If you’re thinking about learning Swedish it’s always good to know a little about the origins and history of the language you are learning. Here, Cactus Language offers up our most interesting Swedish language facts:
Swedish is a North Germanic language derived from Old Norse. It differentiated itself from Danish in the Middle Ages. Swedish has been heavily influenced by other Germanic languages, especially Danish, throughout its history. In the 18th century, Swedish also borrowed a large number of words from French. While Swedish has many dialects, Standard Swedish became the standardised form of Swedish spoken nationally in Sweden during the 19th and 20th century.
There are around 9 million native Swedish speakers across the world. Swedish is mainly spoken in Sweden, where it is an official language, and in some coastal parts of Finland. In addition to this, it is estimated that around 40,000 students are learning Swedish as a second language outside Sweden and Finland.
Several Swedish words made it into the English language. Examples of Swedish loanwords include gravlax (a Nordic dish served as a starter), moped (formed of motor” and “pedal”, this word refers to a small motorcycle), ombudsman (a public advocate), orienteering (sports using navigational skills), rutabaga (a root vegetable), tungsten (translating directly as “heavy stone”, it refers to a chemical element).
According to the Swedish Academy, Swedish’s longest word is realisationsvinstbeskattning. It stands for “capital gains tax”.
Swedish share a common history and strong similarities with Danish and Norwegian, and is mutually intelligible with these languages. It is often said that by learning Swedish, one is actually learning three languages.