Swedish vowel E

How to pronounce the Swedish vowel E

Today, I’m presenting some tips on how to pronounce the Swedish vowel E.

E

This vowel can be tricky because for an English speaker, the natural instinct is to treat it like the English ‘ee’ (like in for example ‘bumble-bee’). But the Swedish E is lower, and finishes off with a slight A-sound in the very end (at least the accents found around Stockholm and Uppsala on the East coast). The best way to find the right sound, is to say the English word ‘ear’, but to remove the ‘r-sound’ in the end: ‘ea’. Check out the video below to also find out how to pronounce the short version of E.

Swedish vowel A

How to pronounce the Swedish vowel A

The Swedish language is relatively vowel-rich. The pronunciation of these vowels can prove a challenge when you are learning Swedish. Therefore, I will post some tips and tricks on how to say the Swedish vowels they way you say them in the alphabet, and I’m (unsurprisingly) starting with the Swedish vowel A.

A

The thing to remember with A is that it is very long. For English speakers, it usually helps to make the same sound as when saying the English letter ‘r’, but to remove the ‘r-sound’ in the end and only keep the long ‘ah’. Another way can be to visualize the sound you have to make if a doctor examines your mouth and throat. The doctor usually places a spatula on your tongue, and asks you to say ‘ah’. Finally, it is important to remember to drop your jaw properly, which makes the A deep and long. Check out the video to find out how to pronounce the short A-sound.

5 ways to stay motivated

One of the most difficult aspects of learning a language is keeping up your motivation. So many of my students go through patches of lacking in motivation, and when you do it is easy to fall out of routine altogether, coming up with reasons not to learn (too much on at work, not enough time, etc), and the learning process might even grind to a halt completely.

In this blog post, I wanted to talk a bit about motivation and give you some hands on tips on how to stay motivated.

 

Internal vs external motivation

Internal motivation is basically enjoyment. It is the satisfaction of making progress, enjoying the learning journey, feeling curious and open, enjoying learning new pieces of information, feeling satisfied when understanding something tricky.

External motivation is some kind of reward, which could be real or symbolic. It could be achieving good results in a test, it might be the prestige in being fluent, or the rewards in being able to communicate with extended family and friends perhaps. The issue with external motivation is that it can lead to a situation where learners are learning even though they don’t actually enjoy it. It is therefore better to focus mainly on making sure your internal motivation is nice and strong!

How can we work on our internal motivation?

1. Make positive associations

Connect Swedish with your other interests. If you like politics, read the news headlines on dn.se or svd.se. Now is a particularly interesting time in Swedish politics, following the general election. Are you interested in history? Look into the history of Sweden. Like baking? Learn how to bake cinnamon buns, and translate a recipe from Swe to Eng. If you like music, research music with Swedish lyrics and try and translate them, and of course – sing along! I have a playlist on Spotify that you can have a look at: http://open.spotify.com/user/browwn/playlist/1ielXWVCjGa7cvYad7xWPc

Also try and associate learning Swedish with your favourite activities and places. Put a Swedish podcast on when you’re running, for example. Watch movies and tv series in Swedish. Look at youtube for Swedish clips. Go to sr.se (Swedish radio) and listen live or download a podcast. The channel P1 is news, current affairs, debates and culture. P2 is classical and jazz music. P3 is pop music and programmes for a younger audience. P4 is local radio stations. It’s worth checking out the programme Klartext, which is a daily news bulletin in easier Swedish (shorter sentences, reduced vocab). There is also a brilliant app for smartphones, called SR Play.

2. Don’t give up

You need a holistic and realistic view of the learning process. Many language learners start out with high hopes for achieving fluency fast, but their enthusiasm quickly dips when they find themselves making the same mistakes again and again, and maybe speak in an (often self-perceived) embarrassing accent.

This is definitely not the time to throw in the towel and admit defeat! These errors are 100% normal and actually a part of the progress. It is therefore EXTREMELY important to remember this:

Language-learning errors are not a negative reflection on your intelligence!

Instead, learn to love your errors. They are your friends, they bring you step by step closer to fluency and confidence. Smile, and learn from them.

3. Remember why you started

Was it to be able to speak more with colleagues at work? Or with your in-laws? Or to be able to at some point move to Sweden? Or to be able to speak like Saga Noren in The Bridge, just because it’s a cool thing to be able to do? Or because it’s cooler and more unusual than just learning Spanish or Mandarin?

Remind yourself now, maybe even write yourself a little e-mail to yourself with  http://m.futureme.org/ to remind yourself in 6 month’s time.

4. Explore ways to monitor progress

The thing with learning in general, is that it’s hard to sense progress. This is because of something I call “Moving Goal Posts”. Just as you have mastered one grammatical aspect and feel quite pleased about that, you turn a page and realise a whole damn new section that you didn’t even know before! The goal post is constantly moving. As Einstein himself said: “the more I learn the more I realise how little I know”. This is completely as it should be, it’s part of learning.

However, what is worth doing, is to capture your level at certain points, so you have something to compare with. If you are following some kind of course, this will probably be included anyway. Writing exercises that you can look back at in 3 months time. Why not make a short audio recording on your mobile phone or computer? No one needs to know, but you can go back in a year’s time and see how much you have progressed.

5. Consider not having a schedule

I know it may seem sloppy or disorganised somehow in our society to not have a schedule, we are extremely goal oriented as a society. The problem is that having a too strict schedule can make learning a language into a chore. Chores = boring = less internal motivation and less likelihood to succeed.

Learning a language is a bit like going to the gym. You won’t notice immediate effect, and you’ll have good days and bad days. You can’t just work out like mad for 6 months and then go couch potato for 2 years and expect the same level of fitness throughout. But if you work on it regularly, you will notice a difference over weeks and months. Expecting quick improvements is to expect too much from your brain, it’s simply unrealistic. Learning a language is more like a marathon than a sprint, and remember that a flood is made up of raindrops!

Some more useful tips:

  • svt.se (Swedish television, some programmes are available outside of Sweden)
  • TV4play and Kanal5play for smartphones
  • 8sidor.se (notice especially their “Lyssna” feature in the left-hand side menu)

Fancy booking lessons? https://swedishmadeeasy.com/book-a-lesson/

Interview with a Swedish learner – Gonzalo

This week’s story comes from Gonzalo. He is originally from Peru and is a native Spanish speaker but learned English when he was very young. He lives in London and works as a management consultant in the infrastructure sector. He met Jenny from Sweden in 2012, and they are now married and are expecting their first child. He is currently studying 2-3 hours a week with our Swedish teacher Daniel.

What led you to want to learn Swedish?

I met Jenny in 2012 and married her in 2017. She is fluent in Spanish, my mother tongue, so we agreed that I should try to become fluent in hers. That way I can understand when her family speak to our future baby.

When and how did you start learning Swedish?

I bought Rivstart’s old edition in 2014 and did a classroom term with UCL. Didn’t progress so found Swedish Made Easy.

How much do you currently use the Swedish language, and why?

For the time being I do not use Swedish that much as my wife speaks fluent English and Spanish and it would be rather inefficient to switch. Moreover, “we met in English” so it is a de facto communication form between us. This might change when our daughter is born later in the year as Jenny will speak to her in Swedish and I in Spanish thus opening new situations for me to experience my learning.

What have been the challenges for you in learning Swedish?

I learned English and Spanish when I was very young and never learned “the rules”. I had 20 hours a week at school taught in English so I was bilingual by 15. Starting with a new language in your 30s and having to learn after work is a big challenge.

What is your proudest moment as a Swedish speaker?

This will be when I move to Stockholm for work and can work in Swedish, not quite there yet.

Can you recommend any Swedish books that are good for learning Swedish? (Could be course books, grammar books, novels, or children’s books – anything!)

Following on the thought above (about how things will change when our daughter is born), my mother in law has bought a number of the Gubbe Pettson (Pettson och Findus) for me which could now be redeployed with our daughter. They are good fun.

Can you recommend any online/media resources for learning Swedish?

I try to do 2 lessons a week. On occasion my work allows me to do a third one and in order to keep it varied, Daniel and I look up stories in 8 sidor and translate them into English. 8 sidor is great for colloquial vocabulary and for finding out everyday things happening in Swedish. They do make the occasional spelling mistake though and we filter those out to maintain purity.

Do you have any other advice for future, budding Swedish learners?

Make sure you have the motivation to get it done! That will give you the discipline to make it happen.

Swedish vowels – hard and soft

Swedish vowels

Hej! Anneli here. Today we will be talking pronunciation. As you may already know, the Swedish language has 9 vowels: A, E, I, O, U, Y (note that y is always a vowel in Swedish!), Å, Ä, and Ö. However, there is another way of grouping the vowels, rather than just alphabetically – according to whether they are ‘soft’ or ‘hard’. Categorising vowels in this way will help with the pronunciation of many words in Swedish, as it can give you clues on how to say certain words.

feather stone

 

Hard and soft vowels

When we say that vowels are either hard or soft, what we actually mean is that different vowels will affect certain consonants before them – giving the consonants either a soft or a hard pronunciation. So, actually, it is not the vowels themselves that are pronounced in a soft or hard way, but instead they affect consonants to be pronounced in a soft or hard way. And which consonants will they affect? They will affect words beginning with K-, G– and SK-.

This actually happens in English too. Just compare how you say café and city. The words both begin with C, but they are pronounced differently. From a Swedish language perspective, I would say that café has a hard kind of C, whereas city has a soft-sounding C. Another example is the different pronunciation of G in the words guest and gist, where I would say guest has a hard-sounding G and gist is soft. So let’s see how this works in Swedish.

Soft vowels: E, I, Y, Ä and Ö

Hard vowels: A, O, U, and Å

If you have any of the so-called soft vowels following either K-, G– or SK-, these consonants change to a softer sounding sound.

For example:

G– : göra (to do) – is pronounced with a soft y sounding sound: “yöööra”, whereas gammal (old) – is pronounced with a hard-sounding G, a bit like in the name Gandalf.

K– : köpa (to buy) – is pronounced with a soft sounding ch: “chööpa”, whereas kan (able to/can) – is pronounced with a hard k, like in the English “can”.

SK– : sked (spoon) – is pronounced with a soft sounding sound, the same as in the number 7 (sju): “scheeed”, whereas skola (school) – is pronounced hard, like it reads (a separate s followed by a separate hard k): skola.

Because of theses pronunciation rules, there are some Swedish words that seem familiar to the English ear, and may even mean the same thing, but will be pronounced differently. I call these types of words “false friends” – they seem easy and familiar, but are in fact something else. For example:

kilo – means the same thing, a measure of weight, but is pronounced soft because of the I: “chiiilo”

sky – means sky in Swedish too, but is pronounced soft and with a long Swedish Y (like an English “ee” but with a more trumpet/forward-shaped mouth): “schyyy”

sko – means shoe, but this one is hard, because of the O: “skooo”

Of course, there are some exceptions, as always. Look out for the words kille (guy – should theoretically be soft, but we pronounce it hard), and (queue) or en kör (a choir) – again, should theoretically be soft, but is instead hard. Many students also struggle with the word människa (person, human being), and try to pronounce it as it reads, although we actually pronounce this “sk” in a soft way: “männischa”.

Here is a summary of the structure of hard and soft vowels after G-, K-, and SK-, taken from my new book Teach Yourself Complete Swedish.

 

 

Letters we don’t pronounce

Letters we don’t pronounce

Hej! Daniel here!

In this week’s blogpost, we’re talking pronunciation. We have a saying in Sweden that goes Har man sagt A får man säga B (If you’ve said A, you should say B). However, this doesn’t translate into how Swedes actually speak; the saying continues with …så får vi C vad D E (…and we’ll see what it is). The letters C, D, and E represent “see”, ” it” and “is”. Depending on the region, we like to drop letters differently to how they are spelt. Today we’ll go on a journey through Sweden and delve into our peculiar speech.

A classic Swedish children’s book is Astrid Lindgren’s Emil i Lönneberga. This story takes place in Småland, a region in the southern part of Sweden. The following is a dialogue between the young Emil and his best friend, a farmhand called Alfred:

Dä ä du å ja Alfred. (It’s you and I, Alfred).

Tro ja dä, du å ja Emil. (You’re right about that, you and I, Emil).

In written form, this exchange would look different:

Det är du och jag, Alfred.

Tror jag det, du och jag Emil.

Note that the pronunciation here is typical of the Småland municipality. In most other parts of Sweden, we would say de (=det) and e (=är) instead.

Here you can watch that particular scene from the old Astrid Lindgren movie.

A popular way of saying good morning in Gothenburg is Gomorron, which also was the name of a television breakfast program for many years (Gomorron Sverige).

Here the ‘d’ is dropped and stuck together with the word morron. Correct spelling is god morgon.

Another classic is a series of comedy films from the 80s and 90s called Jönssonliganthat take place in and around Stockholm. One of the characters there, Dynamit-Harry, (played by the same actor who plays Alfred in Emil i Lönneberga) enjoys dynamite and beer a little too much. After each successful operation, he has this to say:

Vicken jävla smäll! (What a darn blast!)

The correct spelling is vilken, but it’s easier to pronounce the world without the ‘l’, especially when you’re excited.

The municipality of Närke, Östergötland, Västmanland and Värmland in the middle of Sweden are jokingly called Gnällbätet (The Moan Belt, because of how people sound). They often drop the ‘r’ at the end of a word, such as körkort (driver’s licence) which instead becomes kökot.

Common for most Swedish regions is the drop of ‘g’:

Något (something) becomes nåt.

Någon (someone) becomes nån.

Några (some) becomes nåra.

It happens often that a Swede would contract several words in speech (similar to good morning), especially when the expression is common and the sentence only consists of a few words. This means that a Swede who hasn’t seen anything (Jag har inte sett något) would say Ja:nte sett nåt.

To explore more pronunciation patterns, book your lesson here.

Ha det gött! 

Daniel

10 days until Teach Yourself Complete Swedish

New version of Teach Yourself Complete Swedish (Hodder & Stoughton) publishes 8 March 2018

  • Dr Anneli Beronius Haake from Swedish Made Easy is the author of the new book
  • The book includes 20 units with online audio support, plus verb reference and word glossary, with relevant and up-to-date topics, including politics, education, gender equality and popular entertainment in Sweden.

A perhaps unexpected trend in recent years is the rising popularity of Swedish in the world. It is unexpected because Swedish is not traditionally one of the more popular languages in the world, as it is typically ranked around the 90th most spoken languages in the world. But according to British Council, Swedish is in the top 10 languages in demand for export markets, along with much larger languages like French, Spanish, Dutch and German.

So why is Swedish becoming more popular? There are several theories for this rise. One is the rise of Scandinavian culture in general on an international scale, with books, TV-series and movies, many of them falling into the category known as Nordic Noir. Also, one in six Swedish residents in 2015 were born outside of Sweden (Statistics Sweden SCB), meaning that many Swedish residents are in full swing of learning the language.

On the 8th of March, the International Women’s Day, Dr Anneli Beronius Haake, director of the e-learning school Swedish Made Easy, publishes a new version of Teach Yourself Complete Swedish (Hodder & Stoughton). “What is particularly useful about this book”, she explains, “is that the platform language is English. Many Swedish course books made in Sweden are all in Swedish, which means that learners need a teacher to help explain the grammar at beginner’s level. This book, on the other hand, has all the grammar points explained in English.”

The book uses authentic conversations, vocabulary building, grammar explanations, online audio support, and extensive practice and review to equip learners with the skills they need to use Swedish in a variety of settings and situations, developing their cultural awareness along the way. The book follows several characters through a storyline enabling learners to engage with Swedish culture and contextualise their learning. The book suits the self-study learner, lessons with a one-to-one tutor, or the beginner classroom. It can be used as a refresher course as well as to support study for the ‘Swedex’ Swedish proficiency test.

 

 

Notes to Editors

 

  • Sources

 

Haake, A. B. (2018). Teach Yourself Complete Swedish (Hodder & Stoughton) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Swedish-Beginner-Intermediate-Course/dp/1444195107/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1517488103&sr=8-3&keywords=teach+yourself+swedish ISBN-10: 1444195107   ISBN-13: 978-1444195101

Mikael Parkvall, “Världens 100 största språk 2007” (The World’s 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin.

https://www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/languages_for_the_future_2017.pdf

http://www.scb.se/sv_/Hitta-statistik/Artiklar/Finland-och-Irak-de-tva-vanligaste-fodelselanderna-bland-utrikes-fodda/

 

  • About Swedish Made Easy and Dr Anneli Beronius Haake

Swedish Made Easy was founded by Anneli Beronius Haake in 2005. It is an e-learning and Skype-based language school, which specialises in the teaching and assessment of Swedish language skills, including SWEDEX levels A2-B2. Swedish Made Easy believes in using modern technology to share the Swedish language and culture across the globe.

Dr Anneli Haake is a native Swedish language and culture specialist and translator. Anneli was awarded a BA (Hons) at University of Stockholm in 2003 before transferring to the UK to complete her PhD and a PCHE (Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education) at University of Sheffield, UK. Anneli has been featured in numerous media outlets, including the BBC and The Guardian. Anneli has experience of teaching students from a broad range of nationalities and has worked with organisations such as Örebro University, Lund University, Jönköping University, as well as large multi-nationals including Abercrombie & Fitch, E-ON and Spotify and various language agencies.

95 ways of saying ‘rubbing snow in someone’s face’

A common conception is that Eskimos have over 100 words for snow, as they have so much snow in their everyday lives. By the looks of things, Swedes spend the whole winters rubbing snow in each others’ faces – at least judging by a survey a few years ago that found 95 ways of saying ‘rubbing snow in someone’s face’.

The survey was carried out by a radio programme on Swedish radio (Språket i P1), asking what words people use, or have used as children, to describe the act of ‘rubbing snow in someone’s face’. 6,000 people from the whole of Sweden participated in the survey, which revealed 95 ways of saying this. Here are some of the verbs, from south to north.

Malmö
80 people use the word mula.

Skåne
In the rest of Skåne, mula dominates, but not as clearly as in Malmö.
Mula 267, kröna 53, tvätta 17, salta 10, mosa 7, sylta 4, gnida in 4, gnugga 3
The survey states that kröna is typical of Skåne.

Blekinge
The survey found one unique word in this region: mora.
Mula 32, mora 24, gno 7, mosa 5, döpa 2
It is interesting to see how different the words are in Blekinge, compared to Skåne – even though they are so close geographically.

Halland
The Halland-dialect also had a unique word: molla.
Mula 91, molla 29, möla 13, klena 4, göra 4, kröna 3

Småland
There were large variations throughout Småland, but the general trend is as follows:
Mula 311, mylla 79, bryna 19, myla 16, mosa 12, gno 11, mulla 6, myra 2
Notice how some of the words form a kind of cluster, which is probably illustrating how one form has transformed into another one. This is probably the case with for example mula, mulla, myla, mylla and myra.

Apart from mula, mylla is considered typical for Småland.
Among people born after 1970, almost only mula and mylla are mentioned.

Öland
Mula 14, mylla 4, pula 2
Very similar overall patterns to Småland in general, according to the survey.

Gotland
Bryna 19, mula 12, bröine 3
Bryna is the typical word for Gotland.

Östergötland
Myla 148, mula 142, pula 5, mylla 3
Myla is typical for this region. It is also interesting to note only 3 examples of mylla, which is the typical expression of Småland, just south of Östergötland.

Södermanland
Mula 126, pula 87, pöla 23, snöpula 5, möla 4
There was only 1 example of myla in Södermanland, which was the typical word in Östergötland – the neighbouring region. Some of the strong dialect boundaries are fascinating, don’t you think? Instead, Södermaland belongs to a greater pula-area, which can be found in Närke, Västmanland and neighbouring regions.

Västergötland
Mula 206, göra 86, grosa 23, möla 18, tvätta 16, gnosa 12, pula 9, gno 8, mylla 6, snötvätta 5, gni(da) 5, gnugga 4, sylta 4
Mula is top of the chart here, and möla is probably also a variation of mula.
Typical for Västergötland is the (hard g -pronounced) göra as well as grosa och gnosa.

Göteborg
Mula 159, göra 69, gira 43, môla 36, sylta 34, gura 16, salta 3

Typical for Göteborg is mula och môla, but also the words göra, gira, gura and sylta. Gura and sylta is not as common among younger people, but göra, gira and môla could be found across generations.

Bohuslän
Mula 66, môla 11, mulla 9, mölla 7
All appears to be variations of mula.

Dalsland
Mula 17, môla 7, tryna 7
The last form, tryna, can also be found in Värmland.

Värmland
Kryna 81, mula 45, tryna 27, krôna 14, bryna 11, mölla 7, mölja 7, pula 5, snöbryna 3
Typical for Värmland are kryna, tryna, bryna and krôna. Together, they are three times as common as mula. Mula and tryna are common among younger, whereas kryna, bryna and krôna are less common.

Närke
Pula 56, mula 35, snöpula 6, snötvätta 5
Pula is clearly dominating in this region.

Västmanland
Pula 64, mula 35, snöpula 6, bryna 2, tryna 2, snöpudra 2
Very similar pattern to Närke.

Uppland
Mula 153, mulla 62, pula 24, snöpula 5, mudda 5, snömulla 3
Typical for Uppland is mulla.

Stockholm
Mula 800, pula 8
Stockholm is suprisingly homogeneous, despite a total of 843 participants: 98 % state mula. How come Stockholm has not been influenced by neighbouring regions?

Gästrikland
Purra 18, pula 18, mula 15, snöpula 11, snöpurra 9, snötvätta 2
Typical for Gästrikland is purra and pula.

Hälsingland
Pula 31, mula 27, snöpula 9
Hälsingland also belongs to the pula-area.

Medelpad
Mula 58, pula 2
Pula pretty much stops by the border between Hälsingland and Medelpad.

Dalarna
Mula 55, pula 45, snöpula 13, myla 6, möla 3, mulla 3, snötvätta 3
Dalarna also belongs to the pula-area. But how about myla – are there any connections to Östergötland?

Härjedalen
Mula 5.
Lack of participants here.

Jämtland
Mula 45, purra 21, pula 8, döpa 7
Typical was purra, alongside mula. Purra is thus used in both Jämtland and Gästrikland, even though these areas do not share any borders.

Lappland
Mula 11, pula 7, möla 3, myla 2, snödöpa 2

Ångermanland
Mula 78, mjula 6, mjöla 4, pula 3
Mula is definitely dominating.

Västerbotten
Mula 78, mubba 10, möla 7, snödränka 6, mobba 5, möla 3, pula 3, snödöpa 3, snömula 3, döpa 2, tvätta 2, mööl 2
Second most common word was the unusual mubba, which was only used by participants born between 1950 and 1970. However, it may be related to the word mobba (bullying), which would make sense.

Norrbotten
Mula 47, snöbada 29, snödöpa 7, snödoppa 4, gnida 4
Typical for Norrbotten are combinations with snö. 21 different words were mentioned, for example måda, mosa, gnugga, gnogg and, from Överkalix, gnäir.

Finnish variations:

Österbotten: mula 3, pesa 3, tvätta 2, tåväl 1, såvla 1, dövla 1, myla 1

Nyland: mula 6, pesa 6, tvätta 3, snötvätta 2

Åboland: mula 5, pula 2, snötvätta 2

Åland: måda 5, skura 2, mula 1, gnosa 1, gno in 1

In Österbotten and Nyland, the word pesa comes from the finish word for ‘tvätta‘ (to wash) with a Swedish infinitive form.

Mula

Mula