[Maskinoversættelse til dansk her]

Sometimes you get into a kiosk, killing the time when waiting for bus or train, and you see all these thousands of different journals and magazines on you cannot imagine what. People apparently want to read each month about running, or playing guitar, or making homepages, or winning minigolf or buying vintage cars. How many nerds must there be! Nevertheless I was quite surprised, on a recent visit to Sweden, to find a glossy magazine, 100 pages, about language, and only about language. It was number 2, April 2009. It appears six times a year, and a single issue costs 68 kronor. Apparently also normal people produce and read magazines!

100 pages filled with interesting articles. There are longer articles about handwriting styles, about the brilliant artificial language Solresol, or langue musicale universelle. It is based on the seven tones of the musical scale, and by applying it to the seven colours of the rainbow and morse-like rhythms it was truly international in that it could be used by all, including the deaf, the blind, the deaf-blind and – despite its name – by the tone-deaf as well. Other articles deal with Swedish expressions derived from playing cards, voluntary interpreters, language use of sports reporters, blasphemy in 18th century Sweden, syntax in drama, and the fear for invasion of English words in Brazil, Italy, India and Sweden. There is an overview that shows the exponential growth: 10 words in the 1500s, 30 in the 1600s, 150 in the 1700s, then 800 and 4000 in the past two centuries. No wonder that Språkförsvaret wants to save Swedish!

The spindoctor of the Swedish party Moderaterna, who phrased the term “Sveriges nya arbetarparti” is interviewed. And experts tell us what the word “äktenskap” means for them. A couple shares their deliberations about naming their second child – they decided after two weeks. Further articles discuss the origin of the Vikings, new old Saami place names in Northern Sweden, street names in Sweden and, very interesting, a large collection of birch bark scribblings, found near Novgorod in Russian. The contents are similar to what we today write in text messages: “Hej! Kan ni ta med er det där teet vi drack i somras? Arina tyckte mycket om det. Kostia.” Runes were used for similar purposes, as can be seen in the exhibition in Moesgaard Museum, Aarhus.

There are also a number of minor articles, for example questions and answer, from the Språkrådet, on Swedish, and the University of Växjö on English. Swedish books on languages are reviewed, gadgets are tested, trivia presented, new words discussed. It is even possible to send complaints to the Språkpolisen. Not surprisingly, we find an Ordpyssel or two. Further one can learn that the word for “rumpan” is the most often used body part in hiphop texts.

In short, I was quite impressed by the breadth of the articles. I am already looking forward to the next issue, where they promise special attention to pulmonic ingressive speech! Or, as they call it: Inandnings-jo. Om et sugande talfenomen som inte funkar som svar på frågan “älskar du mig?”.

How do the publishers get all this done? Several professionals, from the university world, arts and semi-governmental bodies contribute their writings. There are a fair number of advertisements: several universities and language schools try to attract students, translators offer their services, publishers recommend their books, teachers’ organizations look for members. And an add lures readers to the TV-serie “om språk och språkinlärning” called I LOVE SPRÅK can be seen on Sundays 17.00 on SVT2.

Språktidningen has already won several prices. It is recommended!

Why do I write this in English? So the Swedes can understand what I write. On page 90, there is a little article about språkval: “Vilket språk anvender du som er svensk när du möter en dansk och ni inte riktigt förstår varandre? Går du oftest över til engelska, eller försöker du med en tydligare, enklare svenska? I en omröstningspraktidningen.se berättede 68 procent att de fortsatte med svenska, medan 32 procent gick över til engelska. Men bland kommentarerne var det fler som motiverade varför de använde engelska.” Tour guide Laura, friend of the Danes Stella, observer Richard, and many others, we are at your service!

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