• Sweden edition
 
When Swedes swear, they do so in English
Swearing: Shutterstock.

When Swedes swear, they do so in English

Published: 24 Mar 2014 14:52 GMT+01:00

“English swear words are used in the Swedish media in ways that are clearly and consciously in conflict with English-speaking standards. But to use English swear words makes it possible to swear with impunity,” Kristy Beers Fägersten told The Local on Monday.

Beers Fägersten has penned a chapter in a book entitled 'Swearing in the Nordic Countries' which takes a look at the use of four-letter words in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Lithuania.

Her chapter focuses specifically on the use of English and concludes that the phenomenon is on the increase, often in disregard to accepted codes of linguistic conduct. She also indicated that the trend is likely to stay.

"There seems to be an awareness that there are restrictions in English-language contexts which don’t apply to Swedish speakers when they speak English. Much of it is done tongue-in-cheek and they take some pleasure in it. It's the thrill of getting away with something which in English is taboo," Beers Fägersten said.

Unlike in some other countries, Swedish television media is seldom censored for crude linguistic content and so even recorded programmes would feature any swear words uttered, without the protective bleep which is common, for example, in the UK or US.

One of the most popular programmes on Swedish television is the annual Melodifestivalen qualifier for the Eurovision Song Contest. The show typically attracts an audience of around four million (of a population of just over nine), many of whom are likely to be children.

Despite the family entertainment on offer, programme leader Anders Jansson managed to use several four-letter expletives in English in the 2014 edition of the show, all of which passed with little comment.

Beers Fägersten cites a few similar examples in her research including one episode featuring the Swedish national football team coach Erik Hamrén. Following Sweden’s crushing loss to England in Euro 2012, Hamrén said “I hope they win the whole shit” on national television.

While English can be a get-out-of-jail-free card when swearing in a Swedish context, internationally some compromises still need to be made.

Swedish director Lukas Moodysson’s breakthrough film was for example known as “Fucking Åmål” in Swedish cinemas, but when it was nominated for an Oscar it became known as the decidedly more staid “Show Me Love”.

Beers Fägersten predicted that the spread of English in a global context could lead to some clashes over how swear words are used and perceived.

"I have studied Swedes talking in a Swedish context. It would be interesting to study how they use English swear words when talking in an English context, with non-native speakers."

She added that she did not see English swear words posing a risk to the development of Swedish as a language.

"I think they used in a more complementary manner. Perhaps because it gets a reaction. When Swedes want to express an emotional reaction, they revert to Swedish swear words."

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'Wild west' taxi drivers face new rules
Taxis at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport. Photo: Claudio Brescani/TT

'Wild west' taxi drivers face new rules

Stockholm taxis have a reputation for being among the most expensive in the world, but new regulations designed to make costs more transparent have been agreed on by Stockholm's Traffic Committee. READ  

Weather agency rules out white Christmas
Snow covering buildings in Stockholm's Gamla Stan. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Weather agency rules out white Christmas

Swedes hoping for a white Christmas will most likely be disappointed after a global weather agency said that temperatures are unlikely to plummet in December. READ  

Swedish teen pop 'Idol' found dead at home
The late Tristan Björling. Photo: TV4 Press Office

Swedish teen pop 'Idol' found dead at home

The producers of hit Swedish TV show Idol say they are offering support to the family of one this year's contestants, Tristan Björling, who has died. READ  

Sweden most expensive place to send a parcel
A Swedish postbox. Photo: TT

Sweden most expensive place to send a parcel

The price for sending a package via post in Sweden is the highest in the Nordic region but sending a letter remains relatively cheap according to a new report. READ  

Unclear school situation for migrant children
File photo: The Local

Unclear school situation for migrant children

Sweden's National Agency for Education has stated that the current law allowing children of EU citizens the right to a place in school is unclear, as many new arrivals may slip through the net. READ  

Malmö's Champions League bid ended
Juventus striker Carlos Tevez shakes off Malmö's Markus Halsti during the Italian side's victory on November 26th 2014. Photo:Andreas Hillergren/TT

Malmö's Champions League bid ended

The Swedish champions were defeated by the Italian side Juventus 0-2 at home and will need to win their last Champions League match in order to keep their hopes alive of playing in Europe. READ  

Cash for Swedes who saw dying Dad on TV
Svea Court of Appeal in Stockholm. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Cash for Swedes who saw dying Dad on TV

Relatives of a man whose final moments appeared in a television programme about a hospital in Sweden have each been awarded 20,000 kronor ($2,700) in compensation, after a court ruled that his privacy had been breached. READ  

Sweden rallies behind women in Ukraine
Sweden's foreign minister Margot Wallström in Kiev. Photo: Gustav Sjöholm/TT

Sweden rallies behind women in Ukraine

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström is making her first visit to Ukraine, where she has urged leaders to press on with efforts to support women and cut corruption as tensions continue in the east of the country. READ  

The Local's Countdown to Christmas
Five magical Swedish winter markets
Kalmar Castle, Småland is hosting a Christmas market. Photo: Flickr/Simon Green

Five magical Swedish winter markets

Stockholm and Gothenburg may be the main tourist draws when it comes to winter markets in Sweden, but away from the big cities, Swedes do their Christmas shopping in barns, castles and farm shops. Here are The Local's top tips for 2014. READ  

Immigrant graduate jobs on the rise in Sweden
More foreign-born graduates are finding work in Sweden. Photo: Shutterstock

Immigrant graduate jobs on the rise in Sweden

It is getting easier for foreign-born graduates to find a job in Sweden, according to the country's Employment Service, which says it has seen a jump in the percentage of immigrants scoring roles that require a university degree or college education. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Five magical Swedish winter markets
National
'Swedish' street dog becomes global celebrity
Lifestyle
VIDEO: How to stay stylish in Sweden in November
Gallery
People-watching: November 26th
Lifestyle
Top ten Swedish Christmas presents
Blog updates

26 November

Is Putin trying to buy up Europe’s nationalists? (Globally Local) »

" Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/AFP Political funding is a murky business at the best of times. If a party..." READ »

 

26 November

Not Pants (Blogweiser) »

" The woman who took the picture above was on her first visit to IKEA. She had just..." READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
How to get your own office anywhere in the world
National
'I'm a Swedish 'expat' in my home country'
Imagebank Sweden
Society
Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's 2015 Eurovision hopefuls
Gallery
Property of the week: Rosengården
National
'Racist' Black Pete party scrapped in Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Christmas gifts through the years
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Lifestyle
'I'm spreading Japan's 'cute' culture in Sweden'
National
Ebola: Sweden's leading expert speaks
National
Why this Swedish rabbi is facing death threats
National
Fears up to 300 Swedes fighting with Isis
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish mulled wine
Gallery
People-watching: November 22nd - 23rd
Society
What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th
National
How to boost your career in Skåne, Sweden's south
Lifestyle
How an Umeå museum is rewriting Swedish history
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Lifestyle
Five unique backpacker hostels in Stockholm
National
Bones show off Sweden's history
National
What new word are Swedes voting on?
National
Why African Swedes are angry about Santa's helper
National
Pine, tar, and tinder: flavours from the north
Gallery
Selfies, solidarity and Hillary Clinton: Stefan Löfven on tour
Gallery
People-watching: November 19th
Society
Why are international professionals leaving Sweden?
Business & Money
Meet the Swedes who made suits for The Hunger Games
Technology
'I'm among the first Swedes with a microchip'
National
What is Sweden doing about bird flu?
Gallery
Property of the week: Eriksberg
National
Vecka45: Sweden's most innovative week
Gallery
In Pictures: The clubs and loves of Sweden's Sven-Göran Eriksson
Society
What's On in Sweden: November 13th to 20th
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
National
Driving (expats) home for Christmas?
Lifestyle
Make your own Swedish pea soup
Politics
"Totally unacceptable": Defence Minister on Stockholm submarine
Society
The A-Ö guide to making life in Sweden easier
National
How a Swedish party inspired a masterpiece
National
Seen the new Ace of Base yet?
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
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

796
jobs available
Swedish Down Town
Consulting & Productions

We are an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish authorities, Swedish language practice, and general communications.
Call 0731 004 781 or visit:
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:
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
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply