Not everyone, even in Sweden, are aware of its existence. But in south Ukraine there is a small village where some people still speak an old version of Swedish. Gammalsvenskby (Old Swedish village) is its name. Stockholm News paid a visit to the village in late June this summer.
Since sometime during the 14th century, a Swedish population had lived on the island Hiiumaa (sw: Dagö ) in present day’s Estonia. In 1781, the Russian empress Catherine the Great decided that they had to be moved. With a combination of threats and promises, she made the population walk the long way (more then 1000 km) to the village Zmejevka north of the Black Sea.
Around thousand people started the march. Only half of them reached their goal, the rest perished from hunger, cold or diseases. On the arrival they learnt that the empty houses they had been promised were not empty at all. One year after arrival only 135 where still alive, but during the coming decades, their number started to grow again.
Over the years, the Swedish population kept their Swedish identity and their Swedish language. Since they were isolated from a linguistic point of view, their version of Swedish did not develop as in Sweden. They still speak rather similar to 18th century Swedish. Gammalsvenskby is therefore a goldmine for linguists.