What writing system(s) does this language use?
The Swedish alphabet uses the 26 letters of English, and å, ä, and ö being categorised as separate letters, alphabetised after z. This is the alphabet, then:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Å Ä Ö
- Å is pronounced like aw in saw or like the o in more. The accent above the A is called a ring.
- Ä is pronounced like ai in air or like the a in bare. The accent above this A and the next O is called diaeresis.
- Ö is pronounced like the u in burn or like ea in learn.
The letters q, w, and z are more often seen in names and foreign words than in words that are native to Swedish.
How many people speak this language?
Swedish is spoken natively by about 10 million (10,000,000) people.
Where is this language spoken?
Swedish is spoken primarily in Sweden, where it is the native language. However, it is a minority language in Finland because Finland was once part of Sweden and a part of the Finnish population speaks both Finnish and Swedish as a native language. Sweden has Swedish as their official language, while Finland has Swedish as their official language alongside with Finnish.
What is the history of this language?
Around the 9th century, Old Norse began to split into Old West Norse (which was spoken in Norway and Iceland) and Old East Norse (spoken in Sweden and Denmark). In the 12th century, the dialects spoken in Denmark and Sweden began to diverge even more, becoming Old Danish and Old Swedish in the 13th century: Old Swedish developed into the Swedish spoken today.
Probably the best known Swedish children's book is Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Långstrump in Swedish) by Astrid Lindgren. This book has been translated into 70 languages! Astrid Lindgren also wrote Karlsson-on-the-Roof (Karlsson på taket), Mio, my Mio (Mio, min Mio), and many other stories for children.
Tove Jansson was from Finland, but she wrote books in Swedish. She created a series of children's books about the Moomins (Mumintrollen), a family of creatures called Moomin trolls. The Moomins live in their house in the Moomin valley (Mumindalen), though in the past their residences have included a lighthouse and a theatre.
Some authors writing for an adult audience are:
- Hjalmar Bergman (novels, short stories, and plays)
- Karin Boye (poetry and the science fiction novel Kallocain, among others)
- Selma Lagerlöf (Gösta Berlings saga and other novels)
- Vilhelm Moberg (Utvandrarna and other novels)
- August Strindberg (novels, short stories, and plays)
What are some basic words and phrases in this language that I can learn?
|God natt||Good night|
|God morgon||Good morning|
|Hur mår du?||How are you?|
|Vi ses imorgon||See you tomorrow|
|Ha det bra||Take care|
|Tack||Thank you (or: Please as in Yes please)|
|Varsågod||You are welcome (or: Go ahead as in Go ahead and eat)|
|Ursäkta mig||Excuse me|
|Pratar du engelska/svenska?||Do you speak English/Swedish?|
|Var finns toaletten?||Where is the bathroom?|
|(Tala) långsammare||(Speak) slower please.|
|Jag gillar . . .||I like . . .|
|Jag gillar inte . . .||I don't like . . .|
|Skulle jag kunna få ...?||May I have ...?|
|Jag heter . . .||My name is. . .|
What is a simple song/poem/story that I can learn in this language?
The national anthem of Sweden
Du gamla, Du fria, Du fjällhöga nord
Du tysta, Du glädjerika sköna!
Jag hälsar Dig, vänaste land uppå jord,
Din sol, Din himmel, Dina ängder gröna.
Du tronar på minnen från fornstora dar,
då ärat Ditt namn flög över jorden.
Jag vet att Du är och förblir vad Du var.
Ja, jag vill leva jag vill dö i Norden.
You ancient, You free, You mountainous north
You serene, You – full of joy and beauty!
I greet You, fairest land on earth,
Your sun, Your sky, Your green landscapes.
You dwell on the memories of great ancient days,
when, honoured, Your name flew across the earth.
I know that You are and will remain what You were.
Yes, I want to live, I want to die in Norden.*
*Norden is the Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian name of the Nordic countries.
Du har tappat ditt ord, a poem from Bartfotabarn (1933) by Nils Ferlin
|Du har tappat ditt ord och din papperslapp,||You have lost your word and your paper note,|
|du barfotabarn i livet.||you barefoot child in life.|
|Så sitter du åter på handlar'ns trapp||And so you're sitting again on the shopkeeper's porch|
|och gråter så övergivet.||crying, so abandoned.|
|Vad var det för ord – var det långt eller kort,||What was the word – was it long or short,|
|var det väl eller illa skrivet?||was it well or poorly written?|
|Tänk efter nu – förr'n vi föser dig bort,||Think hard now – before we shoo you away,|
|du barfotabarn i livet.*||you barefoot child in life.*|
* I livet ("in life") can also mean alive.
Authors and Contributing •