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Swedish

accent, language, grammar, stockholm, languages, modern, century and svensk

SWEDISH LANGUAGE.— The North Germanic dialects seem to have differed very little from each other originally. A fairly uni form language was spoken all over the North which in English and Scandinavian sources is often referred to as aDonsk During the Viking age, between 700 and 1100, four dia lects developed from the original Old Norse: Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish. The former two are grouped together as West norse, the latter two as Eastnorse. Among the distinguishing features may be mentioned the passive ending -s for Eastnorse, where Nor wegian and Icelandic have -sk, f. i. kallas to be called' versus kallask. The Old Swedish period extends to the time of the Reformation and covers geographically not only Sweden proper, but also the coast districts of Finland and Livonia. Our knowledge of the earlier stage of Old Swedish is based on Runic in scriptions which only in the 13th century were replaced by the Latin alphabet. During the later Middle Ages many phonetic, changes took place which tended to differentiate Swedish more and more from the other Scandinavian branches, such as lengthening of vowels, the Genetive ending -s instead of -r, the relative pronoun sum in place of aer, etc. The vocabu lary absorbed many foreign elements, especially from Danish and German, as f. i. numerous industrial and commercial terms, all the verbs in -era (German -ieren), the suffix -het (—belt), the prefixes be-, bi-, unt-. From this somewhat chaotic stage of transition which is characterized by absolute lack of linguistic norms or standards, modern Swedish emerges gradually as a literary language. The first com plete Bible translation which is named, after Gustavus I and appeared in 1541 is regarded as the first monument of modern Swedish lit erature. Throughout the 17th century gram marians and purists made efforts to create na tional standards and to eliminate foreign ele ments. In spite of that, however, a large num ber of French words crept into Swedish, es pecially in the 18th century and have maintained themselves to this day. The internal linguistic changes concern chiefly the simplification of case endings or inflections and the adoption.of certain sound-shifts which are characteristic of modern Swedish, such as the sh-sound for combinations like sj, stj, sk, skj. The pronoun of address became ni instead of I. Since the middle of the 18th century Swedish grammar has changed very little, while the vocabulary shows quite a different appearance, particularly since the enormous wealth and variety of ex pression which is stored up in the dialects has been utilized by modern writers. The dialects

of balarna and the island Gottland are es pecially noteworthy on account of their quaint ness and archaic character.

Accent.— Longfellow who first introduced Swedish writers to the American public, char acterizes the Swedish language as soft and musical with an accent like the Lowland Scotch. Jacob. Grimm considered it even the most musi cal of all Germanic languages, comparable to Italian among the Romance languages. This musical character of Swedish is partly ex plained from the fact that it has retained full endings like -a and -o in many posi tions where the other Germanic languages have substituted -e or dropped them en tirely. More important, however, are the peculiar laws of pitch and modulation which hardly any other language has developed with such consistency. Certain combinations of stress and tone result in definite forms of a musical cadence of gtonlag." The simple tonlag, or acute accent, differs very little from that employed in other languages, the com pound tonlag occurs only in Norwegian and Swedish: the voice first sinks about two tones and rises suddenly two or three tones on the second syllable with a weak secondary stress. The question of accent and modulation is one of the chief difficulties in the study of Swedish.

Bibliography.— For history of the lan guage: Noreen, A. G., We nordiska (Upsala 1887). By the same scholar the au thoritative grammar, (Vart sprik) (Stockholm 1903 et seq.). A shorter grammar in Swedish is by Sundcn, D. A., 'Svensk (Stock holm 1885). For pronunciation and accent con sult Storm's article (Om Tonelaget i de skandi naviske Spred' (Christiania 1847). Also Sweet's treatment in the Transactions of the Philological Society (London 1877). Two practical grammars for American students are Vixner, E. J., 'A Brief Swedish Grammar) (Rock Island, Ill., 1914) and Elmquist, A. L., 'Elementary Swedish Grammar' (Chicago 1914). The official dictionary of the Swedish Academy is still in progress, 'Ordbok 'Myer svenska spraket) (Lund 1893 et seq.). For dia lects consult Rietz, J. E., 'Svensk Dialectlexi kon) (Malmo 1867). For etymology Tamm, F., 'Etymologisk svensk ordbok) (Stockholm 1890). For American readers Bjorkman, 'Swedish-English Dictionary> (Stockholm 1889) did WendstrOm and Lindgren, Swedish Dictionary' (Stockholm 1889).