Spotlights of Swenglish

Spotlights of Swenglish

In recent times, the English language became quite active in ordinary Swedish vocabulary. For this reason, an ongoing interaction between the two languages appeared, which led to a common term “Swenglish”.  It is usually accompanied by the local one: ”Svengelska”.

This article revels how the absorption of English language affects the local one.

The roots

”Svengelska” is a combination of two Swedish words svenska and engelska. The term firstly appeared in one article published in 1960. It tried to get the attention of readers to the case and make them aware about the words they use in order to prevent any possible influence on the native language.

And more than 50 years later Svengelska is more progressed and lively. It became a common thing in daily communication. However, generations Y and Z are the most active users of Swenglish. The dominance of Hollywood and globalization are responsible for the impact.

Anyway, it has been seen even in the official cases. The representative of the Swedish Language Council, Ola Karlsson, claims that “for every 300 words in a Swedish newspaper, one to three are written in English”.

Advanced strategies

Surprisingly, it was not enough that Swedes were borrowing English words. They decided to create their own words that sounded English but don’t exist in the actual language. For example, youth often use a word “sejfa” that implies “to play it safe”.

Direct translations also are popular trend, e.g. “ha en bra dag” became a common way to wish a nice day.

The threat

The Defense of the Language Group in Sweden is quite concerned about the consequences like “domain loss”. Which means that the local language loses its ability to describe particular fields of knowledge. Furthermore, a foreign language takes the superiority over a regional one.

In 2009, the Defense of the Language Group initiated the Language Act Law which acknowledged Swedish as the official language. This law should increase the popularity of Swedish language and regulate the level of a foreign one in a pubic environment.  Unfortunately, the execution isn’t so smooth. The Defense of the Language Group noticed that Swedish foreign ministry’s e-mail address is in English and the webpage of Nobel Prize Committee provides only English version. Moreover, the local companies that earned global recognition also gave the priority to the commonly used language.

People shape the language

The Swedish Language Council is the primary regulatory body for the advancement and cultivation of the Swedish language (Wikipedia). Linguists are doing constant research, investigating how language is affected by current society and make relevant adjustments.

The official body emphasizes that the local language is shaped by people rather than the institution. People do create and use the words of their choice. If these words become generally common, they will become incorporated in the dictionary.

Linguists also pay attention to the real threat which is related with the use of writing rules or style guide rules of the foreign language. It is described as a domain loss and appears when the obligation to switch from a native language to the other one, occurs, e.g. on most occasions the science and medicine dissertations are written in English.

Two sides of the same coin

Globalization and the popularity of international language affect the majority of languages around the world. So, Swenglish is just a natural reflection of the current situation. Anyway, a healthy concern is necessary in order to maintain the distinctive diversity.

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