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The Nordic Language Convention is a convention of linguistic rights that came into force on 1 March 1987, under the auspices of the Nordic Council. Under the Convention, citizens of the Nordic countries have the opportunity to use their native language when interacting with official bodies in other Nordic countries without being liable to any interpretation or translation costs. The Convention covers health care, social security, tax, school, and employment authorities, the police and courts. The languages included are Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish and Icelandic.[1][2]

The Convention is not very well known and is mostly a recommendation. The countries have committed themselves to providing services in various languages, but citizens have no absolute rights except for criminal and court matters.[3][4] The Convention does not automatically require authorities to provide services in another language but a citizen must demand an interpreter.[4] Civil servants in official institutions are often unaware of the regulations on interpreting and translating and neglect to provide these services when requested.[5] Furthermore, the convention excludes minority languages, like Faroese, Kalaallisut, Romany and Sami, and immigrant languages.[4][5] English has also assumed an increasingly prominent role in interaction between Nordic citizens.[3]

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  1. ^ Konvention mellan Sverige, Danmark, Finland, Island och Norge om nordiska medborgares rätt att använda sitt eget språk i annat nordiskt land, Nordic Council website. Retrieved on 25 April 2007.
  2. ^ 20th anniversary of the Nordic Language Convention, Nordic news, 22 February 2007. Retrieved on 25 April 2007.
  3. ^ a b Language Convention not working properly, Nordic news, 3 March 2007. Retrieved on 25 April 2007.
  4. ^ a b c Helge Niska, Community interpreting in Sweden: A short presentation Archived 2009-03-27 at the Wayback Machine, International Federation of Translators, 2004. Retrieved on 25 April 2007.
  5. ^ a b Winsa, Birger (1999), "Language Planning in Sweden" (PDF), Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 20 (4): 376–473, doi:10.1080/01434639908666384, ISSN 0143-4632, retrieved 2007-04-25

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