Modern Language: SWEDISH

Indo-European > Germanic > East Norse > Swedish

Like its close neighbour Danish, Swedish (or Svensk) is descended from the eastern branch of Old Norse. With nine million speakers in Sweden and parts of Finland, it represents the largest of the North Germanic tongues, while it is to some extent mutually intelligible with Danish, its consonants tend to be harder, and there are a couple of typographical differences (see Danish). It can nevertheless be difficult for the learner to discern between the two.

Unlike their Danish cousins who tended to venture westwards, the Swedish Vikings (or 'Varangians') turned east, governing Finland for six centuries and founding many great Russian cities (such as Kiev and Novgorod); the Old Swedish garðr (cf mod engl. 'yard') can be found in the Russian grad ('city'). However, while Swedes held much political sway over the Baltic region for many centuries, their language became strongly influenced by the rich merchants of the Hanseatic trading empire, who spoke Low German. High German has also been influential, as have Latin, English and French, which gave Swedes their common word for goodbye (adjö).

Regional dialect within Sweden is still very strong, particularly in the south where the form of speech is considered by many to be more like Danish than Swedish. The standard language, or rikssvenska, is often said to have its origins in the translation of the Bible in the 1540s, the 'King Gustav Vasa' text. This bore the strong German influence of the 1521 Martin Luther Bible, as well as the Central Swedish variety of its translators. While the Swedish Language Council, or svenska språknämnden, exists to help regulate the standard, it is far less prescriptive than the Académie française in France, and 'regional standards' (such as that of Gotheburg) are considered acceptable.

Modern Swedish literature is rich, but Sweden's most famous literary export was probably the dramatist August Strindberg. The international successes of Swedish popular culture have not necessarily spread the language - the pop group Abba sang primarily in English. Nowadays, most English speakers come into contact with Swedish when they visit the furniture store IKEA, who give their products Swedish names

examples of swedish

A solis ortus:
"Wij loffuim Christ en koning bold
aff solsens vpgong är hans wold
alt vth så wijdt som iorden är
han föddes aff een iungfru skäär."
from Swenske songer eller wisor nw på nytt prentade (Swedish Hymns, 1536)

DEN OKÄNDE: "Nej, men det irriterar mig, ty det är som vore det förgjort ... - Icke döden, men ensamheten fruktar jag, ty i ensamheten träffar man någon. Jag vet icke om det är någon annan eller mig själv jag förnimmer, men i ensamheten är man icke ensam. Luften blir tätare, luften gror, och det börjar växa väsenden, som äro osynliga men förnimmas och äga liv."
August Strindberg, Till Damaskus ('The Road to Damascus'), 1898. (Translation: STRANGER: "They annoy me. The place might be bewitched. No, it's not death I fear, but solitude; for then one's not alone. I don't know who's there, I or another, but in solitude one's not alone. The air grows heavy and seems to engender invisible beings, who have life and whose presence can be felt." - G.Rawson)

a short swedish bibliography
  • to follow...

some swedish links


At 11:21, Blogger swedish language said...

The Swedish language depends a lot on gender of a word. It controls what form an adjective should be in and what plural/article ending to can easily learn swedish.there are many oppourtunities to learn swedish.


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