- Education and Science
Why Learn Swedish? Four Good Reasons
Swedish is often overlooked. Almost everyone in Sweden speaks fluent English and the Scandinavian languages do not have as strong an international influence as such languages as Spanish, French, Japanese, Arabic, and Mandarin Chinese, but there are still some good reasons to learn this beautiful language.
Beauty: Like I said, Swedish is a beautiful language. The phonetics have a nice flow to them and the spoken language has a system of intonation that makes it sound almost like music; a trait lost in most other Indo-European languages.
Ease: As far as Indo-European languages go, Swedish is relatively simple to learn. Swedish used to have three grammatical genders (like modern German), but has reduced it to two by classifying masculine and feminine under "common gender." Therefore, when in doubt, it is fairly safe to guess that the Swedish noun you are dealing with is common gender (rather than the less common "neuter gender"). Furthermore, verb conjugation is very simple; verbs are conjugated by tense only, and not by pronoun. Compare the conjugation of "to be" in English, German, and then Swedish, respectively:
to be - I am, you are, it is, we are, you are, they are
sein - ich bin, du bist, es ist, wir sind, ihr seid, sie sind
att vara - jag är, du är, den är, vi är, ni är, de är
*Note that I have only used a sample of each languages' pronouns for the sake of simplicity and congruity.
In Swedish, you only need to memorize one form of the verb for each tense.
Similarity to English: If you are reading this article, then you probably have a strong command of the English language. Swedish and English are very similar to one another, they are both Germanic languages. Therefore, Swedish will be very intuitive for an English speaker to learn. Compare these sentences from my favorite Swedish musician: in Swedish, "Hur kan du säga nej, till en natt med mig?" and then in English, "how can you say no, to a night with me?" The sentences also sound more similar than they appear in writing.
Mutual Intelligibility: The North-Germanic (Scandinavian) languages have a very broad common basis of familiarity. The current living languages of this group are Swedish, Danish, Norwegian*, Icelandic, and Faroese. Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish are so close to one another, that knowledge of one allows you to almost understand the other two, allowing you to very quickly acquire three foreign languages for the price of one. Knowledge of Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian will make the learning of Icelandic (which is mutually intelligible with Faroese), one of the most difficult Indo-European languages, much easier.
*There are technically two kinds of Norwegian, but this is not the place for such a distinction.
No matter which language you choose, such knowledge will never be a waste for the mental benefits of language acquisition are their own reward (i.e. a sharper and more creative mind)