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Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Nuts and Bolts: the Swedish alphabet.

 Swedish has twenty-nine letters in its alphabet - that's the English twenty-six plus three more vowels, å ä and ö.

The three extras are placed at the end of the alphabet, after the z, and are regarded as completely separate letters from a and o.

This basically Roman alphabet came to Sweden with Christianity, but the old Swedish runes continued to be used into the 1700s, especially in the countryside. More or less everyone could read runes, but it took a long time for everyone to get round to learning to read the Roman script, so literacy actually got worse after the new alphabet was introduced.

In 1889 someone noticed that the letter Q wasn't a lot of use, and from 1900 it was replaced by the letter K in all contexts except proper names like Husqvarna and borrowed words like queer.

W and V were treated as the same letter, and V was generally preferred (except for some ancient families who were proud of their old W-spelled names). But then the World Wide Web came along, which made things trickier, and so from 2006 dictionaries have split up V word and W words into two sections. Before that they were all jumbled up together.

Z is rare, most old uses having been rather sensibly replaced with the letter S.

There's a sound in Swedish called the sj sound. It sounds (to me) a bit like hfwar, and it is said to be spelled in fifty different ways.

I shall not moan about English until at least tomorrow.

Word To Use Today: one of Swedish origin. Perhaps gauntlet, tungsten, or ombudsman. 

Allow yourself an extra biscuit if you can use them all in the same conversation.

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