handle), the substantives in -erī (røverī, robbery) -inna (førstinna, princess), -hēt (fromhēt, piety), be- (betala, to pay), and a great many others (klēn, weak, smaka, to taste, grōver, big, pung, purse, tukt, discipline, brūka, to use, twist, quarrel, støvel, boot, arbēta, to work, frōkoster, lunch, &c.). Owing to the political circumstances, we find towards the end of the period a very powerful Danish influence, which extends also to phonetics and etymology, so that, for example, nearly all the terminal vowels are supplanted by the uniform Danish e, the hard consonants p, t, k by b, d, g as in Danish, the second person plural of the imperative ends in -er, besides -en (as tagher, for taghen, older takin).
Dialectical differences incontestably occur in the runic inscriptions as well as in the literature; in the former, however, most of them Dialects. are hidden from our eyes by the character of the writing, which is, from a phonetic point of view, highly unsatisfactory, indicating the most different sounds by the same sign (for example, o, u, y and ö are denoted by one and the same rune); in the literature again they are reduced to a minimum by the awakening desire to form a uniform literary language for the whole country, and by the literary productivity and consequent predominant influence of certain provinces (as Östergötland). Only one distinct Forngutniska. dialect has been handed down to us, that of the island of Gotland, which differs so essentially from the Old Swedish of the mainland that it has with good reason been characterized, under the name Forngutniska, as in a certain sense a separate language. Materials for its study are very abundant: on one hand we possess more than two hundred runic inscriptions, among them a very remarkable one from the beginning of the 13th century, counting upwards of four hundred runes, cut on a font (now in Aakirkeby on the island of Bornholm), and representing the life of Christ in a series of pictures and words; on the other hand a literature has been preserved consisting of a runic calendar from 1328, the law of the island (the oldest manuscript is from about 1350), a piece of traditional history and a gild statue. The language is distinguished from the Old Swedish of the mainland especially by the following characteristics:—the old diphthongs are preserved (e.g. auga, eye, droyma, to dream, stain, stone), and a triphthong has arisen by the change of iu into iau (as fliauga, to fly); the long vowels æ and ø have passed into ē and ȳ (as mēla, to speak, dȳma, to deem); short o rarely occurs except before r, being in other positions changed into u; w is dropped before r (as raipi, wrath); the genitive singular of feminines in -a ends in -ur for -u (as kirkiur, of the church). Owing to the entire absence of documentary evidence it is impossible to determine how far the dialects east of the Baltic, which no doubt had a separate individuality, differed from the mother-tongue.
The first to pay attention to the study of Old Swedish was the Swedish savant J. Buraeus (d. 1652), who by several works (from The study of Old Swedish. 1599 onwards) called attention to and excited a lively interest in the runic monuments, and, by his edition (1634) of the excellent Old Swedish work Um Styrilse Kununga ok Høfþinga, in Old Swedish literature also. His no longer extant Specimen Primariae Linguae Scantzianae (1636) gave but a very short review of Old Swedish inflections, but is remarkable as the first essay of its kind, and is perhaps the oldest attempt in modern times at a grammatical treatment of any old Germanic language. The study of runes was very popular in the 17th century; M. Celsius (d. 1679) deciphered the “staffless” runes and J. Hadorph (d. 1693), who also did good work in editing Old Swedish texts, copied more than a thousand runic inscriptions, published by J. Göransson as Bautil (1750). During the 18th century, again, Old Swedish was almost completely neglected; but in the 19th century the study of runes was well represented by the collection (Runurkunder, 1833) of the Swede Liljegren (d. 1837), and by the Norwegian S. Bugge's ingenious interpretation and grammatical treatment of some of the most remarkable inscriptions, especially that of Rök. Old Swedish literature has also been made the object of grammatical researches. A first outline of a history of the Swedish language is to be found in the work of N. M. Petersen (1830), and a scheme of an Old Swedish grammar in P. A. Munch's essay, Fornswenskans och Fornnorskans språkbyggnad (1849); but Old Swedish grammar was never treated as an independent branch of science until the appearance of J. E. Rydqvist's (d. 1877) monumental work Svenska språkets lagar (in 6 vols., 1850-1883), which was followed in Sweden by a whole literature on the same subject. Thus phonetics, which were comparatively neglected by Rydqvist, have been investigated with great success, especially by L. F. Läffler and A. Kock; while the other parts of grammar have been treated of above all by K. F. Söderwall. His principal work, Ordbok öfver Svenska medeltidsspråket (1884 sq.), gives the list of words in the later Old Swedish language, and—taken along with the Ordbok till samlingen af Sveriges gamla lagar (1877), by C. J. Schlyter, the well-known editor of Old Swedish texts, which contains the vocabulary of the oldest literature—it worthily meets the demand for an Old Swedish dictionary. An Old Swedish grammar, answering the requirements of modern philology, is edited by A. Noreen.
2. Modern Swedish.—The first complete translation of the Bible, edited in 1541 by the brothers Olaus and Laurentius Petri, and generally called the Bible of Gustavus I., may be regarded Modern Swedish. as the earliest important monument of this. Owing to religious and political circumstances, and to the learned influence of humanism, theological and historic-political works preponderate in the Swedish literature of the following period, which therefore affords but scanty material for philological research. It is not until the middle of the 17th century that Swedish literature adequately exemplifies the language, for at that period literature first began to be cultivated as a fine art, and its principal representatives, such as Stiernhielm, Columbus and Spegel, were in reality the first to study it as a means of expression and to develop its resources. Amongst the authors of the 18th century we have to mention in the first place Dalin, who was to some extent the creator of the prose style of that epoch; while of the end of the century Kellgren and Bellman are the most noteworthy examples, representing the higher and the more familiar style of poetry respectively. The language of the 19th century, or at any rate of the middle of it, is best represented in the works of Wallin and Tegnér, which, on account of their enormous circulation, have had a greater influence than those of any other authors.
As to the language itself the earliest Modern Swedish texts, as Gustavus I.'s Bible, differ considerably from the latest Old Swedish Form of the language. ones. We find a decided tendency to exterminate Danisms and reintroduce native and partially antiquated forms. At the same time there appear several traces of a later state of the language: all genitives (singular and plural), e.g., end in -s, which in earlier times was the proper ending of certain declensions only. In spite of the archaistic efforts of many writers, both in forms and in vocabulary, the language nevertheless underwent rapid changes during the 16th and 17th centuries. Thus sj and stj (original as well as derived from sk before a palatal vowel) assimilate into a simple sh- sound; dj (original as well as derived from g before a palatal vowel), at least at the end of the 17th century, dropped its d-sound (compare such spellings as diufwer, giättar, envogé, for jufver, udder, jättar, giants, envoyé, envoy); hj passes into j (such spellings are found as jort for hjort, hart, and hjärpe for järpe, hazel grouse); b and p inserted in such words as himblar, heavens, hambrar, hammers, jämpn, even, sampt, together with, are dropped; the first person plural of the verb takes the form of the third person (as vi fara, foro, for vi farom, forom, we go, went); by the side of the pronoun I, you, there arises a secondary form Ni, in full use in the spoken language about 1650; the adjective gradually loses all the case-inflections; in substantives the nominative, dative and accusative take the same form as early as the middle of the 17th century; in the declension with suffixed article the old method of expressing number and case both in the substantive and the article is changed, so that the substantive alone takes the number-inflection and the article alone the case-ending; neuter substantives ending in a vowel, which previously had no plural ending, take the plural ending -n, some -er—as bi-n, bees, bageri-er, bakeries. About the year 1700 the Old Swedish inflection may, in general, be considered as almost completely given up, although a work of such importance in the history of the language as Charles XII.'s Bible (so-called) of 1703, by a kind of conscious archaism has preserved a good many of the old forms. To these archaistic tendencies of certain authors at the end of the 17th century we owe the great number of Old Swedish and Icelandic borrowed words then introduced into the language—as fager, fair, härja, to ravage, later, manners, snille, genius, tarna, girl, tima, to happen, &c. In addition to this, owing to humanistic influence, learned expressions were borrowed from Latin during the whole 16th and 17th centuries; and from German, chiefly at the Reformation and during the Thirty Years' War, numberless words were introduced—as tapper, brave, prakt, magnificence, hurtig, brisk, &c.; among these may be noted especially a great number of words beginning in an-, er-, för- and ge- Owing to the constantly increasing political and literary predominance of France, French words were largely borrowed in the 17th century, and to an equally great extent in the 18th; such are affär, business, respekt, respect, talang, talent, charmant, charming, &c. In the 19th century, especially about the middle of it, we again meet with conscious and energetic efforts after purism both in the formation of new words and in the adoption of words from the old language (id, diligence, mäla, to speak, fylking, battle-array, &c.), and from the dialects (bliga, to gaze, flis, flake, skrabbig, bad, &c.). Consequently the present vocabulary differs to a very great extent from that of the literature of the 17th century. As for the sounds and grammatical forms, on the other hand, comparatively few important changes have taken place during the last two centuries. In the 18th century, however, the aspirates dh and gh passed into d and g (after l and r into j)—as lag for lagh, law, bröd for brödh, bread; hw passed into v (in dialects already about the year 1400)—as valp for hwalper, whelp; lj likewise into j—thus ljuster, leister, occurs written juster. In our time rd, rl, rn, rs and rt are passing into simple sounds (“supradental”
- See A. Noreen, “Aperçu de l'histoire de la science linguistique suédoise” (Le Muséon, ii., 1883).
- Altschwedische Grammatik (1897-1904).
- The printed characters are also considerably changed by the introduction of the new letters å (with the translation of the New Testament of 1526), and ä, ö (both already in the first print in Swedish of 1495) for aa, æ, ø.