In a recent survey, Swedes came out as having the best English in Europe (as a foreign language). They were in the number 1 position, together with Malta, who have English as an official language. Today, a national newspaper presented school results which showed that Swedish students score higher in English than they do in Swedish. In fact, Swedish results are in decline.
I guess this isn’t surprising when you think of how much English is used in daily life in Sweden. Very often, an English word is thrown into the conversation even if there is a perfectly good Swedish word to use. This, coupled with music and media, reflects the fact that English knowledge is on the up.
I think this is a good thing. The world is more and more globalized and today’s kids are tomorrow’s workers, and many of them will be operating in a world of languages other than Swedish. The most worrying part of this development is that Swedish results are down. Every year, small languages become extinct around the world – is this something we can expect of Swedish in centuries to come?
One thought on “Swedes number one in the English-speaking league – but at what cost?”
No… Swedish is in the top 100 most spoken languages in the world among estimated 6800 languages. The really small languages, about half of all (ca 3000), are spoken by approximately 10 000 people together.
Languages develop all the time, it is only since the written language became the norm that people seem more hesitant towards progress. In the middle ages we borrowed from German and Latin, in 18th century from French, and today from English. In 100 years Mandarin might be the language of choice?
It is as it always has been, and a normal behaviour for a healthy and living language!