- A member of the Eastearn section of the Scandinavian languages, a
sub-group of the Germanic group of the Indo-European language family.
- Closely related to, and often mutually intelligible with,
Norwegian. All three diverged from Old Norse about a millennium
ago and were strongly influenced by Low
Norwegian Bokmål are all considered East Scandinavian languages;
Swedes usually find it easier to understand
even if a Swede finds it difficult to understand a Dane, it is not
necessarily the other way around).
- Swedish is the national language of Sweden, mother tongue for the
Sweden-born inhabitants (7,881,000) and acquired by nearly all
immigrants (1,028,000) (figures according to official statistics for
- Swedish is the language of the Åland Islands, an autonomous province under
the sovereignty of Finland. In mainland Finland, however, Swedish is
a mother tongue for only a minority of the Finns, or about six percent.
The Finland-Swedish minority is concentrated in some coastal areas and
archipelagos of southern and southwestern Finland, where they form a
local majority in some communities.
- Swedish nouns come in two grammatical genders: common and neuter. Old
Swedish formerly had masculine and feminine genders in place of
common; some old phrases and ceremonial uses preserve these archaic
forms. Noun gender is largely arbitrary and must be memorised.
- The definite article in Swedish is a suffix, while the indefinite
article is a separate word preceding the noun. This structure of the
articles is shared by the Scandinavian languages. Articles differ in
form depending on the gender of the noun.
- There is a limited grammatical case system: pronouns have distinct
nominative, accusative, and genitive forms. Regular nouns are alike in
nomitive and accusative; the genitive is formed regularly by adding -s
(after the definite article, if the noun is definite).
- Most Swedish words are of Germanic origin (the oldest category,
representing the most common, everyday words). Examples of Germanic
words in Swedish are mus (mouse), kung (king), and gås (goose). Other
words are borrowed from
German (first Low
lingua franca of the Hanseatic league, then High
New words are often formed by compounding. New verbs can also be made
by adding an "a" to an existing noun, as in disk (dishes) and diska (do
the dishes). Some compounds are translations of the elements (calques)
of German original compounds into Swedish.
- The Swedish alphabet has twenty-eight letters.
It is the
standard twenty-six-letter Latin alphabet with the exception of 'W',
plus the three additional letters Å / å, Ä / ä, and Ö / ö. These
letters are sorted in that order following z. 'W' is not considered
a unique letter, but a variant of 'v' used only in names (such as
"Wallenberg") and foreign words ("bowling"). Diacritics are unusual in
Swedish: acute accent and, less often, grave accent can be seen in
names and some foreign words. German ü is considered a variant of y
and sometimes retained in foreign names. Diaeresis is
often omitted, although it might be exceptionally seen in elaborated style
(for instance: "Aïda", "naïve").
- The runic alphabet (the futhark) was used before the Latin
alphabet for Old Norse and early Swedish (Old Swedish), but this
ancient script was gradually overtaken by the Latin alphabet during
medieval times, although the use of various futharks continued in certain
rural districts at least until the 17th century.