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Swedish Language

Miscellaneous notes
(Developing Page)

Spelling Nordic differences    


Spelling of Swedish language - some historical notes.
Every living (spoken) language is constantly developing - or better: people are changing the language - and spelling changes gradually. Anders von Höpken phrased this very elegantly in his acceptance speech when elected to the Svenska Akademin in 1786:
"Det står ej uti vår magt att skapa et annat språk än folket i allmänhet talar"
(It is not in our power to create a language other than that spoken by most people
Svenska Akademin is the official normative board for Swedish language and literature).

In 1869 the Nordiska rättstavningsmötet (Nordic meeting on correct spelling) set off movements for the modernisation of Swedish spelling. After lengthy debates the government decided on rättstavningsreformen (spelling reform) in 1906 - in parts opposed by the Svenska Akademin. This prescribed several major changes and a revised dictionary was published in 1921 but the new rules were used in most schools long before that.

Simple guide to know which Nordic language is used
Please note that this is NOT 100 % fail-safe.
A few cautionary notes:

1  This applies only to Nordic languages (see below)
2  Spelling changes over time
3  In the case of personal documents, spelling errors occur.
4  Danish and Norwegian languages are closely related. Denmark and Norway were one country for very long periods.
5  Norwegian language exists in two major variations bokmål and nynorsk.

A few other European languages use the letters used for identification here, e.g. Turkish uses ö, German uses ä and ö but not å etc.

NOTE: Your browser may not show the special letters in column 2 properly depending on the language settings in your computer.
"umlaut" means 2 dots at the top. "slash" means a "/" through the letter.

If you find it is probably
ö (o umlaut) Swedish
å (a-circle) AND ø (o-slash) Norwegian
ø (o-slash) BUT NO å (a-circle) Danish
many accented letters and especially ð or þ Icelandic
several words with double "i" and double "k" probably

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Last updated by F Hae 2005-05-11 18:05 © Fredrik Haeffner, 2001-5