Swedish 101

A different language is a different vision of life. ~Federico Fellini

The vocabulary of Swedish is mainly Germanic, either through common Germanic heritage or through loans from German, Low German and to some extent English. Examples of Germanic words in Swedish are mus ("mouse"), kung ("king"), and gås ("goose"). Much of the religious and scientific vocabulary is of Latin or Greek origin, often borrowed through French and, as of late, English. Cross-borrowing from other Germanic languages is also common, at first from Low German, the lingua franca of the Hanseatic league, later from standard German. Some compounds are translations of the elements (calques) of German original compounds into Swedish, e.g bomull from German Baumwolle, cotton (lit. tree-wool). Finland-Swedish has a set of separate terms, often calques of their Finnish counterparts, chiefly terms of law and government. A significant 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. Examples include nivå (fr. niveau, "level"), ateljé; (fr. atelier, "studio"), and paraply (fr. parapluie, "umbrella").

New words are often formed by compounding, and, like many Germanic languages, Swedish compounds words freely and frequently. Like for instance nagellacksborttagningsmedel ("nail polish remover"), but as in German or Dutch extremely long, though quite impractical, examples like produktionsstyrningssystemsprogramvaruuppdatering ("production controller system software update") are possible. Compound nouns take their gender from the head, which in Swedish is always the last morpheme. A very productive method for creating new verbs is the adding of -a to an existing noun, as in bil ("car") and bila ("to drive (recreationally)").

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