Friday, September 13, 2013

adventures in learning swedish

after almost a month of trying i can say with utter conviction that swedish is one difficult tongue to learn.  there are phonetic pronunciations that an english-speaker just cannot form--my personal bane is "sju" which should sound like "hoo," with a slight edge to the H by rounding the tongue into the back molars.  there are three additional vowels to sound out (å, ä and ö) that have no english equivalent, and these three extra letters are tacked onto the end of the alphabet, as in after z, so it makes finding things listed in alphabetical order extra challenging.

even though we share 26 other characters, the letters we recognize and their predominate sounds do not necessarily translate into swedish.  for example: i was told to send an email to a woman named sigrid o'berry--and as the person was spelling out her last name i got totally confused.  she kept saying "o'berry" and i'm expecting something like "o-b-e-r-r-y," but her last name is actually spelled Åberg.  i would look at that as an english-speaker and think "ah-berg," but alas this is sweden and it is o'berry.  sophie's name is actually pronounced, "ah-strrrrrid;" gus is "yous."  rich is "rickard," as -ch and -th seem to be problematic for swedes to say.  i'm not sure i've heard anyone say my name yet.

a few common words that are the same:  taxi, under, sport, salt, blind, vision, storm
a few more that are close to the same:  mjilk, stopp, buss, upp, peppar, fotboll, foto, cykle, applen
a few more that are way, way off:  sin = its, slut = stop/end, fart = speed, sex = six, böner = prayers, skänk = bring/gift

if i were working towards citizenship, then the swedish government would provide me with "swedish for immigrants" language courses, but i am merely a temporary resident so this is all on me.  for me, watching TV helps tremendously...especially the simpsons...but gus and sophie have actual swedish classes at school so fortunately they're not dependent on my crappy attempts to assimilate.

i am going to figure out this language eventually!

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