• Sweden edition
 
Swedish chef actually speaks Norwegian: report

Swedish chef actually speaks Norwegian: report

Published: 29 Aug 2012 11:17 GMT+02:00
Updated: 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
Sport
Sweden's star striker Zlatan 'recovering well'
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Sweden's top scorer in history. PHOTO: TT/Maja Suslin

Sweden's star striker Zlatan 'recovering well'

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is recovering well from the nagging heel problem that has stopped him playing for Sweden during its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. READ  

International
Swedish sisters create viral Syria stir
A shot from the video on YouTube.

Swedish sisters create viral Syria stir

Two sisters from Södertälje near Stockholm are celebrating getting more than 1.3 million hits on YouTube, with a video calling for peace in war-torn Syria. READ  

Pirate Bay
Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison
A 2013 image of Svartholm Warg. Photo: TT

Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison

Swedish "hactivist" Gottfrid Svartholm Warg has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for hacking crimes. READ  

Royal family
Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback
Princess Madeleine at a previous Nobel banquet. Photo: TT

Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback

Sweden's Princess Madeleine is scheduled to appear at the Nobel Festival in Stockholm in December, after taking time out from her royal duties to focus on looking after her daughter. READ  

Politics
'We knew that Israel would be critical'
Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (left), with Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

'We knew that Israel would be critical'

Sweden's Foreign Minister has told The Local she respects Israel's decision to recall its ambassador after Sweden officially recognized the State of Palestine, and laughed off comments about IKEA furniture made by her Israeli counterpart. READ  

Analysis
'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'
Doctors say we should make the most of the autumn sunshine. Photo: Shutterstock

'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'

Spending time outdoors this autumn will help you survive a cold, dark Swedish winter. Baba Pendse, Head of Psychiatry at Lund University shares his top tips for battling the seasonal blues with The Local. READ  

Sports
Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid
Skiers hit the slopes in Åre, western Sweden. Photo: TT

Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid

Norwegian sports officials have said they want to co-host the winter Olympics with Sweden in 2026. But there has so far been no official response from Sweden. READ  

National
Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court
Photo: TT

Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court

A teenage boy who painted anti-Israel slogans and symbols on the Concert Hall in Gothenburg has been convicted for the damages he caused, but he walked free from racial agitation charges. READ  

Entertainment
A closer look at Sweden's rising stars
Swedish actresses Sandra Huldt and Julia Ragnarsson. Julia (right) has been nominated for a Rising Star award. Photo: TT

A closer look at Sweden's rising stars

Like to be ahead of the game when it comes to the next big thing on the silver screen? We find out more about the Swedish nominees for the Rising Star award to be presented at Stockholm's International Film Festival next week. READ  

Science
Swedish women in two-year sex pill study
Contraceptive pills have been linked to mood swings. Photo: Shutterstock

Swedish women in two-year sex pill study

Three hundred women from across Sweden are taking part in a study designed to demonstrate that modern contraceptive pills don't lead to decreased libido or mood swings. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween
Sport
Top ten quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
People-watching: October 30th
National
Sweden remains fourth best for gender equality
Blog updates

31 October

Editor’s Blog, October 31st (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Welcome to our latest 60-second round-up of the week’s news. First, Sweden made headlines around the..." READ »

 

29 October

Scariest day (Blogweiser) »

"This is what’s frightening me on Halloween. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OFZVCu8J0&list=UUJu5J7jG4uoYSjWbpFsJBuQ Follow my posts on FB. ..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sport
World Cup ski race on 'fake' Stockholm slope
Society
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Society
Stockholm taxis offer free therapy sessions
National
The Local meets Health Minister Gabriel Wikström
Gallery
Property of the week: Österåker
Society
Homeless turtles get Stockholm police ride
National
Construction worker has 'Sweden's best beard'
National
Italian musician jazzes up Sweden's Lapland
Gallery
Zlatan's career in pictures
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: October 25th and 26th
Lifestyle
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
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

989
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
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN