https://www.duolingo.com/Snommelp

Why doesn't Swedish use Æ or Ø?

Snommelp
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Apologies if this is a strange question. It's just something that occurred to me. All three Scandinavian languages use Å, but Swedish uses Ä where the other two would use Æ and Ö where the other two would use Ø. Or at least that's how it seems to this non-native speaker: they seem to be pronounced the same and used in the same places. What happened in Scandinavian history to cause this divergence?

3 years ago

20 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/efskap
efskap
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In all seriousness, out of spite for danskjävlarna. All North Germanic languages used to use ø and æ but nobody likes the Danish so the Swedes replaced most of the things the Danes do with the West Germanic equivalent (ck instead of kk, ö instead of ø, ä instead of æ)

I think Iceland also changed ø to ö with a referendum to distance themselves from danmark.

edit: yeah, my bad. Iceland shifted ǫ to ö.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Blehg
Blehg
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I don't think Icelandic ever used <ø>. If I'm not mistaken they took <ö> from Swedish orthography. One main reason probably being that Icelandic <ö> does not historically correspond to Old Norse <ø> (which usually turned into MIce <æ>, cf. Sw. grön Ice. grænn), but to the vowel usually written <ǫ>.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/imflashdelirium

Why aren't the Danish liked?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lisabello
Lisabello
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Sweden and Denmark has had a number of wars between them, so naturally the feelings are not the warmest ones. Here you'll find a list: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dano-Swedish_war

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zmrzlina
Zmrzlina
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Nowadays, we're quite friendly with our Scandinavian sibling nations. But in the years 1400-1800, there was a lot of military conflict with Denmark.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Snommelp
Snommelp
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Something like twenty or more wars, right? And usually for control over Norway, if I recall correctly.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zmrzlina
Zmrzlina
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Some 10-15 if I recall correctly, but I guess it's debateable what to count and not. Sweden and Denmark more often fought for dominion of what is now southern Sweden, for Gotland or for control of the Baltic sea trade.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Blehg
Blehg
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Indeed. The "control over Norway" claim was featured in a popular Youtube video called "What is Scandinavia" a couple of weeks back, but it's not accurate.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SteveLando
SteveLando
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Southern swedeners love Danish!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zmrzlina
Zmrzlina
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In addition to what efskap already said, it's a German influence. No one language has had as much of an impact on Swedish as German, and to distance the language from that of our Danish foes, Ä and Ö became used instead of the Danish letters.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Blehg
Blehg
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As has already been pointed out, it's because of German influence. But the usage is deliberate, which I think is important to underline. In the 16th century, Sweden was quite eager to be as un-Danish as possible, due to the recent breakup of the Kalmar Union, of which Denmark was the leading nation.

So in the 16th C you get things like:
- ä ö (or rather a o with small es above them) instead of æ ø
- ck instead of kk
- verbal endings in -a instead of -e

Also, finally, the letter å is a Swedish invention from the same period. Danish used aa until 1948, when they adopted it. Norwegian got it in 1917 (optional) and 1938 (mandatory), before that they too used aa. In Denmark there is still some (minor) controversy surrounding it, afaik, with many cities still using the old spelling (Århus switched back to Aarhus in 2011).

Historically, å in all 3 languages goes back to a long /a/, which is why it was spelled aa in the first place.

Edit: Also, æ ø are historically also a o written together with an e.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/landsend
landsend
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The reason for the Århus switch back has the (IMO obvious) reason of international readability and of course to appear earlier in alphabetic sorted lists - at the beginning instead of the end. The latter is strictly spoken wrong. You need to collate an aa as an å at the end of a list. That is if it replaces an å, otherwise it needs to be treated as an aa.

So if you sort the cities of Aarhus (Denmark), Aachen (Germany) and Zürich (Switzerland) alphabetically the result strictly to the rules would be Aachen, Zürich, Aarhus.

But that is near impossible to implement, so the switch to Aa works.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/m.tastic
m.tastic
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Maybe Finnish influence?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Blehg
Blehg
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Other way around! Finnish orthography is based on the Swedish one, due to Finland being part of Sweden. This is why Finnish uses <ä ö y>, but Estonian uses <ä ö ü> from German (which was the language of the Baltic aristocracy).

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/m.tastic
m.tastic
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The more you know :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lisabello
Lisabello
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I doubt it. A short history lesson: when the written Finnish language was developed (16th century), Finland was a part of the kingdom of Sweden, and all official documents were Swedish and higher education was only avaiable in Swedish. So the Finnish written language had way more influense from Swedish than the other way around. Most probably the umlauts came from an influense from German, which was an important language for Sweden with the Hansa and all.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Snommelp
Snommelp
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Possibly, though I would've thought Germany might have exerted a similar influence on Danish

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/m.tastic
m.tastic
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Good point. Maybe it's just easier to write..?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Joel__W
Joel__W
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Low German has had a big influence on Danish too actually. I believe the perhaps greater influence on Swedish was because of where the Hanseatic League were most influential - Sweden was more strategically placed in the centre of the Baltic Sea, and thus a much greater part of Sweden was exposed to German. There were, as mentioned, also political incentives to distance Swedish from Danish which contributed to the spelling changes.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IngeJ.Grns

Don't know why. But Ö, which is used in Swedish, German and even Turkish, is basically the same letter as Ø, which Danes use and also we Norwegians use. They are the same vowel sound in all of those languages as far as I know.

2 months ago
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