Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Notes

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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Michael: What is Swenglish?
Jesper: And is it commonly used?
Michael: At SwedishPod101.com, we hear these questions often.
Ben Lee got a message from his Swedish friend but is a bit confused. He asks his friend, Sandra Ström,
"Is this English?"
Ben Lee: Är det här engelska?
Dialogue
Ben Lee: Är det här engelska?
Sandra Ström: Det är svengelska!
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Ben Lee: Är det här engelska?
Michael: "Is this English?"
Sandra Ström: Det är svengelska!
Michael: "It's Swenglish!"

Lesson focus

Michael: An estimated 400 million people speak the English language as their native language. Aside from being widely spoken, English is also the most studied language, with at least 500 million who use it as a second language. It's no surprise that 90% of Sweden's population can understand and speak English. And like any other language, Swedish also has its own practice of fusing together English and Swedish to come up with new words or phrases. This development is called, Swenglish, or
Jesper: Svengelska.
Michael: The word "Swenglish" is a blend of the words
Jesper: Svenska
Michael: or Swedish, and
Jesper: Engelska
Michael: or English. Just as in many cultures that have their own versions of Swenglish, this code-switch between Swedish and English has received mixed criticism among the Swedish people. Some see it as a fun language, while others see it as a threat to their native tongue. Nevertheless, it's not uncommon to hear people in Sweden say words like,
Jesper: Vilken loser han är!
Michael: "He's such a loser!"
Michael: Many of the English loanwords in the Swedish language are spelled exactly the same, such as the words, "sport," "bank," and "taxi." Others are spelled differently but have a similar sound to their English equivalent, like in the word,
Jesper: fotboll
Michael: or "football." The same is true with
Jesper: polis
Michael: or, "police," and
Jesper: telefon
Michael: for "telephone."
[Recall 1]
Michael: Let's take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Ben says "Is this English?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Jesper as Ben Lee: Är det här engelska?
Michael: The speaker was asking if the text message he received was English. Perhaps he saw some English words but wasn't too sure why they were mixed with Swedish words. This is called code-switching, which is the basis of Swenglish and other similar practices of fusing two different languages.
[Summary]
Michael: In this lesson, you learned that Swedish speakers tend to adopt English words into their vocabulary. This is also referred to as "Swenglish." Some Swedish people may see this as a threat to the Swedish language, but many don't agree. For one, the amount of English words introduced to the Swedish language is not really as enormous as what people may think.
Expansion
Michael: Despite some Swedes worrying about the possible negative influence of Swenglish on their native language, it's not unusual to see both Swenglish and English almost everywhere in Sweden. You'll see them on TV, billboards, and will even hear them from the Swedish people themselves. There are cases when it seems like a word has its meaning a little bit twisted. This is a result of the attempt to accommodate new concepts. For instance, there's the word
Jesper: afterwork
Michael: This is a bit of an odd case because it came from the English word "after-work," which is an adjective. In Swenglish, however, the word is a noun and refers to drinking sessions after work. A similar case is with the word
Jesper: backslick
Michael: which, in Sweden, refers to a slicked-back hairstyle. It's not common for English loan words to replace Swedish words though. One example is the word
Jesper: snooza
Michael: which has been inspired by the English word "snooze." It could have replaced the Swedish term for a short sleep or
Jesper: dåsa,
Michael: but it has adopted the meaning of going back to sleep after an alarm.
Cultural Insight
Michael: The incorporation of elements from the English language is not new to the Swedish people, or
Jesper: svenskar
Michael: They have been doing this since the 13th century. It just so happens that English has evolved to become a universal language. Since the Second World War, advances in technology and globalization have enhanced access to foreign languages, and this has sped up the rate at which language developed. Today, when people talk about the impact of English on the Swedish language, loan words, or
Jesper: lånord
Michael: are what come to mind. The term can be misleading, though, because Swedish loan words from English aren't simply borrowed. Oftentimes, the words are fully integrated into the Swedish language. This results in English words taking on Swedish pronunciation and inflection, and, in some cases, spelling. This is the case for the word
Jesper: dejt
Michael: or "date," and the word
Jesper: strejk
Michael: or "strike" in English.

Outro

Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Jesper: Vi ses!
Michael: See you soon!

3 Comments

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SwedishPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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What questions do you have about learning Swedish?

SwedishPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 12:53 AM
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Hej Matt,

So true! It is so interesting to see how languages develop with time and are constantly influenced by each other. Thank you for your comment! 😄


Vicky

Team SwedishPod101.com

Matt Gilman
Friday at 05:19 AM
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The Swedish Language, in turn, has had its effect on the Finnish language, as I recall while living in Finland almost 30 years ago. As the world grows ever closer, this bound to happen more and more--even on my native English. :)