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Lesson Transcript


Michael: Is modern Swedish different from contemporary Swedish?
Jesper: And, if so, what are the differences?
Michael: At SwedishClass101.com, we hear these questions often.
Consider the following situation. Ben Lee, a high school student, is trying to read a quote in one of his textbooks, but finds a word written in a way he has never seen before. He turns to his friend, Sandra Strom, and asks, "Is this in Swedish?"
Ben Lee: Är det här svenska?
Ben Lee: Är det här svenska?
Sandra Strom: Ja, men nysvenska.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Ben Lee: Är det här svenska?
Michael: "Is this in Swedish?"
Sandra Strom: Ja, men nysvenska.
Michael: "Yes, but it's in Modern Swedish."

Lesson focus

Michael: Perhaps Ben Lee was looking at the Modern Swedish word for "what."
Jesper: hvad,
Michael: which is spelled H-V-A-D. In the Contemporary Swedish spoken today, the word for "what"
Jesper: vad
Michael: is spelled without the H instead. That is, it's spelled V-A-D. The new spelling of this word, and many others was the result of a spelling reform in 1906. The history of the Swedish language can be split into many different periods, of which the two latest ones are Modern Swedish, or
Jesper: nysvenska
Michael: and Contemporary Swedish, which is called
Jesper: nusvenska,
Michael: literally meaning "Now-Swedish." The period of Modern Swedish is often counted to have started in the year 1526, largely because of the translation of the New Testament into Swedish by the king, Gustav Vasa,
Jesper: Gustav Vasa,
Michael: which established new standards for spelling for the country. The beginning of Contemporary Swedish is counted to have started around the year 1900, largely because of the spelling reform of 1906. A big difference between Modern and Contemporary Swedish is that Contemporary Swedish brought the written form of the language closer to the spoken form. For example, in modern Swedish, the "V"-sound could be spelled with an "F," an "F-V," or an "HV," as in the case of
Jesper: hvad.
Michael: In the spelling reform that took place in the beginning of the period of Contemporary Swedish, these spellings were all replaced with simply a "V." Contemporary Swedish has naturally kept changing since the early 1900s, and 1960 another big change came, with the "You-reform," or
Jesper: du-reformen.
Michael: Before this reform, the only proper way to address people of similar or higher social status was using their surname with the appropriate title, for example Sir, Ma'am or Miss.
Jesper: herr, fru and fröken.
Michael: There was also a more formal word for "you,"
Jesper: ni,
Michael: that could be used. During the 1960s, however, the You-reform made the less formal word
Jesper: du
Michael: the standard address, whether in informal, formal, or even official settings. The bigger differences between Modern and Contemporary Swedish are therefore that Contemporary Swedish is much less formal than the Modern Swedish, and that it has brought the written form closer to the spoken form, how the language is actually pronounced.
Practice Section
Michael: Let's review what we heard in this lesson. I will say the target sentence in English, and then you should respond by saying the sentence out loud in Swedish. Jesper will then model the correct answer. Listen to him carefully, with the focus on pronunciation, and then repeat.
The first sentence is "Is this in Swedish?"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Jesper: Är det här svenska?
Michael: Did you get it right? Listen to Jesper again, and repeat.
Jesper: Är det här svenska?
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Jesper: Är det här svenska?
Michael: The second sentence is "Yes, but it's in Modern Swedish."
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Jesper: Ja, men nysvenska.
Michael: How did you do this time? Again, listen to Jesper and repeat.
Jesper: Ja, men nysvenska.
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Jesper: Ja, men nysvenska.


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Jesper: Vi ses!
Michael: See you soon!

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