Swedish has officially been the main language of Sweden since July 1, 2009, when a new language law was implemented. Besides protecting Swedish, the law also promotes and protects Sweden’s five national minority languages: Finnish, all Sami dialects, Torne Valley Finnish (Meänkieli), Romani and Yiddish.
Swedish is a northern Germanic language, spoken by almost 10 million people. Norwegian, Danish and Swedish people normally understand each other, but Finnish is completely different, with its roots in what are called the Uralic languages. The Swedish alphabet has 29 letters, using the basic 26-letter Latin alphabet plus the three additional letters Å/å, Ä/ä and Ö/ö. There are many words of German, French and, more recently, English origin in the Swedish language, but the words are often transcribed using Swedish spelling.
Swedish sign language has the same status as the minority languages in the law, and deaf or hearing-impaired children and their families have a right to learn the language.
Even though most Swedes speak English, it may be fun to know some Swedish words as well. So, why not learn a few words and phrases to help you feel more at home in Sweden? Like fika, a compulsory word in your Swedish vocabulary.
Mr, Sir, Ms, Mrs or Miss? In Sweden you are mostly neither, since titles are not used as they are in Britain. There was, however, a widespread use of titles, and the more formal Ni, until the end of the 1960s when du-reformen – the you-reform – created a significant change in the Swedish language.