Local politicians have agreed to build a new preschool in the remote community of Älvdalen in central Sweden. It happens to be where some 60 children are growing up speaking Elfdalian, a language that dates back to Viking times. Politicians voted this week to try to save the dying language by setting up a new preschool where it will be taught. Pupils who begin learning the language at age 6 will keep it as part of their curriculum until they turn 18. Until recently it was regarded as a Swedish dialect, but it is now being considered a minority language; Elfdalian (or Älvdalska) could very well survive with this new effort.

"I think it will have a great impact because so far what we have seen is that children who grow up with Elfdalian at home but don't get any in school conceive Elfdalian as unimportant and they switch over to Swedish," said Yair Sapir, associate professor of Swedish Language at Lund University. Älvdalen is home to 2,500 people and is where Princess Sofia spent much of her childhood; it is the only place where the language is actually spoken. The princess does not speak the rare language but has expressed interest in learning it.


For more info, see www.alvdalen.se or www.visitdalarna.se/en/visitidre/alvdalen/