• Sweden's news in English

Swede slams English use for royal wedding bash

David Landes · 18 Jan 2010, 17:47

Published: 18 Jan 2010 17:47 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“The leadership of Stockholm municipality either don’t know about the (admittedly new) language law, or they don’t care about it,” writes Stockholm resident Björn Ohlson in his letter complaining about “Love Stockholm 2010”, the city’s chosen slogan for marketing two weeks of events surrounding the royal wedding.

“It’s a very Swedish event. You have the Swedish crown princess marrying a Swedish man in Sweden. It seems sort of silly to give it an English label,” Ohlson told The Local.

Sweden’s new language law, which went into effect in July 2009, establishes Swedish as the main language of Sweden and decrees that public bodies have a particular responsibility to ensure that Swedish is used and developed.

Ohlson’s complaint isn’t the first time that Stockholm authorities have been reported for using too much English following the implementation of the new law.

Just three weeks after the law came into force on July 1st, Nätverket Språkförsvaret ('The Language Defence Network') reported the Stockholm council to the ombudsman for its widespread use of English, exemplified by the marketing catchphrase, “The Capital of Scandinavia”.

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

Ohlson, who referred to himself as a volunteer member of the “language police”, has long been passionate about preserving the Swedish language, and has written letters to various agencies and authorities to complain about their increasing use of English.

“Already a lot of scientific papers from Sweden are written in English, leaving them inaccessible to Swedes who don’t read English,” he said.

“Who knows where it will end?”

Ohlson rejects arguments made by Stockholm officials that English is appropriate for events such as the royal wedding which are expected to draw a great deal of attention internationally.

He posits instead that using kärlek, the Swedish word for ‘love’, could also help promotion efforts by being both “exotic and captivating” to an international audience.

Ohlson also questioned Stockholm’s efforts to build a whole programme of events around the Crown Princess’s wedding to her fiancé Daniel Westling.

“This ‘Love 2010’ is Stockholm’s little party and frankly, it seems sort of unnecessary,” he said.

“It sounds like the title of some low-grade reality television show.”

Ohlson emphasized, however, that he holds no grudge against the English language itself, merely it's perceived over-use by public bodies in Sweden.

“I don’t have anything against English otherwise. English in England is fine because that’s where it should be spoken,” he said.

Story continues below…

“But we live in Sweden and we have a language law. It’s important to protect the Swedish language and not everybody does.”

Despite his disdain for Stockholm’s efforts to promote the royal wedding, Ohlson nevertheless admitted that he expects to find himself in front of the television on Crown Princess Victoria’s big day.

“I don’t plan to participate in any Love 2010 events, but I can’t promise that I won’t tune in to watch the wedding,” Ohlson said.

“I’m sure it will be a beautiful ceremony.”

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

19:15 January 18, 2010 by wenddiver
It could be worse, in the US everything is translated into Spanish.LOL

I agree Swedish should be used in Sweden, these laws need to be respected or Arabic will be the official language soon.

So Karlek2010 it is! Most US tourists would rather have their T-Shirt in Swedish anyway, so the neighbors don't think they were in California for the week.
19:34 January 18, 2010 by witsltd

When you say, 'or Arabic will be the official language soon.', are you trying to be sarcastic or you have some undiagnosed condition that needs immediate attention?
19:47 January 18, 2010 by dammen
"Already a lot of scientific papers from Sweden are written in English, leaving them inaccessible to Swedes who don't read English," he said.

what a joke - of course scientific papers are written in English it is the language of science and for that matter most scientific papers are written for an international market not just sweden. Is this another example of SWedes being insular? A swede who reads scieitific papers will also read English - in fact there are not many who do not read English here in Sweden as it is compulsory to learn it in schools from year 2. Is this guy now going to advocate that Swedes don't learn English.

I agree it is important to preserve languages but there are ways and means of doing this. If you take this law to its conclusionthen everyone of us who speaks or even read English in Sweden is breaking the law
19:51 January 18, 2010 by entry
“It's a very Swedish event. You have the Swedish crown princess marrying a Swedish man in Sweden. It seems sort of silly to give it an English label,” Ohlson told The Local.

“Already a lot of scientific papers from Sweden are written in English, leaving them inaccessible to Swedes who don't read English,” he said.

“Who knows where it where it will end?” (love the editors at the local.se...)

Swedish as a language must be preserved and I don't see any risk in it becoming a dead language but you have to be practical. Cutting off your nose to spite your face is not the best practice. Sure you can label the Crown Princess' wedding with a Swedish Language Label that is unintelligible to the rest of the world and allow the event to descend into obscurity, but is that the desire?

Not for nothin' my Swedish wife just commented that "Love Stockholm 2010" sounded like a Gay Parade thing to her...

Personally, I can't wait until I am fluent in Swedish, Christ almighty it is taking me a long time to learn this language, I thought I would have additionally mastered Danish and been halfway through Finnish by now...
19:58 January 18, 2010 by Beavis
Pathetic.. Im very sure the city of Stockholm will be trying to attract record vistors from outside Sweden to the event. Who the hell do you think pays for the upkeep of the royals Who visits their castles, pays the entrances etc. Answer is tourists.

Surely the "slogan" should be in multiple languages!?

Sure great preserve the lanuage., but do so when and where appropraite! Idiots
20:58 January 18, 2010 by jose_s
@ wenddiver- "It could be worse, in the US everything is translated into Spanish.LOL"

Really? Why would that be worse?
21:09 January 18, 2010 by Snöregn
It is a tasteless slogan for a Swedish royal wedding... and in English at that. A royal wedding should demonstrate more class and tradition. It demonstrates that the city of Stockholm aims to sell itself to an international crowd, although it would sell itself better without a logo that looks like it is suited for a Las Vegas reality show. Good logo- wrong occasion and wrong language.

...the Swedish word "fartlek" made it into the English language at some point, why not use the Royal wedding to introduce the Swedish word "kärlek"?!!
22:32 January 18, 2010 by skatsouf
the city slogan should have been inspired by the european green capital succesful campaign instead; either in english or swedish; the message itself is what is of major substance in my view and in this case (love 2010..) it feels totally tabloidish...
22:49 January 18, 2010 by Tobugrynbak
Love Stockholm 2010, sounds like a lesbian tennis match tournament to me.

Definitely a big fail for promoting a "Royal" wedding..
22:55 January 18, 2010 by dizzymoe33
karlek 2010 sounds a lot better than love 2010. And I am from the States so even I would appreciate learning a new Swedish word. Plus it seems more apporiate to use the Swedish word than the English word "love". Just my humble opinion.
23:09 January 18, 2010 by homestead
I can understand a country preserving it's language and culture by why go after the Stockholm Visitor's Council? You have to be able to communicate with your target audience (tourists, I assume) and I doubt many speak Swedish.

I also have to agree with dizzymoe33, though. Once you get here, you want to take home things that say something in Swedish. It just looks a little more interesting than having everything in the same old English.
00:30 January 19, 2010 by albert1974
Once more:

"Already a lot of scientific papers from Sweden are written in English, leaving them inaccessible to Swedes who don't read English," he said

This is just hilarious! Be careful, this guy will soon report "The Local" to the Ombudsman, since it writes in English about Sweden!
01:11 January 19, 2010 by iridesce
Another American voting for Kärlek 2010.

The first time I read 'Love 2010 Stockholm', the television show of my youth ' Love American Style ' popped into my head. Which is a very bad thing if one is trying to go for a positive spin of the event to Americans.

Even now I am trying to get the damn theme music out of my head - very catchy and very disturbing ....
07:38 January 19, 2010 by podga
I'm guessing that Karlek 2010 probably sounds just as idiotic to the average Swedish-speaking Swede as Love 2010 does.

But wait, Swedish-speaking Swedes must be an endangered species, which is why language laws have been passed, and why now people with too much time on their hands now have one more reason to clog up the system, filing complaints. What to do next, to preserve the Swedish language? Oh, I know, maybe we can throw teenagers in jail for using English words and weird spelling when texting. Because, you know, twelve odd years of Swedish schools, reading Swedish books and newspapers, visiting Swedish blog sites, heck, just speaking Swedish all day with your colleagues and friends, that's not NEARLY enough to preserve the Swedish language. No, Karlek 2010 is the last line of defence. Our Maginot Line ('linje') if you will. And probably just about as effective...
09:30 January 19, 2010 by Pont-y-garreg
Love Stockholm 2010 should surely be translated as "Älska Stockholm 2010". Isn't love a verb here? To an English speaker at least, that would be the 1st impression. Failing that, why not drop the e and make it "Lov Stockholm 2010":) I'm sure Swedish speakers will appreciate the irony, and English speakers will be puzzled, amused and extremely curious.

And finally, when saying 2010, will swedes say tvåtusentio, twenty ten, two thousand and ten, or something else?

Talk about people getting themselves all worked up about language! Relax.
09:58 January 19, 2010 by hilt_m
why don't they use both? have the title of the wedding in swedish and english
10:20 January 19, 2010 by La Figaro
I am not swedish but I lived and studied in Sweden for a little over a year.

I think it is very inappropriate that English is being used in the title of such an important occasion, infact, it ought to be and must be a proper swedish title like Kärlek i Stockholm 2010

And yes, English is being used too much in certain areas of sweden but I think its ok to write scientific papers in English otherwise they can't be read/used outside of Sweden.
10:56 January 19, 2010 by JethroGreenmantle
Agreed, "Love Stockholm 2010" is a stupid slogan, for all the reasons other commentators have already given.

More insidious than the advance of English in Sweden (which is anyway very debatable) is the rise of the 'The Language Defence Network'. It's a mark of a living language that it grows and changes. One of the ways living languages grow is by borrowing words from other languages. English is a prime example, having borrowed words from most of the world's other languages over time. In fact around 5% of the 40,000 most common English words are of Scandinavian origin.

Is 'The Language Defence Network' aware that around 40% of the most common Swedish words are borrowed from German? Probably not. Once a word has been borrowed and used for a generation or so its origin is no longer obvious. I've read stupid arguments this winter wailing about 'sale' replacing 'rea' - as if 'rea' was a Swedish word preserved from Viking ancestors. In fact it's an abbreviation of 'realisation' which was borrowed from French early in the 20th century.

And here's another thought, while I've got steam up: There are around 9 million Swedish speakers in the world today. That's more people than have ever spoken Swedish at any one time in human history. To be sure, they may not all speak a form of Swedish 'The Language Defence Network' would approve of, but that's because 'The Language Defence Network' aren't really interested in preserving Swedish as a living language, they want the language as pickled as a baltic herring. They should beware - they might end up with surströmming.
11:01 January 19, 2010 by geronimoIII
The writing is on the wall for the Swedish language...and unfortunatly the writing is in English.
12:01 January 19, 2010 by Andy Dyer
It would be possible to save the Swedish language, but only if the Swedish are really prepared to do it.

It would take measures such as a 1 or 2 week Swedish-only summer camp every year for everyone between 5 and 25 years old. With harsh measures in place (right up to loss of citizenship) for anyone who doesn't comply with the spirit (if not the letter).

However, such a campaign might be popular. Nothing to stop people doing their 2 weeks at a Swedish only archaeology dig in Greece or a Swedish-only hotel in Thailand!
12:34 January 19, 2010 by Per Johansson52
All Swedish TV channels play Americans dramas and TV programmes in english with subtitle in swedish. including MTV gays/lesbian programmes where they choose their partners .These TV programmes inspire the Swede to use English so often, no big just chill.
13:09 January 19, 2010 by Beynch
Since this wonderful, blessed, event is bound to be an international affair, at a minimum, both Swedish, and English in smaller letters, may be used.
16:16 January 19, 2010 by Dimetrodon61
Comment: Other countries with small languages have much more aggressive efforts to prevent language marginalization -just look at Norway or Iceland. I have nothing against English, -I actually prefer reading English original novels rather than mediocre translations- but when it becomes the "default" language (kids swear using American English, since this is regarded as "cool") the national language will gradually become replaced with "swenglish" that is neither good English nor good Swedish. Consider the use of the swenglish book title "Aldrig Fucka Upp" or unwieldy adjectives like "ultimata" instead of "ultim"(Sw. from latin) or ultimate (Eng). There has always been an influx of loan words from high-status languages, but I fear we will start sounding like Beavis and Butt-Head. ("Uuuuh check it out Beavis, they are going to hump Stockholm...Huhuhuhuhu hu hu"..."No dumbass, it means dudes and lesbians will be dating the princess and the winner gets to marry her, or get a million, or something!")
18:03 January 19, 2010 by walterm
Many years ago in Malaga, Spain, I was invited to join an elderly Swedish couple for coffee at an outdoor cafe. Their English was impeccable and I complimented them. The man told me that he spoke English because whenever he set foot outside Sweden, no one spoke Swedish.
19:22 January 19, 2010 by Kaethar
@walterm: So that means Sweden should give up their language and just let it wither away? Thanks but no thanks.
20:49 January 19, 2010 by explodp
Having lived in Sweden for three years I am, slowly, learning the language. It is made somewhat more difficult because of the Swedes' eagerness to 'train' their English at any 'foreign' voice they hear. The excellent English lessons in schools mean almost all speak very good, albeit Americanised, (sorry US readers, but it is an s in English!), English and the laziness in us all tempts one to carry on the conversation in English. My wife and I do persist and have reached the happy state where we can take English friends out, talk in Swedish and let the Swedes 'train' their English on the visitors! Jag älskar Sverige!
02:03 January 20, 2010 by muda
To know foreign languages is good but to use it in official events is ridiculous. Why must Swede idolise English language. You go to Japan and you can see how Japanese preserve their language. They have self pride.
02:04 January 20, 2010 by JGame
If you want to draw more people to this event, there is nothing wrong with this little slogan being in english, an international language. I will be there with my Swedish wife(boring as it may be) in June and I can actually read things like this in English. I would not go to a Chinese event in China if all their slogans were in Chinese. It's called marketing people, wake up Swede's and get over the language thing. Actually, you may want to give up the monarchy while you are at it, we did in America over 200 years ago and it is has worked out pretty well.

By the way, the tv show Love American Style RULED back in the 70's!

God Bless Noble Prize Winner King Obama!!
07:57 January 20, 2010 by Makaveli
Everything in life has a positive as well as a negative side, and my guess is that the organisers of this royal wedding must have done their homework on a cost-benefit analysis. It would be noble and very original for such an event to be a promoted in the local language of the people because it is a traditional occasion with lots of significance to Sweden as a whole. It is the pride of of Sweden and the idea of using a foreign language sounds like a cheap sell out.

on the other hand, Swedes would love for the world to know that something this big is happening. So, from a purely publicity standpoint of view, it makes perfect sense to have the slogan in english because it reaches out to a bigger audience worldwide.

Ultimately, it would be smart to use Swedish as the main language in this Ad. with an English translation beneath.

As for Mr. Öhlsons complain about scientific papers being published in English, i have one comment: Why not press for a new legislation that will force all academic papers written in Sweden to be published exclusively in Swedish, preventing any translations! I think thats a safe way to contain all the knowledge in Sweden and prevent anything from going out. Oh and this law should prevent Swedes from reading any scientific papers published in any other language other than Swedish! Are you happy now??? I can't imagine any educated person would make such a comment.
21:07 January 20, 2010 by Engelsmanen
With debate on language, based on only really talking to a former friend of mine, I noticed that a majority of her textbooks for work were in English and I remember her saying that she was concerned about the future use of English in Sweden but declaring Swedish as the offcial language of Sweden was a good move by Riksdagen.

As for using "Love" instead of "Älska", I went to see Sonja Alden and at the end she said "I love you", I asked my friend why didn't say "Jag älskar ni"? Älska in Swedish is more personal than its English equivialent.

I'm currently studying German at Uni and there are two girls one's French, one's Finnish but their English and German are fantastic and it's a shame that foreign language learning is of a lower importance in the UK than on the continent. My native language is English but I admire that generally non native English language speakers speak more than 1 language.

OK, English is an international language and reports or songs been written/sung in English so they can be exported to other countries but when people are in the UK I expect them to speak English but when I'm in Germany for example I speak German. I do speak a bit of Swedish aswell and I'm a big fan and got a lot of respect from the country. However my friend's opinion of the Swedish Royal Family is a lot less than how the British Royal Famiy are respected.
21:50 January 20, 2010 by moaca
Why not a slogan like: Victoria&Daniel Stockholm 2010
23:51 January 20, 2010 by Noah Lennox
I've been here a while, and I'm pretty sure Swedish isn't spoken in Sweden.
00:13 January 21, 2010 by dizzymoe33
Maybe a duel saying in English and Swedish would benefit everyone?
01:52 January 21, 2010 by kaze
This guy is an idiot.

""Already a lot of scientific papers from Sweden are written in English, leaving them inaccessible to Swedes who don't read English," he said.

"Who knows where it will end?""

Do you really think that academics are doing going edge research for the benefit of some uneducated hick out in the back regions of Jamtland?

Every Swede who could ever want to read an academic paper knows English, and its not even for them that they are written, its the scientific community of the world.
04:15 January 21, 2010 by ahanderson
Give me a break! Please! Majority of Swedes speak "Swenglish" today...even the major newspaper do not use the 'appropriate' Swedish language. To argue about this issue is ridiculous, nobody cares! Let it be! How about this? Its a great promotion to attract more tourism to Sweden. Anybody thought of that?
05:22 January 21, 2010 by swede7814
As an American who has lived in Sweden I wish Swede's would use more Swedish! I will start out speaking Swedish with my friends, and then it turns to Swenglish and then eventually just English.

I agree with some of the other comments that the logo it tacky and sounds like it is promoting a Gay Pride Parade, not a Royal Wedding.

I say, get a new logo in Swedish, I love the language it is so beautiful!
13:54 January 24, 2010 by Marc the Texan
I also find it disappointing that they put it English too. This just comes off as pandering. Does anyone outside Sweden really know or care about Swedish royals? This is a truly barely regal moment.
13:48 May 16, 2011 by jacksonjerry
@JethroGreenmantle: if 5% English words are from Scandinavia then 20% Swedish words are from English and 40% Swedish words are from German.

Why dont you remove those unswedish words from Swedish? You can see the whole language disappear.
Today's headlines
Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Should Swedes think fairtrade with porn? Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/TT

A fairtrade attitude to pornography would be beneficial, Sweden's health minister told The Local.

Presented by Stockholm University
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Nordic fashion took centre stage in the Swedish capital last week as Stockholm University hosted the “first-ever” academic conference looking at luxury and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Referee, coach and parents in Swedish youth football fight
File photo of a referee holding a red card not related to the story. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

A football dad broke his leg in the brawl in front of 11-year-old kids after a Hammarby youth football game.

Illicit abattoir kept more than 100 bulls' penises
A couple of young bulls not related to the story. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Dried cattle genitalia, goats' heads and hundreds of litres of lard were just a few of the many strange finds discovered when police raided a property in Sweden.

This is officially Sweden's most beautiful beard
The most beautiful beard in Sweden. Photo: Memo Göcek

According to a jury of barbers and 'well known bearded profiles', that is.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm

You might think it’s hard to make friends in a new city. But if at first you don’t succeed – try something else!

Injured Swedish photographer protected by 'guardian angel'
Swedish photographer Paul Hansen on another occasion. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Photographer Paul Hansen thanked his lucky stars for surviving sniper fire while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

How Sweden is trying to smooth relations with Saudis
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting Saudi Arabia's Trade Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has visited Saudi Arabia a year and a half after relations turned frosty in a major diplomatic row.

My Swedish Career
'Swedish people love it, but they find it quite odd'
Scottish entrepreneur William Macdonald. Photo: Michael Campanella

Meet the web developer and entrepreneur using traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing to break the ice with Swedes.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available