RegionGammalsvenskby, Zmiivka, Kherson Oblast, Ukraine
Native speakers
10 (2014)[1]
Latin alphabet, medieval runes[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Gammalsvenska (locally Gammölsvänsk; literally "Old Swedish") is an Estonian Swedish dialect spoken in Gammalsvenskby, Ukraine.


It derives from the Estonian Swedish dialect of the late 1700s as spoken on the island of Dagö (Hiiumaa).[3] While rooted in Swedish, the dialect shows influence and borrowings from Estonian, German, Russian, and Ukrainian.[4]

Prior to 1929, Gammalsvenska remained the first language for the Ukrainian Swedes; however, the last generation of Swedish-first speakers were born just after World War II Sovietization policies. Marriage into non-Swedish families and social pressures diminished the teaching of Gammalsvenska by parents to their children.[5] Since the 1950s a Russian-Ukrainian surzhyk has been the dominant language in the village, although some Standard Swedish is taught in schools where it is seen as economically advantageous for jobs in local tourism and other employment opportunities.[5] Use of Gammalsvenska is restricted mostly to older ethnic Swedes born in the 1920s or 1930s.[4] As of 2014 only about 10 fluent Gammalsvenska speakers, all elderly women, were known in Ukraine.[1]

In Meadows, Manitoba, where most of the immigrants from Gammalsvenskby to Canada eventually settled, Gammalsvenska was retained into the early 1900s. However, as of 2004, only a handful of elderly speakers remain.[6]

Example of Gammalsvenska[1][4]
Gammalsvenska Pattana Katüflar Pürkan Kärpsar Himmäl Knjüt Stövla Boklezane[a] Düllje[b]
Estonian Pardid Kartulid Porgandid Kõrvitsad Taevas Sõlm Saapad Tomatid Pirn
Swedish Ankor Potatisar Morötter Pumpor Himmel Knut Stövlar Tomater Päron
German Enten Kartoffeln Möhren Kürbisse Himmel Knoten Stiefel Tomatoen Birne
English Ducks Potatoes Carrots Pumpkins Sky Knot Boots Tomatoes Pear


  1. ^ From regional Russian or Ukrainian баклажaн (baklažán)
  2. ^ From the Ukrainian дуля (dúlya)


  1. ^ a b c Mankov, Alexander E. (2014). "A Scandinavian Island in a Slavonic Linguistic Environment. The Dialect of Gammalsvenskby: Nouns (Paper 2)". Slověne: International Journal of Slavic Studies. 3 (1): 120–170.
  2. ^ Kotljarchuk, Andrej (2014). In the Forge of Stalin: Swedish Colonists of Ukraine in Totalitarian Experiments of the Twentieth Century (PDF) (Report). Stockholms Studies in History, 100. Stockholm, Sweden: Stockholm University. p. 67. ISBN 978-91-87235-96-2. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  3. ^ "Gammölsvänsk". The Language Archive. Nijmegen, Netherlands: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. hdl:1839/00-0000-0000-0008-A981-0. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Mankov, Alexander E. (2018). "The dialect of Gammalsvenskby: Scandinavian-Slavonic language contact" (PDF). In Drude, Sebastian; Ostler, Nicholas; Moser, Marielle (eds.). Endangered languages and the land: Mapping landscapes of multilingualism. 22nd Annual Conference of the Foundation for Endangered Languages (FEL XXII/2018). London: FEL & EL Publishing. ISBN 978-1-9160726-0-2.
  5. ^ a b Forsman, Ludvig (June 2016). "Language shift from a nonspeaker perspective: Themes in the accounts of linguistic practices of first-generation non-Swedish speakers in Gammalsvenskby, Ukraine". Language in Society. 45 (3): 375–396. doi:10.1017/S0047404516000361. S2CID 147797560.
  6. ^ Rudling, Per Anders (2005). "Ukrainian Swedes in Canada: Gammalsvenskby in the Swedish-Canadian Press 1929-1931". Scandiavian–Canadian Studies/Études scandinaves au Canada. 15: 62–91.