Ett, två, tre… Learning Swedish!

Swedish is an Indo-European, Germanic language. It is a beautiful language, if you ask me: it is very melodic, so proper pronunciation is crucial. Swedish sounds like a song and what helps with the pronunciation is imagining that little white ball jumping up and down (like when you’re singing karaoke). 

The alphabet

The Swedish alphabet contains 29 basic Latin letters, with the additional Ää, Åå and Öö. Because it is a Germanic language, there are similarities to English, so if you know English well (or any other Germanic language), chances are you’ll be able to understand basic Swedish quite easily. 

SFI courses

Personally, wherever I find myself, I like to at least try and learn the language spoken there (you know, when in Rome Lund…) because I feel learning the language really brings you to a whole new level of learning about the culture and social interaction in general (even though everyone speaks English in Sweden). In Sweden, municipalities organise SFI courses – Swedish For Immigrants – and they’re open for all international students who come for a programme that lasts more than 1 year. The courses are free and in a student city such as Lund, there are even courses adapted to Master students only.

I started with my SFI classes earlier this week and I am absolutely loving it. It’s also a lot of fun because most of the time the whole class is attempting to pronounce difficult phonemes in unison and it looks (and sounds) really funny. It takes a few attempts for our pronunciation to start resembling Swedish. 🙂

I speak for myself, but I think most of us new to the Swedish language feel the same way: number 7 (sju) is a tough one to pronounce! The SJ-sound, transcribed [ɧ] in phonology, has been my biggest challenge so far. 

On that note, I challenge you to pronounce the following:

Sju sjuksköterskor skötte sju sjösjuka sjömän på skeppet Shanghai.

I still can’t do it!


Written by Dena

17 Oct 2014