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Why I'm convinced Skånska is hands down the best Swedish accent

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
Why I'm convinced Skånska is hands down the best Swedish accent
No other Swedish accent measures up against southern Sweden's Skånska, argues The Local's writer. Photo: Måns Fornander/

From The Local's archive: After eight years living in Malmö, The Local's southern Sweden correspondent Richard Orange is convinced that the local Skånska dialect is the best type of Swedish. Read further to find out why.


To the uninitiated, Skånska or Scanian resembles a cat seeking attention while trying to dislodge a troublesome hairball.  
But after eight years living among the intriguing people of southern Sweden, I have learned to appreciate this much maligned dialect as a thing of beauty. 
Indeed, with its lengthy catalogue of denigrating expressions, freedom from the sing-song rhythm that restricts other forms of Swedish, and its sheer energy, I think Skånska is hands down Sweden's best dialect.
At the very least, all those dipthongs and guttural Rs force speakers to change their facial expressions once in a while (a phenomenon rarely seen among other Swedes).
When I first heard talk of Skånska, it was couched in dread. My wife feared that our newborn daughter, growing up in Malmö, might end up speaking a Swedish with a shameful Skånsk tinge (and lo it has come to pass). 
From her perspective, with her Uppsala-bred Rikssvenska (Standard Swedish), Skånska is the second most ridiculous of the Swedish dialects (the keening, plaintive Örebro accent comes top, with my wife maintaining that it makes speakers sound as if they have something stuck in their bottoms.) 
But when I first heard Skånska actually spoken, probably when I took my daughter to a drop-in kindergarten, I found it thrilling. I was tickled to hear each vowel bent violently to make sounds that probably existed in some English dialect somewhere, but never in such florid combination. 


Take the Skånsk Hallo (hello). It ends with a vowel combination that in English is associated with being almost parodically upper class, but which in southern Sweden issues from the mouths of electricians and farmers. The cognitive clash this produces is amusing. 
In the video below you can see dialect researcher Mathias Strandberg demonstrate how in the southern half of Skåne, every single vowel is bent into a dipthong. 
In Sweden, having a regional accent doesn't have the same class connotations as it does back home in England. 
But it still tickles me to interview someone like Sweden's Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, or former Green Party leader Gustav Fridolin, both of whom have excellent standard English, and then later hear them rattling away in Skånska. 
My real love of the dialect, however, came when I started to understand the culture underpinning it.
As the Skånsk comedian and commentator Kalle Lind wrote in his brilliant encomium to the dialect in regional newspaper Sydsvenskan, it has a "particularly expressive" idiom, and this is notably the case when it comes to those which describe the idiocy or other annoying qualities of another. 


To anyone who can read Swedish, I highly recommend Sydsvenskan's På Ren Skånska ('in pure Skånska'), the series of articles celebrating the dialect which Lind's essay is part of. 
Ditt jävla ålarens (you bloody eel offal), Lind asserts, beats out Standard Swedish's din förbaskade korkskalle (you darn cork head). Glyttapanna beats barnrumpa (child-bottom). Din satans klydderöv, he continues, before realizing that there is no Standard Swedish expression for klydderöv, which describes someone who does things badly and makes a mess.  
Then of course, there's the all-round favourite ålahue, which means literally "eel head". 
My wife complains that Lind is simply ignorant of the amusing and creative expressions that exist in her own Uppsala Swedish. 
But I suspect she is deluding herself. There's a revelry in being gently offensive among Skånings, something they share with the Danes and the British but not with more northerly Swedes, that lends itself to developing these expressions. 
My big frustration is that Skånings seem to be above teaching Swedish to foreigners like me, so my Swedish accent (well, to be honest it's more of a British accent) doesn't have the slightest hint of Skåne in it. 
I can only listen in jealousy when I hear TV gardener John Taylor speak in his perfect Skånska, lightly dusted with his Yorkshire upbringing, as he presents on SVT's Trädgårdstider (Garden Seasons) show.


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Anonymous 2019/05/21 19:52
I worked at Handelsbanken's HO in Stockholm for 10 years. My colleagues admired my command of Swedish, but commented that an English accent was always detectable. Then a guy from Malmö joined the team, and I started imitating his broad accent. Then my colleagues admitted that they could no longer tell I was British.

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