English words in Sweden's everyday language
Thread poster: Arturo Mannino

Arturo Mannino  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:34
Member (2003)
English to Italian
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Nov 27, 2008

Sorry for posting this in English, but I don't speak Swedish. I have a question to swedish colleagues regarding the extent at which english words are used in everyday's language in Sweden. I'm reading a novel by Stieg Larsson, translated into Spanish, and I see that almost all characters use a lot of english words, or even whole sentences. I wonder if this is really so common in Sweden or if it is something peculiar to this particular author. I noticed that his older characters, say people in their sixties or so, do not use english words.
Thanks for your replies.


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Annika Persson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:34
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Depends on the individual Nov 27, 2008

Dear Arturo,

while I'm not Swedish myself, I live in Sweden and am married to a Swede... with whom I speak English, when we're alone, because we both like the language so much. Most of our acquaintances are students, many of whom have studied or are studying English, and naturally, they're the kind of people who like to use an English sentence or expression here and there. I'm not so sure if it is the same for many other people - certainly not for the older generation.

I have noticed that my husband and his friends are using an awful lot of "swedified" English verbs while playing computer games or talking about them - it's very easy to adopt English verbs into Swedish, as all you have to do is put an "a" at the end to make it sound like a Swedish verb: "fighta", "creepa", "battla", and so on (yes, my husband is a geek...).

That's probably not the kind of English you meant, though, I'm guessing what they use in the book is "pure" English? Do any of the phrases remind you of movie quotes? Because a lot of our friends here like to quote movies, comedians, tv-shows, and so on. Since nothing here is dubbed (unless it is for children), you can hear a whole lot of English on Swedish television (and in the cinema), and a lot of people tend to just quote in English when talking about something they've seen. It is also very likely that tv-shows and movies have helped create a certain culture or cultural aspects, or maybe I should say they have created a certain image of what is cool and what is not. So oftentimes, "coolness" is sort of associated with the English language.

That's my guess.

Could you maybe give us some examples from the book?


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Arturo Mannino  Identity Verified
Spain
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Examples from the book Nov 27, 2008

Hi Annika,

thanks for replying. Here are some examples from the book. Remember I'm reading a spanish translation of the novel "Flickan som lekte med elden. Millennium 2".

"Qué pena, justo cuando acababa de empezar de hacerme ilusiones de ser una kept woman"

"Get her off my back"

I'm aware that English words or "localized" english words are pretty common in probaly all major european languages. I can directly observe this in 4 languages but I think it is mainly restricted to certain language areas, as in the case of your husband and his friends, and/or to certain age groups or professional milieus. I think the degree of "language contamination" varies from one language to another: from very high in my mother tongue (and in yours too) to relatively low in Spanish, for example. But what I'm finding strange in this book is that English seems to be used in cases in which it wouldn't in other languages I know, and this in addition to the cases in which probably all european languages would use english words.


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:34
Swedish to English
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2 x thanks Nov 27, 2008

Thanks for posting this thread. It reminded me of my tutor at Stockholm University - Harriet Sharp - and while googling I found her on LinkedIn. Will send her a message tonight.

Her doctoral thesis was: English in Spoken Swedish : A Corpus Study of Two Discourse Domains.

I haven't actually got around to reading it, but I seem to remember her telling me that one conclusion was that young Swedes use on average one English word per sentence.You can find the book at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/English-Spoken-Swedish-Discourse-Stockholm/dp/9122019340/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1227817513&sr=1-3

Thanks also for reminding me to go out and get the English translation of the Millennium series (so far only book 1 translated). I loved all three books but all the time I was reading I was curious as to how a translator would be able to convey the experience to a non-Swede. I really "know" the Stockholm settings and being able to visualise these added a lot to my reading experience.

Madeleine

PS. Don't forget that English is Sweden's second (unofficial) language

[Edited at 2008-11-27 20:38 GMT]


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Annika Persson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:34
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Swedish playfulness :-) Dec 4, 2008

Hi Arturo,

sorry for the delay.

Arturo Mannino wrote:

"Qué pena, justo cuando acababa de empezar de hacerme ilusiones de ser una kept woman"

"Get her off my back"



I think these phrases sound like quotes taken from movies etc. Basically adopted cultural concepts. I can't be exactly sure, since I'm not a native speaker of Swedish, but I don't think that there is any contemporary Swedish expression for "kept woman" (and I actually can't think of any fitting expression in German either) - the only thing that comes to mind is mätress/Mätresse, but that would only be used in historical contexts, I think. Both Swedish and German would have to use a lot more words to describe what "kept woman" implies. Germans would probably do just that: use a lot more words or use a slightly different imagery (e.g. "sie wird von ihm ausgehalten"). Swedes, however, have a much lower threshold when it comes to using foreign languages, and especially English.

By the way, I have also noticed that a lot of Swedes like to use German phrases here and there - usually swearwords (Schei..) or well-known things such as "Achtung! Achtung!" or "Vorsicht!" or "Ja, ja, das ist gut." It might be my presence as a German that coaxes them into it, but I have even noticed it in cases where people weren't aware that a German was present. They just seem to like to play with the words... or something like that. I don't know why they do it, but very often I get the impression of playfulness.


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Arturo Mannino  Identity Verified
Spain
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2 x thanks... Dec 4, 2008

... to Madeleine and Annika. After your posts, I think that Stieg Larsson uses a bit more english words than it seems to be common in Sweden's everyday language. Nevertheless, as Annika says, it can be that Swedes have a much lower threshold when it comes to using foreign languages.

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Anna Ryden  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:34
English to Swedish
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very strange Dec 11, 2008

I usually read in an active way and I really don't remember Larsson using so many strange words. It's been 2 years I think since I read the first book, and one (? maybe) since the third, and all I remember is thinking "well finally a readable swedish thriller". But it was summer, and I was on vacation (finally), so who knows?!

Are you sure the spanish translator used the swedish book?

/A


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Arturo Mannino  Identity Verified
Spain
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Not sure Dec 11, 2008

Hi Anna,

of course I'm not sure the translator used the swedish book as source, but I assume that he did so. First, because the original title is quoted as source book; second, because in the printing industry it is common to relay on original sources for translations.
Anyway, the thing that you do not remember that the author used so many english words could be a good clue on how deep english is rooted in Sweden's eveyday language

[Modificato alle 2008-12-11 12:59 GMT]


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Ricardo Naidich  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:34
Swedish to Spanish
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Si necesitas ayuda... Dec 11, 2008

Hola Arturo

Si tienes alguna duda sobre la traducción del texto y tienes el original en sueco, tal vez pueda ayudarte

Saludos

Ricardo Naidich
www.cultura-sueca.com.ar


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English words in Sweden's everyday language

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