The Meänkieli – also known in Finnish as tornionlaaksonsuomi and Swedish as tornedalsfinska – is a language spoken in the northern part of Sweden , around the Valley River Torne .
The word Meänkieli was created by the writer Bengt Pohjanen and means “our language” ( meän kieli ), this designation encompassing a group of dialects formerly called “Finnish from Torne Valley” (in Pajala , Övertorneå and Haparanda ), “Finnish from Gällivare ”(in Gällivare), ”Finnish from Jukkasjärvi and Vittangi” (in Quiruna ), or simply “Finnish”.
In 2000 the Swedish Parliament recognized Meänkieli as a minority language in Sweden .
The reason for the differentiation of Finnish dialects on the Swedish side of the River Torne and on the Finnish side has to do with the loss of the former colony of Finland , when Russia conquered it in the 19th century, giving it a certain autonomy as Grand Duchy of Finland .
Free from Sweden, Finland undertook an appreciation and normalization of its language, while the Swedish part of the Torne Valley was subjected to a population cut, thereby increasing the distance between its rural Finnish dialects and the new standardized forms of Finnish spoken in Finland.
From a linguistic point of view, Meänkieli is a dialect of Finnish , but – for political and historical reasons – it has the quality of a minority language in Sweden.
In Swedish, nowadays, the language is usually referred to as Meänkieli by the authorities, with the old common name – tornedalsfinska ( Torne Valley Finnish ) being less and less heard .
In Finland , Meänkieli is generally seen as a northern Finnish dialect, with Meänkieli on the Swedish side seen as practically the same dialect as Finnish on the Finnish side.
Altogether, Meänkieli has between 40,000 and 70,000 speakers. According to a survey by Swedish National Radio, some 150,000 people speak or understand Meänkieli.