Languages, dialects and slang of Sweden Introduction My research will be how the language variation in Sweden looks today, and I will give some information about the Swedish language and other spoken languages in Sweden. I will also look into the sub-dialects called `Rinkebyswedish`, ? Swenglish” and slang language. Swedish is now officially the main language of Sweden and is spoken approximately by 10 million people. Although until 2009 it was not the official language. The reason for that was completely political. My research questions will be; What are the spoken languages and dialects of Sweden?
What is `Rinkebyswedish`and how does it affect the Swedish language? Method In order to collect data for my analysis, I read two very helpful and interesting books about language and slang.
These books are called “Skolan mitt I fororten” by Nihad Bunar and “Sociolinguistics. An introduction to Language and Society” by Peter Trudgill. Furthermore, I looked at webpages on the Internet, regarding this topic, for information and collected some important material for this essay.
Reports by Mikael Parkvall and Anastacia Nylund called “Sveriges sprak-vem talar vad och var? and ‘The slang of suburban boys’ were also very useful for this essay. In addition to that, I used the novel “Ett oga rott” by Jonas Hassen Khemiri as reference material for my analysis. This novel is written almost exclusively in a version of multiethnic youth language or as some would call it ? rinkebyswedish`. Result Sweden has never been homogeneous when it comes to language and culture. There have always been language minorities. The minority languages in Sweden are Finnish, Meankieli, Romani, Sami and Yiddish. Swedish is also one of the main languages used in Finland.
Sami is also spoken in Norway, Finland and Russia. The Swedish language is on some level competing with these minority languages. One might assume that English should be one of these languages, but English is actually considered a main foreign language in Sweden. Swedish language has always been influenced by other languages. Latin had a main influence in the early Middle Ages. German and Danish had a major influence on Swedish language during the times of the Hanseatic League. Swedish is considered to be an indo-european language belonging to the North Germanic branch of the Germanic languages.
Sami is a language that belongs to the Balto-Finnic language group, and its closest relatives are the languages in the Balto-Finnic branch of that group; that is, Finnish and Estonian. It is not part of the Indo-European language family. Romani is the language that is not related to the Scandinavian at all. It is a minority language that is considered to belong to the Indo-Iranian language group. A large number of French words were imported into Sweden around the 18th century. These words have been transcribed to the Swedish spelling system and are therefore pronounced quite recognizably to a French-speaker.
Most of them are distinguished by a “French accent”, characterized by emphasis on the last syllable. For example, niva (fr. niveau, `level`), fatolj (fr. fauteuil, `arm chair`) and affar (“shop; `affair`). Loan-words from other Germanic languages have also been common, at first from Middle Low German, the lingua franca of the Hanseatic league and later from standard German. Some compounds are translations of the elements of German original compounds into Swedish, like bomull from German Baumwolle (“cotton”, literally `tree-wool`). At the moment, British and American loanwords are predominant.
Immigration to Sweden has increased dramatically since World War Two. However, since the early 1970s, immigration has consisted mainly of refugee migration and family reunification from non-European countries in the Middle East and Latin America. And in recent years consisting of refugees from Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq. It is estimated that there are about 150-200 different languages spoken in Sweden. Decades ago, Sweden looked completely different than it is today. It was very unusual to hear other languages being spoken out in the streets. Nowadays Sweden consists of a multicultural society.
Generally, immigrants and refugees live in the suburbs of Stockholm and are segregated from the rest of the society. This has of course had an impact on the Swedish language too. It has also resulted in involuntary language loss among immigrant groups. Nihad Bunar (2001), associate professor at the University of Stockholm, went out to the suburbs of Stockholm to find out what people living in these areas have to say about this situation. He found out that a large group of people in these suburbs complain about the lack of contact they have with native swedes.
And that cramming all immigrants and refugees in same areas resulting in them not learning or improving their Swedish. Some complain about the fact that their children, even though being born here, still are speaking with a broken Swedish with over usage of slang. Bunar also mentions that the people of the suburbs complain of the fact that their lack of knowledge in Swedish language is making it difficult for them to find jobs. Peter Trudgill (2000) discusses social class dialects and the fact that peoples speech gives us clues about their social background.
He claims that if a person’s speech is non-academic and perhaps a bit rural, one immediately associates that person with lower social class. Furthermore, Trudgill tells of his “overt and covert prestige theory”, where he describes Overt prestige as the prestige that comes with using the type of language that is nationally recognized and is used in official and educational contexts. Covert prestige, on the other hand, comes from not identifying with the standard language. It is the prestige that comes with group loyalty and solidarity.
Working-class speakers show their solidarity with their class and region by sticking to non-standard norms. Trudgill mentions that working class language is associated with being rough and tough. There is however people who deliberately choose not to speak the standard Swedish, because this is a way for them to show individuality and establishment of identity. Jonas Hassen Khemiri (2003), who is a Swedish author of Arabic descent, describes himself as one of those individuals. His first book is entitled `Ett oga rott` which means `One red eye`.
The first sentences of the book goes; “Idag det var sista sommarlovsdagen och darfor jag hjalpte pappa I affaren” This can be translated as `Today was the last day of the summer vacation and that? s why I helped my dad at the store`. But there are, however, two things that prevent this sentence from being grammatically correct Swedish. The correct sentence should read ` Idag var det sista sommarlovsdagen och darfor hjalpte jag papa I affaren`. So the main character Halim is switching words making his sentences grammatically incorrect. This appears throughout the whole book. He is a typical “suburban id” who speaks in the `Rinkebyswedish` dialect. Halim, deliberately uses language in a creative, non-standard way in order to construct an identity for himself distinct from mainstream Swedish culture. His way of speaking is an identity-marker. In few situations, Halim decides to speak in correct Swedish. The fact that Halim chooses to speak his own way of Swedish shows how language and identity are inherently linked. ?Rinkeby Swedish` is a dialect of Swedish spoken mainly in suburbs with a high proportion of immigrants and immigrant descendants, which emerged as a linguistic phenomenon in the 1980s.
Rinkeby or Tensta in northern Stockholm are such suburbs. Variants of Rinkeby Swedish are reported from suburbs of Stockholm, Malmo, and Gothenburg with a predominantly immigrant population. These variants tend to be based on the local town accents, or on the variety of Standard Swedish taught in school. These varieties can be described as having a somewhat simplified version of the Swedish grammar and a richness of loanwords from the languages of the countries the speakers’ parents or grandparents originated in: mainly Turkish, with traces of Kurdish, Arabic, Greek and Persian.
Many English words and some English grammar are also used, because of a widespread identification with African American culture and the appreciation of rap and hip hop music. Examples of Rinkebyswedish: * Rinkeby Swedish: Yalla bre, aina kommer, cok loco! * Swedish: Skynda er, polisen kommer, de ar helt galna! * English: Hurry up, the police are coming, they’re completely crazy! In the translated sentence above the speaker of Rinkeby Swedish makes use of Arabic, Serbo-Croatian, Turkish, Swedish, Turkish again and finally Spanish. To exemplify further: The word aina is derived from Turkish slang for police, aynas? , which literally means without mirror. But somehow it makes sense in spoken `Rinkebyswedish`. Other examples are abou: `wow`, baxa: `steal`, fett: `nice`and keff: `bad`. `Rinkebyswedish`is also seen by some as a marker of group solidarity. However, many native-speakers believe that dialects, such as rinkebyswedish, are having bad effect on the standard Swedish. Because of this, many native swedes have left the suburbs where large numbers of immigrants resides; worrying their children will be influenced by this sub-dialect. Swedish slang language has changed adically in the last few decades. From slang such as `smeka? meaning ? a sandwich`(sw:smorgas) and ? deg`meaning ? money? (sw: pengar), to words for example ? digga? that means ? to like? (sw: gilla). In the 50? s and 60? s, the teenagers and young adults then used slang known as “soderslang” or “knoparmoj”, for words they thought were too boring or average. This was a way of rebelling. Knoparmoj was mainly used by chimney-sweepers and was sort of a secret language but is not so frequently used today. Words such as ? brallor? and ? dojjor? derives from Knoparmoj slang.
These two words, however, are still in use. Soderslang was used in old times, with few words surviving. Words such as barr: ? hair`, pjuk: ? shoes`, kagge: ? stomach`, juste: ? nice? and kak: ? prison? are all examples of Soderslang. Today’s youth tend to change words just like they did in the 50? s. The only difference is that these new words are very influenced by the American English. This is generally known as `swenglish`. Words of “swenglish” origin is , for example, “softa” which means `relaxing`or `take it easy`. This words derives from the English `soft? but has been given a new meaning in it? s “swenglish” form. Another word is “trasha” which origins from the English word ? trash? and in it? s “swenglish” form means to destroy. Other examples are “flasha”= ? show off`, “gymma”=? exercise` or “deleta”= ? delete”. In addition to this, Swedish youth today are also using pure English words to communicate with one another. In the suburbs, for instance, one can come across teenagers who greet each other with words such as ? Yo? or ? Wassup`, which derives from the hip hop culture. Conclusion
With this essay, I wanted to present the variations of the Swedish language and its dialects and slang. Globalization and the developed technology have played a major role on the Swedish language. People travel more these days and get in contact with other cultures in a bigger scale. Additionally, the internet allows millions of people to contact each other across continents. As a result, factors such as these do affect the Swedish language. English language has during years gradually settled in the Swedish language a great deal, so much that people forget it’s there.
Some would see this as threats and some would say it is enriching our language. But one thing is for sure, in the future, we will witness even more development of the Swedish language with new sub-dialects, words and expressions. It is inevitable, since Sweden is now a multicultural society. References Bunar, Nihad (1999) Skolan mitt i fororten. Umea: Partnerskap for multietnisk integration Khemiri, Jonas Hassen,(2003) Ett oga rott, Stockholm: Nordstedts forlag Nylund, Anastasia (2009) `The slang of suburban boys’, Stockholm University Parkvall, Mikael, (2000) Sveriges sprak-vem talar vad och var?
Stockholm Universitet Trudgill. Peter (2000) Sociolinguistics: An introduction to Language and Society. Oxford University Press Internet http://www. ne. se, searchword: svenska ——————————————– [ 1 ]. http://www. ne. se, searchword: svenska [ 2 ]. Parkvall, Mikael (p13) Sveriges sprak-vem talar vad och var? (2000) Stockholm Universitet [ 3 ]. Parkvall, Mikael (p19) Sveriges sprak-vem talar vad och var? (2000) Stockholm Universitet [ 4 ]. Bunar, N. (p. 34) Skolan mitt i fororten. 1999) Umea: Partnerskap for multietnisk integration [ 5 ]. Bunar, N. (p. 52) Skolan mitt i fororten. (1999) Umea: Partnerskap for multietnisk integration [ 6 ]. Trudgill. P. (p49) Sociolinguistics: An introduction to Language and Society. (2000) Oxford University Press [ 7 ]. Khemiri, Jonas Hassen,(p5) Ett oga rott (2003), Stockholm: Nordstedts forlag [ 8 ]. Anastasia Nylund, (p10-13) ‘The slang of suburban boys’ (2009), Stockholm University [ 9 ]. Parkvall, Mikael (p26) Sveriges sprak-vem talar vad och var? (2000) Stockholm Universitet
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