The idea is that the Swedes retain a small bit of what is nowadays German territory that they conquered in the 17th century. This is now independent territory, Soudway, with a language of its own named Soudwegian.

Their vocabulary is basically German with a lot of phonetic changes, plus a huge amount of Swedish loans (and smaller but important contributions from Polish and French), while the grammar is very simplified, like Middle/Modern English as opposed to Old English.

Is that a realistic choice, or was the grammatic simplification that characterised the process between English/French unique—not something that we should expect from other similar fusions?

  • Would downvoters please mind explaining?
    – Duncan
    Mar 3, 2018 at 17:01
  • There is already a lot of overlap in both vocabulary and grammatical structures; after all, they are both Germanic languages (Swedish is North Germany). You would replace some of the Norse vocabulary by Middle German equivalents. Perfectly plausible. Mar 16, 2018 at 19:20
  • Seems to me that the German spoken in Soudway would not diverge much from neighboring dialects, unless commerce is cut off. A Swedish-speaking community, on the other hand, would diverge from the home language, but (because of proximity) not as much as Afrikaans did. Oct 14, 2018 at 22:47
  • You might be aware, and this is an old question, but someone should note that you could argue that (at least some soft version of) the reverse scenario actually took place. The language of Sweden was under heavy influence from Low German in the middle ages, and a fair proportion of the modern Swedish vocabulary can be traced back to Low German and that time. In the same time, much of the grammar of Old Norse, with noun cases, verb forms agreeing with persons and other stuff found in many Indo-European languages, were lost in many dialects during this time.
    – Edvin
    Jan 19 at 21:27

2 Answers 2


Yes, that is a realistic choice in fictive works.

Nobody can be 100% sure of how realistic it is, and in conlanging—or even fictive worldbuilding in general—you may always be a bit unrealistic. Think about some fictive works or conlangs you know placed in another world; they make many assumptions that extraterrestrial life has two eyes, hair on their head, ~1m–2m tall, and their mouths have lips, teeth, an alveolar ridge, a glottis and a tongue. (Your idea takes place in our (but alternative) world, but the point of the example still stands.)

There could be many ways of forming such a language, of which the most realistic are (chiefly from Mark Rosenfelder's Advanced Language Construction):

  • A creole. A creole is, by definition, a pidgin which has native speakers. A pidgin is formed when two languages try to communicate, for reasons of trade or otherwise. If you read about Tok Pisin (etymologically "talk pidgin", a creole), you'll see a lot of simplified grammar (and, as you say, English is already quite simplified).

  • From Swedish, but developing independently from main Swedish. As a native English speaker born in Holland, informal English I use to talk to my family is very different from main English. For example, I'd say *How late is it? (from Dutch Hoe laat is het?) by accident. Also, lots of sound changes happen. Even though I don't merge /w/ and /ʍ/, many people I know that used to be able to can't anymore, and my rhotic in both Dutch and English is [ʁ], even though neither Dutch nor the Scottish dialect of English has it.

  • A combination of the two. After a period of isolation (independent development), the Swedes start talking more like the Germans (like creoles, but slightly different)—a combination of the two.

So, even though it might be somewhat unrealistic, within the dome of fiction it isn't unrealistic enough to stop you.


Well, in an alternate history this is a perfectly plausible scenario.

Note that the the German contribution to the language should be Low German corresponding to the local dialects of Pommerania. It is cloaser to Swedish because the second sound shift characterising High German has not affected the Low German dialects. A good dose of loan words from High German can add some spice to Soudwegian.

In the time frame you are looking at, Polish or other Slavonic influence is already very low, don't overdo it.

You may look at languages like Plautdietsch or Afrikaans for more inspiration.

  • I'm thinking of adding several phonological changes; I'm not sure that this would leave much to recognise from High or Low German. For instance, their main city should be Gustauhau - Gustav's Harbour. Mar 3, 2018 at 18:36
  • 1
    Add Gustauhau to your question, it indicates some directions! The sound shift /av/ to /au/ is not that disturbing, I see the /g/ remains /g/ and /st/ remains /st/ ...
    – Sir Cornflakes
    Mar 3, 2018 at 18:40
  • Thanks for the links, though Wikipedia is probably unusable (1,500,000 native High German speakers in Brazil? Where?) Mar 3, 2018 at 19:54
  • I'm not sure what page you're complaining about exactly, but Brazilian German has all the sources.
    – Circeus
    Mar 4, 2018 at 3:01
  • And those sources... do not support that absurd figure: they either refer to 1940, or tell us about much lesser numbers (700 or 900 K) of speakers of unspecified "German" - which, of course, is Hunsrückish, never Hochdeutsch. And, of course, many of those sources are in Portuguese, which makes possible to "cite" them to say exactly the opposite of what they actually say. Mar 5, 2018 at 0:34

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