SURVEY: Do Swedes consider the English language a threat to Swedish?

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 21 Mar, 2023 Updated Tue 21 Mar 2023 15:26 CEST
SURVEY: Do Swedes consider the English language a threat to Swedish?
A new survey asked Swedes whether they feel that English is a threat to the Swedish language. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB Scanpix/TT

A new survey by Sweden's leading language magazine investigates to what extent Swedes believe that English poses a threat to the status of the Swedish language in Sweden.


Since the end of the Second World War, English has been the dominant source of loanwords to Swedish, with English being introduced as the first foreign language learned in school at around the same time.

Now, around 33 percent of Swedes in a new study from Novus on behalf of Språktidningen said that they felt that English represented a threat to Swedish, although almost twice as many - 63 percent - answering that English did not pose any threat to Swedish.

"English influences are often singled out as a threat to the future of Swedish," said Anders Svensson, editor-in-chief of language magazine Språktidningen. "However, there's a generational divide in the view on English."

"Among Swedes over 65, a total of 51 percent see English as a threat. Among those aged 30 to 49, only 23 percent see English as a threat."

In 2009, measures were taken to protect Swedish against English influence through a language law. This states that Swedish is the common language of Sweden and that the population must have access to and be able to use it in all areas of society. Swedes are more or less able to take it for granted that they can use Swedish when they wish to, whether at the doctor, supermarket, or at a restaurant, and foreigners are offered free Swedish language classes.

"English loanwords which are often seen as unnecessary is one of the most common sources of linguistic irritation today," Svensson said. "For some people, these loan words are a symbol of negative developments in society and increasing Americanisation."


There are also differences among different groups of Swedish voters. A total of 41 percent of Sweden Democrat voters believe English represents a threat to Swedish, while only 25 percent each of Moderate, Left Party and Green Party voters were of the same opinion.

"The Sweden Democrats have made the Swedish language a symbolic issue for them," Svensson said. "In the political debate, knowledge of the Swedish language is being linked ever more closely to Swedishness through connecting it to citizenship, for example."

"Therefore it is perhaps easy to imagine that this party's voters are also more worried about Swedish."


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