Our language journey today carries us to a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe, Sweden. Sweden has a population of 10.35 million and its capital since 1935 is Stockholm. Language is always a fascinating subject, however, it is estimated that they speak Swedish and roughly 200 other languages across Sweden. But how many languages does the average Swede speak?
The average Swede speaks roughly 2-3 languages, with Swedish and English being a part of the mix. It is also common for them to learn either French or Spanish. Aside from the official language of Sweden (Swedish), there are hundreds of different Swedish dialects, minority, foreign, and immigrant languages spoken.
The Official Language of Sweden- the Swedish Language
Swedish is the official language of Sweden and is highly valued across the country. Nearly the entire population of Sweden speak Swedish. The majority Swedish speakers speak it as their first language and the remainder speak it as a second. The Swedish language is a North Germanic language, similar to Norwegian and Danish.
Swedish was not made the country’s official language by law until 2009. During this time, Sweden formally declared Swedish the main official language. They also strengthened the status of the other languages within the Swedish society including; Meänkieli, Sámi, Finnish, Romani, and Yiddish.
Interestingly, in addition to the minority languages, there are various Swedish dialects that Swedish speakers speak. Norrland, Svealand, Gotland, Götaland, South Swedish, and East Swedish (Finnish Swedish) are the six primary dialect groupings in Swedish. Swedish speakers generally also speak another one of the related languages. In many ways, speaking Swedish is a transcultural language.
Widely Spoken Swedish Dialects
To individuals who speak Standard Swedish, several Swedish dialects around the country sound virtually incomprehensible. This implies that even if you are fluent in standard Swedish, you can visit a town in Sweden or even other Scandinavian countries and not understand a word they’re saying. Let’s explore three of the six Swedish dialects to get a deeper understanding of the language variety that every cultural group in the country of Sweden speaks.
Northern Smland, northern Hland, Dalsland, stergötland, Värmland, and Bohusiän are the main areas where they speak this Swedish dialect. Vowel shortening in front of endings and the deletion of “r” in suffixes are two instances of Götamal characteristics. They also use vowel reduction in this dialect.
This is a significant Swedish language. They mainly speak it outside of Sweden. There are significant distinctions between Finland Swedish and Standard Swedish, just as there are other dialects. Some terms are employed in a different context and may have a completely different meaning. Interestingly, there are many Finland Swedish terms you won’t find in Standard Swedish.
When a traditional Swedish speaker listens to somebody speaking Finland Swedish, the word order may appear strange. Even though it is technically right, a traditional Swedish speaker can pick up on the slightest variance from their official language.
Swedish Minority Languages
As mentioned previously, the people in Sweden speak a variety of minority languages as their mother tongue. However, only five of these minority languages are official and recognized in Scandinavian countries.
Ethnic Finns in Sweden speak Finnish as their native language. Because Finland was a part of the Swedish monarchy for centuries, Finnish is one of Sweden’s oldest minority Scandinavian languages. Ethnic Finns make up roughly 5% of the Swedish population. Remarkably, there are around 470,000 native speakers in the country that speak Finnish.
The Romanian people speak the Romanian language. These are nomadic people who can trace their ancestors back to northern India. The Romani language is an Indo-Aryan language, closely linked to those spoken in northern India.
The Romani have a traditionally nomadic lifestyle. And that’s why no one territory in Sweden is a Romani-speaking region. The Romani language, on the other hand, accorded major prominence in the nation. In fact, the Swedish government encourages initiatives to conserve it and encourages speakers to promote its use.
In general, Ashkenazic Jews speak Yiddish, which is a Germanic language. Originally, Sweden was the home of Sephardic Jews, but from the 18th century, Ashkenazic Jews emigrated to the nation and introduced the Yiddish language.
They write the language in a Hebrew Alphabet variation. The Swedish government and Minority Language Committee place a high value on the preservation of this language. The majority of Yiddish speakers in Sweden are adults. Around 2,000 to 6,000 of Sweden’s 20,000 Jewish population are fluent Yiddish speakers.
Do You Speak Swedish?
Sweden is a language hotspot! Who knew that a country of 10 million would could house over 200 languages!? Each language with its origin and ethnic group. The average Swede is as cultured as they come! The next time someone says they speak Swedish, you’ll know they’re generalizing a group of languages! The collection of Indo European language family dialects are not all mutually intelligible throughout this country in Europe.
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