Kven has for centuries lived as an oral language between Kvens on the North Calotte, and the archives show Kven in written communication with the authorities in both Sweden and Norway. From generation to generation, the language has been passed on as an important cultural carrier with its linguistic richness.
The official Norwegian policy (Norwegianization) in the period 1850-1950 did great damage, and today the Kven people are struggling to take back the language.
As an oral language, Kven has survived Norwegianization, and Kven became at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 2000s revitalized as a written language. The harsh Norwegianisation has nevertheless led to many Kvens losing their language. The situation for the different language communities varies. In many places the youngest mother tongue users is in their 60s, in other places they are only a few older language users left. As a language threatened with extinction, Kven is now in a critical phase.
For revitalization, language arenas are crucial also outside the families where the language is spoken. Researchers are clear that revitalization of the language is not possible for the Kven people to manage alone – the development has gone too far.