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Health condition of Swedish language

Doubts about Sweden

post 18.Jan.2014, 04:56 PM
Post #1
Joined: 18.Jan.2014

Hello everybody,

I have just registered to this website after having read a little bit about Swedish language and having tried to find out how it is its health condition currently, and I wanted to ask you a little bit more about it. :-)

Let me explain: I write from Spain and I am very interested in issues related to minority languages and cultures, and especially they coexist with a strong and lingua franca language such as English "does" in Sweden. I would really appreciate if you could help me to get to know a little bit more the Swedish case and what is going on here now. :-)

Actually, I write this message after having 'consolidated' a little concern about the future of Swedish language in relation to English. I have seen that English knowledge among Swedish is really high (about 89% of the population) and so we could say this is a second language for you (isn't it?). I have studied a little bit cases of bilingual countries (actually, I'm from one of those), in which a local language coexists with a stronger one, and I wonder if in Sweden it could start a case of diglossia in the medium term. The process of diglossia, which often precedes the linguistic substitution, could start with ordinary situations such as companies just requiring English to work in, English used as the main language over a certain level (to ease people coming from abroad or whatever other reason like this), and so shifting towards a situation in which Swedish would only be the used language in certain social spheres.

Specifically, I would ask you:

- I read that the Swedish government proposed an action plan to strengthen the status of Swedish in 2002, and I guess that this might have been done just for the reasons I said above and because if Swedish and English reach exactly the same identification among Swedish people, the natural process will be that the stronger language will gain ground at the expense of the smaller one. From outside and having seen other cases that seems pretty obvious. But do you feel it this way? I don't speak Swedish and so I don't understand what the government did exactly to strengthen swedish. Can anyone give me a rough outline about what did the government do (exposed in the link above)? Did the Swedish become official language in 2009 for the same reasons?

- When statistics say 89% of Swedish know English language, does this mean, for example, 100% of the Swedish under 35 years old and 70% of the Swedish over 65? So, how do you think it will change the situation when the oldest generation dies?

- I read that in The Netherlands it was suggested to move to dubbing in some cases, especially for little children, because they had serious problems with Dutch grammar structures. Is there any similar thought to this in Sweden? Where I live, in which a minority language coexists with Spanish, it's a consensus that dubbing in that language has been crucial to generate sense of belonging with that language.

Thank you very much in advance to you all. Any comment will be really appreciated! :-)

PD: I've been in Stockholm, marvelous place. But being used to southern Europe climate I guess I'll wait summer to visit it again ;-)
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post 18.Jan.2014, 08:01 PM
Post #2
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 20.Mar.2009

Take a look at this site:

Swedish Language Council
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Seamus Sean
post 18.Jan.2014, 09:17 PM
Post #3
Joined: 4.Oct.2009

May I bid you many welcomes to this forum and say what a fascinating thread you have started here.

pity it is only now you are bringing this up as a regular poster here has been trying, without much success I must add, to get people to discuss the very issues you address.

I am very surprized he hasn´t already embraced this discussion as he has been active on the forum since you posted your excellent OP...maybe he will join in later, he may have been overcome with nerves seeing you post up what he has sooo long wanted us all to take on board?

Anyway I shall make way and leave the discussion to those that have an interest in the subject, I wish you a pleasant stay in Sweden. smile.gif
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post 18.Jan.2014, 11:34 PM
Post #4
Joined: 18.Jan.2014

QUOTE (Monark540 @ 18.Jan.2014, 08:01 PM) *
Take a look at this site:. Swedish Language Council

Thanks, Monark540. I see, however, that the study they provide date from march 1998. I guess the situation might have change a little bit since then. It also says that:

"During the last decades, English has started to compete with Swedish in a growing number of fields in Swedish society [...]. This poses a threat to democratic values as many Swedes have insufficient knowledge of English".

It has surprised me a lot! What does this mean? That the reason to protect Swedish is not because of the protection of the language itself but because there are people who have "Insufficient knowledge of English"?. So that could be easily solved: instead of protecting Swedish, just shift to English in all areas and in few years there will be no problem. Or just wait and do nothing. I mean, it sounded me weird that a council thought to protect the language says that this is just because people STILL don't speak another language. So, when they will do it, "end of the trip".

QUOTE (Seamus Sean @ 18.Jan.2014, 09:17 PM) *
May I bid you many welcomes to this forum and say what a fascinating thread you have started here.pity it is only now you are bringing this up as a regular poster here has bee ... (show full quote)

Thanks, Seamus Sean! I'm really wondering to read about this issue from that poster. :-) Btw, I'm not in Sweden, I write from Spain. Just interested in seeing how are you dealing with this subject up there. I feel there's a kind of risk for Swedish, but I'm not sure and I don't know to what extent.
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post 19.Jan.2014, 02:09 AM
Post #5
Joined: 16.Aug.2010

Movies and television for children under 12 is usually dubbed in Sweden.

Swedish is not quite in danger of becoming overtaken by English but I would say in the next 50 years it's definitely on the cards...perhaps it depends on who you ask. My husband is Swedish and he works in English and speaks English at home. He can go for days without speaking a word of Swedish.
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Seamus Sean
post 19.Jan.2014, 08:31 AM
Post #6
Joined: 4.Oct.2009

Thanks Circat, and sorry for presuming you were in Sweden at the moment it was just when you wrote..

." I would really appreciate if you could help me to get to know a little bit more the Swedish case and what is going on here now. :-)
I took it you were here.

I´m sorry to say the other guy I mentioned was reading your post last night but declined to comment, most strange as this has been a subject close to his heart, hey he could have written the very same post as you did only for his claim of 86% compared to your 89% it is almost identical to what he has been saying, even the example of how it is in Holland and what is happening down there.

Personally I feel there is nothing to worry about as many here who claim to be fluent in English aren´t , I can speak a few words of Spanish and can say hello, goodbye please and thanks in Catalan but I wouldn´t claim to speak it, from my own experience the figure of 86% or 89% is way off, travel out to the sticks and you´ll it a rarity for a Swede to be able to converse in anything other than Swedish.

All the best to you down there in Spain. wink.gif
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post 20.Jan.2014, 12:25 AM
Post #7
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 1.Jan.2014

Sweden has cut it's own throat with regards the Swedish language, even though they have as a policy that Swedish terms and expressions should continue to be defined/created they fail to follow the example of other countries like France, Iceland where they create pure terms and expressions for insertion into their language. Sweden however is lazy (or maybe someone out there wants the language to die) and most new terms and expressions are often very swenglish or bastardised English rather than researched pure Swedish. The language will eventually die.
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post 20.Jan.2014, 10:23 AM
Post #8
Joined: 20.Jan.2014

Very interesting thread you have started here.

I wouldn't say the Swedish language is under threat from English, there is however a declining knowledge about the language itself especially among the younger generation. I'm a teacher and have noticed that my pupils, even the high performers, make very basic syntactic mistakes and can't really be bothered to improve their skills. Worse still is that there isn't much need to because correct grammar is a very small part of their grades in the Swedish language. More focus is put on communication skills, understanding of different kinds of texts as well as discussion and debate.
I'm in my early thirties and remember that we studied quite a lot of grammar and spelling when I went to school but there isn't much of this in school today.

About English then. Many swedes can use English very well but to refer to English as a second "native" language is an overstatement. It's true most swedes, at least aged below 50-55 can communicate fairly well in English, even read magazines and books but the deeper knowledge and finer nuances are mostly lacking. English is taught in schools and is very much a learned language and I believe this will be the case in the future as well. The only families that speak English at home as a native language are families where one parent has English as his/her mother tongue.

As a teacher I notice that there are pupils who have a very difficult time learning English, even pupils from well off homes and with no other learning difficulties. An increased use of English in society could cause problems for this minority of people.
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Ivor stephé
post 20.Jan.2014, 11:36 AM
Post #9
Joined: 20.Aug.2013

If the Swedish language as under threat, then I would like to see the statistics that show's a decline in the amount of Swedish speakers.

Preservation and promotion are two very separate definitions.
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Seamus Sean
post 20.Jan.2014, 01:22 PM
Post #10
Joined: 4.Oct.2009

QUOTE (Ivor stephé @ 20.Jan.2014, 11:36 AM) *
If the Swedish language as under threat, then I would like to see the statistics that show's a decline in the amount of Swedish speakers.Preservation and promotion are two ... (show full quote)

Haven´t you been saying the very same things lately? Or have I picked you up wrong when you said 86% of Swedes speak English etc.?

I thought you would have been posting on this issue way before now as it´s a subject you have brought up countless times on various threads, even using the Dutch as an example same as the OP did, hey you could even have written the OP going by what I saw you write on the subject. wink.gif
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Gamla Hälsingebock
post 20.Jan.2014, 05:29 PM
Post #11
Joined: 21.Dec.2006

I think many immigrant job seekers that don't speak Swedish will find those surveys to be incorrect.

The English don't think anybody but them speak English...properly that is.

And if anyone would go back about 500 years they would find that they don't speak the language as it was then...all languages evolve with time.

Where I am, I have to press a button ..."to continue in English"...So I think English is dying out!!!

My voting notices come in six languages!!!

Do Cockneys speak English???

However languages do cease to exist, but Swedish in some form will be here long after we are all gone!

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post 20.Jan.2014, 06:04 PM
Post #12
Location: Västra Götaland
Joined: 5.Jul.2012

QUOTE (Gamla Hälsingebock @ 20.Jan.2014, 05:29 PM) *
1. Do Cockneys speak English???. 2. However languages do cease to exist, but Swedish in some form will be here long after we are all gone!. Esperanto,...Anyone???

1. Corse they do. Cummin fer a ball an' chalk dahn the frog n' toad me old china??

2. Who knows, seeing that everything is going digital, we could be simply speaking with 1's and 0's ! !


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Gamla Hälsingebock
post 20.Jan.2014, 06:20 PM
Post #13
Joined: 21.Dec.2006

1's and 0's!!!

And me thinking it was ones and noughts!!!... laugh.gif
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Ivor stephé
post 20.Jan.2014, 06:30 PM
Post #14
Joined: 20.Aug.2013

The first question we haves to look at is, what is the Swedish language under threat from?

High taxes?

The truth is, no language is not under threat.
Language in itself is a form of communication, and has naturally evolved over thousands of years.

If any person or persons choose to make choices in how they communicate, then that is a basic freedom of choice. Regardless if its using your hands to make shapes, or to moving muscles in your face to show happiness.

And if people choose to express themselves in English, and a government take steps to combat it or force the use of another language. Then the real threat is defined culture being pushed by others.
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Gamla Hälsingebock
post 20.Jan.2014, 06:50 PM
Post #15
Joined: 21.Dec.2006

Government doesn't really change cultural habits...they represent the will of the people who empowered it to act for them.
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