Cleaning up the Swedish language


Every year, SAOL, the Swedish Academy Ordlista (word list), is published. This list includes new additions to the Swedish language and removes or updates old words that are no longer in use. 2015’s list is due to be released next month, and this time, the Academy have made suggestions that clean up the Swedish language by suggesting that we do not use offensive and controversial words. 

Instead of ‘neger’ (nigger), they are suggesting Swedes say ‘black’

Instead of ‘Lapp’, they are recommeding ‘Same’

Instead of ‘zigenare’ (gypsy), they are suggesting ‘Roma’

For me, this is a no-brainer. It is extraordinarily old-fashioned and offensive to continue to use the three listed words above.  I would hope in 2015 that we had come further than this. There are people who will defend the use of these words by saying that they have the right to use what vocabulary they want. Of course, they are correct. That’s called freedom of speech. But having the right to do something doesn’t mean doing it. If by exercising my right I am violating or oppressing others, then I would suggest we make other choices. 

One thought on “Cleaning up the Swedish language

  1. Well, actually, we have the same use of words here, except for lapp/sami . The word “neger” is in our case has no connotation in the language, but word black is the one with the most meanings possible, starting from the description of color, then description of a person having dark hair, person of a darker shade skin+jet black hair – starting with Caucasus ending with Arabs. But the rest is just plain negative – black doors (other house entrance, mostly used by staff), black and small (person that’s been shown to be worthless), dirty, mean and so on… So I always wonder why, people of other cultures, nowadays usually Anglo-Saxon, are pushing their understanding on other cultures, because here, pushing for word black, referring to somebody that way, would not be clear – is it some one with dark hair, is it someone from Near East, is it somebody mean and dirty, or evil? Whereas in first case it has no emotional connotation at all? Oh – you meant the whole new continent? Hang on, What to do with the country called Niger? And Nigerians? “i” only in English is pronounced as [ai], all other languages have it much closer to “nigger’ then “neger” or “negro”
    If it fits in English does not mean it will fit in other languages. Same goes for using of word Roma – you have Roma – a city, an empire, few nations etc. Sometimes foreigners understanding of things their own only way is not right, but the world dominance is power. People just can’t be… Words only have emotional attachments, if people put theses sentiments to them. When people do not say 20 times “Thank You” for everything initially you might think they are rude, but after a while you come to understand that hey are not. But of course it is wrong to defend ones own language and the use of it towards outsiders, they should tell you what to do and how especially if you are small, and they are big.

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