• Sweden edition
 
Twisting tongues: Sweden's sexiest dialect

Twisting tongues: Sweden's sexiest dialect

Published: 10 May 2011 15:26 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 May 2011 15:26 GMT+02:00

Matters of the heart often play a role in enticing foreigners to move to Sweden, and as they struggle to master the language of their adopted homeland, foreigners hoping to impress their Swedish significant other, may want to think hard about which of the country's many regional dialects they choose to master.

According to some measures, there are more than 100 regional dialects spoken across the country -- and apparently, they are far from equal when it comes to how they are perceived by the average Swede.

A recent poll of 1,000 Swedes conducted by the Swedish Institute for Opinion Surveys (Svenska Institutet för Opinionsundersökningar, SIFO) found that Swedes find the regional dialect spoken in the western town of Gothenburg to be the sexiest of all Swedish dialects.

Following the release of the survey, conducted at the request of a dating website, the dialect spoken in Sweden's "second city" suddenly finds itself on the tip of everyone's tongue.

Margareta Svahn, a dialect researcher from Uppsala’s Institute for Language and Folklore (Institut för Språk och Folkminnen), can understand why "Göteborgska" topped the list of sexy Swedish dialects, garnering 18 percent of votes in the survey.

“I’m not at all surprised by the results – it’s often people’s attitude toward a speaker, not their actual dialect, that creates good vibrations,” she tells The Local.

Svahn explains that while Gothenburg is only Sweden’s second largest city, it also enjoys a more favourable reputation that big sister Stockholm.

“People from Gothenburg are known to be nice, friendly and happy,” she says.

“You hear it when they speak – Gothenburg people have a special, sing-song roll in their speech rhythm. You can always tell a person is from Gothenburg.”

Following the Gothenburg dialect, the dialect spoken in Norrland in Sweden's far north came in second by a hair's breath, with 17 percent of the vote.

The bronze medal in Sweden's sexiest dialect sweepstakes was awarded to Sweden’s southern region, Skåne, which pulled in 16 percent of the vote.

Gothenburg University’s Department of Dialectology, Onomastics and Folklore Research was also quick to explain the city's linguistic sex appeal.

“Gothenburg has long been associated with funny people – humour shows in Sweden often featured people from the west,” says Jenny Nilsson, a dialect researcher in the department who agrees that people often think of someone who speaks a certain dialect rather than the actual dialect itself in such surveys.

“And besides, everyone knows we in Gothenburg are funny and in my personal opinion, funny is attractive,” quips Nilsson in her native upbeat pitch.

Norrlandska, on the other hand, is known to be spoken a little slower and with a lot more breath.

But perhaps not the husky, hussie variety.

“It’s not a heavy, breathy dialect – it’s breathy but light and with very little melody,” describes Svahn, who adds that the northern dialect may even be easier to learn since the northerners have a tendency to cut out the gender or adjective agreements in words.

Skånska, on the other hand, was the unexpected dark horse at the front of the pack.

“It’s just not sexy at all!” Svahn exclaims.

Swedes usually refer to ‘Skånska’ as sounding a bit more like Danish with its deep trill and thick ‘r’, like one is speaking with stones in their mouth, the dialect specialist describes.

“But currently young boys like Skånska because there are a few popular girls from Skåne on TV that have long hair, big mouths and big tits, and so naturally Skånska is now sexy,” Svahn muses.

And despite their proximity to Gothenburg, the counties of Västergötland and Halland feature dialects which barely edging into poll standings with 4 and 1 percent of the vote respectively.

And while residents of those counties may lament the relatively low standing of their respective dialects, they can still rejoice that they received at least some share of the vote -- which is more than can be said of Örebro in central Sweden.

Although Örebro is in the very heart of Sweden, it was without love in an ice-cold bottom position – not one single vote.

“I’m not at all surprised – people just don’t like the gnäll (whining) sound that tends to be heard in their speech. It is instantly recognizable and instantly a turn-off,” says Svahn, who likened the pitch to that of the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz.

Örebro administrators however feel the ranking is due to unfamiliarity.

"Worth noticing is that the Örebro dialect was not voted unhot, it simply did not receive any votes, which is not surprising since the dialect is rather unknown," says Örebro Tourism Manager Björn Fransson.

He explains that the only associations Swedes may make of the mid-Sweden dialect comes from a humorous and popular stage and television character Hjälmar.

"On the other hand, during the years we have had a number of polls showing that the Örebro people are among the most good-looking in Sweden," jests Fransson, who believes Swedes will begin to make positive connections to Örebro as it becomes a more important city, thus lifting future dialect rankings.

Svahn disagrees and says there is little hope for Örebro to improve its standings as its dialect can give a sort of skin-crawling effect.

“Perhaps Örebro people should move to Gothenburg or just adapt the Gothenburg dialect,” Nilsson jokes.

And for the record, Stockholm's dialect was anything but hot on the sexy-dialects scale, sliding in at seventh place with an unimpressive 7 percent vote.

Both dialect researchers agree that it is hard to quantify exactly how many dialects one can find in Sweden due to all the variants.

“I don’t think there are more (dialects) in Sweden than in another country similar to Sweden. But we do have a levelling process going on,” says Svahn, who divides the nation into five basic regions, each with their own special attributes and but now with more common variables than ever before.

For her part, Nilsson remains a bit sceptical about the true science of such a poll.

“I don’t think if people listened to and ranked speech samples they would say the same thing as if they are just asked to list a few places,” she says.

In the mean time, however, foreigners looking for an edge in the Swedish dating scene may nevertheless want to do their best to master the Gothenburg dialect.

Karen Holst (kholstmedia@gmail.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

07:26 May 11, 2011 by positiveguy
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
07:44 May 12, 2011 by philster61
Only Swedes could think their language could be considered sexy.....I guess the Italians or French must be losing sleep.....
10:41 May 12, 2011 by flintis
Must check the date, no it's not April 1st.

They're joking right??
20:03 May 12, 2011 by Icarusty
It's less sexy than Welsh... and that's saying a lot
21:17 May 12, 2011 by Iraniboy
Does any of you care to read the entire article?! It's a comparison between different dialects of Swedish not comparing with Italian, Frence, ...once again anti-Swedish rants in thelocal!
09:59 May 13, 2011 by flintis
@iraniboy:- You did well in English grammar, I see.
13:56 May 13, 2011 by sgdavies
and whats wrong with Welsh icarusty :@ dont ya fancy catherine zeta jones or catherine jenkins? i think welsh and infact all Celtic languages sound nice to the ear. and back on the topic i quite like the sound of Swedish.
15:36 May 13, 2011 by jbkulp
Only Scandinavians can examine minutiae and make it sound important.
22:14 May 13, 2011 by Haubits77B
Why compare with other languages when the question only regards Swedish dialects? Is Italian a Swedish dialect? I do not think so.. However, the finest Swedish dialect would be the one of the Dukeship of Hälsingland/Gästrikland, becouse that dialect is the only one that pronunces words like "älg" and "älv" correct! If you do not like the Swedish language and our Swedish ways - why stay in Sweden???!
04:43 May 14, 2011 by philster61
Because the topic was the idea of "swedish being sexy".. If you don't like other opinions about it, then I suggest you stay away from public forums where opinions are freely expressed.. Again whenever an opposing opinion is expressed, in typical predictable fashion some xenophobe seems to always resort to suggesting the blogger leave Sweden forever.....
11:40 May 15, 2011 by Marc the Texan
The Skånska accent worked on me. I wouldn't even be involved with this country if it wasn't for that accent.
12:45 May 15, 2011 by Haubits77B
Philster61 !!!

The article is not about Swedish beeing sexy - it´s about what Swedish dialect that is most sexy - that is a huge difference!

Xenophobe? Me? Wouldn´t think so - maybe you are?
14:10 May 15, 2011 by TheOriginalBlackMan
LOL sexy? Come on, the first time I heard Swedish I thought the person was speaking German. Swedish is not a warm, sexy or a pleasant language to hear. The yodeling is unnerving and unnecessary. I think Isi-Zulu is the sexist language I have ever heard in my entire life; very warm and rich in tones. Swedish not.
15:28 May 15, 2011 by philster61
Haubits

There are two things Swedes DON'T have in their language....

Sarcasm and irony...... ever heard of them?
15:35 May 15, 2011 by Haubits77B
Philister61: no! :-)
02:13 May 16, 2011 by philster61
Didn't think so..... Shame really, you'll find that even Muslims can have a sense of humor when they inject a little irony and sarcasm into their "sexy" language.....
19:13 May 16, 2011 by Haubits77B
Islam is a religion and not a language... Milions of muslims don´t speak Arabic at all......
20:32 May 17, 2011 by jen@boston
@philster61 Hahahaha...ouch, I think Haubits deserves a point there. Perhaps you should read a bit more regarding distinctions between religion and language. ;-)
01:45 May 18, 2011 by philster61
haha.ja i have never known any religion to incorporate humour into their doctrine..

Haubits Islam is an Arabic Religion. Also devoid of humour...
01:10 June 15, 2011 by jacquelinee
Come on...cut the Swedes some slack here. After all, they spent who knows how much of the taxpayers money( including the immigrants tax kronor) to actually do a poll to see what flippin' dialect is sexier???? Another waste of tax money to stroke that ever so inflated Swedish ego. But lets lower the wages of low paid immigrants to save money so we can do more polls! Theres a plan. Maybe next time it can be, What is sexier, hair dyed like white cotton candy or like black cotton candy?? Or what guys names are sexier Sven or Gustav. Stroke, Stroke, STROKE that Swedish ego, while we go Broke, Broke, BROKE paying the taxes for a "think Tank" to do a consultation on it.
20:37 July 22, 2011 by hdluke
I love to hear Agnetha Fältskog speak in the few interviews she has done. To me she is the sexiest woman to come from Sweden.
Today's headlines
Boy receives cancer vaccine by mistake
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Boy receives cancer vaccine by mistake

A boy scheduled to be vaccinated against mumps, measles, and rubella instead received a vaccine against cervical cancer. His family has now reported the blunder for inspection. READ  

Sweden grants additional funds to jobs agency
Photo: Bertil Enevåg Ericson/TT

Sweden grants additional funds to jobs agency

The Swedish government has announced that it will increase funding to the jobs agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) in 2015, primarily to cover personnel costs but also to prevent long-term unemployment. READ  

Police 'powerless' against street racers
Police on E4 highway. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police 'powerless' against street racers

Stockholm police said they were powerless to react when streetracers took over at "insane speeds" on a large highway on Friday night. READ  

Saab carmaker wins receivership
Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Saab carmaker wins receivership

After initial rejection, a Chinese-owned company set up to take over Saab's assets after the troubled Swedish carmaker's bankruptcy said on Friday it had succeeded in being placed in receivership. READ  

Woman suffers cardiac arrest while giving birth
Photo: Tomas Oneborg/TT

Woman suffers cardiac arrest while giving birth

A 30-year-old woman went into cardiac arrest while giving birth at a Stockholm clinic - without hospital staff noticing that anything was wrong. She remains in a critical condition on Friday. READ  

Champions League
History repeats for Malmö fifty years later
Striker Magnus Eriksson during Malmö's 3-0 win over Salzburg in a Champions League qualifier. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

History repeats for Malmö fifty years later

Malmö's entry into the Champions League serves as a reminder of times gone by in European football. With Spain's champions bound for Sweden things just couldn't be better, writes contributor Lee Roden. READ  

Elections 2014
Löfven promises jobs to 50,000 young Swedes
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Löfven promises jobs to 50,000 young Swedes

Social Democrat party leader Stefan Löfven announced on Friday his "most important election promise", a 90-day job guarantee programme for young Swedes. READ  

 Sweden to buy fighter jets despite Swiss pullout
The Jas Gripen fighter aircraft. File photo: Wikimedia

Sweden to buy fighter jets despite Swiss pullout

Sweden said Friday it would go ahead with the purchase of a new generation of Saab Gripen fighter jets, despite Switzerland pulling out of a major co-financing deal. READ  

Three hurt after northern knife attack

Three hurt after northern knife attack

Three people are in hospital after they were stabbed during what police suspect was a gang-related attack in Umeå. READ  

Stockholm 'thief' turns out to be trainee ninja

Stockholm 'thief' turns out to be trainee ninja

Stockholm police rushed to the scene when a worried Swede reported that their neighbours were the victim of a break-in - but when officers arrived, they found nothing but a ninja in the middle of practice. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
People-watching August 27
Gallery
Top ten false friends in Swedish
National
Roma advocate scoops Wallenberg prize
Society
Meet the man who made a Swedish store recall its high heels for kids
Business & Money
'How I came to run my own business in Sweden'
Blog updates

25 August

Hit och dit, här och där (The Swedish Teacher) »

" Hej igen! A common challenge for Swedish language students are the location adverbs hit/här, dit/där, hem/hemma etc. Some of the location adverbs come in two versions. We should use one type of location adverb when we use a verb describes where we are, and we should use the other type of location adverb when we the verb..." READ »

 

25 August

The Dollar Store (Blogweiser) »

"A dollar store in Sweden. Blog post: http://t.co/tNuuvcP1q0 #USD #greenbacks #sweden #sverige pic.twitter.com/RHFAYf7U1k — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) August 23, 2014 There’s a chain here in Sweden called The DollarStore. This name always stood out to me in a country where they don’t use dollars. I went there for the first time this weekend. They actually accepted greenbacks..." READ »

 
 
 
Politics
Expert explains why Sweden's election oozes uncertainty
National
City plays Schindler's List theme at Nazi rally
Society
For Stockholm Fashion Week, here's the A-Z of Swedish fashion
National
'Amnesiac' man avoids deportation for ten years
Gallery
Princess Estelle through the years
Business & Money
Swedish city all set for six-hour workday trial
Business & Money
Five golden rules for the Swedish job hunt
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Gallery
People-watching August 22-24
National
Armed royal guards caught (very) drunk on the job
National
Sweden orders textbook on Roma discrimination
Gallery
Violent anti-Nazi demonstrations in Malmö
Society
A closer look at Sweden's five official minority languages
Gallery
See the destruction from the southern Sweden floods
Politics
'Sweden Democrats hold the key to elections'
Society
Swedes celebrate first day of smelly fish season
Politics
Sweden elections: How do they work?
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching August 20th
Society
Did you know the Bronx in NYC was named after a Swede?
Sponsored Article
Find out what gives this Swedish school executive appeal
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

775
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se