate a number of questions. The background is that Ny Tid in the previous issue wrote about the Language Council's equality of the terms «Norwegian» and «ethnic Norwegian». The Language Council has received strong criticism for the statement that a Pakistani can never become a Norwegian, even if the person obtains Norwegian citizenship.

- We are stunned by the Language Council's behavior in this case, and want an answer. The debate that has flared up is important and useful. Who are we for? This is a question of how we think about inclusion and community, says department head Arnfinn Andersen to Ny Tid.

In the letter, the LDO asks, among other things: "On what basis do you become a Norwegian today in light of the fact that this nation has historically been shaped by people who were not born in the country?" LDO also asks the Language Council if people with a European background will be more easily perceived as Norwegian – and the letter ends with the following question: "Is it not time for a more open approach to how the term Norwegian is defined today in light of the fact that we live in a multicultural society ? ». Andersen in LDO will not elaborate on the criticism of the Language Council any further until they have received a response from the Language Council.

Several media operate with separate lists for which words are suitable and not in print and on the air. The Language Council's Sylfest Lomheim tells Ny Tid that he is very skeptical that the media and NRK prepare glossaries where certain words should not be used. Dagbladet has, for example, banned the use of the word "negro", while NRK has its own "blacklist" where they problematize and recommend various terms, such as "immigrant", "foreign cultural" and "asylum seeker".

- This kind of linguistic activity is reminiscent of societies that we otherwise do not like to compare ourselves with, says Lomheim and believes the media, as a minimum, should confer with the Language Council first.

District Editor Per Arne Kalbakk of the Eastland Broadcasting defends the list and does not care what the Language Council thinks of it.

- The Language Council is most welcome to discuss it, but we have our starting point and they have theirs. I do not very much agree with their definition of a Norwegian, to put it mildly. They are not the only authority in this field, says Kalbakk.

He emphasizes that the Language Council must withstand that others have different views.

- Especially when they speak so controversially, he says.

Against own statutes

[articles of association] In the previous issue of Ny Tid, the Language Council defined the term «Norwegian» as someone who belongs to the group that has traditionally lived in the country. That definition is contrary to the Language Council's own statutes. Paragraph 1 states the following: «The Language Council shall also take into account the overall language situation in the country, as this is expressed through the linguistic interests of Norwegians with a Sami or minority language background or affiliation ”(our emphasis).

You may also like