SWEDISH – EVOLVING WITH SOCIETY
Find out about some of the curiosities, cultural and historical factors that influence a translation for Swedish.
Swedish is an ancient language, but in constant evolution. It still preserves reference to Runic writing, marked by the presence of letters å, ä and ö, all deriving from the common Norse language (urnordiska), from which Swedish originated circa 800 BC. That separation coincides with the start of the “Viking Era" and also originated Danish and Norwegian, structurally similar, but separated from Swedish in some details.
With the influence of other cultures (brought by the Vikings themselves after their explorations), Runic writing was replaced by Latin throughout Scandinavia. But the changes don’t stop there. With time, Swedish received continuous influences from other languages: Latin and Greek were incorporated with the arrival of Christianity, German in the Middle Ages and French in the beginning of the 17th century.
In turn, Swedish also left its contributions to other languages. Maybe the most popular among them is the term “ombudsman".
There are several dialects in Sweden.
The “official" language, known as riksspråket, was instated based on the spoken variant used in the region of Stockholm and surroundings. The dialects spoken in the south and north of the country are quite different, in some cases being incomprehensible to Swedish people from other parts. In the south of the country, the region known as Scania, the pronounced use of diphthongs produces a typical musicality, quite different from official Swedish, and which has been compared to French. In the 1890s, the then king of Sweden was married to a Frenchwoman. It is said that, in a visit by the royal couple to Scania, while local farmers shouted in protest, with their typical pronunciation, “Vi vill ha regn!" (We want rain") and “Vi vill ha råg!” (We want rye), the queen felt flattered with the warm reception, assuming they shouted “Vive la reine” and “Vive le roi”.
Swedish is spoken by approximately nine million people in Sweden, plus 290,000 in Finland, where it stands as the second official language. Also, due to the major emigration that took place in the 19th century, especially to the United States and Australia, it is estimated that other hundreds of thousands speak Swedish in other countries. Despite a relatively restricted reach, Swedish is taught as a foreign language in more than 200 universities in 42 countries, a total of nearly 50,000 students of the language. Not to mention non-academic courses offered in other learning institutions and professional organizations.