The Swedish language is a Scandinavian language that is spoken today by more than 9 million people in Sweden, parts of Finland, and elsewhere in Europe and worldwide. The Swedish language has seen a great deal of evolution over the past several hundred years, mostly due to influence from religious factions and other European nations. Standard Swedish (the standardized spoken and written language) is the national language spoken today, and it developed from other Swedish dialects in the 19th century. It boasts a 99% literacy rate among adults in the region that it is spoken.
The Swedish language is spoken in, of course, Sweden, as well as Finland and Aland. It is also one of the official languages of the European Union (EU). It is a language that is mutually intelligible with Danish and Norwegian, 2 other Scandinavian languages. What that means is that the languages can be basically understood among each other and are sort of interchangeable. However, there are several rural dialects of Swedish that are quite different from the Standard Swedish language, and are not interchangeable with it. These dialects are usually spoken by the lower classes. These rural dialects help to make up more than two hundred dialects of the Swedish language in 6 major groups. Swedish is an Indo-Eurpoean tongue that is a member of the North Germanic branch of Germanic languages. Along with Danish, it belongs to the East Scandinavian group of languages.
The grammatical makeup the Swedish language makes it quite distinctive from many other languages. Swedish is set apart by its (intonation and rhythm), and is also noteworthy for the voiceless dorso-palatal velar fricative. This features a distinct labialization (making sounds with the lips while the rest of the mouth produces another sound). This sound is not present in any other spoken language on the planet.
The evolution of the Swedish language runs a comparable course with Sweden’s history. It is split into several eras that include Old Swedish, New Swedish, and Modern Swedish. All of the periods in the development of the modern Swedish language show a record of religious and political influence that was prevalent at the particular time in the country’s history. The development of the Swedish language began in the 9th century, when the Old Norse language split into Old West Norse (spoken in Norway and Iceland) and Old East Norse (spoken in Sweden and Denmark). Around the 12th century, the dialects of Denmark and Sweden splintered, and Old Swedish came into being in the 13th century.
The Old Swedish language was a medieval Swedish language that saw its beginning in 1225. The language was influenced by the Catholic Church, which introduced a great many Latin and Greek words. In the 13th and 14th centuries the Hanseatic League rose to power, bringing with it a heavy influence of the Dutch and German languages to the Swedish language.
The New Swedish language saw its inception with the arrival of the printing press and the Reformation (the 16th century attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church in Western Europe). During this phase of the Swedish language (in the early to late 19th century), the spelling and grammar was standardized.
The Modern Swedish language is the language as it is spoken today in Sweden and elsewhere. During the 20th century, a standardized national language was made accessible to speakers of the Swedish language.
The history of the Swedish language was influenced heavily by the social and political climate of the country. It evolved during a time in Europe’s history when there was a great deal of political and religious upheaval, and the Germanic languages thrust their greatest influence in northern Europe. Today we still see a great deal of evidence of this influence, but the Swedish language is a unique language unto its own, spoken by millions of people worldwide.