STOCKHOLM – The letter 'W' has entered the mainstream of the Swedish language, getting its own section for the first time in the country's most respected dictionary.
While 'W' has long been a letter in its own right in other Nordic languages, Swedish linguists have always viewed it as a lesser sibling of the letter 'V,' as the two letters are pronounced identically in Swedish.
The few Swedish words that use 'W' have generally been borrowed from other languages — such as "watt," "walkie-talkie" and the "World Wide Web" — and have so far always been lumped under the 'V' section in dictionaries.
Sweden is called "Sverige" in Swedish and its language is named "Svenska."
But the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize in literature and whose members are considered the guardians of the Swedish language, decided it was time for 'W' to come out of the shadows.
The letter, called "double-v" in Swedish, "can no longer be sorted in under the single V," the academy said when it introduced the 13th edition of its dictionary this week.
The change means that the Swedish language, at least according to the academy, now has 29 letters instead of 28.