Swedish is one of the Germanic languages and is derived from the Old Norse language, which was spoken all over Scandinavia before the Middle Ages. In the 13th century, the dialects spoken in Sweden and Denmark deviated into Old Danish and Old Swedish.
But the story of modern Swedish began with the invention of the printing press in the 16th century. At that time, the King of Sweden, Gustav Vasa, ordered a Swedish translation of the Bible, which was published in 1541. This initiative led to the stabilization of the language, which took its final shape in the 17th century, when the first Swedish grammar was written. Modern Swedish imposed itself permanently at the beginning of the 20th century, when, despite the existence of different regional varieties deriving from old rural dialects, the written and spoken language was standardised.
Today, 85% of the population in Sweden speaks Swedish as their mother tongue. However Swedish is not designated as the official language in the 1975 Constitution. Swedish is therefore the de facto national language (in practice but not in the eyes of the law) in Sweden as well as one of the official languages of Finland.
Each year, 40 000 students follow courses in Swedish in Swedish universities, which makes Swedish the most attractive of the Nordic languages. Besides, Swedish courses are widely spread in the United States and in Germany. Today, more than 10 million people speak Swedish in the whole world.
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Indo-European languages> Germanic languages > Scandinavian languages >East Scandinavian languages > Swedish