The official language of Sweden is Swedish, which shares many similarities with Norwegian and Danish. A Northern Germanic language, Swedish is descended from Old Norse. Its alphabet, which is comprised of twenty nine letters with twenty six characters, is taken from the basic Latin along with three additional letters: Å/å, Ä/ä, and Ö/ö, which were added in the 16th century. There are six groups of Swedish dialects spoken in the country including Gotland, Götaland, Norrland, Svealand, South Swedish, and Finland Swedish.

The wide majority of citizens living in Sweden speak Swedish. The language became the country’s official language on July 1, 2009 according to a newly adopted law governing language. The number of native speakers in the country is estimated to be ten million. Swedish is also spoken in neighboring Nordic countries such as in Norway, Denmark, and Finland. Modern Swedish descended from a variety of 19th century central Swedish dialects. Although many localized dialects still exist, the Swedish language spoken by most residents is standardized both in terms of its written and spoken forms.

To welcome someone in the Swedish language it is appropriate to say, “Välkommen” while a casual hello can be communicated with, “Hej” or “Hallå”. To inquire as to someone’s name is to ask, “Vad heter du?” and “where are you from?” can be translated to, “Varifrån kommer du?” Another useful Swedish phrase, “Var snäll och tala långsammare” translates into a request for someone to speak more slowly.

Official minority languages in Sweden include Finnish, Sami, Romani, Meänkieli, and Yiddish. Many Swedish citizens also have a strong grasp of English. A 2005 study found that 85% of people currently living in the Scandinavian country could speak English.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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