Study Abroad Student Handbook
Sweden Sweden
Center for Global Education

Why Learn a Language?

Swedish is a beautiful language. It is known for its musicality, because of the varying pitches that are used to accent different syllables. Our knowledge of Swedish dates back to 200 AD with the first records of a common Scandinavian language, Old Norse, which was spoken by Nordic and Viking groups. While Swedish was merely a dialect of the parent language, it became distinct enough around the 9th century to define it as a separate language, Old Swedish.

This lasted until the 16th century when Swedish developed into the language that is recognizable today. It belongs to the North Germanic language group together with Icelandic, Faroese, Norwegian and Danish – a group which has contributed words such as law, window, ill and loose, to the English language. Because Swedish has such close historical ties with the other Scandinavian languages, it is actually still linguistically quite close to Norwegian and Danish. Hence, if you can speak Swedish, you will also be able to converse with and understand native speakers from Norway and Denmark.

Swedish is a great language to learn for any traveler to Scandinavia. Although many people in Sweden do speak English, Swedish remains the best way to communicate with the people. The Swedes are proud of their language and their history and will be impressed when a student makes an effort to speak to them in Swedish. Swedish can easily be understood in neighboring Norway and there is a sizeable Swedish speaking minority in Finland and in Estonia.

Many literary figures have emerged out of Sweden. Poetry of the Romantic era particularly took hold thanks to such Swedish poets as Erik Geijer, Per Atterbom, and Esaias Tegnér. Later, as Romanticism waned, August Strindberg and a group of young writers known as Young Sweden emerged as Sweden’s first true Realists. For any literature majors learning Swedish would only enhance your knowledge of global poetry and drama and would give you a foothold into the creative literary past of the other Scandinavian countries.

Read on – Why Study Abroad and find answers how study abroad can affect your personal growth and career path.

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