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Swedish ( ) is a
North Germanic language The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages—a sub-family of the Indo-European languages—along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages. The language group is also re ...

North Germanic language
spoken natively by at least 10 million people, predominantly in
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic countries, Nordic country in Northern Europe.The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's fo ...

Sweden
and in parts of
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and is defined by the Gulf of B ...

Finland
, where it has equal legal standing with
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
. It is largely
mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
with
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the t ...
and
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
, although the degree of mutual intelligibility is largely dependent on the
dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * One usage refers to a variety (linguis ...
and accent of the speaker. Written Norwegian and Danish are usually more easily understood by Swedish speakers than the spoken languages, due to the differences in
tone Tone may refer to: Color-related * Tone, mix of tint and shade, in painting and color theory * Tone, the lightness Lightness is a visual perception of the luminance (L) of an object. It is often judged relative to a similarly lit object. ...
, accent, and intonation. Swedish is a descendant of
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
, the common language of the
Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe and Scandinavia. Since the 19th century, they have traditionally been defined by the use of ancient and early medieval Germanic languages and are thus equated at le ...

Germanic peoples
living in Scandinavia during the
Viking Era The Viking Age (793–1066 AD) was the period during the Middle Ages when Norsemen known as Vikings undertook large-scale raiding, colonizing, conquest, and trading throughout Europe, and reached North America. It followed the Migration Period an ...
. It has more speakers than any other North Germanic language.
Standard Swedish Standard Swedish () denotes Swedish language, Swedish as a spoken and written standard language. While Swedish as a written language is uniform and standardized, the spoken standard may vary considerably from Regions of Sweden, region to region. S ...
, spoken by most
Swedes Swedes ( sv, svenskar) are a North Germanic The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a lang ...
, is the
national language A national language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed o ...
that evolved from the Central Swedish dialects in the 19th century and was well established by the beginning of the 20th century. While distinct regional
varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in universal algebra Hort ...
and rural dialects still exist, the written language is uniform and
standardized Standardization or standardisation is the process of implementing and developing technical standard A technical standard is an established norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task. It is usually a formal document that establishes un ...
. Swedish is the most spoken language in the
Nordic countries The Nordic countries (also known as the Nordics or ''Norden''; lit. 'the North') are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impac ...

Nordic countries
and the 14th-most spoken language in
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
, after
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
. It is the most widely spoken
second language A person's second language, or L2, is a language that is not the native language A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1) is a language A language is a struc ...
in Finland where it has status as
co-official language
co-official language
. Swedish has also had historic use in
Estonia Estonia ( et, Eesti ), officially the Republic of Estonia ( et, Eesti Vabariik, links=no), is a country in northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea across from Sweden ...

Estonia
, although the current status of the
Estonian Swedish Estonian Swedish ( sv, Estlandssvenska; et, Rannarootsi keel, lit=Coastal Swedish) are the eastern varieties of Swedish that were spoken in the formerly Swedish-populated areas of Estonia Estonia ( et, Eesti ), officially the Republic of ...
speakers is almost extinct. Instead, it is used in the
Swedish diaspora The Swedish diaspora consists of emigrants and their descendants, especially those that maintain some of the customs of their Swedish culture. Notable Swedish communities exist in the Swedish Americans, United States, Swedish Argentines, Argent ...
, most notably in
Oslo Oslo ( , , or ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and small ...

Oslo
,
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk'') is a Nort ...

Norway
, with more than 50,000 Swedish residents.


Classification

Swedish is an
Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation ...
belonging to the
North Germanic The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia ...

North Germanic
branch of the
Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...

Germanic languages
. In the established classification, it belongs to the
East Scandinavian languages The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages—a sub-family of the Indo-European languages—along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages. The language group is also re ...
, together with
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
, separating it from the West Scandinavian languages, consisting of
Faroese Faroese ( ) or Faroish ( ) may refer to anything pertaining to the Faroe Islands, e.g.: *the Faroese language * the Faroese people {{Disambiguation Language and nationality disambiguation pages ...
,
Icelandic Icelandic refers to anything of, from, or related to Iceland and may refer to: *Icelandic people *Icelandic language *Icelandic alphabet *Icelandic cuisine See also

* Icelander (disambiguation) * Icelandic Airlines, a predecessor of Icelandai ...
, and
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the t ...
. However, more recent analyses divide the North Germanic languages into two groups: ''Insular Scandinavian'' (Faroese and Icelandic), and ''Continental Scandinavian'' (Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish), based on mutual intelligibility due to heavy influence of East Scandinavian (particularly Danish) on Norwegian during the last millennium and divergence from both Faroese and Icelandic. By many general criteria of mutual intelligibility, the Continental Scandinavian languages could very well be considered
dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * One usage refers to a variety (linguis ...
s of a common Scandinavian language. However, because of several hundred years of sometimes quite intense rivalry between
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...

Denmark
and Sweden, including a long series of wars from the 16th to 18th centuries, and the
nationalist Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation (as in a in-group and out-group, group of people),Anthony D. Smith, Smith, Anthony. ''Nationalism: Theory, Ideology, History''. Polity (publisher), Polity, ...
ideas that emerged during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the languages have separate
orthographies An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. Writing systems are not themselves human languages (with the debatable excep ...
, dictionaries, grammars, and regulatory bodies. Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish are thus from a linguistic perspective more accurately described as a
dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of langua ...
of Scandinavian (North Germanic), and some of the dialects, such as those on the border between Norway and Sweden, especially parts of
Bohuslän Bohuslän (; da, Bohuslen; no, Båhuslen) is a Provinces of Sweden, Swedish province in Götaland, on the northernmost part of the country's west coast. It is bordered by Dalsland to the northeast, Västergötland to the southeast, the Skagerrak ...

Bohuslän
,
Dalsland Dalsland is a Swedish traditional province, or ''landskap'', situated in Götaland in southern Sweden Sweden (; sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic countries, Nordic country ...

Dalsland
, western
Värmland Värmland () is a ''Provinces of Sweden, landskap'' (historical province) in west-central Sweden. It borders Västergötland, Dalsland, Dalarna, Västmanland, and Närke, and is bounded by Norway in the west. Latin name versions are ''Varmeland ...
, western
Dalarna Dalarna () is a ''Provinces of Sweden, landskap'' (historical province) in central Sweden. English exonyms for it are Dalecarlia () and the Dales. Dalarna adjoins Härjedalen, Hälsingland, Gästrikland, Västmanland and Värmland. It is also b ...

Dalarna
,
Härjedalen Härjedalen (; no, Herjådalen or ) is a historical Provinces of Sweden, province (''landskap'') in the centre of Sweden. It borders the Norway, Norwegian county of Trøndelag as well as the provinces of Dalarna, Hälsingland, Medelpad, and Jäm ...
,
Jämtland Jämtland (; no, Jemtland or , ; Jamtish: ''Jamtlann''; la, Iemptia) is a historical province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, ad ...
, and
Scania Scania, also known by its native name of Skåne (, ), is the southernmost of the historical (''landskap'') of . The former province is roughly conterminous with , created in 1997. Like the other former provinces of Sweden, Scania still feature ...

Scania
, could be described as intermediate dialects of the national standard languages. Swedish pronunciations also vary greatly from one region to another, a legacy of the vast geographic distances and historical isolation. Even so, the vocabulary is standardized to a level that make dialects within Sweden virtually fully mutually intelligible.


History


Old Norse

In the 8th century, the common Germanic language of Scandinavia,
Proto-Norse Proto-Norse (also called Ancient Nordic, Ancient Scandinavian, Ancient Norse, Primitive Norse, Proto-Nordic, Proto-Scandinavian and Proto-North Germanic) was an Indo-European languages, Indo-European language spoken in Scandinavia that is tho ...
, evolved into Old Norse. This language underwent more changes that did not spread to all of Scandinavia, which resulted in the appearance of two similar dialects: ''Old West Norse'' (Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland) and ''Old East Norse'' (Denmark and Sweden). The dialects of Old East Norse spoken in Sweden are called '' Runic Swedish'', while the dialects of Denmark are referred to as ''Runic Danish''. The dialects are described as "runic" because the main body of text appears in the
runic alphabet Runes are the letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing ...
. Unlike Proto-Norse, which was written with the
Elder Futhark The Elder Futhark (or Fuþark), also known as the Older Futhark, Old Futhark, or Germanic Futhark is the oldest form of the runic alphabets Runes are the letters in a set of related alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic ...
alphabet, Old Norse was written with the
Younger Futhark The Younger Futhark, also called Scandinavian runes, is a and a reduced form of the , with only 16 characters, in use from about the 9th century, after a "transitional period" during the 7th and 8th centuries. The reduction, somewhat paradoxi ...
alphabet, which had only 16 letters. Because the number of runes was limited, some runes were used for a range of
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
s, such as the rune for the vowel ''u'', which was also used for the vowels ''o'', ''ø'' and ''y'', and the rune for ''i'', also used for ''e''.Lars-Erik Edlund, "Språkhistorisk översikt" in From 1200 onwards, the dialects in Denmark began to diverge from those of Sweden. The innovations spread unevenly from Denmark which created a series of minor dialectal boundaries, or
isogloss An isogloss, also called a heterogloss (see Etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English ''The'' () is a grammatical article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicate ...
es, ranging from
Zealand Zealand or Sealand ( da, Sjælland , in English also occasionally), at 7,031 km2, is the largest and most populous island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habita ...
in the south to
Norrland Norrland (, "Northland", originally ''Norrlanden'' or "the Northlands") is the northernmost, largest and least populated of the three traditional lands of Sweden, consisting of nine provinces. Although Norrland does not serve any administrati ...
, Österbotten and northwestern
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and is defined by the Gulf of B ...

Finland
in the north. An early change that separated Runic Danish from the other dialects of Old East Norse was the change of the
diphthong A diphthong ( ; , ), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of spe ...
''æi'' to the
monophthong A monophthong ( ; , ) is a pure vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writ ...
''é'', as in ''stæinn'' to ''sténn'' "stone". This is reflected in runic inscriptions where the older read ''stain'' and the later ''stin''. There was also a change of ''au'' as in ''dauðr'' into a long open ''ø'' as in ''døðr'' "dead". This change is shown in runic inscriptions as a change from ''tauþr'' into ''tuþr''. Moreover, the ''øy'' diphthong changed into a long, close ''ø'', as in the Old Norse word for "island". By the end of the period, these innovations had affected most of the Runic Swedish-speaking area as well, with the exception of the dialects spoken north and east of Mälardalen where the diphthongs still exist in remote areas.


Old Swedish

Old Swedish (Swedish: ''fornsvenska'') is the term used for the
medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...

medieval
Swedish language. The start date is usually set to 1225 since this is the year that ''
Västgötalagen A page of the late 13th century law ''Äldre Västgötalagen''. ''Västgötalagen'' ( or ) or the Westrogothic law is the oldest Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish lang ...
'' ("the Västgöta Law") is believed to have been compiled for the first time. It is among the most important documents of the period written in
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequ ...

Latin script
and the oldest Swedish law codes. Old Swedish is divided into ''äldre fornsvenska'' (1225–1375) and ''yngre fornsvenska'' (1375–1526), "older" and "younger" Old Swedish. Important outside influences during this time came with the firm establishment of the
Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catholic Church. ...

Christian church
and various
monastic Monasticism (from Ancient Greek , , from , , 'alone'), or monkhood, is a religion, religious way of life in which one renounces world (theology), worldly pursuits to devote oneself fully to spiritual work. Monastic life plays an important role in ...
orders, introducing many
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
loanwords. With the rise of
Hanseatic The Hanseatic League (; gml, Hanse, , ; german: label=German language, Modern German, Deutsche Hanse; nl, label=Dutch language, Dutch, De Hanze; la, Hansa Teutonica) was a Middle Ages, medieval commercial and defensive confederation of mercha ...
power in the late 13th and early 14th century,
Middle Low German Middle Low German or Middle Saxon (autonym: ''Sassisch'', i.e. "Saxon", Standard German, Standard High German: ', Dutch language, Modern Dutch: ') is a developmental stage of Low German. It developed from the Old Saxon language in the Middle ...
became very influential. The Hanseatic league provided Swedish commerce and administration with a large number of
Low German : : : : : , minority = (70,000) (30,000) (8,000) , familycolor = Indo-European , fam2 = Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic langua ...
-speaking immigrants. Many became quite influential members of Swedish medieval society, and brought terms from their native languages into the vocabulary. Besides a great number of loanwords for such areas as warfare, trade and administration, general grammatical suffixes and even conjunctions were imported. The League also brought a certain measure of influence from
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
(at the time much more similar than today's language).Lars-Erik Edlund, "Språkhistorisk översikt" in Early Old Swedish was markedly different from the modern language in that it had a more complex
case Case or CASE may refer to: Containers * Case (goods), a package of related merchandise * Case, the metallic enclosure component in modern firearm cartridge (firearms), cartridges * Bookcase, a piece of furniture used to store books * Briefcase or ...
structure and also retained the original Germanic three-
gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between femininity Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women A woman is ...
system.
Noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...

Noun
s,
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
s,
pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...

pronoun
s and certain
numerals A numeral is a figure, symbol, or group of figures or symbols denoting a number. It may refer to: * Numeral system used in mathematics * Numeral (linguistics), a part of speech denoting numbers (e.g. ''one'' and ''first'' in English) * Numerical di ...
were inflected in four cases; besides the extant
nominative In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as ...
, there were also the
genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, a ...
(later
possessive A possessive or ktetic form ( abbreviated ; from la, possessivus; grc, κτητικός ''ktētikós'') is a word or grammatical construction used to indicate a relationship of possession in a broad sense. This can include strict ownership, or ...
),
dative In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as we ...
and
accusative The accusative case (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. The same case is used in many languages for the objects of (some or all) prepositions. It is ...
. The gender system resembled that of modern
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, having masculine, feminine and neuter genders. The masculine and feminine genders were later merged into a ''common gender'' with the definite suffix ''-en'' and the
definite article An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases A noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a that has a or as its or performs the same grammatical function as a noun. Noun phrases are very common , and the ...
''den'', in contrast with the neuter gender equivalents ''-et'' and ''det''. The verb system was also more complex: it included
subjunctive The subjunctive is a grammatical mood In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, ...
and
imperative Imperative may refer to: *Imperative mood, a grammatical mood (or mode) expressing commands, direct requests, and prohibitions *Imperative programming, a programming paradigm in computer science *Imperative logic *Imperative (film), ''Imperative'' ...
moods and verbs were conjugated according to
person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is ...
as well as
number A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduct ...
. By the 16th century, the case and gender systems of the colloquial spoken language and the profane literature had been largely reduced to the two cases and two genders of modern Swedish. A transitional change of the Latin script in the Nordic countries was to spell the letter combination "ae" as æ – and sometimes as a' – though it varied between persons and regions. The combination "ao" was similarly rendered ao, and "oe" became oe. These three were later to evolve into the separate letters ä, and ö. The first time the new letters were used in print was in ''Aff dyäffwlsens frästilse'' ("By the Devil's temptation") published by Johan Gerson in 1495.


Modern Swedish

Modern Swedish (Swedish: ''nysvenska'') begins with the advent of the
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an ink Ink is a gel, sol, or solution Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, Making a saline water solution by dissolving Salt, table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in wate ...
and the European
Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Cit ...
. After assuming power, the new monarch
Gustav Vasa Gustav I, born Gustav Eriksson of the Vasa noble family and later known as Gustav Vasa (12 May 1496 – 29 September 1560), was King of Sweden The monarchy of Sweden concerns the monarchical head of state of Sweden,See the #IOG, Instrument ...

Gustav Vasa
ordered a Swedish translation of the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
. The
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...

New Testament
was published in 1526, followed by a full
Bible translation The Bible has been translation, translated into Bible translations by language, many languages from the biblical languages of Biblical Hebrew, Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic, Aramaic and Koine Greek, Greek. the full Bible has been translated into 7 ...
in 1541, usually referred to as the ''
Gustav Vasa Bible The Gustav Vasa Bible ( sv, Gustav Vasas bibel) is the common name of the Swedish Bible translation published in 1540–41. The full title is as appears on the right: ''Biblia / Thet är / All then Helgha Scrifft / på Swensko''. The translation i ...
'', a translation deemed so successful and influential that, with revisions incorporated in successive editions, it remained the most common Bible translation until 1917. The main translators were Laurentius Andreæ and the brothers
Laurentius Laurentius is a Latin given name and surname that means "''From Laurentum''" (a city near Rome). It is possible that the place name ''Laurentum'' is derived from the Latin ''laurus'' ("Lauraceae, laurel"). The name can also be derived from the Old ...
and
Olaus Petri Olof Persson, sometimes Petersson (6 January 1493 – 19 April 1552), better known under the Latin form of his name, Olaus Petri (or less commonly, Olavus Petri), was a clergyman, writer, judge and major contributor to the Protestant Reformation ...
. The Vasa Bible is often considered to be a reasonable compromise between old and new; while not adhering to the colloquial spoken language of its day, it was not overly conservative in its use of archaic forms. It was a major step towards a more consistent
Swedish orthography Swedish orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. Writing systems are not themselves human languages (with ...
. It established the use of the vowels "å", "ä", and "ö", and the spelling "ck" in place of "kk", distinguishing it clearly from the Danish Bible, perhaps intentionally, given the ongoing rivalry between the countries. All three translators came from central Sweden which is generally seen as adding specific Central Swedish features to the new Bible. Though it might seem as if the Bible translation set a very powerful precedent for orthographic standards, spelling actually became more inconsistent during the remainder of the century. It was not until the 17th century that spelling began to be discussed, around the time when the first grammars were written.
Capitalization Capitalization (North American English North American English (NAmE, NAE) is the most generalized variety Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equat ...
during this time was not standardized. It depended on the authors and their background. Those influenced by
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
capitalized all nouns, while others capitalized more sparsely. It is also not always apparent which letters are capitalized owing to the Gothic or
blackletter Blackletter (sometimes black letter), also known as Gothic script, Gothic minuscule, or Textura, was a script used throughout Western Europe from approximately 1150 until the 17th century. It continued to be commonly used for the Danish languag ...

blackletter
typeface which was used to print the Bible. This typeface was in use until the mid-18th century, when it was gradually replaced with a Latin typeface (often antiqua). Some important changes in sound during the Modern Swedish period were the gradual assimilation of several different consonant clusters into the
fricative Fricatives are consonants manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the bac ...

fricative
and later into . There was also the gradual softening of and into and the
fricative Fricatives are consonants manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the bac ...
before
front vowel A front vowel is a class of vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writin ...
s. The
velar fricativeA velar fricative is a fricative consonant produced at the velar place of articulation. It is possible to distinguish the following kinds of velar fricatives: *Voiced velar fricative, a consonant sound written as in the International Phonetic Alphab ...

velar fricative
was also transformed into the corresponding
plosive In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of ev ...

plosive
.


Contemporary Swedish

The period that includes Swedish as it is spoken today is termed ''nusvenska'' (lit., "Now-Swedish") in linguistics, and started in the last decades of the 19th century. It saw a democratization of the language with a less formal written form that approached the spoken one. The growth of a public school system also led to the evolution of so-called ''boksvenska'' (literally, "book Swedish"), especially among the working classes, where spelling to some extent influenced pronunciation, particularly in official contexts. With the industrialization and urbanization of Sweden well under way by the last decades of the 19th century, a new breed of authors made their mark on
Swedish literature Swedish literature refers to literature written in the Swedish language Swedish ( ) is a North Germanic language spoken natively by at least 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and in parts of Finland, where it has equal legal standing ...
. Many scholars, politicians and other public figures had a great influence on the emerging national language, among them prolific authors like the poet , Nobel laureate
Selma Lagerlöf Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf (, , ; 20 November 1858 – 16 March 1940) was a Swedish author and teacher. She published her first novel, ''Gösta Berling's Saga'', at the age of 33. She was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, w ...

Selma Lagerlöf
, and radical writer and playwright
August Strindberg Johan August Strindberg (, ; 22 January 184914 May 1912) was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter.Lane (1998), 1040. A prolific writer who often drew directly on his personal experience, Strindberg's career spanned four de ...

August Strindberg
. It was during the 20th century that a common, standardized national language became available to all Swedes. The orthography finally stabilized and became almost completely uniform, with some minor deviations, by the time of the spelling reform of 1906. With the exception of plural forms of verbs and a slightly different syntax, particularly in the written language, the language was the same as the Swedish of today. The plural verb forms appeared decreasingly in formal writing into the 1950s, when their use was removed from all official recommendations. A very significant change in Swedish occurred in the late 1960s, with the so-called ''
du-reformen ''Du-reformen'' (, "the thou-reform") was the process of popularization of the Grammatical person, second-person singular number, singular pronoun ''du'' as a universal form of address in Sweden that took place in the late 1960s. The use of ''wikt:d ...
'', "the you-reform". Previously, the proper way to address people of the same or higher social status had been by title and surname. The use of ''herr'' ("Mr" or "Sir"), ''fru'' ("Mrs" or "Ma'am") or ''fröken'' ("Miss") was considered the only acceptable way to begin conversation with strangers of unknown occupation, academic title or military rank. The fact that the listener should preferably be referred to in the third person tended to further complicate spoken communication between members of society. In the early 20th century, an unsuccessful attempt was made to replace the insistence on titles with ''ni''—the standard Grammatical person, second person plural pronoun)—analogous to the French language, French ''vous''. (Cf. T-V distinction.) ''Ni'' wound up being used as a slightly less familiar form of ''du'', the singular second person pronoun, used to address people of lower social status. With the liberalization and radicalization of Swedish society in the 1950s and 1960s, these class distinctions became less important, and ''du'' became the standard, even in formal and official contexts. Though the reform was not an act of any centralized political decree, but rather the result of sweeping change in social attitudes, it was completed in just a few years, from the late 1960s to early 1970s. The use of ''ni'' as a polite form of address is sometimes encountered today in both the written and spoken language, particularly among older speakers.


Geographic distribution

Swedish is the sole official national language of
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic countries, Nordic country in Northern Europe.The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's fo ...

Sweden
, and one of two in
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and is defined by the Gulf of B ...

Finland
(alongside
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
). As of 2006, it was the sole native language of 83% of Swedish residents. In 2007 around 5.5% (c. 290,000) of the population of
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and is defined by the Gulf of B ...

Finland
were native speakers of Swedish,Population structure
Statistics Finland (29 March 2007). Retrieved on 2007-11-27.
partially due to a decline following the Russian annexation of Finland after the Finnish War 1808–1809. The Finland Swedish minority is concentrated in the coastal areas and archipelagos of southern and western Finland. In some of these areas, Swedish is the predominant language; in 19 municipality, municipalities, 16 of which are located in Åland, Swedish is the sole official language. Åland county is an autonomous region of Finland. According to a rough estimation, as of 2010 there were up to 300,000 Swedish-speakers living outside Sweden and Finland. The largest populations were in the United States (up to 100,000), the UK, Spain and Germany (c. 30,000 each) and a large proportion of the remaining 100,000 in the Scandinavian countries, France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia. Over 3 million people speak Swedish as a second language, with about 2,410,000 of those in Finland. According to a survey by the European Commission, 44% of respondents from Finland who did not have Swedish as a native language considered themselves to be proficient enough in Swedish to hold a conversation. Due to the close relation between the Scandinavian languages, a considerable proportion of speakers of Danish and especially Norwegian are able to understand Swedish. There is considerable migration between the
Nordic countries The Nordic countries (also known as the Nordics or ''Norden''; lit. 'the North') are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impac ...

Nordic countries
, but owing to the similarity between the cultures and languages (with the exception of
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
), expatriates generally Assimilation (sociology), assimilate quickly and do not stand out as a group. According to the 2000 United States Census, some 67,000 people over the age of five were reported as Swedish speakers, though without any information on the degree of language proficiency. Similarly, there were 16,915 reported Swedish speakers in Canada from the 2001 census. Although there are no certain numbers, some 40,000 Swedes are estimated to live in the London area in the United Kingdom. Outside Sweden and Finland, there are about 40,000 active learners enrolled in Swedish language courses.


Official status

Swedish is the official main language of Sweden. Swedish is also one of two official languages of Finland. In Sweden, it has long been used in local and state government, and most of the educational system, but remained only a ''de facto'' primary language with no official status in law until 2009. A bill was proposed in 2005 that would have made Swedish an official language, but failed to pass by the narrowest possible margin (145–147) due to a Pair (parliamentary convention), pairing-off failure. A proposal for a broader language law, designating Swedish as the main language of the country and bolstering the status of the minority languages, was submitted by an expert committee to the Swedish Ministry of Culture in March 2008. It was subsequently enacted by the Riksdag, and entered into effect on 1 July 2009. Swedish is the sole official language of Åland (an Autonomous entity, autonomous province under the sovereignty of
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and is defined by the Gulf of B ...

Finland
), where the vast majority of the 26,000 inhabitants speak Swedish as a first language. In Finland as a whole, Swedish is one of the two "national" languages, with the same official status as
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
(spoken by the majority) at the state level and an official language in some municipalities of Finland, municipalities. Swedish is one of the official languages of the European Union, and one of the working languages of the Nordic Council. Under the Nordic Language Convention, citizens of the
Nordic countries The Nordic countries (also known as the Nordics or ''Norden''; lit. 'the North') are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impac ...

Nordic countries
speaking Swedish have the opportunity to use their native language when interacting with official bodies in other Nordic countries without being liable for interpretation or translation costs.


Regulatory bodies

The Swedish Language Council (''Språkrådet'') is the regulator of Swedish in Sweden but does not attempt to enforce control of the language, as for instance the ''Académie française'' does for French language, French. However, many organizations and agencies require the use of the council's publication ''Svenska skrivregler'' in official contexts, with it otherwise being regarded as a ''de facto'' orthographic standard. Among the many organizations that make up the Swedish Language Council, the Swedish Academy (established 1786) is arguably the most influential. Its primary instruments are the Spelling#Spelling standards and conventions, spelling dictionary ''Svenska Akademiens ordlista'' (''SAOL'', currently in its 14th edition) and the dictionary ''Svenska Akademiens Ordbok'', in addition to various books on grammar, spelling and manuals of style. Although the dictionaries have a Linguistic prescription, prescriptive element, they mainly describe current usage. In Finland, a special branch of the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland has official status as the regulatory body for Swedish in Finland. Among its highest priorities is to maintain intelligibility with the language spoken in Sweden. It has published ''Finlandssvensk ordbok'', a dictionary about the differences between Swedish in Finland and Sweden.


Language minorities in Estonia and Ukraine

From the 13th to 20th century, there were Estonian Swedes, Swedish-speaking communities in Estonia, particularly on the islands (e. g., Hiiumaa, Vormsi, Ruhnu; in Swedish, known as ''Dagö'', ''Ormsö'', ''Runö'', respectively) along the coast of the Baltic Sea, Baltic, communities which today have all disappeared. The Swedish-speaking minority was represented in parliament, and entitled to use their native language in parliamentary debates. After the loss of Estonia to the Russian Empire in the early 18th century, around 1,000
Estonian Swedish Estonian Swedish ( sv, Estlandssvenska; et, Rannarootsi keel, lit=Coastal Swedish) are the eastern varieties of Swedish that were spoken in the formerly Swedish-populated areas of Estonia Estonia ( et, Eesti ), officially the Republic of ...
speakers were forced to march to southern Ukraine, where they founded a village, ''Gammalsvenskby'' ("Old Swedish Village"). A few elderly people in the village still speak a Gammalsvenska, Swedish dialect and observe the holidays of the Swedish calendar, although their dialect is most likely facing extinction. From 1918 to 1940, when Estonia was independent, the small Swedish community was well treated. Municipalities with a Swedish majority, mainly found along the coast, used Swedish as the administrative language and Swedish-Estonian culture saw an upswing. However, most Swedish-speaking people fled to Sweden before the end of World War II, that is, before the invasion of Estonia by the Soviet army in 1944. Only a handful of speakers remain.


Phonology

Swedish dialects have either 17 or 18 vowel
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
s, 9 long and 9 short. As in the other Germanic languages, including English, most long vowels are phonetically paired with one of the short vowels, and the pairs are such that the two vowels are of similar vowel quality, quality, but with the short vowel being slightly lower and slightly centralized. In contrast to e.g. Danish, which has only tense vowels, the short vowels are slightly more lax, but the tense vs. lax contrast is not nearly as pronounced as in English, German or Dutch. In many dialects, the short vowel sound pronounced or has merged with the short (transcribed in the chart below).; There are 18 consonant phonemes, two of which, and , vary considerably in pronunciation depending on the dialect and social status of the speaker. In many dialects, sequences of (pronounced alveolarly) with a dental consonant result in retroflex consonants; alveolarity of the pronunciation of is a precondition for this retroflexion. has a guttural R, guttural or "French R" pronunciation in the South Swedish dialects; consequently, these dialects lack retroflex consonants. Swedish is a stress-timed language, where the time intervals between Stress (linguistics), stressed syllables are equal. However, when casually spoken, it tends to be syllable-timed. Any stressed syllable carries one of two tone (linguistics), tones, which gives Swedish much of its characteristic sound. Prosody (linguistics), Prosody is often one of the most noticeable differences between dialects.


Grammar

The standard word order is, as in most
Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...

Germanic languages
, V2 word order, V2, which means that the finite verb (V) appears in the second position (2) of a declarative main clause. Swedish morphology is similar to English; that is, words have comparatively few inflections. Swedish has two grammatical gender, genders and is generally seen to have two grammatical cases – nominative and genitive (except for pronouns that, as in English, also are inflected in the Object (grammar), object form) – although it is debated if the genitive in Swedish should be seen as a genitive case or just the nominative plus the so-called genitive ''s'', then seen as a clitic. Swedish has two grammatical numbers – plural and Grammatical number, singular. Adjectives have discrete Comparison (grammar), comparative and superlative forms and are also inflected according to gender, number and definiteness. The definiteness of nouns is marked primarily through suffixes (endings), complemented with separate definite and indefinite article (grammar), articles. The prosody (linguistics), prosody features both stress (linguistics), stress and in most dialects tonal qualities. The language has a comparatively large vowel inventory. Swedish is also notable for the voiceless dorso-palatal velar fricative, a highly variable consonant
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
. Swedish nouns and
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
s are declined in grammatical gender, genders as well as grammatical number, number. Nouns are of common gender (''en'' form) or neuter gender (''ett'' form). The gender determines the declension of the
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
s. For example, the word ''fisk'' ("fish") is a noun of common gender (''en fisk'') and can have the following forms: The definite singular form of a noun is created by adding a suffix (''-en'', ''-n'', ''-et'' or ''-t''), depending on its gender and if the noun ends in a vowel or not. The definite articles ''den'', ''det'', and ''de'' are used for variations to the definitiveness of a noun. They can double as demonstrative
pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...

pronoun
s or Determiner (class), demonstrative determiners when used with adverbs such as ''här'' ("here") or ''där'' ("there") to form ''den/det här (can also be "denna/detta")'' ("this"), ''de här (can also be "dessa")'' ("these"), ''den/det där'' ("that"), and ''de där'' ("those"). For example, ''den där fisken'' means "that fish" and refers to a specific fish; ''den fisken'' is less definite and means "that fish" in a more abstract sense, such as that set of fish; while ''fisken'' means "the fish". In certain cases, the definite form indicates possession, e. g., ''jag måste tvätta håret'' ("I must wash ''my'' hair"). Adjectives are inflected in two declensions – indefinite and definite – and they must match the noun they modify in gender and number. The indefinite neuter and plural forms of an adjective are usually created by adding a suffix (''-t'' or ''-a'') to the common form of the adjective, e. g., ''en grön stol'' (a green chair), ''ett grönt hus'' (a green house), and ''gröna stolar'' ("green chairs"). The definite form of an adjective is identical to the indefinite plural form, e. g., ''den gröna stolen'' ("the green chair"), ''det gröna huset'' ("the green house"), and ''de gröna stolarna'' ("the green chairs"). Swedish
pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...

pronoun
s are similar to those of English. Besides the two natural genders ''han'' and ''hon'' ("he" and "she"), there are also the two grammatical genders ''den'' and ''det'', usually termed Gender in Danish and Swedish, common and neuter. In recent years, a gender-neutral pronoun ''hen'' has been introduced, particularly in literary Swedish. Unlike the nouns, pronouns have an additional object (linguistics), object form, derived from the old dative form. ''Hon'', for example, has the following nominative, possessive, and object forms: :''hon'' – ''hennes'' – ''henne'' Swedish also uses third-person possessive reflexive pronouns that refer to the subject in a clause, a trait which is restricted to North Germanic languages: :''Anna gav Maria sin bok.''; "Anna gave Maria her [Anna's] book." (reflexive) :''Anna gav Maria hennes bok.''; "Anna gave Maria her [Maria's] book." (not reflexive) Swedish used to have a genitive that was placed at the end of the head of a noun phrase. In modern Swedish, it has become an enclitic ''-s'', which attaches to the end of the noun phrase, rather than the noun itself. :''hästen''; "the horse" – ''hästens'' "the horse's" :''hästen på den blommande ängens svarta man''; "the horse in the flowering meadow's black mane" In formal written language, it used to be considered correct to place the genitive ''-s'' after the head of the noun phrase (''hästen''), though this is today considered dated, and different grammatical constructions are often used. Verbs are Grammatical conjugation, conjugated according to grammatical tense, tense. One group of verbs (the ones ending in ''-er'' in present tense) has a special
imperative Imperative may refer to: *Imperative mood, a grammatical mood (or mode) expressing commands, direct requests, and prohibitions *Imperative programming, a programming paradigm in computer science *Imperative logic *Imperative (film), ''Imperative'' ...
form (generally the verb word stem, stem), but with most verbs the imperative is identical to the infinitive form. perfect (grammar), Perfect and present tense, present participles as adjectival verbs are very common: :Perfect participle: ''en stekt fisk''; "a fried fish" (steka = to fry) :Present participle: ''en stinkande fisk''; "a stinking fish" (stinka = to stink) In contrast to English and many other languages, Swedish does not use the perfect participle to form the present perfect and past perfect. Rather, the auxiliary verb ''har'' ("have"), ''hade'' ("had") is followed by a special form, called the supine, used solely for this purpose (although often identical to the neuter form of the perfect participle): :Perfect participle: ''målad'', "painted" – supine ''målat'', present perfect ''har målat''; "have painted" :Perfect participle: ''stekt'', "fried" – supine ''stekt'', present perfect ''har stekt''; "have fried" :Perfect participle: ''skriven'', "written" – supine ''skrivit'', present perfect ''har skrivit''; "have written" When building the compound passive voice using the verb ''att bli'', the past participle is used: :''den blir målad''; "it's being painted" :''den blev målad''; "it was painted" There exists also an inflected passive voice formed by adding ''-s'', replacing the final ''r'' in the present tense: :''den målas''; "it's being painted" :''den målades''; "it was painted" In a subordinate clause, the auxiliary ''har'' is optional and often omitted, particularly in written Swedish. :''Jag ser att han (har) stekt fisken''; "I see that he has fried the fish" Subjunctive mood is occasionally used for some verbs, but its use is in sharp decline and few speakers perceive the handful of commonly used verbs (as for instance: ''vore, månne'') as separate conjugations, most of them remaining only as set of Idiom, idiomatic expressions. Where other languages may use grammatical cases, Swedish uses numerous prepositions, similar to those found in English language, English. As in modern
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, prepositions formerly determined case in Swedish, but this feature can only be found in certain idiomatic expressions like ''till fots'' ("on foot", genitive). As Swedish is a Germanic language, the syntax shows similarities to both English and German. Like English, Swedish has a subject–verb–object basic word order, but like German it utilizes V2 word order, verb-second word order in main clauses, for instance after adverbs and adverbial phrases, and dependent clauses. (Adverbial phrases denoting time are usually placed at the beginning of a main clause that is at the head of a sentence.) Prepositional phrases are placed in a place–manner–time order, as in English (but not German). Adjectives precede the noun they modify. Verb-second (inverted) word order is also used for questions.


Vocabulary

The vocabulary of Swedish is mainly Germanic, either through common Germanic heritage or through loans from German, Middle Low German, and to some extent, English. Examples of Germanic words in Swedish are ''mus'' ("mouse"), ''kung'' ("king"), and ''gås'' ("goose"). A significant part of the religious and scientific vocabulary is of
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
or
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
origin, often borrowed from French language, French and, lately, English. Some 1–200 words are also borrowed from Scandoromani language, Scandoromani or Romani language, Romani, often as slang varieties; a commonly used word from Romani is '':wikt:tjej, tjej'' ("girl"). A large number of French language, French words were imported into Sweden around the 18th century. These words have been transcription (linguistics), transcribed to the Swedish spelling system and are therefore pronounced recognizably to a French-speaker. Most of them are distinguished by a "French accent", characterized by emphasis on the last syllable. For example, ''nivå'' (fr. ''niveau'', "level"), ''fåtölj'' (fr. ''fauteuil'', "armchair") and ''affär'' ("shop; affair"), etc. Cross-borrowing from other Germanic languages has also been common, at first from Middle Low German, the lingua franca of the Hanseatic League, Hanseatic league and later from Standard German. Some compounds are translations of the elements (calques) of German original compounds into Swedish, like ' from German ' ("cotton"; literally, ''tree-wool''). As with many Germanic languages, new words can be formed by compounding, e. g., nouns like ' ("nail polish remover") or verbs like ' ("to eavesdrop"). Compound nouns take their grammatical gender, gender from the head (linguistics), head, which in Swedish is always the last morpheme. New words can also be coined by Morphological derivation, derivation from other established words, such as the verbification of nouns by the adding of the suffix#Derivational suffixes, suffix ''-a'', as in ' ("car") and ' ("travel (recreationally) by car"). The opposite, making nouns of verbs, is also possible, as in ' ("way of thinking; concept") from ' ("to think").


Writing system

The Swedish alphabet is a 29-letter alphabet, using the 26-letter ISO basic Latin alphabet plus the three additional letters ''Å, Å''/''å'', ''Ä, Ä''/''ä'', and ''Ö, Ö''/''ö'' constructed in the 16th century by writing "o" and "e" on top of an "a", and an "e" on top of an "o". Though these combinations are historically modified versions of A and O according to the English range of usage for the term diacritic, these three characters are not considered to be diacritics within the Swedish application, but rather separate letters, and are independent letters following ''z''. Before the release of the 13th edition of ''Svenska Akademiens ordlista'' in April 2006, ''w'' was treated as merely a variant of ''v'' used only in names (such as "Wallenberg") and foreign words ("bowling"), and so was both sorted and pronounced as a ''v''. Other diacritics (to use the broader English term usage referenced here) are unusual in Swedish; é is sometimes used to indicate that the stress falls on a terminal syllable containing ''e'', especially when the stress changes the meaning (''ide'' vs. ''idé'', "winter lair" vs. "idea") as well as in some names, like ''Kastrén''; occasionally other acute accents and, less often, grave accents can be seen in names and some foreign words. The letter à is used to refer to unit cost (a loan from the French), equivalent to the at sign (@) in English. The German ''ü'' is treated as a variant of ''y'' and sometimes retained in foreign names and words, e. g., ''müsli'' ("muesli/granola"). A proper Diaeresis (diacritic), diaeresis may very exceptionally be seen in elaborated style (for instance: "Aïda"). The German convention of writing ''ä'' and ''ö'' as ''ae'' and ''oe'' if the characters are unavailable is an unusual convention for speakers of modern Swedish. Despite the availability of all these characters in the Swedish national top-level domain, top-level Internet domain and other such domains, Swedish sites are frequently labelled using ''a'' and ''o'', based on visual similarity, though Swedish domains could be registered using the characters å, ä, and ö from 2003. In Swedish orthography, the Colon (punctuation), colon is used in a Colon (punctuation)#Usage, similar manner as in English, with some exceptions: the colon is used for some abbreviations, such as ''3:e'' for ''tredje'' ("third") and ''S:t'' for ''Sankt'' ("Saint"), and for all types of suffix, endings that can be added to numbers, letters and abbreviations, such as ''a:et'' ("the a") and ''CD:n'' ("the CD"), or the genitive form ''USA:s'' ("USA's").


Dialects

According to a traditional division of Swedish
dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * One usage refers to a variety (linguis ...
s, there are six main groups of dialects: * Norrland dialects * Finland Swedish * Svealand Swedish, Svealand dialects * Gutnish, Gotland dialects * Götamål dialect, Götaland dialects * South Swedish dialects The traditional definition of a Swedish
dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * One usage refers to a variety (linguis ...
has been a local variant that has not been heavily influenced by the standard language and that can trace a separate development all the way back to
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
. Many of the genuine rural dialects, such as those of Orsa, Sweden, Orsa in
Dalarna Dalarna () is a ''Provinces of Sweden, landskap'' (historical province) in central Sweden. English exonyms for it are Dalecarlia () and the Dales. Dalarna adjoins Härjedalen, Hälsingland, Gästrikland, Västmanland and Värmland. It is also b ...

Dalarna
or Närpes in Ostrobothnia (region), Österbotten, have very distinct phonetic and grammatical features, such as plural forms of verbs or archaic
case Case or CASE may refer to: Containers * Case (goods), a package of related merchandise * Case, the metallic enclosure component in modern firearm cartridge (firearms), cartridges * Bookcase, a piece of furniture used to store books * Briefcase or ...
inflections. These dialects can be near-incomprehensible to a majority of Swedes, and most of their speakers are also fluent in Standard Swedish. The different dialects are often so localized that they are limited to individual parishes and are referred to by Swedish linguists as ''sockenmål'' (lit., "parish speech"). They are generally separated into six major groups, with common characteristics of prosody, grammar and vocabulary. One or several examples from each group are given here. Though each example is intended to be also representative of the nearby dialects, the actual number of dialects is several hundred if each individual community is considered separately. This type of classification, however, is based on a somewhat romanticized nationalism, nationalist view of ethnicity and language. The idea that only rural variants of Swedish should be considered "genuine" is not generally accepted by modern scholars. No dialects, no matter how remote or obscure, remained unchanged or undisturbed by a minimum of influences from surrounding dialects or the standard language, especially not from the late 19th century onwards with the advent of mass media and advanced forms of transport. The differences are today more accurately described by a scale that runs from "standard language" to "rural dialect" where the speech even of the same person may vary from one extreme to the other depending on the situation. All Swedish dialects with the exception of the highly diverging forms of speech in
Dalarna Dalarna () is a ''Provinces of Sweden, landskap'' (historical province) in central Sweden. English exonyms for it are Dalecarlia () and the Dales. Dalarna adjoins Härjedalen, Hälsingland, Gästrikland, Västmanland and Värmland. It is also b ...

Dalarna
, Norrbotten and, to some extent, Gotland can be considered to be part of a common, mutually intelligible
dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of langua ...
. This continuum may also include Norwegian dialects, Norwegian and some Danish dialects. The samples linked below have been taken from SweDia, a research project on Swedish modern dialects available for download (though with information in Swedish only), with many more samples from 100 different dialects with recordings from four different speakers: older female, older male, younger female and younger male. The dialect groups are those traditionally used by dialectologists. # Överkalix, Norrbotten
younger female
# Burträsk, Västerbotten
older female
# Aspås,
Jämtland Jämtland (; no, Jemtland or , ; Jamtish: ''Jamtlann''; la, Iemptia) is a historical province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, ad ...

younger female
# Färila, Hälsingland
older male
# Älvdalen,
Dalarna Dalarna () is a ''Provinces of Sweden, landskap'' (historical province) in central Sweden. English exonyms for it are Dalecarlia () and the Dales. Dalarna adjoins Härjedalen, Hälsingland, Gästrikland, Västmanland and Värmland. It is also b ...

Dalarna

older female
traditionally considered a dialect, but now often recognized as Elfdalian, a separate language # Gräsö, Uppland
older male
# Sorunda, Södermanland
younger male
# Köla, Värmland]
younger female
# Viby, Närke, Viby, Närke
older male
# Sproge, Gotland
younger female
# Närpes, Ostrobothnia (region), Ostrobothnia
younger female
# Dragsfjärd, Southwest Finland
older male
# Borgå, Eastern Uusimaa
younger male
# Orust,
Bohuslän Bohuslän (; da, Bohuslen; no, Båhuslen) is a Provinces of Sweden, Swedish province in Götaland, on the northernmost part of the country's west coast. It is bordered by Dalsland to the northeast, Västergötland to the southeast, the Skagerrak ...

Bohuslän

older male
# Floby, Västergötland
older female
# Rimforsa, Östergötland
older female
# Årstad, Falkenberg, Årstad-Heberg, Halland
younger male
# Stenberga, Småland
younger female
# Jämshög, Blekinge
older female
# Bara, Scania, Bara, Skåne
older male


Standard Swedish

Standard Swedish Standard Swedish () denotes Swedish language, Swedish as a spoken and written standard language. While Swedish as a written language is uniform and standardized, the spoken standard may vary considerably from Regions of Sweden, region to region. S ...
is the language used by virtually all Swedes and most Swedish-speaking population of Finland, Swedish-speaking Finns. It is called ''rikssvenska'' or ''standardsvenska'' ("Standard Swedish") in Sweden. In Finland, ''högsvenska'' ("High Swedish") is used for the Finnish variant of standard Swedish and ''rikssvenska'' refers to Swedish as spoken in Sweden in general. In a poll conducted in 2005 by the Swedish Retail Institute (
Handelns Utredningsinstitut
'), the attitudes of Swedes to the use of certain dialects by salesmen revealed that 54% believed that ''rikssvenska'' was the variety they would prefer to hear when speaking with salesmen over the phone, even though dialects such as ''gotländska'' or ''Scanian dialect, skånska'' were provided as alternatives in the poll.


Finland Swedish

Finland was a part of Sweden from the 13th century until the loss of the Finnish territories to Russia in 1809. Swedish was the sole administrative language until 1902 as well as the dominant language of culture and education until Finnish independence in 1917. The percentage of Swedish speakers in Finland has steadily decreased since then. The Swedish-speaking population is mainly concentrated in the coastal areas of Ostrobothnia (region), Ostrobothnia, Southwest Finland and Uusimaa, Nyland where the percentage of Finland Swedes partly is high, with Swedish being spoken by more than 90% of the population in several municipalities, and on Åland, where Swedish is spoken by a vast majority of the population and is the only official language. Swedish is an official language also in the rest of Finland, though, with the same official status as
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
. The country's public broadcaster, Yle, provides two Swedish-language radio stations, Yle Vega and Yle X3M, as well a TV channel, Yle Fem.


Immigrant variants

Rinkeby Swedish (after Rinkeby, a suburb of northern Stockholm with a large immigrant population) is a common name among linguists for varieties of Swedish spoken by young people of foreign heritage in certain suburbs and urban districts in the major cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. These varieties could alternatively be classified as sociolects, because the immigrant dialects share common traits independent of their geographical spread or the native country of the speakers. However, some studies have found distinctive features and led to terms such as Rosengård Swedish (after Rosengård in Malmö), a variant of Scanian dialect, Scanian. A survey made by the Swedish linguist Ulla-Britt Kotsinas showed that foreign learners had difficulties in guessing the origins of Rinkeby Swedish speakers in Stockholm. The greatest difficulty proved to be identifying the speech of a boy speaking Rinkeby Swedish whose parents were both Swedish; only 1.8% guessed his native language correctly. New linguistic practices in multilingual urban contexts in fiction and hip-hop culture and rap lyrics have been introduced that go beyond traditional socio-linguistic domains. See also Källström (Chapter 12) and Knudsen (Chapter 13).


Sample

Excerpt from ''Barfotabarn'' (1933), by Nils Ferlin (1898–1961):


See also

* Languages of Sweden * Languages of Finland * Swedish as a foreign language * Swenglish


Notes


References

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Nationalencyklopedin
online edition
* * * * *


Further reading

* ''Swedish Essentials of Grammar'' Viberg, Åke; et al. (1991) Chicago: Passport Books. * ''Swedish: An Essential Grammar''. Holmes, Philip; Hinchliffe, Ian; (2000). London; New York: Routledge. . * ''Swedish: A Comprehensive Grammar Second Edition''. Holmes, Philip; Hinchliffe, Ian; (2003). London; New York: Routledge. . * ''Svenska utifrån. Schematic grammar-Swedish structures and everyday phrases'' Byrman, Gunilla; Holm, Britta; (1998) .


External links


Swadesh list of Swedish basic vocabulary words
(from Wiktionary'
Swadesh-list appendix


Dictionaries fro
Språkrådet – Institute for Language and Folklore



Online version
of ''Svenska Akademiens ordbok'' (Swedish) {{Authority control Swedish language, Languages of Finland Languages of Estonia Languages of Sweden East Scandinavian languages North Germanic languages Scandinavian culture Stress-timed languages Subject–verb–object languages Verb-second languages