Swedish phrasebook

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Jon Harald Søby

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Swedish (svenska) is a North Germanic language, closely related to Norwegian and Danish (and through them, related to Icelandic and Faroese) and strongly influenced by Low German. Spoken by over 9 million people, Swedish is the national language of Sweden and the official language of the Åland Islands. It is also an official language of Finland (along with Finnish), though only the mother tongue for about 6 percent of Finns, mostly concentrated in some coastal areas.
Like for instance British and American English, there are differences between Swedish spoken in Sweden (rikssvenska) and Swedish spoken in Finland (finlandssvenska), in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary, partly due to influence from Finnish in the latter, but also due to it retaining some archaic features.
Finland-Swedish is less tonal, slightly more phonetic and like in Finnish the 'r' is always trilled. There are dialectal differences inside Finland and Sweden too, most notably the Swedish spoken in Scania reminds of Danish to some extent, but Swedish speakers with different dialects seldom have difficulties understanding each other. Some archaic dialects of rural Ostrobothnia are incomprehensible, but the speakers will switch to normal Swedish when talking to non-locals.
As Swedish is a Germanic language, speakers of other Germanic languages like German, Dutch or even English will be able to recognise many cognates.
While practically everyone in Sweden under the age of 70 can speak some English, most younger people fluently, trying out some words of Swedish is always appreciated. The same is true about the Swedish speaking in Finland – but you should probably stick to English or Finnish with people whose first language is Finnish.

Pronunciation guide

Phrase list