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Sweden Language and Languages
For a more complete list which contains Swedish words with their English translations see the Swedish Genealogical Word List. The words included here are those that you are likely to find in genealogical sources. If the word you are looking for is not on this list, please consult a Swedish-English dictionary. (See the "Additional Resources" section below.)
Swedish is a Germanic language, as are Norwegian, Danish, and Icelandic. Most differences between modern and old Swedish are simply a matter of spelling. Carefully study the Spelling section in "Language Characteristics" below. This will help you find the words in this list.
Swedish is spoken in Sweden and parts of Finland. The Swedish language was used in official records of Finland until the end of the 1800s.
Variant Forms of Words
In Swedish, as in English, the forms of some words will vary according to how they are used in a sentence. Who—whose—whom or marry—marries— married are examples of words in English with variant forms. The endings of a word in a document may differ from those in this list. Also, vowels sometimes have diacritical marks in different forms of the same word. Note the following examples:
|| man |
|| profession |
Written Swedish has three letters not found in English: Å (å), Ä (ä), and Ö (ö). Alphabetically, these letters come after z. Swedish dictionaries, indexes, the locality section of the Family History Library Catalog, and this word list use the following alphabetical order:
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z å ä ö
To some extent spelling reform began in Sweden due to the efforts of Svenska Akademien in 1889. The most well known spelling reform began in 1906 due to a minister - school teacher named Fridtjuv Berg who wanted to standardize the spelling for the schools. Parliment and other government offices transitioned to this spelling between about 1910 and 1920. In 1923 the Svenska Akadamien Ordlista was published in its 8th edition using the reformed spelling.Before spelling reform the following variations were common:
- ä used for e
- i used for j
- j used for g, gj, hj, lj, dj
- k used for ck, ch, g, gg, c, q
- t used for d, th, tt
- v used for hv, fv, ffv, f, w
- tj used for k, kj, ch
- sk used for skj, sch, sj, stj
- s used for ss, c, z
- änka spelled as enka
- mjölnare spelled as miölnare
- kärr spelled as tjärr
This word list includes only words most commonly found in genealogical sources. For further help, use a Swedish-English dictionary. Several Swedish-English dictionaries are available at the Family History Library. These are in the Scandinavian collection. Their call numbers begin with 439.7321.
The following dictionary is also available on microfilm for use in Family History Centers:
Ernolv, Carl. Svensk-Engelsk Ordbok [Swedish-English Dictionary]. Stockholm, Sweden: Svenska Bokförlaget Norstedts, 1947. (FHL film 1,124,531, item 12).
Björkman, C.G. Svensk-Englesk Ordbok [Swedish- English Dictionary]. Stockholm, Sweden: P.A. Norstedt, 1889. (FHL film 1,224,734, item 1). Swedish spelling was reformed in 1906. Since this dictionary was written in 1889, it shows words as they were spelled before 1906.
Additional dictionaries are listed in the Subject section of the Family History Library Catalog under:
SWEDISH LANGUAGE - DICTIONARIES
or in Place Search under:
SWEDEN - LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGES.
To find and use specific types of Swedish records, you will need to know some key words in Swedish. This section lists key genealogical terms in English and the Swedish words with the same or similar meanings.
For example, in the first column you will find the English word marriage. In the second column you will find Swedish words with meanings such as marry, marriage, wedding, wedlock, unite, legitimate, joined,and other words used in Swedish records to indicate marriage.
|English|| Swedish |
|birth||födda, födde, född, födelse|
|christening||döpta, döpte, döpt, döpelse, dop|
|death||döda, döde, död, avgangen, avliden, avsomna|
|household examination roll||husförhörslängd, förhör, församlingbok|
|marriage||vigda, vigde, vigd, vigsel, gift, gifte, giftermål, bröllop, brudfolk|
|parish||socken, församling, kommun|
For additional general words, numbers, dates, and time see the Swedish Genealogical Word List.