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Map of the Swedish Åland Islands

Ålandic (Swedish: åländska) refers to a Swedish dialect spoken in the autonomous Finnish province of Åland. Although Ålandic is geographically considered a variant of the East Swedish language (Östsvenska mål), the dialect is actually closer to the Upplandic dialect of nearby mainland Sweden than to Finnish Swedish. The Ålanders themselves usually do not count their dialect as part of Finnish Swedish.

In the autonomous archipelago, Swedish is the only official language in otherwise bilingual Finland. Language and culture are regulated by the Self-Government Act.


The geographical location between Finland and Sweden is reflected in Ålandic. Thus, some Ålandic dialects are similar to Finnish Swedish, while others are almost identical to the standard Swedish language, Imperial Swedish (rikssvenska). As Ålandic history is marked by contacts with Sweden and Finnish-Swedish, Ålandic has been strongly influenced by Swedish. However, there are also features of Finnish and Russian, as well as British and American English, which is related to Åland’s maritime history.

Features and examples

As in Finnish-Swedish, there is only one tonal accent; in contrast to the usual two tonal accents in Scandinavian languages, the contrast of which produces the typical Swedish “singsong”.

Ålandic still has many archaic words and expressions that are understood but no longer used in Imperial Swedish. Other words, on the other hand, have a completely different meaning than in Swedish. A recent example is the word batting (Swedish: träbalk), which originally comes from the English batten (“ledge”, “slat”), which in turn means “wooden beam” in Ålandic. Another example is the word semla, which in Swedish means semla, a “fasting pastry”, while in Åland it refers to a bread roll. A typical Ålandic question is: Vemses flicka/pojke är du då? In Swedish it would be Vems flicka/pojke är du då, meaning “Whose boy/girl are you?” What is meant by this is that in a small society, there is a good chance that you know the other person’s parents. The Swedish word inte for “not” is replaced by Ålanders with inga (example: Jag har inga varit där for “I have not been there”). In standard Swedish, however, inga means none

The following words and expressions are characteristic of Ålandic:[1]

Åland Standard Swedish Translation Notes
batteri (heat) element Radiator batteri in standard Swedish means “battery
butka finka “Jail” Translated from Russian via Finnish putka
byka tvätta (yelp) (laundry) wash from byk (“laundry”); byk is considered ancient in Sweden
bykmaskin tvättmaskin Washing machine see above
egnahemshus villa (detached) house
jo yes yes, indeed Variant from Sweden as a positive answer to a negative question
yulgubbe yYTOMT Santa Claus
jåla tramsa, prata strunt chat
nojsa bråka, tjata, föra oväsen ranting, raving, nagging from the English noise. Considered old-fashioned in Sweden.
Nåssådå! – — – — comforter
si se view Åland pronunciation from Swedish se
Siddu barra! Ser du bara / Ser man på Well, well, well
småkusin syssling Second cousin possibly derived from the Finnish pikkuserkku
plug stickpropp Plug, plug contact originally from German Stöpsel, similar to Russian штепсель (schtepsel),
tövla vara lumpy, fumy be awkward, clumsy
♪ Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ♪ riktigt bra very good, “Awesome!”
ämbar limp Bucket considered ancient in Sweden; loanword from Low German derived from Greek ἀμφορεύς (amphoreus)

Western and eastern Ålandic

Western Ålandic ties in with dialects in eastern Swedish Uppland (Roslagen region), which is especially true for the Ålandic island of Eckerö. There are several similarities in the dialects of Eckerö and Roslagen, including the omission of the initial letter h. The unadulterated dialects of Oståland, on the other hand, share common features with the Swedish dialects of Åboland, a region in the archipelago of the southwestern Finnish Archipelago Sea, and southern Ostrobothnia on the west coast of Finland. Similarly, vocabulary differs in western and eastern Åland. In West Ålandic and Upplandic, for example, the verb krypa for “to creep, crawl, tickle” and the adjective kullig for “hilly” are found, while the corresponding words in East Ålandic are kräka and snuvig.[2]

See also

  • Languages in Åland

Web links


  1. Mariehamns Stadsbibliotek: Uttal, form, ordlista, lyssna, källor(Memento of 6 July 2011 in the Internet Archive)
  2. Nationalencyklopedin, vol. 20, art: Åländska dialekter