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SWEDISH LANGUAGE

Swedish language, member of the North Germanic, or Scandinavian, group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. It is the official language of Sweden and one of the official languages of Finland, and it is spoken by about 9 million people: 8,500,000 in Sweden and 500,000 elsewhere, chiefly in Finland, Norway, and Estonia. A descendant of Old Norse (see Germanic languages; Norse), the Swedish language falls into two major periods historically: Old Swedish, the early form of the language (usually dated from the 9th cent. to the early 16th cent.), and New Swedish, the modern form of the language (since the early 16th cent.). The Swedish language underwent many changes during the Middle Ages but began to be standardized in the 16th cent. as a result of such events as the throwing off of Danish domination, the Reformation, and the translation of the Bible into Swedish. In 1786 the Swedish Academy was established to oversee the development of the language. Swedish absorbed a number of words from Low German in the Middle Ages, from High German in the 16th and 17th cent., from French in the 18th cent., and from English in the 20th cent.
Old Swedish is the term used for the medieval Swedish language, starting in 1225. Among the most important documents of the period written in Latin script is the oldest of the provincial law codes, the Västgöta code or Västgötalagen, of which fragments dated to 1250 have been found. The main influences during this time came with the firm establishment of the Roman Catholic Church and various monastic orders, introducing many Greek and Latin loanwords. With the rise of Hanseatic power in the late 13th and early 14th century, the influence of Middle Low German became ever more present. The Hanseatic league provided Swedish commerce and administration with a large number of German- and Dutch-speaking immigrants. Many became quite influential members of Swedish medieval society, and brought terms from their mother tongue 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. Almost all of the naval terms were also borrowed from Dutch.
Modern Swedish, the period that includes Swedish as it is spoken today is termed nusvenska ("Contemporary Swedish", lit. "Now Swedish") in linguistic terminology. 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. Many authors, scholars, politicians and other public figures had a great influence on the new national language that was emerging, the most influential of these being August Strindberg (1849-1912).
It was during the 20th century that a common, standardized national language became available to all Swedes. The orthography was finally stabilized, and was almost completely uniform, with the exception of 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 spoken today. The plural verb forms remained, in ever decreasing use, in formal (and particularly written) language until the 1950s, when they were finally officially abolished even from all official recommendations.
Sweden’s location in northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, is well isolated from main land Europe. Consequently, Sweden developed a rich and distinct culture free from outside influences. Stockholm was awarded the European Capital of Culture in 1998 recognizing the city’s cultural splendor. Also due in part to the country’s isolation, Sweden was able to sustain peace and neutrality throughout the entire 20th century, increasing the country’s economic strength.
Sweden’s culture draws from its early Viking beginnings, its 17th century role as a world power, and the beauty of the land. Swedish is a Germanic language much like Danish and Norwegian. Due to the similarity, most Scandinavians are able to communicate effectively across country lines. Further, most of the population speaks English as a second language. Church is an important part of Swedish culture. Roughly 95% of the population belongs to the Lutheran church.
Many Swedish influences have left their mark on the rest of the world. Swedish architects are credited with pioneering the functionalist movement. In the 1930’s, Sweden introduced the world to slick, clean and sophisticated designs that today are trademarks for Scandinavia.

Swedish alphabet (svenska alfabetet)

A a

B b

C c

D d

E e

F f

G g

H h

I i

J j

K k

L l

M m

N n

a

be

se

de

e

eff

ge

i

ji

ell

em

en

O o

P p

R r

S s

T t

U u

V v

W w

X x

Y y

Z z

Å å

Ä ä

Ö ö

o

pe

ärr

ess

te

u

ve

dubbel
-ve

eks

y

säta

å

ä

ö

The letter Q (ku) is not used in modern Swedish: it was eliminated in the 1906 spelling reform. K is now used instead, except in proper names. Z only appears in foreign loanwords.
Pronunciation

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