Swedish is the language spoken in Sweden and some parts of Finland and Estonia. Swedish is spoken by approximately 10 million people. Swedish is derived from Old Norse. Because of the large number of similarities between Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, knowledge of any one of these languages makes it possible to understand the others. This is true for both spoken and written forms.
Swedish is vowel rich language and has 17 different vowel sounds: iː, eː, ɛː, ɑː, oː, uː, ʉː, yː and øː (the long vowels) and ɪ, ɛ, a, ɔ, ʊ, ɵ, ʏ and œ (the short vowels).
Swedish is a Germanic language which, like English, it has lost most of its inflections (in contrast to other languages such as German). Swedish nouns are conjugated for number only and Swedish pronouns are conjugated for number and case (as in English). The definite article in Swedish is, unlike both English and German, placed in the end of a word. träd tree trädet the tree Swedish verbs are not conjugated in person, therefore 'to be' is 'att vara' whatever the preceding pronoun would be.
Swedish spelling is far easier than English spelling - however it is not as close to the pronounciation as, for example, Spanish or Finnish are. French loanwords are often spelled in a half French, half Swedish manner (pretentiös - pretentieuse) - but sometimes entirely French or entirely Swedish (byrå - bureau, fåtölj - fauteuil). English loandwords generally keep their original spelling, but some of them have use a more or less Swedish spelling (webb - web, räls - rails, kex - cakes).
The Swedish spelling was reformed 1906 and during the 1970s the plural forms of verbs fell out of use in the written language (in the spoken language they had been absent for centuries). Thanks to the spelling reform of 1906 the v-sound and the t-sound are spelled with a v and a t. The v-sound is sometimes spelled with w in loan words.
Some common words in Swedish have retained a spelling which represents an archaic pronunciation or uses very old spelling rules. These words are och (pronounced ock, meaning and), mig (pronounced mej, meaning me), dig (pronounced dej, meaning you (thee)) and sig (pronounced sej, meaning himself, herself or itself).
Common difficulties Edit
The Foreign Service Institute has classified Swedish as a "World" language. It is estimated that learning Swedish to a Professional Working Proficiency in the language (a score of Speaking-3/Reading-3 on the Interagency Language Roundtable scale) will take an average of 24 weeks (600 class hours).
The so called sj-sound, the y-sound and the u-sound are sounds that learners of Swedish often find hard to pronounce.
There is a Foreign Service Institute course for Swedish.
Sublearning - Swedish to English movie subtitle flash cards
This is a very interesting blog on language learning techniques designed for Swedish called HowToLearnSwedish.co.uk.
Pimsleur offers a course in Swedish.
Duolingo offers a course in Swedish.
Rosetta Stone offers a course in Swedish.
- ↑ U.S. Department of State; FSI's Experience with Language Learning; https://www.state.gov/m/fsi/sls/c78549.htm