Overview of the Swedish Language
Swedish is the national language of Sweden, as well as the second official language of Finland. The Swedish language - like Norwegian, Danish, and Icelandic- is a modern dialect of the language spoken by Viking warriors in the tenth century. These Nordic languages belong to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family. For the most part, speakers of one Nordic language can understand speakers of others.
Modern Swedish is considered to begin with a Swedish translation of the Bible published in 1526. Over the next hundred years or so, the modern Swedish language took shape based on the Svea dialect spoken in Stockholm.
Formal and Informal Address in the Swedish Language
Contemporary Swedes are reserved by comparison with their ancestors, and their avoidance of superlatives is a linguistic reflection of that fact. The formal pronoun ni (you) has now been replaced by the informal du in everyday conversation, but people still avoid using each other's names when speaking. It strikes them as overly personal. Given this aloofness, it might surprise an American to hear two Swedes greeting each other with "Hej!" (pronounced just like the English "hey!") in a formal situation. But it is the polite way to say hello.
Swedish Vocabulary and Swedish PronunciationMany Swedish vocabulary words will look familiar to English speakers learning Swedish: hand, finger, son, man, bank, radio, England, and so on. But don't let yourself be lulled into assuming that you know the meaning of every Swedish vocabulary word that resembles an English word! There are many false cognates as well. Barn means child; men means but; dog means died; dig is the object form of "you" and god is good (a linguistic observation, not a theological one).
Another thing to be aware of is the pitch accent (or tone-accent) that gives Swedish pronunciation its characteristic singsong quality. The acute (high-toned) and grave (low-toned) pitches are not indicated in the written form of the Swedish language; they can only be learned by listening to Swedish pronunciation.
You'll need regular practice to learn to speak Swedish well. That's one reason why it can benefit you to have good Swedish software programs. The language software and resources from Transparent Language make it easier than it has ever been to speak Swedish, master vocabulary, understand grammar rules, and improve your pronunciation. Best of luck as you start your Swedish language learning!