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  • 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, Danish and Norwegian. All three diverged from Old Norse about a millennium ago and were strongly influenced by Low German. Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian Bokmål are all considered East Scandinavian languages; Swedes usually find it easier to understand Norwegian than Danish (but 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 2001).
  • 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 Latin, French, German (first Low German, the lingua franca of the Hanseatic league, then High German), or English. 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.
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Other resources
  • Project Runeberg - site for non-copyrighted literature.
  • Swedish in Finland
  • Swengelsk - A language resource site for Sr High School & College teachers and students of English and Swedish with glossaries, grammar notes and exercises.
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