• Sweden's news in English
 

Swedish chef actually speaks Norwegian: report

Published: 29 Aug 2012 11:17 GMT+02:00

Hurdy gurdy gurdy” and “bork bork bork.”

These are the two gibberish phrases most people tend to use when imitating a Swede - and it’s all thanks to the Swedish Chef from The Muppets.

However, Slate magazine in the US has looked deeper into the character’s accent and come to the conclusion that the rambunctious chef is actually speaking a language more similar to that spoken by people in Sweden’s neighbour to the west – Norway.

Stockholm University linguistics professor Tomas Riad explains that the language of the chef certainly might sound Scandinavian, but that the intonation is actually far closer to Norwegian than any Swedish dialect.

“I can see where it comes from, but it doesn’t sound like Swedish to me,” he told the paper, adding that Norwegian has two tonal peaks in the spoken language, making it sound more “sing-songy”.

Incidentally, the same tonal peaks can be found in some Swedish dialects, particularly that of Stockholm, but Riad claims it is far more pronounced in Norwegian.

Swedes living outside of Sweden don’t always take kindly to comments about the chef however, with some people not understanding that the character is just speaking untranslatable nonsense.

“When Swedes go abroad, they become zealous protectors of the Swedish brand,” Michael Moynihan, an American married to a Swede told Slate.

“Something as insignificant as the Swedish Chef is like a slap in the face.”

While the argument may never cease when it comes to the origins of the chef’s accent, The Muppets writer Jerry Juhl may have spilled truth in 2005, according to one article he wrote for Muppetcentral.com.

He claimed that Muppets creator Jim Henson did indeed spend “a couple of weeks” listening to Learn Swedish tapes in order to “perfect his babble.”

The Local/og

twitter.com/thelocalsweden

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

13:18 August 29, 2012 by karex
I love the Muppets. Actually, The Swedish Chef has always sounded more Danish than Swedish to me... :)
16:39 August 29, 2012 by expatjourno
People the world over love the Swedish chef. I don't see why Swedes would be upset by it. But yes, the lilt sounds more Norwegian to me.
20:54 August 29, 2012 by Social Hypocrisy
Were not mad, just misunderstood... honest!
22:36 August 29, 2012 by Mark S.
It's an American TV show from the 1970s. If you pay close attention, you will find that the Swedish Chef sounds like an *American*. It is close enough to Swedish for an American audience to get the joke. Most Americans can't tell the difference between Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish anyway.
23:16 August 29, 2012 by calebian22
"Most Americans can't tell the difference between Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish" And why would they want or need too? The are three languages that are worthless anywhere in the world other than in the inclimate north.
10:26 August 31, 2012 by Borilla
@#5 - The word is "inclement". Don't you have spell check? If you are going to disparage the languages of certain countries, at least talk about countries whose economies are not doing substantially better than those whose first language is English.
19:49 August 31, 2012 by dizzymoe33
I love the Swedish Chef!!! Does it really matter what he sounds like? It is all in good fun!
10:05 September 1, 2012 by J Jack
The Scandic chef.
22:02 September 1, 2012 by sergisr
Oh my...! I've wasted my time watching the Swedish Chef's videos thinking I was learning Swedish. Hurdy gurdy språk talar jag börk?
19:24 September 3, 2012 by nuke
This is not news - I was told this back in the 70s, so it must have been common knowledge then.
10:42 September 4, 2012 by slh
What if I told you that the Swedish chef is based on an actual Swedish chef... with sing songy dialect: http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=8265512&page=1#.UEW-adbN-Yk I might be biased in since I'm from the same part of Sweden though.
00:29 November 9, 2012 by arri
I've just to read this, however what I find amusing is watching the roll about what language a Muppet speaks. That's a tad comical. Thanks for the laugh ;-)
Today's headlines
Three stabbings within hours in Malmö
A Swedish police car. File photo: Mikel Fritzon/TT

Three stabbings within hours in Malmö

Three men were stabbed within hours of each other in separate incidents in the southern Swedish city of Malmö overnight. It’s just the latest spate of violence to hit the city this summer. READ  

The Local List
Swedes: here's how to date a foreigner
Explain when a 'fika' is really a date. Photo: Miriam Preis/imagebank.sweden.se

Swedes: here's how to date a foreigner

From fika to forward planning, the Swedish dating scene can be tricky to navigate for people from other countries. The Local has put together a list of ways Swedes can make the experience a bit easier for their foreign dates. READ  

Lenny Kravitz lets it rip on stage in Sweden
Lenny Kravitz performing at Gröna Lund in Stockholm. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Lenny Kravitz lets it rip on stage in Sweden

US artist Lenny Kravitz made headlines when he rocked his pants off at a rip-roaring gig in Stockholm last night – literally. READ  

'Hate speech' probe into Swedish anti-begging ad
The ad campaign at Östermalmstorg station has been strongly criticized. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

'Hate speech' probe into Swedish anti-begging ad

UPDATED: The Swedish Chancellor of Justice has launched an investigation into whether or not a controversial anti-begging campaign on the Stockholm underground constitutes hate speech. READ  

Swedish workers' lucky escape in bridge collapse
A concrete slab fell off the bridge in Sundsvall. Photo: Jango17/Wikimedia Commons

Swedish workers' lucky escape in bridge collapse

A number of Swedish workers were on Tuesday thankful to be alive after their company car was crushed by a 30-tonne block of concrete that fell off a bridge in northern Sweden. READ  

One injured in Stockholm suburb drive-by shooting
A man was shot in the Bredäng area of Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

One injured in Stockholm suburb drive-by shooting

A person was taken to hospital on Tuesday afternoon after a drive-by shooting in a Stockholm suburb. READ  

Swedish legend set to star in hit fantasy series
Swedish actor Max von Sydow. Photo: AP Photo/Gero Breloer

Swedish legend set to star in hit fantasy series

Swedish veteran actor Max von Sydow has signed on for a role in the sixth season of the wildly popular Game of Thrones fantasy series, according to a US movie magazine. READ  

Russia slams Sweden over expelled diplomats
Moscow has hit back at Stockholm over a diplomatic incident. Photo: RIA Novosti Pool Photo via AP

Russia slams Sweden over expelled diplomats

UPDATED: Russia lashed out at Stockholm on Tuesday and confirmed it had expelled a Swedish diplomat in retaliation for one of Moscow's officials being asked to leave the Nordic country. READ  

Swedish ship in new migrant rescue mission
Migrants aboard the rescue ship Poseidon on an earlier rescue mission in June. Photo: AP Photo/Carmelo Imbesi/TT

Swedish ship in new migrant rescue mission

The Swedish rescue ship Poseidon has helped another hundreds of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean, said the coast guard. READ  

Opinion
'Let's promote nudity in a healthy way'
Lotta Gray and her son Lennox. Photo: Private

'Let's promote nudity in a healthy way'

Swedish parents need to get more comfortable being naked around family members to help their children develop a healthy attitude to nudity, argues journalist and blogger Lotta Gray. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
Swedes get ready for new money, money, money
Gallery
Property of the week: Huddinge, Stockholm
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Joyful celebrations at Stockholm's Pride Parade 2015
National
Snoop Dogg's initial drug test positive say Swedish police
How did a banana help a Swedish man avoid speeding fines?
Blog updates

31 July

Editor’s blog, July 31st (The Local Sweden) »

"Dear readers, As the Stockholm Pride Festival kicked off this week, we spoke to the chairman of..." READ »

 

15 July

Climate Change: A New Risk Assessment (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world today.   The UK is..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
People-watching: July 31st - August 2nd
Technology
Modern mugging: Swedish thieves use smartphone app to rob man
National
How a century-old Russian sub wreck got Sweden into a frenzy
Gallery
People-watching: July 29th
National
How to become a Swedish woman
National
Free bus cards for refugees in Sweden
Lifestyle
New snaps of Sweden's baby prince
National
Why are Swedes so scared of Russian submarines?
Gallery
Property of the week: Simrishamn, Skåne
Sponsored Article
Getting pregnant the Swedish way
Features
Five outrageously harsh tourist comments about Sweden
Sponsored Article
Why is Sweden still working with Russia?
Gallery
People-watching: July 24th-26th
Travel
Seven ways to beat the Swedish rain
National
Should Sweden's alcohol stores be open on weekends?
National
How to become a Swedish man
Gallery
People-watching: July 22nd
Lifestyle
How to never miss your favourite features on The Local
National
Royal husband on 'breadwinner' role
National
Stockholm to ban all cars for one day
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
Gallery
Property of the week: Sölvesborg, Blekinge
National
Questions over who would replace Swedish PM in a crisis
Gallery
People-watching: July 17th-19th
National
Why are Swedish women joining Isis?
Travel
Ten Stockholm streets you just have to walk down
Sponsored Article
'Swedish women must demand their partners use a condom'
Sport
Did UK football parents threaten Swedish kids?
Technology
Stockholm scientists find world's oldest sperm
Gallery
People-watching: July 15th
National
Angry Swede uses bird nest as fake speed camera
National
Meatball row as Ikea changes recipe
National
Sweden's new princess in spotlight
National
Slimy slugs go on sale to raise cash for EU migrants in Sweden
National
Crown Princess Victoria turns 38
Sponsored Article
Harstena: Life in Sweden's secret archipelago
National
Is this the best marriage proposal story in Malmö's history?
Sponsored Article
'Biofuels critical for climate-friendly flights'
Sponsored Article
Gaps don't have to kill your Swedish CV
National
Why summer could be the best time to invest in a Swedish property
Gallery
Property of the week: Bollnäs, Hälsingland
National
Swedish house on sale for one krona
National
Would you give this ugly food a home?
Gallery
People-watching: July 10th-12th
Travel
Foreign hikers in Sweden set to get more help in English
Sponsored Article
'Swedish industry needs US trade deal'
Sponsored Article
Sweden's 'incredible' chance to connect
Sponsored Article
'Today's refugees could be tomorrow's Zlatan'
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Sponsored Article
‘I don’t feel Swedish, I feel international’
Sponsored Article
VIP Mingle at Almedalen's hottest event
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

3,291
jobs available
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:
psdmedia.se