Last modified on 8 August 2014, at 16:30


What writing system(s) does this language use?Edit

The Swedish alphabet uses the 26 letters of English, and å, ä, and ö being categorised as separate letters, alphabetised after z. This is the alphabet, then:


  • Å is pronounced like aw in saw or like the o in more. The accent above the A is called a ring.
  • Ä is pronounced like ai in air or like the a in bare. The accent above this A and the next O is called diaeresis.
  • Ö is pronounced like the u in burn or like ea in learn.

The letters q, w, and z are more often seen in names and foreign words than in words that are native to Swedish.

How many people speak this language?Edit

Swedish is spoken by about 9 million (9,000,000) people.

Where is this language spoken?Edit

Swedish is spoken primarily in Sweden, where it is the native language. However, it is a minority language in Finland because Finland was once part of Sweden and a part of the Finnish population speaks both Finnish and Swedish as a native language.

Svenska spåkets utbredning.PNG

What is the history of this language?Edit

Around the 9th century, Old Norse began to split into Old West Norse (which was spoken in Norway and Iceland) and Old East Norse (spoken in Sweden and Denmark). In the 12th century, the dialects spoken in Denmark and Sweden began to diverge even more, becoming Old Danish and Old Swedish in the 13th century: Old Swedish developed into the Swedish spoken today.

Who are some famous authors or poets in this language?Edit

Probably the best known Swedish children's book is Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Långstrump in Swedish) by Astrid Lindgren. This book has been translated into 70 languages! Astrid Lindgren also wrote Karlsson-on-the-Roof (Karlsson på taket), Mio, my Mio (Mio, min Mio), and many other stories for children.

Tove Jansson was from Finland, but she wrote books in Swedish. She created a series of children's books about the Moomins (Mumintrollen), a family of creatures called Moomin trolls. The Moomins live in their house in the Moomin valley (Mumindalen), though in the past their residences have included a lighthouse and a theatre.

Some authors writing for an adult audience are:

  • Hjalmar Bergman (novels, short stories, and plays)
  • Karin Boye (poetry and the science fiction novel Kallocain, among others)
  • Selma Lagerlöf (Gösta Berlings saga and other novels)
  • Vilhelm Moberg (Utvandrarna and other novels)
  • August Strindberg (novels, short stories, and plays)

What are some basic words and phrases in this language that I can learn?Edit

Hälsningar Greetings
Hej Hi
God natt Good night
God morgon Good morning
Hur mår du? How are you?
Hej då Good-bye
Vi ses imorgon See you tomorrow
Ha det bra Take care
Basfraser Basic phrases
Ja/Nej Yes/No
Tack Thank you (or: Please as in Yes please)
Varsågod You are welcome (or: Go ahead as in Go ahead and eat)
Förlåt I'm sorry
Ursäkta mig Excuse me
Pratar du engelska/svenska? Do you speak English/Swedish?
Var finns toaletten? Where is the bathroom?
(Tala) långsammare (Speak) slower please.
Jag gillar . . . I like . . .
Jag gillar inte . . . I don't like . . .
Skulle jag kunna få ...? May I have ...?
Jag heter . . . My name is. . .

What is a simple song/poem/story that I can learn in this language?Edit

The national anthem of Sweden

In Swedish:

Du gamla, Du fria, Du fjällhöga nord
Du tysta, Du glädjerika sköna!
Jag hälsar Dig, vänaste land uppå jord,
Din sol, Din himmel, Dina ängder gröna.

Du tronar på minnen från fornstora dar,
då ärat Ditt namn flög över jorden.
Jag vet att Du är och förblir vad du var.
Ja, jag vill leva jag vill dö i Norden.

In English:

Thou ancient, thou free, thou mountainous North.
In beauty and peace our hearts beguiling.
I greet thee, thou loveliest land on the earth.
Thy sun, thy skies, thy meadows green.

Thy rest on the memories of the great days of yore.
When all round the world thine name honoured was.
I know that you are and you will be as you were.
Oh, I would live and I would die in the North.

A poem from from 1933 by Nils Ferlin.

Original Translation
Du har tappat ditt ord och din papperslapp, You've lost your word and your written note,
du barfotabarn i livet. you barefooted child of life.
Så sitter du åter på handlar'ns trapp Now you're sitting again on the grocer's porch
och gråter så övergivet. and crying, abandoned.
Vad var det för ord – var det långt eller kort, What was it, your word – was it long, was it short,
var det väl eller illa skrivet? was it well or poorly written?
Tänk efter nu – förr'n vi föser dig bort, Think twice now – lest we send you away,
du barfotabarn i livet. you barefooted child of life.