The Swedish Language written by: jamesdarvell Sweden was once the home of fearsome Vikings, who raided coastal regions from Scotland to Sicily – eventually, the Vikings became settlers, bringing their language to new lands. The Swedish language evolved directly from this Viking tongue (old Norse).
Thanks to those Viking settlers, there are plenty of English words that also derive from Old Norse, which means Swedish often has a strangely “familiar” sound to it.
Linguistically, English and Swedish are related – they’re in the Germanic family, although they aren’t close cousins. The closest relatives are Norwegian and Danish. In fact, people from these countries can often understand Swedes without the need for translation.
There are just over 9 million people in the world who speak Swedish. There are large communities in:
These are only a few out of many – the Swedes have traveled far!
Although the Vikings used their own system of writing (runes), modern Scandinavian people use the Latin alphabet. While a familiar alphabet helps, English speaking students will still need to practice their phonetics. Focused exercises help to gain familiarity and confidence.
In terms of grammar, there are no particularly horrible surprises waiting for you. Speaking one Germanic language helps. Since the languages have common roots, they have plenty of linguistic similarities, too.
Swedish is a less popular language for students to study when compared to Spanish or English. For this reason, there are not such a wide range of academic texts to choose from. However, students are spoiled for choice when it comes to supplementary online content, including web pages, YouTube videos, and streaming TV. All of these resources are very valuable to intermediate students.
For beginners, there are bilingual children’s books (in English and Swedish). Although you’re probably a little older than the intended audience, they are a gentle introduction to the Swedish language.