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Institute for the Languages of Finland
 

Swedish

Swedish is an Indo-European language that belongs to the Nordic branch of the Germanic language group. It is spoken by about nine million people worldwide, 296,000 of whom reside in Finland. There is a Swedish-speaking minority in Estonia, too, though its size has diminished considerably. Swedish is also spoken by descendents of Swedish and Swedish-speaking Finnish migrants in countries like the U.S. and Canada, but their numbers are limited.

The history of Swedish is divided into the following periods:

  • Runic Swedish (runsvenska) (ca. 800-ca. 1225)
  • Old Swedish (ca. 1225-1526)
  • Early New Swedish (1526-1732)
  • Late New Swedish (1732-1900)
  • Modern Swedish (1900-).

Finland Swedish is not considered an independent language, but a regional variant spoken and written by Swedish-speaking Finns. It differs from the Swedish spoken in Sweden in certain aspects of its pronunciation, vocabulary, expressions and syntax, and also to some extent in its morphology. Some differences are conspicuous, but they apply only to a small portion of the vocabulary. Most of the peculiarities unique to Finland Swedish can be substituted directly with standard Swedish equivalents. Finland-Swedish words and phrases are known as Finlandisms.

One of the key aims of our Swedish language planning team is to prevent Finland Swedish from growing too distant from the standard variant spoken in Sweden.

Nearly half of all Swedish-speaking Finns speak a dialect as their native language. Finland-Swedish dialects belong to the East Swedish family of dialects. They preserve many features encountered only in peripheral, mainly northern, Swedish dialects.

Updated 14 December 2006

 
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