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Stockholm reported for using too much English

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 22 Jul 2009, 12:37

Published: 22 Jul 2009 12:37 GMT+02:00

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"Stockholm - The Capital of Scandinavia" is the recently adopted name for the Swedish capital and greets visitors on all transport links heading into the city. The slogan, adopted to promote Stockholm internationally, has been controversial with some Danes and Norwegians, who dispute the claim.

There are also voices of dissent from within Sweden and now Nätverket Språkförsvaret ('The Language Defence Network') has reported the council to the Parliamentary Ombudsman for falling foul of the new language law (språklagen) that came into force on July 1st 2009.

The network has also reported the Stockholm Visitors Board, Stockholm Business Region and Stockholm Entertainment District for their use of English.

According to the network, the widespread use of English by the Stockholm bodies is an attempt to appear modern.

"It undermines Swedish as it signals that English has a higher value, that it has status, while Swedish is a language for out in the wilds," Per-Åke Lindblom, a spokesperson for the network, said in an interview with Sveriges Radio on Tuesday.

The new language law stipulates that Swedish is the main language of Sweden and establishes that public bodies have a particular responsibility to ensure that Swedish is used and developed.

The network, which describes itself as "a grassroots movement to defend the Swedish language" wants JO to force the names to be changed to Swedish.

Per-Åke Lindblom also told SR that he would like to see the Stockholm Visitors Board develop its foreign language material, pointing out that most visitors to the capital do not come from the UK or the USA.

The group has previously reported the Swedish government to JO for its use of English email addresses.

Story continues below…

The new language law, the first of its kind in Sweden, came into force on July 1st.

Aside from establishing Sweden as the country's main language of communication, it also classified five other languages – Finnish, all Sami dialects, Torne Valley Finnish (Meänkieli), Romani, and Yiddish – as official national minority languages.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:55 July 22, 2009 by conboy
Det är för jävligt!
15:05 July 22, 2009 by Kaethar
I'm from Stockholm and I agree with this law. It's a bit odd going back to Stockholm wheew most announcements, signs, etc are in English...
15:58 July 22, 2009 by svenskdod
Quote: "It undermines Swedish as it signals that English has a higher value, that it has status, while Swedish is a language for out in the wilds,"

Erm, English does have a higher value. If you are to go anywhere in the world more often than not the hotels/resort officials will speak their native language and English. More and more programmes at Universities are taught in English, and it is now mandatory for English to be taught in schools from year 1. Just a few years ago it was from 10 years of age.

Making the city of Stockholm more internationally accessible, allows for more tourists, and as such a higher tourist revenue.

Quote: "The network has also reported the Stockholm Visitors Board, Stockholm Business Region and Stockholm Entertainment District for their use of English."

These guys certainly have a bee in their bonnet.... It would be interesting to read the ages and home towns of the peoples on the board.
16:17 July 22, 2009 by sellstrom
It is right that a country like Sweden keeps Swedish as it's most used language, but English is the most use language in the world, and all mayday calls must be in called English.. As thay say in Sweden thay only speak Swedish, i sverige tallar man svenska pardon my Swedish
16:24 July 22, 2009 by tigger007

why do some swedes feel that the swedish language is fading away? i think the swedish language is expanding,do to the fact that english is becoming apart of the language.if stockholm wants to be the "Stockholm - The Capital of Scandinavia"(which i beg to differ) english MUST be apart of the city's fabric or framework. i have been in sweden for some years now and i have noticed that reporters and journalist,have been using english phases in their reportings. i always thought that stockholm is a wanna be big little city, that wanted to have

the prestige of london and new york. people have to understand this,that english is spoken in the most powerful countries and big metro cities of the world and i understand why the Stockholm Visitors Board, Stockholm Business Region and Stockholm Entertainment District wants english to be the city's main facal point! all in a nut shell it's about power and prestige!
16:36 July 22, 2009 by svenskdod
Quote: "Per-Åke Lindblom also told SR that he would like to see the Stockholm Visitors Board develop its foreign language material, pointing out that most visitors to the capital do not come from the UK or the USA."

Point taken, but is it not easier (and cheeper) to have the material in English, which the majority can probably understand, than every language under the sun? It's better than having all the information in Swedish so that less than 0.002% of the population of the world can understand.

Would it not be best for things to be understood by the highest amount of people possible? In that case doesn't the majority of the Stockholm inhabitants understand English anyway?
16:47 July 22, 2009 by Bra_billie_boy
This is so lame!!! Even in countries like France and Spain, people and government are promoting the use of English language. A friend of mine, who speaks excellent English, became the apple of his teacher's eyes when he joined a French engineering university. It turned out that all the good/international/big engineering conferences are held in English and, unfortunately for the French teachers, this was a big problem because they had very poor grammar and vocabulary skills.

So the question is: What's the point in knowing a lot when you are unable to express yourself and make others understand? :)
16:52 July 22, 2009 by skatty
Sweden like many other countries has its own language, which is respectful and valuable; however it can't be considered a practical language. English at present is the most practical language. You can find the most important news, science, technology, entertainment and all about market in English on the net, which a large number of people around the world participate. There is hundreds of all different respectful and valuable, but not practical languages around the world. Nobody can learn all of them, if you want to communicate.
17:00 July 22, 2009 by irishbuck
Emmmm!!! I wonder if I look at this from a different perspective. Having spent nearly 2 years working in Stockholm, I was utterly frustrated with the widespread usage of English in the Tunnelbana, etc...

It seemed almost impossible to learn swedish and settle into swedish culture as everywhere I went I was surronded by English.

I believe most foreigners want to learn the native language as quickly as possible and the widespread usage of English is a very serious obstacle.

In all due fairness, does any english speaker need "next kista" instead of "nästa kista"!
17:03 July 22, 2009 by vladd777
I think, from what I hear around schools when pupils are chatting, that the main language is actually Sw-english.

After residing in Sweden for soon 24 years I find myself using Sw-english more and more and younger Swedes tend to think this is fun and cool.

English is the universal language and should be included on all Swedish notice and sign boards etc..in 2nd place natch.
17:07 July 22, 2009 by tigger007

most french people are stubborn and think it's lame to learn english! most french people have alot of nation pride which can be good,but as we all know too much pride and blind you. skatty said it best in his or her comment,english is a MUST to know language(some will beg to differ).
17:11 July 22, 2009 by peropaco
A lot of things in Sweden don't make sense and this request by this farmer Per-Åke is one of them. Last week I visited the marine museum in Karlskrona and to my surprise every single pamphlet, souvenir and historical books was in Swedish. Per-Åke should stick to stuffing his sun-deprived face with Snus and Raggmunk; focus more on developing his Kobingo skills and leave the logic to logical thinking people.
17:13 July 22, 2009 by DAVID T
I've lived here 27 years and never learnt the language - I really don't care as everyone in Sweden speaks English and so they should after 2 world wars. Mind you - I was in Helsinki recently and most of the signs are in Swedish.
17:16 July 22, 2009 by henock
Language is needed only for communication. That means all languages are equal. Therefore, I do not see the problem of using English language in Sweden.
17:26 July 22, 2009 by foxpur
Here's the deal people...

English is officially the formal and legal language of the EU, and all EU business are required to speak it and support it. Sweden has English as a required second language, that is common in all public schools. Now though the 'official' language of Sweden makes sense to be Swedish, however.. to reach out and deal with EU policy and EU requirement you have to deal with English. That being the case it ALSO makes sense Swedish AND English would be accepted as publish language.

It's not a matter of who the visitors to Sweden are, nor what language is most likely to visit, but that the accepted language for the whole of EU isn't a Scandinavian language (I'm not sure Denmark is Scandinavian, assume yes for this), it's English.
17:29 July 22, 2009 by hilt_m
Kaethar you said "most announcements, signs, etc are in English" where is that? as an english speaker who has only started learning swedish I can tell you that for the most part things are in Swedish which means i never know where I am or what is going on lol. I don't really see a problem with the use of english, I think more languages should be used.
17:39 July 22, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
You better read up on the language policies of the EU:


"In the European Union, language policy is the responsibility of member states and EU does not have a common language policy;"

"Legislation and documents of major public importance or interest are produced in all twenty-three official languages, but that accounts for a minority of the institutions' work. Other documents (e.g. communications with the national authorities, decisions addressed to particular individuals or entities and correspondence) are translated only into the languages needed. For internal purposes the EU institutions are allowed by law to choose their own language arrangements. The European Commission, for example, conducts its internal business in three languages, English, French and German (sometimes called procedural languages), and goes fully multilingual only for public information and communication purposes."
17:51 July 22, 2009 by jack sprat
Eh,whats all ere this then?

First they steal our sports,then our technology and inventions,....and now they want our language?

Cant be having this,...its just not cricket old chap,....

....next thing you know they'll be holding doors open for each other and bidding each other Good Morning!....
18:21 July 22, 2009 by Greg in Canada
The Swedish language is not threatened in Sweden and it should be the official language of the country. However, where in the world do they speak Swedish besides Sweden? The English language is the most international language, especially in business and technology. Using English to make Sweden more user friendly for outsiders is not a bad thing.
18:41 July 22, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
Parts of Finland.
18:45 July 22, 2009 by Nomark
The Swedes' proficiency in English is a valuable resource which has probably contributed significantly to the country's economic growth in recent years. One reason the Swedes speak English well because they are so exposed.to it. This is a very good thing...

Like every language throughout history, Swedish is evolving and absorbing certain new words. Its overkill to suggest that this is killing the language and that it needs protecting. Furthermore, a language is pretty much impossible to protect unless you want to switch off foreign influences, which is a very bad thing.
18:48 July 22, 2009 by bobnbri
It is sad to see this.

I live in Montreal, Canada. Here successive gouvernments have been legislating language laws in order to stamp out any semblance of the english languages existance for the past 30+ years. The socioeconomic fallout has been devastating!

The majority of Quebecois french speakers have a deep seated hatred for english speaking people of all stripes and from anywhere in the world. Their backward stupidity and wrongheadedness is extrordinary!

Beautiful people of Sweden, I implore you to reflect hard!!!

Anglophobia ( as it is known ) does not come without spectacularly negative consequences.
18:57 July 22, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
Yes, fortunately most Swedes agree. We very much like the idea of a continuously evolving language and happily adopt and Swedishify foreign words and phrases, almost to the extent that you cannot recognize the original word after a few years.
18:58 July 22, 2009 by fikatid
If you visit the Copenhagen airport, you will see that 99% of the signs are only in English, not Danish. I think Copenhagen should be the capital of Scandinavia. It is way more international than Stockholm.

In my opinion, Stockholm is more Swedish than the group claims. Check out the restaurant menus, street signs, supermarket advertisements, etc. They are all in Swedish. I see more "total slut rea" than "annual big sale" around the city. Do you know of any Swedish online banking sites that offers pure English navigation (not just a one-page intro)? Nej.

Look at Amsterdam. That is truly international. Where can you use Swedish besides Sweden and in IKEAs? If Stockholm wants to be international, which in my opinions not even close to being international, people need to speak more English. I was actually surprised by how many people that I spoke to, who do not speak English.
19:09 July 22, 2009 by Kaethar
Oh, not all the signs. But signs here and there. Most advertisements seem to be in English though.

Yeah, through films and music. Advertising, signs, and announcements in English are not necessary for Swedes, only for foreigners.
19:16 July 22, 2009 by conboy
I agree completely. After 19 years here it strikes me that there is a minority of professional people who speak very good english and a rather large majority with at best elementary standard english who seem to believe that being able to oder a beer in Torremelinas and watching American and British tv makes them some kinds of experts. On the other hand one minority group who do speak quite good english are those who have worked and/or studied abroad and those who are lucky enough to be in relationships with english speaking people. In my experience the Dutch have better english than the average Swede.
19:52 July 22, 2009 by Weekend_warrior
I would agree make Copenhagen the Capital. And I live in Sweden! Sweden is pretty international, but Copenhagen as well as their "airport signs" has way more International presence.

I will say that I was surprised Sweden started using English on some of their subway lines. Just in the last 6 years, I have seen this country transform greatly from Western English Speaking (I mean America) countries.
21:23 July 22, 2009 by tigger007

the first city in scandinavia that holds the summer or winter(by today's standards) olympics games,can be called the CAPITOL OF SCANDINAVIA. Stockholm held the olympics games in 1912( a looong ass time ago),by my standards if your city can hold the summer or winter olympics games in true fashion. now that's an international city!!
21:49 July 22, 2009 by RichardG
I think it would be awful if the people of Sweden lost their language. I realise this is not in any danger of happening anytime soon, but I feel that having your own language is an extremely important part of ones national identity and culture. In Scotland we have more or less lost our own language, years of wars with England have resulted in only 60,000+ people speaking Gaelic. I am one of those 60k and Im very proud of the fact, even if it doesnt help me much in the way of employment or anything particularly useful, what it does do is give me a very powerful sense of pride in my nation and I defend it at any given opportunity.

When I move to Stockholm I only hope that I maintain my idea of learning Swedish and dont fall into the trap of just relying upon others being able to speak English to me. Ive been in Tenerife for two years and my Spanish is terrible because I dont work with Spanish people. There are so many British here its not really needed, although having said that, the amount of English speaking Canarians is shockingly low, its shocked me how poor their education seems to be.

I have not taken any Spanish lessons though, I will try and make sure I learn, even if its just to not feel left out at parties and things when people inevitably fall back into talking Swedish, that happened to me a lot when I was visiting Norway.
21:58 July 22, 2009 by jack sprat
Jeez are you in for a culture shock,if you dont already know it?

From Veronicas,Tenerife to Stockholm,Sweden!

Hard to find a greater contrast anywhere in the World.
22:28 July 22, 2009 by Mzungu

..and there I was believing they were both holes!

*oh well,like comparing Harare to Monte-Carlo*
22:44 July 22, 2009 by sunnchilde
I'm all for learning Swedish and if it turns out that I immigrate to Sweden I will happily learn, HOWEVER, English IS a better language to use with tourists. English is taught all over the world as the language of business. Whether they come from the UK or Germany, Finland, Japan, China, Brazil, France or even Russia -- they will most likely also speak English.

I understand loving your native language, but when it comes to tourism all they're going to remember is how you treated them and how easy (or hard) it was to get around.

For this need, English is a better choice.
22:50 July 22, 2009 by byke
I believe that sweden is at a crossroads.

5 years ago we saw a Sweden that eagerly wanted to be part of the progressive EU.

However over the past couple years we have seen a huge push to increase the population through immigration. This is needed for the long term benefit of Sweden.

Obviously when you have so a huge increase in immigration, it can obviously threaten the locals and dilute or manipulate a sense of cultural identity and this is why we are see such radical nationalistic changes.

BTW : Swedes generally dont speak English, they speak Panglish.

(Sweden doesnt even teach proper English, Grammar , comprehension etc)
22:55 July 22, 2009 by jack sprat
Stockholm may well be the most boring capital in the World, but I would certainly never describe it in those terms.
23:27 July 22, 2009 by mkvgtired
I am a native English speaker and am saddened by the excessive use of English when I visit Europe. Each time I go more and more advertisements are in English. Only the worst American media (music, MTV, movies) are shown there/listened to. When I was driving in the EU I educated myself as to what signs meant and learned the language basics of the different countries. With the borders disappearing in Europe the cultures are blending from their once vibrant separate colors into a muggy shade of brown. Part of the reason for this is people can easily move from country to country and speak English instead of learning a new language. Case in point, when I was in Munich in March an Irish bartender had lived there for years and did not know a word of German...because everyone would "speak English".
00:03 July 23, 2009 by anuranga
@DAVID T ... Buddy you saved my day !!! 27 years and you never learnt the language !!! Bravo I'm going to follow your foot steps.

Thanks to google translator (http://translate.google.se/translate_t#) my life here is lot easier. I love when the local authorities send me e mails than hard copy letters.... Copy paste press the button ...
00:24 July 23, 2009 by bobnbri
I believe having one common language to communicate with is a very positive thing for all of us in the west. It facilitates trading activity, and enables the people of many countries to travel freely and comfortably. It also improves understanding amoung different peoples.

In general, the people who are opposed to the use of english are those whose mother tongue is an other language or people like the french who never will get over their pettiness with regards to the Brits.

Common sense and logic should prevail here and ultimately will. Gouvernments who seek to outlaw english like the spiteful and hate mongering Quebec seperatists only end up isolating themselves and their people from the rest of the world.

Anyway, the average Swede is better educated and smarter than the average Quebecer from what I have seen. I'm not too worried about them.
00:38 July 23, 2009 by Querist
Pax Americana demands that the lingua franca = American English.

Besides, Swedish is soo Old World.

00:53 July 23, 2009 by Greg in Canada
"Quebecois french speakers "

For a start they don't even speak French properly let alone English.:-)

Let's not highjack this thread over Quebec, but... - As much as I love Montreal and Quebec City, the Quebecois are the most myopic people on the planet when it comes to the importance of the English language in the world. They just don't seem to get it.
04:38 July 23, 2009 by Omidn
This topic is quite interesting. Well, I understand Swedish is the way of communication in Sweden for people in Sweden and I learned the language to show respect for the culture however, as so many people mentioned here when we are dealing with Sciences, trades and tourism we cannot expect others to know the Swedish outside or even inside of Sweden. With all due respect, keep in mind that Swedish is not international language.
08:47 July 23, 2009 by si
Off on a tangent here - I find that although Swedes speak basic english at an excellent level - trying to converse in english about anything in depth takes an eterninty. (just had a typical conversation with a work colleague in which I spoke swedish and he insisted on replying in english - would have taken half the time if he had used his native language !).

In short for a richer more social experience learning Swedish is the only way Couldn't imagine living 20 odd years here using pigeon english to communicate...
08:57 July 23, 2009 by sruk
Insist on the same principle in Thailand and ask Swedes what they think about Thai as a official language (especially written one)...But considering how many Swedes have property and spend holidays there probably the next step is going to be requesting for Swedish to be a second language of Thailand..or first ??
10:06 July 23, 2009 by skane refugee
This chimes with my experience ...

A lot of the 'I get by in English' crowd here rely extensively on their Swedish partner and/or have a very limited Swedish social circle (professionals/international Swedes etc) ...

Almost without exception, the Swedish plumbers/electricians etc who come to fix stuff at home haven't spoken English since they were at school or last ordered a beer on holiday! ... a lot of older Swedes speak better German than English ... my eldest child is 9 and none of his friends speak more than a few words of English (unless they have an anglophone parent) ...

If you want to have non-superficial conversations/friendships with a wide range (age, background etc) of Swedes you need a very good standard of Swedish language (and indeed a decent understanding of subtle Swedish body language/non-verbal cues) ... no way round this ... end of

... Swedes who speak good English and have time to socialise with you (in English language) in Sweden are a very small subset of the Swedish population and IMHO are not generally representative of mainstream Swedes or mainstream Swedish culture

Getting socially involved, as an expat, with mainstream Swedes with busy and established social lives, unsurprisingly, has to happen on their terms, in their language, or doesn't happen at all

Sweden is a very long way from being a fully anglophone nation ... even if it wanted to be ... and would lose a lot of it's identity, and leave behind a big part of the population, if it tried

For tourism they would be better advised printing brochures/info etc in multi-language (Swedish, German, English etc) as they do in Copenhagen
10:25 July 23, 2009 by Franciscodeflores
This language argument is kind of funny. The same thing happens here in the U.S. with Spanish. There is no official language here and Spanish is prevalent in the southwest where many people are bilingual in English and

Spanish. You hear ignorant people complaining about it saying that the hispanics are trying to take the country back that we stole fair and square in one of our many wars back in the 1840's. Because hispanics are dispersed widely, you hear Spanish spoken everywhere and it is commonly taught in schools. We encounter much of it even here in Minnesota.

I love languages though because they carry the richness of each culture they represent. My mother spoke and wrote Finn since that's was her first language and didn't learn English until she started school. She would never help me learn it though because she thought I should learn other tongues that were more likely to be useful.
10:34 July 23, 2009 by skane refugee
Totally agree with that sentence ... which is why IMHO languages are worth preserving and defending
11:13 July 23, 2009 by useronthenet
I am a British citizen living in Sweden on and off ... and I have always thought that it is rather polite to learn the language of the hosting country.

I have observed that the English expats in particular are rather lazy when it comes to languages, and still retain this terrible arrogancy of expecting others to cater for them whenever they visit or stay in other countries. I suspect this outdated mentally stems (I'm sure) from the time when we used to have an Empire... though I have observed in general, expats still act as if the UK was an important country, which most of us accept that it is now a shadow of it's former glory

So in short, learn the language !

I find such comments such as ..

"I have lived in sweden for many years etc.

.... didn't bother to learn the language etc ...."

To all you UK expats ... don't be ignorant....

embrace Sweden and it's culture and especially it's language ... and if u don't, well IMHO, you shouldn't be here.
11:25 July 23, 2009 by Nomark
Many of these "lazy" expats may well be contributing more to the society they're living in than those who claim to have learned the language. Should a monolingual expat dad who pays his taxes, follows the laws of the land, and is bringing up a couple of kids to be useful citizens really pack his bags and leave, as you superciliously suggest ?

Its rather ironic that your post criticises others for terrible arrogance...
11:59 July 23, 2009 by useronthenet
Of course I don't literally mean pack your bags just because you don't speak Swedish. I apologise if find my words somewhat harsh ... however most of us are in the sameboat of paying taxes, being law abiding citizens etc... and this certainly should not be used as an excuse for not learning the language.

As the saying goes ... "when in Rome ..."
12:41 July 23, 2009 by foxpur
I have lived in Sweden for 10 years, I never found a need to learn Swedish and most people I know love speaking English. My work speaks English and most of the work is in English. TV isn't generally dub'd so I tend to not read the subs.
12:48 July 23, 2009 by Streja
You can manage like that but you will never be a part of Swedish society. Of course that's not something you need to be if you don't want to. I just know that if I moved to another country I would find it very difficult not to try and learn something. It's just me. Maybe it's because I'm half Spanish and have lived in England. My mum knows how important it is to learn Swedish and learn Swedish culture etc.

It's also weird how so many Swedes accept it if English speaking people don't bother to learn Swedish but frown and are really negative if someone from Iran or Turkey doesn't. It's not very logical of them.
12:51 July 23, 2009 by The Indian
I just wrote a thesis on this stuff earlier this year (at a Swedish Uni) so I believe I have some authority on the matter. Why can't governments see the possibility of complete bilingualism? It doesn't have to be either/or, when it can be AND. China by law teaches their students English, from the 3rd grade onwards and by the end of this year is projected to be the worlds largest English speaking population. I'm willing to bet their fluency in Mandarin/Cantonese won't die out, but will be another reason for Swedes/non-English speaking developed nations to crib about Indians and Chinese "taking away jobs". Eastern nations learn English with double the effort since their native languages dont share the script, but you don't hear them complain. And Stockholm isn't the capital of anything beyond Sweden, let's get real here.
12:55 July 23, 2009 by Streja
Errrr...Swedes learn English from and early age, what are you on about? I'm an English teacher and my students are VERY good at English.
13:04 July 23, 2009 by Benzed
Ingerlund, na naaaaaaa. Shameful.
13:10 July 23, 2009 by Streja
Benzed, do you think he was trying to be ironisk?

I don't know. I know I am damn lucky to have Mr Streja and not one of those pesky expats who expect everyone to cater to their language.

13:18 July 23, 2009 by The Indian
Well the world travelled, masters level Swedes I had the pleasure of interacting with over a period of two years couldn't form the past tense of words. My favourite being " I am hang overed." (In case you're wondering - the correct word is hung and 'overed' isn't a word).

So while Swedish is a good language for Swedes and anyone who wants to live there long enough, there definitely is room for proper English.
13:21 July 23, 2009 by Kieruk
would now be a good time to ask if they are wanting rid of Bristish English, or American English??

I have a great shop I walk past on my way home called 'ColourCenter' ... spot the deliberate mistake...
13:25 July 23, 2009 by Nomark
Where is Mike "Oxbridge/Oxsmall/whatever he's called these days" ? He usually has forthright opinions regarding the futility of learning Swedish.

Then again, maybe its not worth carrying on with this - I have a sense of deja vu here. This topic, like just about everything else on this forum, has already been done to death.

What is more interesting (perhaps) is to discuss the definition of fluency. Many claim to "know Swedish" but what does that really mean and is it enough ? For instance, I "know" some German but I write it like a dyslexic five year old and speak it like an Alzheimic four year old with a speech disorder.

Is "getting by" in a language enough ? At which point does one stop saying "I know language X" or "I've learned language X" and say "I'm fluent in language X" ? What are the benchmarks one should use?
13:29 July 23, 2009 by Streja
It annoys me a lot when people create signs that are incorrect. That's why I think it's better to have a Swedish name of your company if you operate in Sweden and are not some sort of multinational company. It's silly to have a small company called ColourCenter.

Indian, those masters students were not there because of their English I assume? I mean I've studied English at uni here and everyone was more or less excellent. If you master in like engineering you didn't get in because you had excellent English I assume, but because of your knowledge in subjects necessary within that field.
13:31 July 23, 2009 by Streja
I suggest the levels established by the EU.
13:31 July 23, 2009 by Nomark
It annoys me when it rains but I can't do much about it. The evolution and usage of a language is much the same. I think "Colourcenter" is rather charming, a kind of pidgin English intrusion into Swedish.
13:34 July 23, 2009 by Nomark
They talk about degrees of fluency and are actually rather vague about their usage of the fluent-word, probably deliberately.
13:37 July 23, 2009 by Streja
Can you believe that Ellos had a top with the words we belive on it. BELIVE! That made me angry. Not even my 16 year-olds make that mistake.

A mix of British and American English is accepted these days in academia, but I don't think it's allowed to have different spellling within the same paper.
13:40 July 23, 2009 by Nomark
There are many sixteen year-olds in the UK who would write belive...
13:53 July 23, 2009 by Nomark
I must admit, most of the time I regard Swedish is a bit of an inconvenience.

However, every now again I really appreciate the language.

Eg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2idVI73ais...feature=related

It doesn't work in any language other than the Swedish.
13:54 July 23, 2009 by Tutu
How has david t being able to survice 27 years without swedish language. does that mean he has been living on social welfare because i dont know how he can work without the language. i am just curious. I agree that England is arrogant about not giving a toss about other european languages. that is reason why this englishs is a turn off in france, germany and even wales (uk). English should never be allowed to have priority over swedish but for trade and torism reasons, sweden should reconsider. Language is an important aspect of trade and english is the most popular language in the world
13:54 July 23, 2009 by Streja
Yes, but it's a bit silly and embarrassing when they print it on a top, trying to sound cool and with it. Why can't they hire people at Ellos who know how to spell properly?
13:57 July 23, 2009 by Streja
Sweden has not done anything it needs to reconsider.

I think it was rather silly when one of the posters here said it's not worth translating tourism brochures to anything else but English. Do people actually think that everyone in Europe knows English? That's rather naive.
14:15 July 23, 2009 by The Indian
Hi Streja, all Im doing is making a comparison. You're right on the account that we were'nt doing a masters in English language. But the program was taught in English. Often our teachers (Swedes) would seek assistance from us when they had a problem conveying their message. And the Swedes in my class didn't have to take the TOEFL for a 1000 SEK to prove that they "knew" English, while I had to. It was a breeze for me, but annoying that I had to spend that money. When I arrived at uni, I realised that there were many others (Europeans) who should be made to go through that test, cos they struggled & seemed surprised at others fluency. Thereby, coming back to the point of the article above, tiny influences of a 'world' language may actually do more good to the community than harm.
14:26 July 23, 2009 by foxpur
I didn't mean to post on this topic again, but I wanted to add that although I don't really speak Swedish (even after living in Sweden so long) I do find Swedish to be one of most relaxing melodic languages .. So I can appreciate it.
15:58 July 23, 2009 by mkvgtired
@Nomark, I am bilingual in English (first) and Spanish. I think the first thing someone should do if planning to live in a country is learn that country's language. If you are a tourist it is ok not to have a solid language base, but if you are an expat planning to live there for any period of time you should learn the language. When I visited Mexico and Europe I used my Spanish, but I refuse to speak Spanish to people living in the US that refuse to learn English. My old neighbor refused to learn English because she thought everyone should have to learn Spanish to cater to her.
16:23 July 23, 2009 by Nomark
You must be a right barrel of laughs, refusing to use a certain language with people simply to make a point.

Your argument does nothing to address the point I made about the monolingual expat who pays his taxes, raises his kids to be good citizens, possesses common Western values etc. He's already contributing a lot to society, in many cases a lot more than many native Swedes. If he's happy with his life and doesn't want to learn then big deal.

At the end of the day, the majority of Swedes speak English to an acceptable standard. As numerous Brits/Yanks have shown, its perfectly possible to lead the life they want to lead using only English.
16:31 July 23, 2009 by byke
The question should really be asked, who is threatened?

Is this a case of thousands and millions of English speaking people coming (invading) to Sweden (if so wooo hoo for Swedish tourism!) or is this simply a case of swedish people evolving in the hopes of being more fluent in a world language?

I personally believe that Swedes have had to learn English as their aspirations are larger than being confined to such a small minority.

Does a language really define a national identity or does the actions

and moral values of a nation hold precedence?
16:46 July 23, 2009 by Kaethar
The Swedish language in academics.

Yes it does. Something which is quite difficult for an anglo-phone to understand. The Swedish-Finns, for example, base their identity on having Swedish as their mother tongue. It's what differentiates them from other Finns. The Swedish language is also what makes Swedes different from Norwegians and Danes. Please let me know how the "moral values" in Sweden differ to those in Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland.

This is typical of an anglo-phone to say since your identity does not derive from your language - and this is because nearly everyone in the world speaks your language. So you try to differentiate yourself from other countries and cultures through other means.

I identify with people through language. If I meet a Swedish-speaker overseas I connect to them, more so than I do to a person based on if they're for or against abortion. Moral values differ from person to person. It's the language which brings us together.
16:57 July 23, 2009 by bobnbri
Thanks Greg........Myopic is the word! Self-isolationist navel gazors!

Many years ago when I planned to move to Scandinavia I bought books and dictionaries and Berliz tapes etc.... to learn Danish and Swedish.

If you are more than just visiting, but in fact plan on living in the country, you should be considerate enough to learn the native language!

I can't believe people could live in Sweden for decades and not speak any Swedish! There is definately something wrong with that attitude.
18:12 July 23, 2009 by byke

So who are you blaming?

The majority of Swedes who are wanting to sustain a more international presence?

Or do you have hatred against a particular other nation you feel is coming to Sweden and forcing Swedes to speak English?
18:32 July 23, 2009 by Nomark
None of us have integrated perfectly. For example, somebody who speaks perfect Swedish but who speeds and drives dangerously is a menace and, in my opinion, shows less respect to his/her host country than a monolingual who may lead a blameless life. There are many aspects to this whole debate; its unwise to pick on one factor.

BTW, how many people shouting about the need to learn Swedish can actually speak fluent Swedish ?
19:07 July 23, 2009 by Timmo
Absolutely true to say that there is more to a country than its language, that sharing values, interests and lifestyles are every bit as important.

But surely it is just courteous to make an effort with the local language, as much as you can depending on your cirmstances. Iit makes life so much easier and more pleasant to have basic words and phrases that you can share, even if they end up having to speak English on more detailed matters.

I've long felt that the EU should impose a common European language that everyone is taught alongside their own (and any other they care to learn). That would make working and travelling throughout the continent so much easier. Some would say that English is the de-facto language but politically it never can be. Esperanto is the 'PC' choice but never seems to get anywhere - should have imposed it when the EU first started.
19:29 July 23, 2009 by Jasoncarter
Or, as they are usually referred to, 'Swedish'.
21:32 July 23, 2009 by Streja
Kaethar, I agree with most of what you said, perhaps not about the anti abortion thing but then I would not be enemies with anyone who disagrees with me on that issue unless they believed in violence and killing abortion doctors.

Nomark, it's not really about adding anything to the culture you're based in. Learning the language is better for the person trying to get into Swedish society. It's really easier and perhaps better than to constantly whine on The Local about food and supermarkets. (Not saying you do this lol)

As you said someone might be really contributing to the country. That's good, but I do find that someone who learns the language has an easier time and gets to have some fun in Sweden that he or she would otherwise miss out on.
03:36 July 24, 2009 by bugface
Without english you can not have rock and roll. Even Abba sang in english.
08:54 July 24, 2009 by Nomark
Streja - it certainly is about contributing to the society you're in. This is the only worthwhile argument we can use when condemning someone for not learning Swedish. If someone leads a perfectly happy life without Swedish and still contributes then big deal that they have chosen to only speak English. Its bizarre that many here seem to reserve a special form of ire and spleen for them since its only one aspect of their behaviour and we all do things which many others would consider daft, dangerous etc. These other aspects somehow escape the same vitriolic condemnation.

Again, I wonder how many of those who whinge about the monolinguals are truly fluent in Swedish, eg they're at the level which would enable them to take part in this forum discussion in Swedish as easily as they can in English.
09:42 July 24, 2009 by Paulo +fab muscular than Jonnhy
Are there so many Italians in Sweden?!

:Sorry, I couldn't resist:
10:16 July 24, 2009 by skane refugee
With all due respect ... that's got to be an unattainable hurdle Nomark ... even 'bi-lingual' people who've grown up with 2 languages from birth usually favour one language over the other ...

IMHO a more realistic target for the expat is to master Swedish to the point where it is quicker and easier to communicate with the majority of Swedes in Swedish rather than English

Even Swedes who insist on speaking English often appreciate being able to inject Swedish words and still be understood ... this greatly expands the range of conversation topics they're comfortable with, beyond the usual banal drivel you get from locals speaking English

Wouldn't dispute in any way a (non-state supported) expats right to live here without learning Swedish language ... their call

Also wouldn't dispute your central point that, in and of itself, not speaking Swedish doesn't necessarily make an expat a 'bad citizen' any more than an expat speaking Swedish is automatically a 'model citizen' in Sweden ... have to agree with that

We can all only talk about our own experiences ... in my case I arrived in Sweden with a solid grounding in the language and have built understanding steadily since then ...

During this time, slowly but surely, as a result of comprehending what's being said all around ... understanding of Swedish culture, history and the general mentality of different groups of Swedes has dramatically improved

... might say that, to a certain extent, the 'lights are now on' ...

... but a lot of what's now illuminated would have been better left obscured by the darkness of language and cultural barriers ... might go as far as to say that respect for the local culture has decreased in proportion to understanding of same ...

... maybe a case of 'familiarity breeds contempt'?! ;o) ;o) ... vem vet?

IMHO the old cliché that 'the language is the key to the culture' is as true in Sweden as elsewhere ...
10:56 July 24, 2009 by Nilspet
Come on guys...do you think 350,000 Swedes would go to Thailand or Spain for vacation if they would have to learn Thai or Spain until they can speak with the locals?. People need to learn English to be global and the slogan is to target international people and alike not local school children and grandpas. The law itself is OK but you need to be wise when interpreting it. You know why China could attract a GREAT NUMBER of foreign investors now...it is simply because the Chinese can speak better English maybe not as good as we do in Sweden but that is the way to be global. You dont have to speak English with your neighbors but you NEED to stand ready to communicate with the world and you need to do it properly and correctly. What is wrong with that advertisement? Nothing.
11:06 July 24, 2009 by Nomark
I'm not sure it is a tough call to expect expats to be able to easily take part in these discussions in Swedish. I wrote "as easily as they would in English" which was a poor formulation since everybody clearly has a language preference. Nevertheless, IMO if someone is going to attack a monolingual for language laziness then he/she ought to be able to at least be able to make and defend that point in Swedish, in a grammatically well structured way with correct spelling, without having to make much use of a dictionary.

IMO the big reason why English folk should learn Swedish, even if they are getting along fine, is that society should effectively impose a language requirement on all long-term immigrants and, out of fairness, nobody should be seen as being exempted. Sweden does have a problem with non-integration for people from certain cultures in certain areas and this would be one of the measures which could help to tackle it.
11:28 July 24, 2009 by wiganer
I am English and have to admit ashamedly that the majority of us Brits are lazy when it comes to learning any other language. I do try to embrace other cultures and have to admit that each country throughout the world should keep its own identity, otherwise what would be the point of travel? I travel to see things different from that of my own country so I can appreciate other countries cultures and instead of being lazy about languages we should at least make attempts - if nothing else but to show our respect and interest in another country! On the flip side, my little knowledge of Norsk is helped by someone who does understand the English language, but we should at least try and that way we will learn some more of the lingo!
11:29 July 24, 2009 by skane refugee
Fair point in the second paragraph Nomark ... though I would say that anyone who's a law abiding, non-state supported expat, whatever language they speak, could and should be exempted from any legislation like this ... which should perhaps only be imposed as a condition for receiving state support ...
13:58 July 24, 2009 by Rebel
As much as some Swedes may want to deny it Swedish is a localized language and is only spoken by 1 out of 700 people on this planet. English is a language that allows people from tiny countries like Sweden, Estonia, etc. to be able to communicate with others aroudn the world. And people coming to Sweden for whatever reason generally know more English than any other language so it makes sense that English be used more often. I'll bet the most commited Swedish Democrat realizes that fact.
14:59 July 24, 2009 by Timmo
True, but isn't that an argument for English being the second Language in Sweden rather than 'up front' ? No-one expects short term tourists to be fluent in a local language (although it goes a long way to have just a few little words); but if a longer term visitor elects not to learn then I reckon they are likely to face many disadvantages and with little recourse to help.

The rich can always buy their way our of trouble, the rest of us usually rely on someone else at some time - I couldn't blame a Swede who said 'if you can't be bothered with our language then we can't be bothered with you'. I've always found Scandinavians to be very tolerant and helpful with the little Norwegian/Swedish that I have.
15:10 July 24, 2009 by Nomark
Out of interest, how long have you lived in Scandinavia ?
15:32 July 24, 2009 by Timmo
In my case, had about 7-8 visits and working in Norway for the coming Winter.
16:27 July 24, 2009 by BrittInSweden
Stockholm is trying and succeeding in being an International city.

Accepting English as a widely used language in the city is what allows Stockholm to be accessible to foreigners.

I have lived in Stockholm for over two years now and there is no way I would be where I am now if English wasn't as widely used and acceptable as it is.

Protecting your language and heritage is one thing, isolating your country from outsiders is another.
16:40 July 24, 2009 by mkvgtired
@Nomark, I do not advertise I speak Spanish and then refuse to do so so I can be a "barrel of laughs". My friend has lived in Germany for 4 years and still has not learned German (although he finally started). It is a respect issue. Why should the people in their home country have to cater to you? You are in THEIR country not the other way around. If I moved to Sweden the first thing I would do would be to find a place to live, second would be to find a place I can learn Swedish. In the case of my old neighbor, her husband TAUGHT English as a Second Language classes at a local college for free (as many ESL classes are) and she still refused to learn. Our government documents are in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Russian, Korean, and many more. People should be able to get the paperwork in their native language when they first move here, after a while they should be expected to know English.
17:17 July 24, 2009 by Nomark
Whether or not you advertise your Spanish language skills, its still a rather pompous gesture to refuse to communicate with someone.

You also continue to miss the central point which is that respect to a host country can be shown in many different ways, language being only one of them. None of us are perfect immigrants. Until such a time as we become them we should stop whinging about what we perceive to be other people's failings, especially when those people may well be contributing far more to society than we do.

This whole discussion - "I know language Y and he hasn't bothered to learn it...." - reminds me of a South Park episode; I think it was called "Smug Alert".
19:55 July 24, 2009 by GeeG
I think it is irrelevant that the majority of the visitors do not come from UK or USA...English as a second language is more common than Swedish as a first...
20:47 July 24, 2009 by CBKrasno
I completely agree with you, Irishbuck. I would have been utterly disappointed if I had arrived U.S. 18 years ago to study English to find everything written in Swedish. What would have been the point. Languages defines cultures and that is what makes it so beautiful. I don't mind having a global language for us to communicate in, but I also don't see a reason to remove what is left of a language that has over many centuries been gradually diminished from its ancestral roots. I think Swedes could manage to speak both English and Swedish in Sweden AND keep the separate. I think the Swedes are smart enough to do that.
21:32 July 24, 2009 by Kaethar
The majority of Swedes? I blame the people behind the media.

Well, not all Swedes will be against abortion. Not all Swedes will have the same values and beliefs. But all Swedes will speak Swedish.

ABBA's English versions of songs are the most well-known but certainly not the only versions. Personally I like that ABBA sang in several languages, not just English, to reach the international market.

Here's a medley as an example:


Waterloo in:









I'd really like to see more artists do this today!
21:52 July 24, 2009 by Streja
I see that Kaethar and Nomark have both misunderstood me and that means that I was bad at explaining myself.

The abortion thing. I meant that I agree with you about Swedish being a thing that would make me talk to people eventhough I don't have the same morals as they do. So we agree. My point was that even for such a complicated issue as abortion I would not care anyway regardless if they speak Swedish or whatever.

Nomark, in no way did I mean that people who live in Sweden and don't speak Swedish cannot be contributing to society. My point was that for THEIR sake it would greatly improve their understanding of Swedish culture and would create less hurdles in trying to feel a little bit ok and at home in a society which is different to where they grew up.

Had I not been able to speak English I would not have been able to ask my English friends about he weird things I encountered in London when I lived there. I would also have missed a lot of amazing literature and culture.

Perhaps you have to be from two different cultures to understand this but I have no strict Swedish or Spanish identity. I'm both, and I just love learning about different societies and languages.
23:30 July 24, 2009 by rmccall7
I personnelly think that the main stream language of swedish will all way's be spoken as the main language so there will really be know worry. Sounds like over reacting to me. I was glad that a lot of people there spoke english on my visits to that beautiful country. It is easy for a person to get lost with out having help there. I personnelly am trying to learn swedish because I believe in respecting the countries I go to. But I do want to say thank you for speaking english when ever I needed help while I was there
23:42 July 24, 2009 by Querist
""It undermines Swedish as it signals that English has a higher value, that it has status, while Swedish is a language for out in the wilds," Per-Åke Lindblom, a spokesperson for the network, said in an interview with Sveriges Radio on Tuesday."

I'd venture to guess, that The Sami People aren't too thrilled to have foreign languages (Swedish/Norwegian) spoken in their native lands either.

The Sami are the original inhabitants of Scandinavia, afterall.

23:51 July 24, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
Bollocks!! The Sami are the native inhabitants of Lappland. Lappland != Scandinavia.
00:30 July 25, 2009 by Kind Man
Sometimes I think that I wish we could all had one Language. Either English or Arabic

So we could all understand each others and there would not so much racists among us.

If we could let this happen that would great
00:32 July 25, 2009 by futureishere
That day is coming...just wait for thousand years!
00:43 July 25, 2009 by Kind Man
yeah it could take up 500 years and we will not be here on that time.

I would be in paradise not sure about you LOL But i wish everybody to be in paradise
09:59 July 25, 2009 by Bob Jacobson
First of all, English is not the property of the UK or USA; it's a world language spoken everywhere by some and many places by most. It's the local variation that makes it so interesting and pleasurable to use.

Second, my experience is that Swedes learn English so early -- earlier than other Scandinavians -- that it isn't a second language, but a co-language with Swedish. For personal matters, Swedish still predominates (among Swedes), but English is equally strong in the social sphere. I returned from CPH to Malmö by train one night and heard Swedish kids joking with each other in English. I remember, too, ads that laughed at young children learning famous phrases from English-language films seen on cable TV. The cable TV firm doing the advertising sold itself as a tool for parents to use, to accelerate their children's use of English!

13:10 July 25, 2009 by Kaethar
No they're not. The northern Germanics (Swedes and Norwegians) were the first people to settle in most parts of what is today Sweden and Norway. The Sami, however, were the first to inhabit the very north of Sweden.

And, as a note, sami is officially on par with Swedish as it's an official national minority language. The people in Sametinget (Sami regional government) of course have sami as their main language.
17:08 July 25, 2009 by Querist
"Bollocks!! The Sami are the native inhabitants of Lappland. Lappland != Scandinavia." (Bender)

A substantial chunk.


17:17 July 25, 2009 by conboy
I can't help wondering whether this is a reflection of an inferiority complex here or whether it is a sign of the limitations of a cultural superiority complex which may also be prevalent here. Anyone got any suggestion as to what it might be?
23:45 July 25, 2009 by bebesvin
United States is struggling with the same issue - but with Spanish. Many old timer Americans react in a racist manner to just the option for Americans to choose Spanish, say in a phone related call, or signs that are both in English and Spanish, by saying, "I don't want my children to learn Spanish!!" of course missing the point. The point is to have options. It is more *efficient* (don't Swedes love that word) to communicate to greater masses of people. The same applies here. Even though most tourists are not UK\USA'icans, most non-Swedish speaking travellers do speak some English, thereby allowing easier travel, communication, etc, in order to get from a to b. Believe me, as an outsider, Swedish is not as easy as some might think. Of course I support Swedish as THE primary language, to have English as a second language is a VERY GOOD IDEA, in order to help MORE TRAVELLERS.
23:58 July 25, 2009 by conboy
Interesting comparison thanks for pointing that one out quite relevant in fact. I recall attending a lecture at Stockholm University where a Danish Dean/Professor lectured us on Nordic languages and he made the point that regardless of whether Norwegians like it or not and despite the advent of the modern phenomenen of "NyNorska" Norwegian was essentially Danish with a local dialect in linguistic terms. He claimed all grammar and syntax stemmed from Danish. This drove two of my Norwegian co students nuts but his empirical evidence was hard to dispute.
02:18 July 26, 2009 by Bob Jacobson
(Continued from July 25 comment...)

Summing it up, beautiful Swedish now is officially recognized in Sweden. English remains more practical in pubic situations. (It allows immigrants who learned English at home to participate in Swedish civic life. Can this be why conservative parties think it important to proclaim Swedish the only official language: to muzzle newcomers?)

A Swedish professor friend on learning that I had purchased Rosetta Stone to improve my conversational Swedish, protested. "Whom do you think most Swedes would prefer to speak with, an adult who can converse in English about current events, quantum physics, and Bergman film; or an adult-child who can only communicate at the level of a five-year-old?"

His recommendation was to enjoy learning Swedish but continue to rely on English for meaningful conversation. "We wouldn't have it any other way," he confided ... in perfect English.
07:29 July 26, 2009 by Nomark
Streja - I got your point but didn't think it relevant to my argument. I quite agree with you that learning Swedish makes living here much easier. However, if someone chooses not to do so and is happy being monolingual then so be it - his/her spoken language is only one of many aspects of a person's life. That person may already be getting everything out of life that they want to get.

Personally, I think its a shame that many immigrants (and Swedes) don't know Sweden's history very well and if only they learned X and Y they would have a far greater appreciation of today's society. However, this is just my opinion - as long as someone contributes then each to their own..
15:14 July 26, 2009 by Streja
But that's exactly what I said!

Spanish in the US is not the same as English in Sweden. Spanish is spoken in the US because of the people who actually have it as a first language there. English speaking immigrants to Sweden are not that many. That Swedes learn English has nothing to do with this. They do because it's an international language. It used to be German, French...and Latin. Now it's English.
03:55 July 27, 2009 by futureishere
I was in Frankfurt last week and was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the signboards and directions were both in German and English. 'Surprised' because I had heard a lot about German resistance to English. Otherwise, it makes perfect sense considering that Frankfurt is europe's financial hub and a truly international city. If Stockholm/Sweden wants to go global then it should be prepared to allow use of English (along side Swedish) as much as possible.

I read a lot of arguments about how learning the language of host country is an important step to inculcate its culture. And I totally agree. But the fact is that a huge number of visitors coming for business purposes (and even tourists) don't have culture on the top of their priority list. If Sweden wants to boost its economy by using an influx of work migrants, it should be flexible with its language restrictions.
08:13 July 27, 2009 by IamUnique
Swedish government can blame itself for the spread of the use of English in Stockholm and elsewhere in Sweden!

Just look at road sign (government regulated)! It's in English too!!
13:37 July 27, 2009 by Eel
I think Scandinavians are doing themselves a disfavour by concentrating too much on English. Years ago most people in Scandinavia spoke some English, some German and maybe some French. Kids nowadays only seem to learn English.

Don´t get me wrong. English is a good language for communicating with the rest of the world at a basic level - like tourist information - but as Scandinavia is situated in northern Europe most Scandinavians are much more likely to work with Germans than with Indians. I recently read that Danish employers are concerned that diminishing German language skills may lead to Danish companies losing business and I guess the situation is pretty much the same in Sweden. After all, Germany is Sweden´s number one business partner.
15:57 July 27, 2009 by futureishere
So you are saying that Sweden should continue giving top priority to Germany for trade instead of more populous countries like US, India and China? That doesn't sound very farsighted! Wide spread usage of English has helped China and India to increase their trading partners and I see no reason why it should harm Sweden. In today's increasingly porous world, location of a country will play lesser and lesser role and deciding its trading partners.
16:19 July 27, 2009 by Rapalyea1
Romani, and Yiddish – [are] official national minority languages.

Vlad Zepiche approves. I can not speak for Tevvi.....
19:29 July 27, 2009 by skane refugee
Germany is indeed the number one individual country trading partner for Sweden (10.2% of exports and 18.9% of imports in 2007) ...

... but the Anglophone world is clearly Swedens number one trading partner (by language bloc) especially in terms of exports ... and many of the other countries that Sweden trades with are much more comfortable dealing in English than in Swedish or German

for example US and UK combined accounted for 18.6% of Swedish exports / UK and Anglophone Netherlands combined accounted for 14.5% of imports in 2007 ...

Agree that Sweden (like Denmark) needs more cunning linguists in other important languages (German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Arabic etc)
20:36 July 27, 2009 by mkvgtired

"its still a rather pompous gesture to refuse to communicate with someone."

Maybe so, but as I stated, I will communicate with visitors and (I didn't say) new immigrants as well. Is it more pompous to openly state you will not learn the language of your new home country because "they should learn Spanish" or refuse to communicate with such an arrogant person in their native tongue?
21:04 July 27, 2009 by Rapalyea1
Unavoidable English

I am an American who only speaks English. However, my sister graduated from UC Irvine with a dual Spanish/Education major. Further, she continues to live in Southern California where day to day Spanish is common. I figured when the two of us traveled to Spain this would be a great benefit. HA!

We did not even get out of the Airport before our first Spanish attempt failed. The car rental guy insisted on English since his English was better then my sister's Spanish. With a few exceptions this pattern continued. So I just give up. Alia Gall ist divisius in tres partes.

Or some such....
23:59 July 27, 2009 by Nomark
Not really - the pompousness is all yours.

There could be a number of very good reasons why somebody hasn't learned (or feels unable to learn) sufficient Swedish to hold a conversation, especially if he's aware that the person with whom he is speaking knows English.

Also, he's likely not acting in this way out of some perverse principle and then boasting about it on an internet forum.
01:36 July 28, 2009 by barryjth
I'm from Ireland and an English speaker. A great example that bilingualism doesn't work. As a result, Irish is practically dead as a language.

English is only popular because England spread its mighty empire and the fact that most Americans refuse to speak any language apart from their own when abroad. Everyone else seems to embrace this fact.

Sweden is in Europe - not a part of England.

Surely, German, French, Russian should take priority over English when in Europe. Maybe it should depend on geography, e.g. Germany is nearer to Sweden so why not German?
03:15 July 28, 2009 by Acajack
I am a French-speaking Canadian which means I automatically have "a deep seated hatred for english speaking people of all stripes and from anywhere in the world", am "isolationist" and less educated and smart than the average Swede, "can't speak French properly let alone English" and am "myopic"...

Yet I can type here in English and could do the same in French and Spanish, and learned at least a few basic Swedish phrases during a short week spent in Stockholm many years ago.

My apologies for contributing to my countrymen's hijacking of the thread with the age-old Quebec-Canada issue, but at least now some people in Sweden can see what we have to put up with here!
19:13 July 28, 2009 by Nomark
I recently encountered one example of the Swedes' failure to look after their own language/culture.

I've been trying to pick up a copy of Moberg's classic Utvandrarserie for a week or so. None of the book stores I went to had the books and when I tried to buy them on the web I found that they were unavailable - I tried the big internet shops such as bokus.se. Bizarrely, the (Swedish) websites did sell English translations of the books.

I don't claim they're not available anywhere (I could have missed them) but they aren't as easily available to the casual browser/shopper as the English language versions. This is a pity and not a little ridiculous.
23:28 July 29, 2009 by fol2choco
I don't think "English has a higher value, that it has status, while Swedish is a language for out in the wilds", this is stupid, swedish is the mother tongue, it's a part of sweden identity, so yes english is useful in international meeting and for tourism, but not between sweden people. So, no.

I live in Europe, I love all the europeans languages but I can't learn them all I'm not so clever,;)

So, english is useful I think but I try to speak spanish in Spain and german in Germany. I'm currently learning chinese, and I hope one day to be able to speak chinese in Beijin.

But one thing I hate it's monolingual english speaking people who expect you speak with them in english, I find this rather impolite, rude and disrespectful.
00:00 July 30, 2009 by futureishere
May be they are monolingual because they are "not so clever"! Not everyone is a language person and it can be a daunting task to go beyond few basic phrases. A lot of people find learning a new language intimidating or plain boring. If a mathematician tells you that you are rude because you cannot discuss advanced trigonometry with him, will that be right? If Sweden (or any country) only wants those visitors that can speak the native language, it should put up a sign saying so!
01:37 July 30, 2009 by fol2choco
"A lot of people find learning a new language intimidating or plain boring"

yes the whole planet are obliged to learn english, you know in Sweden, in France, in Germany, in Japan many people are not "language person" too, like you say. But they still make the effort to learn, and they success.

So you're argument is bullshit, people who don't try ,even a little, are just arrogant and lazy.

At first I find learning english plain boring too, now i can speak 4 languages, almost 5.
02:36 July 30, 2009 by futureishere
Lazy, yes! Arrogant, may be not. People from countries where English is the dominant language have a comfort zone around them, which makes them believe that they can spend their entire life without learning a new language. This decreases their ability/willpower to learn a new language. You cannot compare the likes of Americans, Britishers and Australians with people from countries where English is not the dominant language. Those who don't speak English as their mother tongue have to learn it out of necessity as it is the global language.

I myself can speak in almost four languages, but I still don't consider myself as a language person, as I had to learn these out of necessity. But if I was born and brought up in US/UK, I may have been monolingual considering how bad I fared during my language classes in school.
09:20 July 30, 2009 by Eel
I think you´ll find that most Germans, Spaniards, Italians and French disagree with you. Unless they´re working with foreigners most people don´t NEED to speak English. As for holidays abroad... French, Italian and Spanish are mutually intelligible on a level that is enough for asking directions and ordering food in a restaurant and German is still understood by quite a few people in Northern Europe. And as staff at holiday resorts around the Mediterranean even speak Swedish I think the Germans will be ok there as well.
16:58 July 30, 2009 by fol2choco
"Arrogant, may be not"

I disagree, I met many people who really think they speak "god language" (and not only english speaker) and don't want to learn foreign languages.
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