The Linguistic Saga: A Tale That Stands the Test of Time

The Linguistic Saga: A Tale That Stands the Test of Time

During the summer of 1941, Rikard Lindström reported on the language of youth in a negative light, with the presence of Anglicisms and Germanisms present in common speech. The use of loanwords was widespread, and syntax suffered as a result. However, criticism of language use among younger generations has always been present, and the Swedish language has endured various threats to its integrity. English became the first foreign language taught in schools after World War II, and with advancements in technology and popular culture, an influx of English words and expressions followed, including “ketchup,” “mascara,” and “bacon.” While there is concern about the dominance of English in certain areas and fields, a survey shows that the majority of Swedes do not see it as a significant threat. Older generations may be more concerned than younger ones, but the future of the Swedish language remains uncertain. A fact-box provides insights into the meanings of different words, such as “pickup” and “collection,” and “reboot” and “fresh start.”

In the summer of 1941, the language of the youth was in a bad position. In DN, Rikard Lindström reported from a seaside resort on the west coast how both women and men sprinkled loanwords: “The language is common, filled with the Anglicisms and Germanisms of sports and newspaper notices where you ‘give up’ or ‘go in for’ the ‘people’s home’ and the ‘living space’ ‘. Vulgarity thrives like any other weed, and the syntax falls apart like scraps of discarded ribbons. But you shouldn’t argue about such things. Then you are considered aged and backward.”

Older generations have always complained about younger generations’ language use. In the same way, the Swede has always been threatened by flattening. It is – to borrow from a poem by Heinrich Heine – with language much like with love: an old story that is constantly new.

But there is another thing that is typical of the observation from the beach. It is made in a time of transition when both German and English influence Swedish.

At the end of World War II English becomes the first foreign language in school. With technological achievements, sports and popular culture being imported from Britain and the USA, words and expressions also follow. Ketchup, mascara, tanks, scones, blues, icing, muffins, drink, plywood, serve and bacon are some of all the imports from this time – where far from all are English from the beginning but are conveyed through the English. Nowadays, the irritation regarding linguistic borrowings is directed almost exclusively at Anglicisms.

Increasingly, English is also beginning to be described as a threat. And more and more people worry about domain losses – that English will become so dominant in certain areas that Swedish will not be able to be used in, for example, certain scientific fields. It is a decisive reason why Sweden in 2009 will have a language law stating that Swedish is the main language.

Although English today often labeled as a threat, concern does not seem to have taken over. In a survey carried out by Novus on behalf of Språktidningen, only 6 percent believe that the spread of English is a major threat to the position of Swedish, while 27 percent respond that it poses a certain threat. As many as 63 percent think that the threat from English is not significant or non-existent. The remaining 4 percent state that they do not know.

Older people are more concerned than younger people. To some extent, it is thus a typical generational issue – but where English is a given feature of everyday life for many young people, many older people have also experienced it gaining ground.

We do not know what the Swedish of the future will look like. The only thing we know is that it will be diagnosed by some elders as a symptom that the linguistic abyss is close. And that many of the younger ones will shrug their shoulders.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent News

Editor's Pick