Mikael Parkvall, assistant professor at Stockholm University’s Department of Linguistics has teamed up with Lernia, a vocational training and recruitment consultant, to develop the new way of speaking.
“Standard Swedish has been a norm for how people are supposed to speak when they speak so-called “correct Swedish”, but for us linguists there is in general nothing which is right or wrong,” Parkvall said in a press release.
“The new Standard Swedish shows in a slightly absurd way that there is no such thing as correct Swedish, at least not if we want to let people across the whole of Sweden be represented, or want to just let some imaginary “ur-Swedish” be the measure.”
Linguists believe 'rikssvenska' developed from the high prestige dialects of the Mälaren Valley region around Stockholm, becoming particularly dominant with the emergence of national radio and television broadcasters, many of whom were based in the capital.
To develop the new accent, Lernia recorded a selection of speakers chosen for having a representative mix of accents based on geographical area, age, sex, class, education and ethnicity.
It then blended them together to form a new combined accent, and trained a group of experienced voice actors to speak with the new combined Standard Swedish accent.
The new accent will be released for the public to hear on Tuesday at Lernia’s project site.
So far two organisations, The Scouts and Guides of Sweden, and Stockholm University library, have agreed to use the new Standard Swedish on their phone lines.
“We’re not claiming that the new Standard Swedish is wholly representative, or that everyone should talk in the same way,” Johanna Hallander, who led the project at Lernia, told TT. “We are all simply different, but we want to highlight that competence has nothing to do with what accent you have.”
In its press release, Lernia cited a study from the European Commission which found that 72 percent of Swedes believe that a job applicant's way of speaking is the biggest reason why employers employ one candidate over another.