Thursday, 23 July 2020

How translation agencies assess industry knowledge and experience

Nordic-Baltic translation agency Baltic Media

Translators with all levels of experience have a place in this industry, though most vendors look for at least two years of proven work. Though the more years the better, translators with less experience aren’t in any less demand, as they generally work for slightly lower fees, making them desired commodities. Novice translators may be great at providing machine translation post-editing, while a veteran may be more apt for literary translations.

The bottom line for many agencies is that the translator should have at least 500,000 translated words during the course of their translation career.

A good translation background is only one side of the token. Vendors also look for valuable and hands-on industry experience in their field of specialization. This will ensure that delivered texts are more contextually appropriate and not written about in theory or only based on research. Those who lack that insider knowledge should make an effort to take part in webinars, read articles, master the jargon, and keep their knowledge up to speed.

A language service provider that focuses heavily on software, app and game localization may require the translator to play the game in question prior to translation. As a result, those who are not necessarily specialists are immersed in the product in order to provide the best texts. IT translators must be very knowledgeable about the topic to even qualify to do translations in this sector.

Vendors will also ask for examples of past translation work, references and a short CV with the most crucial information. They examine the translator’s portfolio carefully to ensure they fit the bill.

Computer skills: why linguistic affinity is not enough

In addition to translation and industry experience, technology plays a huge role. Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, cloud platforms, tools for editing files in different encodings and machine translation software are a central part of the work. This is why translation companies usually ask for experience with more than one of these tools. In addition, the localization ofwebsites, software, apps and games often require advanced IT and developer knowledge by both the translator and the translation agency.

Educational background

Do translation agencies prefer a university degree and other types of certification?

Education is a big part of a translator’s success and having the right set of credentials is important to recruiters. Without vocational training, aspiring translators may find it hard to land jobs.

However, there are many cases where people have worked years within a specific industry, like in medicine or marketing, who transition to translation by learning the trade through various online translation courses. Next, they apply for a translator certification from a recognized association.

At many language service providers, both university-trained and industry specialists are accepted. Successful translation agencies tend to only work with native speakers who translate into their mother tongue. They must also be fluent in the source languages.

How do translation agencies test freelancers?

There are two parts of the testing process: the actual translation test itself and questions about methodology and technology used by the candidate. Translation agencies may will ask the translator to complete the test within a cloud platform such as Crowdin. The quality of the test determines the hiring (or not) of the candidate. The best practice is to use a translation quality assessment to grade tests.

The Translation Quality Index is a quality assessment model originally created by the Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA), and it is based on quantitative assessment. Errors are divided into categories; each error is weighted. The weighted total number of errors is then subtracted from 100.

Usually translators are not interviewed, unless for an in-house position. The questions are therefore asked in the translation test. Some questions that a hiring or localization manager will ask are:

● How did you localize the content into your target language? What cultural and
situational elements did you consider?
● How long did it take to complete the translation?
● Which tools/dictionaries did they use to do the translation?
● Do they have any relevant comments regarding the texts or a section of the
text/word that they found difficult to translate?

How to test creativity and writing skills

In the case of transcreators or copywriters, and for certain types of translations, vendors also need to test the creative writing skills that a translator would have. They would need to take an original text and ensure that the target text they are creating is highly localized and readable for the target audience. Sometimes a lot of imagination goes into this type of work — like in order to convey humor.

Translation recruiting platforms

Many large translation agencies use platforms such as SmartCat to manage freelance talent. This slightly less personal approach is due to the fact that companies of large size simply cannot handle the sea of freelance applications.

There are small or medium-sized agencies that are able to apply a more personalized and human approach. They have added confidence in their translators, who in turn lend a hand in promoting optimal quality assurance. The translation agency can find and assign the right translators to the right tasks based on individual expertise.

Source: Multilingual 

Friday, 10 July 2020

Slator: Stripe Says Lack of Translation Most Common Error in European E-commerce


Online payment portal Stripe (which also powers Slator’s e-commerce store) found the lack of translation to be the most common error during customer checkout at the top 450 European e-commerce websites.

The San Francisco-based company, which made headlines in mid-April for being Silicon Valley’s most valuable startup as consumer purchases moved online amid the Covid-19 pandemic, released new research that uncovered three basic errors in the top e-commerce websites of the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Sweden.

The study, entitled The State of European Checkouts in 2020, showed that more than half (58%) of customer checkouts “had at least three basic errors, adding unnecessary friction for customers and complicating the checkout process.” The research went on to show that 9 in 10 lost sales in Europe came from failures on the checkout page.

The most common error: 74% of checkouts did not have local language translations when customers located elsewhere in Europe tried to make a purchase, and failed to offer the most relevant payment options for international customers.

(The other errors: 42% of Europe’s e-commerce sites did not auto-verify the card number as it was entered and 45% did not confirm the card type when the card number was entered.)

Among the 74% of checkouts that were not translated into local languages, “Spanish checkouts were the least likely to be localized for other European markets,” according to Stripe. In fact, none of the Spanish checkouts Stripe analyzed were translated into a local language at all during checkout.

“Not translating your checkout [into] the language of yourcustomers […] could cut off entire countries from your addressable market, leading to lost sales” — The State of European Checkouts in 2020 by Stripe

The most likely to be translated into other languages were checkouts in the Netherlands; although these lacked local payment options, the study said.

Highlighting the importance of localization in e-commerce websites, Stripe said, “Not translating your checkout [into] the language of your customers […] could cut off entire countries from your addressable market, leading to lost sales.”

To localize the checkout experience, Stripe recommends that, first, websites identify the top countries into which they want to sell, and then localize the experience by translating the checkout page. 

Other recommendations include changing the fields to capture the right information per country (e.g., dynamically adding a field for postal/zip code, depending on where the customer’s credit card originates) and dynamically surfacing the correct payment option during checkout based on where a customer is located.

Source: Slator 

 Translation of webpages and e-commerce sites

Monday, 29 June 2020

Languages of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - and How They Interact

Sociolinguist Peter Trudgill on the languages of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - and how they interact*

Latvian and Lithuanian ethnographic music groups on the Baltic sea beach Ziemupe, Latvia, 2015

The Baltic States are, from north to south along the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. We often refer to them by this collective name as if they formed some kind of unity - and in some ways, of course, they do.
They were all under Russian control for over a century until after the First World War, when they became separate independent countries. During the Second World War, all of them were invaded by the Germans and then swallowed up by the Soviet Union, becoming independent nations again in 1991.
They contain sizeable Russian-speaking minorities because of in-migration during the period of Soviet control. All three of them are quite small in terms of population, none comprising more than three million citizens. They also have a number of cultural affinities.

But there are two major factors which help to distinguish between these three nations. The first is religion. Historically, Estonia and Latvia were predominantly Protestant, like nearby Finland and Sweden, while Lithuania was mainly Catholic, like neighbouring Poland.
The second is language, which divides them in a different way. The Lithuanian and Latvian languages are historically related to one another, but not to Estonian.
Estonian is a Finno-Ugric language, very distantly related to Hungarian, and less distantly to the Sami or Lappish languages of northern Scandinavia.
More specifically, Estonian is a Balto-Finnic language, very closely related to Finnish. There is some degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages - Finnish yksi kaksi kolme, 'one two three', is üks kaks kolm in Estonian - and Estonians in particular became adept at understanding Finnish as a result of watching Finnish TV during the Soviet era.
Specialist academic conferences take place today involving the two countries at which each linguistic group speaks their own language; participants report that, with goodwill on both sides and the help of PowerPoint presentations, this works well enough.
In the south of Estonia a language variety called Voro is spoken which is regarded by its proponents as a language in its own right, related to but different from Estonian. Modern Standard Estonian is certainly based on dialects from the north of the country.
Another Finnic language of the Baltic States which was closely related to Estonian is Livonian. This was spoken in areas of northern Latvia not far from Estonia, but tragically the person who is thought to have been the last native speaker of this language died in 2013.
Place-name evidence shows that at one time Finnic was spoken over substantial areas of what is now Latvia.

Latvian and Lithuanian, on the other hand, are both Indo-European Baltic languages. They are the only two survivors of a bigger Baltic language family which was once spoken over a much larger geographical area, including what is now northeastern Poland.
The best known of the other now extinct Baltic languages wasPrussian, which often today goes by the name of Old Prussian to distinguish it from Prussian varieties of German: Old Prussian died out in the 1600s as speakers of different varieties of German invaded and colonised the area.
The Baltic languages are thought by some scholars to have a historical relationship with Slavic languages such as Polish, and they therefore talk of a Balto-Slavic language family.
Unlike Finnish and Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian are not mutually intelligible. 
It has been suggested that the degree relationship between the two might be rather like English and Dutch: English speakers are not surprised to learn that the Dutch word water means 'water', or that goed is 'good', or that een twee drie means 'one two three' - but we are still not able to understand what Dutch speakers are saying unless we have studied the language. 
Similarly, Lithuanian vienas du trys, 'one two three', is viens divi tris in Latvian, but that does not necessarily help either side very much with general comprehension of the other language.
*Source New European 

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Nordic Translation: Masculine, Feminine and Neuter are Characteristic of Indo-European Languages

Gender categories refer here to the assignment of a gender to a noun which may be marked morphologically in several ways. It has nothing to do with expressing natural gender. 
Masculine, feminine, and neuter are characteristics of Indo-European languages. Many of them have lost the neuter like Romance languages (except Romanian and Asturian), Celtic languages, Baltic languages, and most Indo-Aryan languages. 
Some, like Dutch, Danish and Swedish have merged the masculine and the feminine into a common gender, making thus a distinction more similar to animate and inanimate. 
Genderless languages are the most common: Turkic, Tungusic, Sino-Tibetan, Mongolic, Koreanic, Japonic, Kartvelian, Pontic, Uralic, Austronesian, Austroasiatic, Tai-Kadai, Pama-Nyungan, and most Australian languages, Tupi-Gê-Carib, Arawan, Arawak, Na-Dene, Eskimo-Aleut, and many others in Papua and the Americas. English and Afrikaans lost all gender marking except in pronouns (he, she, it, for example). 
Several diverse classes occur in most Niger-Congo languages, some Caspian/Northeast Caucasian languages, some Khoisan languages, Jarawa and Ongan (from the Andaman Islands), and some aboriginal Australian languages. They may contain animal genders, vegetal genders, genders for rocks, and many other categories.
Animate and inanimate gender is common in some Amerindian families such as Algic, Uto-Aztecan, Quechuan, Aymara, Mapudungun, Iroquoian, Siouan.
Burushaski and Zande have four genders, masc., fem., animate and inanimate, and some like Polish, Czech, or the Dravidian Languages have a hierarchy of animacy and gender. 

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Market Size of the Global Language Services Industry 2009-2021

With the world becoming increasingly interconnected, the global language services market has seen rapid growth. In the last ten years, the market has doubled in size, reaching 46.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.
The market size of the global language services industry 2009-2021

Global language services

Generally speaking, the language services market can be divided into three segments – instruction, translation, and localization. Translation differs from localization in that the former involves tasks where one language needs to be directly translated into another. This includes traditional activities such as document translation and interpreting services. Localization, on the other hand, refers to a broader process of cultural adaption, generally in more artistic areas such as creating voice-over for film and television. Depending on the context, either service may be required for digital platforms and online content.

Regional markets

As is perhaps not surprising given the region’s high level of development and linguistic diversity, Europe accounts for around half of the global language services marketGiven its diverse range of languages and high levels of economic development, it is perhaps not surprising that Europe is home to the largest language services market in the world, comprising almost half of the global market. The small size of the Latin American market may appear surprising though; given Spanish is the second-most spoken language globally. This, along with the large size of the North American market, maybe in part explained by the high level of demand for Spanish content within the United States.

Machine translation

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the language services industry. Machine translation, which is the process of using software to translate from one language to another, is a fast-growing field that is expected to more than triple in size from 2017 to 2024. Accordingly, the two largest providers in the global language services market – Transperfect and Lionbridge – are investing heavily in this area, offering software-based ‘artificial intelligence’ translation in conjunction with their more traditional translation services.


Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Language Is a Virus: Dutch Swear Words

English insults often refer to sex; Dutch ones, to disease

In most languages, if someone said you had cancer, it would be a diagnosis. In Dutch, it is more likely to be an insult. Kankerlijer (“cancer-sufferer”) is one of a long list of Dutch profanities and expletives derived from diseases. An undesirable person might be told to “typhus off” (optyfussen) or “get consumption” (krijg de tering). If in (American) English you laugh your ass off, in Dutch you might “laugh yourself the pleurisy” (lachen je de pleuris). No one in England has been called a “poxy bitch” for centuries, but in the Netherlands you can still call someone a pokkenteef. A damned long way is a klereneind (“cholera-end”). And so on.

Because expletives are based on social taboos, in most cultures they are linked to sex, excrement or religion. Many Dutch swear words are as well, but they often feel weaker than the medical ones. Schijt is less like its English cognate and more like the gentler French merde. Mierenneuker(“ant-fucker”) is an anodyne expression for someone who fusses over details. “Whore” is an insult in Dutch too, but when the rapper Lil’ Kleine had beef with pop singer Anouk last autumn, he went with the harsher kankerhoer (“cancer-whore”).

Scholars are not sure why the Dutch swear with illnesses. One theory links it to Calvinism, the puritanical strain of Protestantism that caught on here in the 16th century, which holds that the virtue of those destined for heaven will show itself in worldly prosperity, health, and hygiene. “There was a shift in focus from the afterlife to this life, which, for example, diminished the strength of ‘God damn it’,” says Marten van der Meulen, a Dutch linguist and author of a book on swearing. In this theory, “a curse might be stronger if you used something in actual life, like a disease.”

However, there is also what linguists call the frequency hypothesis: the Dutch may curse with diseases simply because it caught on. Language, as Laurie Anderson said, is a virus. Perhaps someday Dutch kids will savage each other on the playground with cries of coronalijer.

 Source: The Economist 



Wednesday, 11 March 2020

The World's Most Spoken Languages

When it comes to the world's ten most spoken languages, numbers tend to vary considerably between sources. 

According to Ethnologue, Chinese (and all of its varieties such as Mandarin and Wu) is by far the most spoken language across the world with 1.31 billion speakers. 

That's approximately 16 percent of the world's population. Indeed, there are between 7 and 13 main regional groups of the Chinese language and Mandarin is the most spoken (898 million speakers).

Widely spoken in South America as well as Spain, Spanish is the planet's second most widely spoken language with a grand total of 460 million speakers according to Ethnologue.

English has 379 million speakers while Arabic has 319 million. The latter includes 19 different varities, of which Egyptian Arabic is the most spoken (64.5 million speakers), followed by Algerian Arabic (29.3 million speakers).

Source: Statista

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

How to Choose the Right Translation Agency?

Simona and Mārīte are the staff members of Nordic-Baltic  language service provider Baltic Media
Simona and Mārīte are the staff members of Nordic-Baltic
 language service provider Baltic Media 

Currently there is a very wide range of translation services available in the Nordic-Baltic market. How not to get lost in the wide offer and to evaluate that the translation agency you choose will provide you with quality and cost-effective translation services?


One of the key drivers of quality service delivery is the agency's translation experience. The long-term operation of the company indicates that the customer is trusted by the service provider, and over time the company has accumulated the necessary experience in managing large and complex projects. Baltic Media was founded inSweden in 1991 and has been operating in the Baltic market since 1994. It is one of the leading companies in the quality language services segment, with extensive language service experience in Northern Europe, including large-scale multilingual translation projects. In addition, the company has a long-standing relationship with the various institutions of the European Union, successfully meeting their high-quality requirements.

ISO certificate

ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, which sets international quality standards in various sectors and areas. The quality translation service shall be indicated by the ISO 9001:2015 quality management system certificate and/or the translation and localization quality certificate ISO 17100:2015.
The ISO certificate is a definite quality assurance that demonstrates that quality assurance routines, work environments, levels of responsibility are developed at all levels in the company to ensure customer satisfaction, respect of requirements and continuous improvement of the quality management system. Baltic Media operates in accordance with the ISO 9001:2015 quality management system, which has enabled the company to streamline its project coordination and vendor selection procedures, as well as guaranteeing customer data security, storage and confidentiality.

Quality of translation

A financially advantageous offer often seems more attractive, but it is good to remember that the lowest price does not provide a high-quality result. Translation costs do not only include translation costs. Quality results are provided by translation and translation editing and/or proofreading by qualified and experienced linguists specializing in a particular field.
Baltic Media translators only translate into their mother tongue and live in a country wherethat language is either the official language or the dominant language of social life. The company has developed a system of supplier selection and verification. All translators and editors recruited by Baltic Media have a university degree in philology or some other area of their specialization (such as IT) and have at least 5 years’ experience in translation. Careful selection and testing of suppliers ensures that only professional translators and editors are used for orders.

CAT tools using

Translation can often take a considerable amount of time without the help of handy tools or Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) tools that help and facilitate the translation process. These tools include dictionaries and translation memories and help maintain consistent terminology and save you money on already translated sections of text. CAT tools are sometimes referred to as computer-assisted translation tools but remember that computer-assisted translation is not the same as machine translation because the document is fully translated and edited by a team of qualified linguists. Baltic Media provides translations with CAT tools like SDL Trados Studio, Memsource, MemoQ and others, which ensure consistency in terminology and speed up the translation process. In addition, clients create their own translation memory file that is used for othertranslations, reducing future translation costs.

Civil liability insurance for translation

Even if you entrust translation to a professional, there is a risk of unintentional or negligent translation errors that can cause damage. How to avoid this situation? Professional translation service providers provide their clients with civil liability insurance, which in such cases covers the client for any losses incurred. Baltic Media translation agency also provides its clients withprofessional civil liability insurance, which provides additional security.

Professional translation project staff

The translation project is planned from start to delivery by a dedicated project manager who selects the most appropriate executors who meet the company's quality requirements, sets realistic deadlines and is responsible for quality control. It is therefore essential that the staff entrusted with the management oftranslation projects, well-versed in translation, be educated, qualified andexperienced. Baltic Media is distinguished from other language services by the fact that not only translators, but also its staff and management have advanced linguistic education and scientific degrees in linguistics and communication.

There are a number of aspects that need to be addressed to make sure that the translation service provider you choose is trustworthy. If you make sure that the translation agency complies with all the above rules, you cannot worry that you will receive a quality translation for an adequate fee

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Summer School of Latvian Language and Culture 2020

 Latvian Language and more 2020

Travel to Riga, study Latvian language, meet new people, invest in your self-development, enjoy various cultural activities and spend 7 fabulous days in Latvia.

Summer School of Latvian Language and Culture  Baltic Media Language Training Center  Latvian Language and more 2020 Credit: Baltic Media
Summer School of Latvian Language and Culture  Baltic Media Language Training Center
Latvian Language and more 2020 Credit: Baltic Media

Rīga | August 10 – August 16, 2020

The leading Nordic-Baltic language service company Baltic Media offers an intensive Latvian language and culture program in the mesmerizing city of Riga.

Riga is a fantastic place to learn Latvian as it offers plenty in terms of sightseeing and entertainment. Many of the most beautiful and interesting sights are concentrated in the Old Town:   

This intensive Latvian language and culture program provides:


  • 350 EUR includes tuition, course materials, coffee and snacks, cultural activities, tours.
  • 149 EUR for person for those who want to participate only in the cultural activities (without tuition costs).
  • 300 EUR early bird special price if you enroll by May 30.
For more information, please e-mail us at

+371 67 224 395

 +371 29 44 68 45


Language courses will be held in the very center of Riga in the Art Nouveau Quarter, where our office is located 

Summer courses will be held in the very center of Riga in the Art Nouveau Quarter, where our office is located Elizabetes iela 11, Rīga, LV-1010, Latvija
Summer School of Latvian Language and Culture  Baltic Media Language Training Center
Latvian Language and more 2020 Credit: Baltic Media

Seven Amazing Days

We encourage you to pack your travel bag, bring along your friends and spend 7 amazing days discovering the beauty of the Latvian language as well as the unique culture and nature of Latvia’s beautiful cities.
Accommodation and meals (except Latvian cuisine tasting) are not included in the rate. Please book your hotel, hostel or guest house yourself. Riga has a wide choice of accommodation for all budgets.

Hotels and Guest Houses in Riga

Summer School of Latvian Language and Culture  Baltic Media Language Training Center  Latvian Language and more 2020
Summer School of Latvian Language and Culture  Baltic Media Language Training Center
Latvian Language and more 2020 Credit: Baltic Media
Summer School of Latvian Language and Culture  Baltic Media Language Training Center  Latvian Language and more
Summer School of Latvian Language and Culture  Baltic Media Language Training Center
Latvian Language and more 2020 Credit: Baltic Media

Why Baltic Media Language Training Centre?NewsQuality of Language TrainingClient referencesValuesOur teamWhy You Should Learn a New Foreign Language25 Reasons to Study Foreign LanguagesQuality of language services

Monday, 17 February 2020

The Swedish Language. From Viking Times to the Present Day: Its Development, Its Peculiarities and Its Status

The Swedish  Language. From Viking Times to the Present Day: Its Development, Its Peculiarities and Its Status
The Swedish  Language. From Viking Times to the Present Day: Its Development, Its Peculiarities and Its Status. 
Swedish people celebrate Walpurgis, or Valborgsmässoafton in Lidingö 2010. It dates back as far as the Middle Ages. In the beginning, it was celebrated by merchants in the cities (the 30th of April marking the end of their fiscal year) but it was also celebrated on the countryside, to mark the passing of spring into summer. Farmers would let their livestock graze late into the evening and lit bonfires to ward off any predators or evil spirits lurking in the shadows. Credit: Baltic Media 

The national language of Sweden is Swedish. It is the mother tongue of approximately 8 million of the country’s  total population of almost 10 million.  Swedish is also spoken by around  300,000 Finland Swedes, 25,000 of whom live on the Swedish-speaking Åland islands.  Swedish is one of the two national  languages of Finland, along with Finnish,  for historical reasons. Finland was part  of Sweden until 1809.  There has been a Swedish-speaking  population in Estonia since the Middle Ages.  Today, only a fraction of it remains.  Since the mid-19th century and up to the present day, more than a million people have emigrated from  Sweden, primarily to North America. It is estimated that Swedish is spoken by several hundred thousand people  worldwide.

Despite the dominant status of Swedish, Sweden is not a monolingual country.  The Sami in the north have always been  a domestic minority, and the country has had a Finnish-speaking population  ever since the Middle Ages. Finnish  and Meänkieli (a Finnish dialect spoken in the Torne river valley in northern   Sweden), spoken by a total of approximately 250,000 people in Sweden, and Sami all have legal status as  domestic minority languages. Romany, Yiddish and sign language for the deaf  also have a form of legal minority- language status.

 As a result of immigration and the   influx of refugees in recent decades, at  least 150 languages are now spoken in  Sweden. Arabic is the most widespread,  with at least 150,000 speakers. No  official statistics are kept on language  affiliation in Sweden.

Swedish and related languages  Swedish is a Nordic language, a Germanic branch of the Indo-European  language tree. Danish and Norwegian  are its siblings, while the other Nordic languages, Icelandic and Faroese, are  more like half-siblings that have preserved more of their original features.  Using this approach, English and German are almost cousins. 

The relationship with other Indo-European languages is particularly clear when we encounter so-called native words that we have from our shared origin.

These are words such as fader (father), moder (mother), hus (house),  mus (mouse), hund (dog), ko (cow),  öga (eye), öra (ear), näsa (nose), blod (blood), dag (day), natt (night), sten (stone), ben (bone), jord (earth), vatten (water), ung (young), ljuv (sweet), äta (eat), dricka (drink), leva (live), (die).

The Swedish alphabet 

The Swedish alphabet has 29 letters and ends with å, ä and ö. V and w are pronounced in the same way, as are s and z.



How does Swedish sound?

The characteristic immediately apparent  to a foreign ear is that Swedish is a melodious language with falling and  rising tones and varying pitch accents:  /´hunden/, /`ra:dhu:s/, /:terställa/,   /pro´ble:m/, /problem´a:tisk/, fotograf´i:/. A sequence of letters such as buren  can be pronounced in two ways. The noun buren (the cage) has accent 1,  with the full emphasis on bur-: /´bu:ren/.  However, the participle form buren   (carried), of the verb bära, has accent 2,  with partial emphasis on the second   syllable: /`bu:ren/.

A particular characteristic of the  sound of Swedish is the many vowel  sounds, a, o, u, å, e, i, y, ä, ö, which can  be both long and short.

Vowel length often determines mean- ing in Swedish: mat (food) pronounced  with a long a, matt (dull) pronounced  with a short a, ful (ugly) pronounced  with a long u, full (full) pronounced with  a short u.

Foreigners also notice the special Swedish u sound. U is pronounced not as in the German word Buch (or the English word boot), but as a sound  somewhere between the vowels in  Buch and grün. The u can be short, as in hund, and long, as in hus.

The letters å, ä och ö are more visually  than aurally distinctive. Å represents  the same vowel sound as in the English words more and hot. Ä is equivalent to  the vowels in care and best. Ö represents  the same sound as in the French words  bleu /-ö/, boeuf /-öff/ and chauffeur /-ö:r/.  

Swedish also contains combinations  of consonants that can be difficult for  many foreigners to pronounce: vrak,  sprängts, östgötsk. The combinations of letters sj, skj and stj are pronounced /∫/, for example  as in the English word she. For example:   sjö (sea), sjuk (sick), skjorta (shirt),   stjärna (star).

Ö represents  the same sound as in the French words  bleu /-ö/, boeuf /-öff/ and chauffeur /-ö:r/.  Swedish also contains combinations  of consonants that can be difficult for  many foreigners to pronounce: vrak,  sprängts, östgötsk. The combinations of letters sj, skj and stj are pronounced /∫/, for example  as in the English word she. For example: sjö (sea), sjuk (sick), skjorta (shirt),  stjärna (star).
 The same is true of sk before the  front vowels e, i, y, ä, ö: skepp (ship),  skinn (skin), sky (sky), skämmas (be  ashamed), sköld (shield).
 The standard Swedish r sound is  an apical r, as in Spanish and Italian (but not as clearly articulated). In the  southern parts of the country, a velar r  is used, as in French.

Grammatical peculiarities

The hardest feature of Swedish for  foreigners to learn is the inverse word  order in sentences that start with some- thing other than the subject. The verb  always comes second in the sentence.  For example, ‘Anna kommer i dag’   (Anna is coming today) but ‘I dag kommer Anna’ (Today, is coming Anna)   (not ‘Today, Anna is coming’).
 A peculiarity of Nordic languages is  the postpositive definite article: man– mannen (the man), hus–huset (the  house), hundar–hundarna (the dogs).  Swedish can also have a double definite  form: det lilla huset (the little house).
The Nordic languages can form a special passive form with -s: ‘brevet skrevs’ (the letter is written), ‘brevet har skrivits’ (the letter was written).The old system of three grammatical genders, han, hon, det(he, she, it), has been reduced to two in standard Swedish: denand det. We now have båten(the boat) – den, huset(the house) – det.
 However, where the gender is important, masculine and feminine pronouns are used: mannen(the man) – han, kvinnan (the woman) – hon, hingsten (the stallion) – han, stoet(the mare) – hon.
References to time are a relic: Hur mycket är hon? Hon är halv två (What time is it? It is one thirty).
 In recent years, people have also started to use a new gender-neutral pronoun, hen, partly to replace the combination han eller hon(he or she) and partly for people who do not want to be categorised as either man or woman.
 In modern Swedish, the verb has the same form in the singular and plural: jag är(I am), vi är (we are); jag tar (I take), vi tar (we take). The old plural forms are now found almost only in hymns and in Swedish drinking songs: ‘Vi äro små  humlor som ta oss en geting’ (We are small bumblebees which take a wasp).
However, Swedish has retained the various plural forms of nouns: kyrka–kyrkor (church–churches), hund–hundar (dog–dogs), gäst–gäster(guest–guests), äpple–äpplen (apple–apples), hus–hus (house–houses), man–män (man–men), mus–möss (mouse–mice).

Runic Swedish 

The runic alphabet is called Futhark  after the six letters in the first group.  The 16-character Viking era Futhark  in its commonest form is shown here.   These are the so-called Swedish- Danish runes or normal runes.
Bokstav (the Swedish word for letter)  means ‘line carved in beech wood.  Wood was the commonest material,  but stone has been better preserved.


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Influence from other languages

Swedish has always been open to loans  from elsewhere but has still survived  as a separate language. The arrival of  Christianity in the 11th century brought  with it a number of words of Latin and  Greek origin such as kyrka (church), 
präst (priest), mässa (mass) and paradis  (paradise).
The influence from the rest of Europe  continued in the Middle Ages. Romances   of chivalry in verse and propaganda  such as rhyming chronicles emerged as  literature around the king and the court.  The monastic system started translating   religious literature. Vadstena Abbey  became a spiritual centre where many  texts were produced.

Influence from other languages Swedish has always been open to loans from elsewhere but has still survived as a separate language. The arrival of Christianity in the 11th century brought with it a number of words of Latin and Greek origin such as kyrka (church), präst (priest), mässa (mass) and paradis (paradise). 

Towns grew up as a result of trade and crafts. Words were borrowed and words were created in Swedish to cope with all these new elements. The complicated sentence structure and long-winded phrases of Latin left their mark on the written language and this has remained to the present day.
 However, the biggest influence of all on the Swedish language came from German via the Hanseatic league.  The old vindögat (window) in the roof was replaced by a fönster in the wall.  Eldhuset became kök (kitchen), mön (maiden) became jungfru, börja became begynna (begin), gälda became betala (pay), mål and tunga became språk (language). In the new towns, there were rådhus (town halls), borgerskap (citizens), väktare (watchmen), fängelse  (prisons), fogde (sheriffs) and bödel  (executioners).

 Köpmän (merchants)  handled varor (goods),vikter (wights),  mynt (coins) and räkenskap (accounts).
Occupations included skräddare (tailor),  skomakare (shoemaker), slaktare (butcher) and krögare (innkeeper).

 The borrowing of German words continued throughout the Middle Ages and the Reformation in the 16th century, when Sweden adopted the Lutheran doctrine, and it continued during the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century.

 The language of science and higher education had long been Latin, the  international language. However, in  the 17th century, when France under the  ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV became the leading nation of Europe, French started to be-come a status language and even more so during the 18th century, the century of culture and the Enlightenment.

 The loan words show what sort of culture was being borrowed: möbel (furniture), balkong (balcony), garderob (wardrobe), salong (salon), mustasch (moustache), parfym (perfume), sås (sauce), kastrull (saucepan), balett (ballet), ridå (curtain), pjäs (play), journalist, roman (novel), modern.
 In the 19th century, English began to flow in with the vocabulary of industrial-isation, travel and sport: jobb (job), strejk (strike), bojkott (boycott), räls (rail), lokomotiv (locomotive), turist (tourist), sport, rekord (record).

 When, at the start of the 19th century, the Nordic countries ended their last war with each other, a strong sense of solidarity emerged, giving rise to the Scandinavism movement, followed in the second half of the century by the Modern Breakthrough in literature.

Authors and artists mingled freely across borders and borrowed words from each other. During this period  the following words arrived from  Danish and Norwegian: hänsyn (con-sideration), spydig (malicious), underfundig (sly), förälskelse (love), rabalder (tumult).

The 20th century was the century  of English more than anything else.
Since the Second World War, English has been about the only language from which words have been borrowed but there have been a great many such words. Immigrants’ languages have  had little impact on Swedish, although kebab, pizza and couscous are now everyday Swedish words.

Words loaned to other languages 

During the Viking era, several Nordic words were loaned to English. Window (fönster in Swedish), vindue in Danish and Norwegian, from an older  Nordic word vindauga, Swedish vindöga, (opening in the roof). Starboard, from steer and board, from the Nordic styrbord, the side of a ship on which the steering oar is attached.

A couple of Swedish words in other languages are ombudsman and smörgåsbord, the latter becoming smorgasbord in English.

Similarities between languages 

Björken, a tree with Indo-European roots, is birk in Danish, bjerk in Norwegian, björk in Icelandic, birch in English, Birke in German, berk in Dutch, bereza in Russian, brzoza in Polish, bērzs in Latvian, beržas in Lithuanian and bhurja in Sanskrit.
The missionary Ansgar came to the trading place Birka in Lake Mälaren, Sweden, in the 9th century. The island itself is now called Björkö.

Standard Swedish and dialects

Standard Swedish developed out of the language spoken in Mälardalen and around the capital, Stockholm. This was the seat of the administration and where the upper class lived. The first translation of the Bible in 1541 (Gustav Vasa’s bible) also contributed to the stabilisation of the written language and was of great importance to standardisation of the language and to literature. Another contributing factor was that a higher proportion of the population were able to read. From the end of the 17th century, ministers were obliged to ensure that people knew important passages from the Bible and Luther’s catechism.

 The 18th century saw the emergence of an educated middle class and with it the start of the journalistic Swedish we have today. A scientific Swedish was also created and Sweden’s success in this field, with representatives such as Carl von Linné and Anders Celsius, was also shared with the people.

 The development of standard Swedish continued in subsequent centuries with inward migration to the cities, the  growth of the press, public education   (compulsory primary school was   established in 1842 with Swedish as a separate subject), literature for the educated public (August Strindberg,  Selma Lagerlöf, etc.), folk high schools and popular movements (where generations of politicians learned to speak and write in public), standards for the written language in the Swedish Academy  
Glossary and eventually the broadcasting media.
 Standard Swedish and its regional variants essentially have the same vocabulary and inflections. The differences are primarily in pronunciation and intonation. The most distinctive variants are Southern Swedish and Finland Swedish (which also has a number of variant words). However, people raised in Gothenburg, Stockholm, Gotland and Norrland are also usually easy to identify. The way a person speaks often reveals which part of the country they come from.

 Pure dialect is spoken less and less. The few people who speak a genuine local dialect in their home district usually switch to a variant closer to standard Swedish when they encounter people 
from elsewhere.

Finland Swedish

The Swedish used in Finland is not a separate language, but it has features that differ from standard Swedish, above all in speech. Like the Swedish used in Sweden, it also has a number of different dialects. Swedish is spoken on the Åland islands, which are Swedish speaking, in the coastal areas of southern Finland and further north in Österbotten.

A characteristic feature of the Swedish used in Finland is that it does not distinguish between accent 1 and accent 2.  
Speakers of standard Swedish think that Finland Swedish sounds ‘singsong’, while speakers of Finland Swedish say the same about standard Swedish.

 In general, Finland Swedish is pronounced more literally than standard  Swedish. The last two letters of   Helsingfors (Swedish for Helsinki) are pronounced by many as a separate r and a separate s, and not as a ‘sh’ sound, as in standard Swedish. Djup (deep) and djur (animal) retain the d when pronounced, where standard Swedish says /ju:p/ and / ju:r/. The u sound is also different.

The national language of Sweden is  Swedish. It is the mother tongue of   approximately 8 million of the country’s  total population of almost 10 million.
The national language of Sweden is  Swedish. It is the mother tongue of   approximately 8 million of the country’s  total population of almost 10 million. 

Immigrant words 

Established everyday words that   arrived with immigrants include tjej (girl) and jycke (dog) from Romany and kola (die) and kul (fun) (from Finnish).
Guz (girl) from Turkish and jalla! (hurry up!) from Arabic are two of the more widely known words used in the Swedish spoken in immigrant areas.

Gender equality in linguistic usage Sweden is one of the countries in the world in which gender equality work and the attitude to gender equality have advanced most. In linguistic usage, this work is expressed in the fact that previously very masculine derivative endings are now gender neutral, while female derivative endings have gradually become uncommon. As a result, the previously masculine ending -are now designates both genders. Lärare (teacher), författare (author) and bagare (baker) have replaced lärarinna, författarinna and bagerska for women who have these occupations. The same is true of konduktriser, direktriser and ambassadriser, who are now konduktörer (conductors), direktörer (directors), ambassadörer (ambassadors). 

However, the transition has not been fully completed. 
We still have servitriser (waitresses), skulptriser (sculptresses) and aktriser (actresses).
 The suffix -man is replaced in some cases. A female riksdagsman is called riksdagsledamot (member of the Riksdag) and a female forskare (researcher) is known as that and not as vetenskapsman (literally man of science). Talesman is sometimes talesperson as in English (spokesperson). But ombudsman and nämndeman (lay judge) are unchanged, and they are often women.
 Women are no longer given a title according to their husband’s occupation. Överstinnor (colonels’ wives) and professorskor (professors’ wives) are now an extinct species.

The female sexual organ has been given a respectable new name after not having had one for a long time. Snippa is the word, and it is used in particular by children. (The word snopp has long been used for boys’ sexual organs.)

Does the Swedish language have a soul?

The contrast between Swedish and other European languages becomes clear in the translation of EU legislation. Where French and German official language excels at producing complicated long sentences, Swedish prefers short sentences with simple subordinate clauses. Of course, it is possible to produce incredibly complex sentences in Swedish, and they are produced, but the Latin influence on Swedish legal style has always been counterbalanced by the Nordic heritage from the provincial lawrolls, with their oral narrative style.
Some users of foreign languages find this Swedish syntax rather basic, at least for argumentation, while others love its directness and simplicity. The Swedish word formation system, with its wealth of potential compounds, creates long words that are sometimes hard to understand and may replace en-tire sentences or phrases. Words such as resursallokering (resource allocation), ståndpunktstagande (standpoint), kvittblivningsproblematik (problems getting rid of something), känsloidentifikation (emotional identification) are favoured in official and specialist language.

Does Swedish have a future?

The Nordic language planning bodies today express concern about what they call domain loss, which entails one language losing terrain to another. The other language is, of course, English, and the domains at risk are primarily scientific language and some other areas of specialist language. Many companies with subsidiaries abroad now have English as their corporate language. Most scientific dissertations are now written in English. Some university teaching even takes place in English as part of globalization. However, the situation is serious if those who are in charge of the development of society are unable to take part in public debate in their mother tongue because they lack Swedish words. This presents a risk to the Swedish language, which is not universally fit for purpose, and it presents a risk to democracy.

 This risk has been taken seriously and resulted in 2009 in a Language Act establishing that Swedish is the primary language of Sweden, and its official  language in an international context.
Swedish is the language that it must be possible to use in all areas of society. This means that everyone resident in Sweden has a statutory opportunity to learn Swedish. Swedish must be the common language not only for Swedish natives but also for the 20 percent of residents who were born abroad.

 The Swedish Language Act also establishes that Swedish must be a complete language that supports society; that is, it must contain all that is required, in particular specialist terminology, for it to be possible for the various functions of society to be discussed in it. The language of public agencies, public sector Swedish, must be cultivated, simple and comprehensible.

The Swedish Language Act also establishes the right of every individual to language, to develop and acquire the Swedish language, to develop and use their own mother tongue and their own national
minority language and to have the opportunity to learn foreign languages. However, whether you fear or hope that English will one day replace Swedish, you will have to wait. 

Despite internationalisation, most Swedes have their roots in a society that English cannot cover. They live in a rich linguistic tradition, with literature on all levels and with stories and songs, jokes and figures of speech. And most of those born abroad do not come from an English-speaking culture either.

Even if young people today intersperse their language with phrases and expressions in English, it is Swedish they speak and write in their daily lives. The influence of English is growing, but the Swedish language will still continue to exist in the foreseeable future.