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How Many People Speak Swedish

How Many People Speak Swedish.png

Today I will discuss About how many People Speak Swedish

Swedish is the national language of Sweden. Sweden has a population of 10 million people. Out of this population, 8 million people speak the Swedish language. To your surprise, Swedish is one of the national languages of Finland.

This is because Finland was a part of Sweden until 1809. Swedish is a Nordic language which is the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language tree. Norwegian and Danish are also from the same language group.

On the other hand, languages like Icelandic and Faroese are also related to the Swedish language. However, they have preserved their original identity. 

According to the Statistics of March 2022, around 10.85 million people around the world speak Swedish as their first language. Mostly, these people are inhabitants of Sweden and they are spread over other regions like the USA, Finland, Canada, Estonia, and Aland.

Thus, the Swedish language is considered one of the most influential languages in the world. According to the rough estimate, there are around 26000 people that study Swedish around the world, especially in Germany.

Table of Content

History of the Swedish Language

Swedish Language is one of the Indo-European languages that originated from Old Norse. During the Viking Era, it was spoken by Germanic people. This language is spread in Europe and present-day Russia with the help of Viking merchants. Starting from the Old Norse, this language originated from the North Germanic languages in the 14th or 15th century.

During that time, Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, and Icelanders spoke the same language. This is because these languages are mutually intelligible.  The standard form of Swedes language that is still spoken today is ruled by the Swedish government according to the reforms of 1906.

The Swedish Language Spoken in Finland

Swedish is one of the official languages of Finland. You must be wondering why it is so. To your astonishment, Finland was part of the kingdom of Sweden for more than 600 years.

Although, the Swedish-speaking people are in the minority even the Finnish Constitution and other legislative rules gave the same language rights as they gave to Finnish speakers.

Therefore, Finland has a bilingual public. The amalgamation of two languages has made public and private services a great example of artistic inspiration.

Aland is the autonomous region of Finland. In this region, around 88% of people speak Swedish as their first language with the touch of the Aland Swedish dialect.

Finnish people speak Swedish as their first language. People living in Sweden are living in bilingual households. The dominance of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland often causes tension in Finland because it is making the identity of the Finnish people at stake.

It has also been seen that Swedish-speaking Finns often feel insecure and disrespected due to their Finland-Swedish identity. On the contrary, some Finnish-speaking Finns people are of the view that more importance is given to a linguistic minority.

Bilingualism in the country has become the cause of tension between Finland and the Swedish people. This tension is present with varying degrees in Finnish society and it was enhanced when Finnish nationalism in the nineteenth century.

The Swedish Language Spoken in the USA

Swedish language in the USA prevailed when 1.2 million Swedish immigrants moved to the USA during 1885-1995. These people formed the Swedish- American community in the American Midwest.

Most of these people are Lutheran Christians that are the predecessor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. At present, Swedish speakers are spread throughout the United States.

They are mainly concentrated in California, Minnesota, and Illinois. Therefore, the Swedish language is widely spoken there. The Swedish people that are recently migrating to the USA are residing in Midwest also known as the Dakotas, Lowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

The Swedish speakers also reside in the Pacific Northwest are the states of Oregon and Washington. There are approximately 76,000 Swedish speakers living in the USA.

The Swedish Language Spoken in Canada

Many people from Sweden migrated to Canada. They are known as Swedish Canadians. The Swedish community that is residing in Canada is 330,000. These people are living in the areas west of Lake Superior, mostly in Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Winnipeg.

Toronto is the best place for newcomers to reside in.  Although Canadian and Swedish people enjoy a great influential bond but only 17,000 Canadian people speak the Swedish language.

Swedish people consider assimilation to lead a successful life in Canada. Therefore, Swedish immigrants in Canada also tried to learn the English language.

Swedish people also come up with a large number of Swedish-language newspapers that comes two times weekly. The Swedish press magazine is published in Vancouver.

The Swedish Language Spoken in Denmark

Swedish is a minority language spoken in Denmark. Moreover, it is the third most understood language in Denmark. 13% of Danes can speak this language.

The Swedish Language Spoken in Estonia and Ukraine

From the 13th to 20th century, there were Estonia-speaking communities residing in the areas of islands like Hiiumaa, Vormsi, and Ruhu. These islands are located along the coast of the Baltic. But now they are diss-appeared.

The Swedish-speaking community was present in parliament and they use the Swedish language in all parliament discussions. When Estonia was occupied by Russian Empire in the 18th century 1,000 Estonian Swedish speakers were forced to march to Southern Ukraine.

There they found a Swedish village. In this village, elder people speak the Swedish language in different dialects. That Swedish dialect is getting extinct. Moreover, these villagers follow the holidays according to the Swedish calendar.

During the period from 1918 to 1940, Estonia gets independent and the Swedish community was treated well. Swedish majority communities that are found along the coast used the Swedish language for administration services.

At the end of World War ll, Estonia was invaded by the Soviet army in 1944. Therefore, many Swedish people went back to Sweden and there were only a handful of speakers who remained. At present, 1000 people can speak Swedish in Estonia.

Different Swedish Dialects that are Widely Spoken

Among all the Germanic languages, the Swedish language has many speakers. The people who speak standard Swedish may find different dialects of the Swedish language virtually unintelligible.

This shows that if you speak the standard Swedish language even then you won’t be able to understand the different dialects of the Swedish language spoken in different Scandinavian countries. Let’s have a look at different Swedish dialects of the Swedish language

Gotama

This dialect is spoken in Bohusiän, Värmland, stergötland, Dalsland, northern Halland and Northern Smland. The characteristic of this dialect is that vowel is used in the short form at the ending. Moreover, r is used as a suffix. Vowel reduction is part of this dialect.

East Swedish

East Swedish is one of the significant dialects. It is mainly spoken outside Sweden. Standard Swedish and Finland Swedish are entirely different. Some words are used with an entirely different meaning.

The astonishing part is that you will not find Finland Swedish words in Standard Swedish. When a traditional Swedish listens to Finland Swedish then the word order may appear strange to them. Even if it is technically right, a traditional Swedish speaker can sense the slightest difference.

The actual number of Swedish dialects is more than a hundred. Some of the diverging forms of Swedish language are Norrbotten, Dalarna and Gotland. The difference between different dialects is minimized in modern times because of mass media.

The difference in dialects can be seen in the spectrum that starts from standard language to rural dialect.  Distinct rural dialects can have different grammatical rules and distinct phonetical features that cannot be understood by the outside people.

The Svealand dialect is spoken in the Eastern parts of Sweden. Uppland is the hub of Sveamal dialects and these dialects are further divided into four sub-groups which are Mellansvenska, Dalmål, Bergslagsmål, and Uppsvenska,

The Swedish language started to become standardized during the 20th century. It was influenced by the written composition of language and further enhanced by social media, television, and movies.

Dialectal differences are still present in standard Swedish such as different French R of the Southern Swedish dialect and thick L is often used in the dialects of Norrland, Svealand, Gotaland, and the consonant found in the dialect of Gotland.

The major regional difference between regional dialects is the use of stress, intonation, tone, and rhythm. They sound different for the Swedish-speaking Finn and to the Kalix and Pitea.

Norrland Dialects

Norrland dialects are spoken in the northern parts of Sweden. Several different dialects are spoken in Norrland, and they all have their unique features. Varieties include Norrbottensmål, Västerbottniska, Nybyggarmål, Ångermanländska, Jämtmål, and Medelpadsmål.

South-Swedish Dialects

The Scanian is the South-Swedish dialect that is spoken by Southern parts of Sweden. They are split into three groups Halländska, Blekingska, and Skånska. People living in the area of Scania speak the Skanska dialect, Belkingska is spoken in Blekinge whereas Hallandska is spoken in Halland.

Swedish Dialect is Spoken by Immigrant Variants

Rinkeby is the Swedish dialect. It is a district dialect of Northern Stockholm with a large immigrant population. It is the common name used by linguists to denote the different varieties spoken by foreign people in the districts of the main cities like Stockholm, Malmo, and Gothenburg.

These language varieties are considered sociolects. This is because immigrant dialects share common characteristics despite their geographical location and their native country. According to some studies, different characteristics are as Rosengård Swedish which is different from Rosengård in Malmö. It is also a part of Scanian. 

According to the survey conducted by the Swedish Linguist Ulla-Britt Kotsinas, foreign learners find great difficulty in understanding the origin of Rinkeby Swedish speakers in Stockholm.

The difficulty arises when the speech of the boy that speaks Rinkeby Swedish was not identified. To your surprise, only 1.8% guessed the native language correctly even though both parents were Swedish. Innovations in multilingual urban contexts and modern linguistic culture are introducing new domains besides the socio-linguistic domain  

Swedish is the Most Useful Scandinavian Language

You must be confused that which Scandinavian language to learn. We are here to overcome your confusion. Swedish is the best Scandinavian language to learn if you want to settle down in Nordic countries.

This language is widely understood in this region. The Swedish language will give you a lot of leverage if you are migrating to Scandinavia to enhance your quality of life.

This is because there are 10 million people that speak Swedish in Nordics. One important thing to note is that you will find more jobs for ex-pats in Sweden than in any other region.

Thus, if you are working for Ericsson, Spotify, Volvo, and IKEA then you must learn the Swedish language. As a comparison with Finnish, Norwegian and Danish, if they are combined then there are 5 million speakers.

Around 75 000, people speak Faroese, 300 000 speak Icelandic, and 55000 speak the Greenlandic language. In addition to it, there are 20-30 000 speakers of the Saami language.

Regulatory Body for the Swedish Language

The Swedish Language Council is regulating the Swedish language in Sweden. However, it does not enforce the use of language. It acts just like Académie française that works for the French.

There are many organizations and agencies around the world that are responsible for the council’s publication. For instance, Svenska skrivregler guides the rules and regulations for writing the Swedish language otherwise, it may be following transliteration standards.

The influential organization that makes up the Swedish Language Council is Swedish Academy. It was established in 1786. The objective of this academy is to check the spelling. For this purpose, they have developed a dictionary. This dictionary has a very narrow scope and it only helps in current usage.

In Finland, a special organization under the name of the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland is working officially to regulate the use of the Swedish language.

It aims to maintain intelligibility in the language spoken in Sweden also. It has come up with the dictionary called Finlandssvensk ordbok to differentiate the use of the Swedish language in Sweden and Finland.

Why Learn the Swedish Language

Many people from around the world wish to migrate to Scandinavian countries to enhance the quality of their life and their loved ones. They can pursue their dream if they know the languages spoken there. Swedish is one of the Nordic languages.

The benefit of learning the Swedish language is that if you learn this language then you easily learn other Nordic languages. This is because most of the Nordic languages are mutually intelligible.

Learning the Swedish language will help you in connecting to 10 million people around the world. You can easily make potential friends. Swedish people are very nice, if they came to know that you are learning their language then they help you. Therefore, you should not get afraid of getting embarrassed.

Swedish is one of the easy languages to learn. It is easier to learn for native English speakers than for other language speakers. Swedish is the North Germanic language whereas English is the West Germanic language.

Therefore, they are mutually intelligible which makes Swedish easy to learn for English speakers.  US Foreign Service Institute has put the Swedish language in the category.

This shows that a person that wants to learn this language should give only 600 hours of study to get proficient in the language. If you are an English speaker, you can learn the Swedish language faster.

Wrapping Up

By looking at the number of Swedish language speakers and their importance in Scandinavian countries, you should start learning the Swedish language. This language will open avenues of opportunity for you.

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