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Malmö mystery man 'sounds Dutch': linguist

Paul O'Mahony · 15 Oct 2009, 16:56

Published: 15 Oct 2009 16:56 GMT+02:00

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On Wednesday night the mystery man appeared on Swedish television to pose the question: "Who am I?".

The man, who woke up in a Malmö hospital bed four weeks ago, speaks very good English but has no idea why he is in Sweden.

"His word order is extremely good; I would say he has near native speaker abilities," UK-based forensic linguist John Olsson told The Local.

"He has certainly spent a lot of time with native English speakers, and I would say in the UK rather than America. Some of the intonation suggests that he has spent time in the Midlands or the North of England."

Having viewed scenes from TV3's crime and missing persons show Efterlyst ('Wanted'), Olsson set about pinpointing the probable native language of the unidentified man.

"He's definitely not a Romance speaker. We can also rule out Afrikaans and the Slavic languages. I would say he probably speaks Dutch or Flemish as his first language," Olsson said.

Olsson, who heads up the UK-based Forensic Linguistics Institute, has been called on for his expert linguistic analysis by top level courts in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.

Renowned UK linguist David Crystal said he agreed with Olsson's assessment that the man was most likely a Dutch or Flemish speaker.

"He's not a native speaker of English. And it's definitely a Germanic accent of some sort," Crystal told The Local.

Referring to himself as Sami Hussein, the man currently lives in a hotel often used by the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) and located in Arlöv outside of Malmö.

He was found four weeks ago outside the Malmö police station, at which point he was taken to hospital for treatment of a mild stroke.

The mystery man's plight has prompted the Swedish public to put on its collective thinking cap, with tips streaming in to police in Malmö after Wednesday night's edition of Efterlyst.

But as of yet none of the leads have led to a concrete identification.

"I'd say we've had roughly fifty tips, which have led us off in a lot of different directions," Detective Inspector Anders Lindskog told The Local.

Story continues below…

"It's been a hard day's work, with some people saying he's from the United States, others from South America, along with plenty of other places" he said.

At least one tipster said the man was most likely from the Netherlands, although Lindskog admitted the police had not consulted with a linguistic expert on the matter.

"Sami" thinks he was born on March 3rd, 1949, but there is no record of anyone matching his description in either the police’s or Migration Board’s databases.

When he was found, he was wearing a black and white shirt and a dark red jacket.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

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Your comments about this article

21:33 October 15, 2009 by t-br
He sounds Dutch indeed, at least up until his request in the video.

Flemish doesn't seem likely to me. His tone/voice is to harsh/strong (Flemish is "soft sounding" version of Dutch).

But his English is too good to have a good guess.

I hope the poor guy finds out soon.
22:42 October 15, 2009 by Texrusso
Here we have seen the anti foriegners and some of their neo facist gangs jump into conclusion that the man wants to seek asylum. They already began to cry and shout woe about swedish tax money, some of those juveniles doesn't even pay taxes.
00:22 October 16, 2009 by Beavis
When he says "please help me" it sounds more Bavarian/Austrian than Dutch. Either way would it not be obvious for the autorities to try to speak to him in different lanuages to find out.Surely if hes spoken to in Dutch and he aswers, well bingo..
02:05 October 16, 2009 by justanotherexpat
"Yesh! I have a Dutch akshent! Ishn't dat veird!"
09:25 October 16, 2009 by bootha
Someone who forgot his identity and speaks English and not his native language? Come on, wake up Sweden. This is a swindler.
09:52 October 16, 2009 by Åskar
There is no language called Flemish.
10:50 October 16, 2009 by Maman
Its wonderfull that he can speak good english and can't remember his identity.
10:56 October 16, 2009 by Rick Methven
Flemish is the English way of saying Vlaams.

Vlaams is the native language of the Flanders region of Belgium spoken by about 60% of the population. It is a dialect of Dutch, not quite as harsh
12:49 October 16, 2009 by EmperorAtahualpa
Can you please record another video in which he speaks Dutch? Based upon his accent or dialect, we could then try to localize where in the Netherlands or Belgium he is from.
13:51 October 16, 2009 by dutchie104
Being a Dutchman myself, I think he sounds more like an 'Afrikaans' speaking South-African. 'Afrikaans' is a Dutch-related language spoken by South-Africans from Dutch or Flemish origin.
14:23 October 16, 2009 by Ayesha07
As the man speaks very good english, only in some few words you can distinguish a very slight accent - Could this man be if Indian, Asian, Gujarati heritage, maybe second generation or so born, brought up in Uganda or other african country who later relocated to Europe and other parts of the world?

Would like to get the opinion of other Asian heritage persons in this regard. Thank you.
15:04 October 16, 2009 by the nuke
Better hope his twin doesn't show up cos then they might find they are talking double dutch...
23:13 October 16, 2009 by delusion1982
Sami Hussein is an Arabic name! For me actually he sounds more Swedish than Dutch/Flemish
23:15 October 16, 2009 by delusion1982
@BaronessKvP, "After all, muslims are great at being fakers and you are great at being naive fools." and you are great at being an idiot!
23:45 October 16, 2009 by berry from holland
Definitely Dutch, from the northern part above the river Rhine
00:02 October 17, 2009 by wenddiver
The police have checked his clothing labels. He is from Communist China.
12:34 October 17, 2009 by Michael84
Has anyone seen a movie called "who am i?" by Jackie Chan , that might be the answer to many questions!
04:36 October 18, 2009 by Ayesha07
I wonder if the man is illegally in Sweden and the people who dropped him at the police station as he was not feeling well also illegals, and for this they did not stay on with him and also do not coming forward now to take care of the man. Then also I start wondering whether the man´s memory loss is for real, or just a fake if he is an illegal and afraid of getting dismissed from Sweden? Can't help but

feeling the circumstances are a bit odd. If he was legally in the country, I think somebody would have recognized the man stepping forward with information, or taking care of the man. After all his picture has been around for some days now.

And if the memory loss is for real, I indeed feel sorry for the man, hoping his memory will return soon enough.
21:11 October 18, 2009 by PrinceKnight
I am not 100% sure about this: but, I think, I know, who that man is. About a month ago, I met a couple at the camping site in Söderfors, as I was out for a walk. There were not many campers there, because it was so late in the season; the day was quite chilly, I recall. The couple, with whom I spoke, claimed to be from the Netherlands, in fact! I even remember from exactly where in the Netherlands, because I have been there many times: Alkmaar, the man told me!!!

I told him and his wife, how much I love Alkmaar; after they said, where they are from! I am fairly certain, he is that man! (I can't be 100% certain, of course.)

**I have informed the proper authorities of this information.**
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