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'Thai prince said he loved me in Swedish'

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Martin Arvebro strikes a pose for one of his online videos. This one is about fruit by the way. Photo: YouTube
16:03 CEST+02:00
YouTube sensation Martin Arvebro has turned the world on to the Swedish language with his funny videos. He tells The Local about his new-found fame, 'Jantelagen', and the north-south divide.

The 35-year-old made rocketed to online stardom in March 2012.

With a little inspiration from, ahem, The Local, his first video on the 10 Swedish words you won't find in English went viral, clocking almost 500,000 views. 

Two years later, he's a bona fide social media star with a plum job as a radio reporter for Sveriges Radio.

"The first video just exploded and I got so much interest from around the world. In a way I was surprised, as Swedish is a minority language, but it seems like a lot of people want to learn and know more about it," Arvebro told The Local.

Determined not to be a one-hit wonder, he has maintained a prolific output, racking up over 50 videos since his debut covering all sorts of themes such as Eurovision and even Swedish swear words.

Arvebro's style is irreverent, and he has no problem having a laugh at himself. As a student in Australia he struck up a rapport with a Thai prince who was also studying there - and enjoyed a bizarre conversation with the royal in his native tongue.

"The prince leaned over and whispered into my ear, 'Jag älskar dig,' (I love you) and we had a chat in Swedish. Turned out the prince had lived in Sweden for a bit. His handlers looked stunned about the whole thing,"

The Skåne native has generated plenty of fans from around the world, but just like any success story, there are pros and cons.

"A lot of the time I am recognised. One day I was walking down the street and a guy singing in the choir shouted out my name and said he knew my face.

"I get people saying they want to Skype with me to learn Swedish, but I don't have the time for that. A few days after my wedding I got a death threat, but I didn't take it that seriously," he said.

Prior to his YouTube glory he worked as a producer in his own company. He told The Local that he has been making videos since 1998 and was an early advocate of VHS blogging.

The Swede also worked as a teacher in a video production, and his very original take on learning the Swedish language has drawn praise from abroad.

"I've had language teaching experts in the Baltic countries getting in contact saying they really like my approach as I am making learning fun. You are picking things up without even noticing it. For me it is about keeping it entertaining," he said.

He quipped that he hasn't received a call yet from the powers that be at SFI (Swedish for Immigrants), which organizes free lessons for foreigners who wish to learn more than just Abba and fika.

"I got a criticism for my accent as I come from the south. People say I don't speak proper Swedish, but I always maintain that my dialect is closer to most of the languages in Europe so there!" he laughed.

Arvebro added; "In Sweden we have Jantelagen so a lot of people don't like it when you speak up. My videos are certainly an example of speaking out that's for sure."

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With a steady stream of followers the 35-year-old said he intends to reach his target of making 100 videos and continue to keep it fresh.

"Right now I am approaching number 60, so I just want to keep being creative and doing things are topical which people want to watch," he said.

As for the best thing about his notoriety?

"If I want to go around the world and travel then I never need a hotel room. I've made lots of friends and contacts as a result of the videos."
 

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