English-style plurals now officially OK in written Swedish
Sweden’s language watchdog, the Institute of Language and Folklore, is to stop censuring Swedes’ use of the English “-s” plural, ruling that it has become common usage.
In its upcoming edition of the Swedish writing rulebook, released in May, the Institute for the first time rules that in some circumstances it is advisable to add an English '-s' plural to an English loan word in written Swedish.
“Earlier, we’ve more or less said ‘avoid plural –s’ because it’s problematic, particularly in the definitive plural form, so it’s better to use Swedish words in most cases. But people don’t, they use the plural –s, and we have to accept that,” Ola Karlsson, a language advisor at the institute told Radio Sweden.
Karlsson said that now English has become a second language for most Swedes, it felt unnatural to use the Swedish plural form with English loan words.
He cited the word ‘story’ as an example.
Swedes prefer to use the English plural, ‘stories’, rather than the more Swedish plural ‘storier’.
But when it comes to ‘the stories’, it becomes more complicated, with the hybrid mix of English and Swedish 'storysarna' previously making many feel uncomfortable.
“'Storysarna' would earlier have been described as an almost slang or jargon form, but it’s becoming more and more common even in neutral media texts," Karlsson said.
"I think storysarna and other similar forms are here to stay and we have to recognize that in our practical guidance, in our advice.”
But Karlsson admitted that many teachers today would still mark down a student who used the hybrid plural.
“Some teachers would say ‘no, that’s not correct at all’, while others would say ‘it’s very natural’. It’s a matter of generations.”
Karlsson stressed that his institute did not attempt to rule on what is correct or incorrect Swedish but instead attempted to describe the language as it is, and advise people on the most effective way to communicate.