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Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

BP & Swenglish: “Small people” comment is gonna cost

Speaking Swenglish normally results in giggles rather than public outcry. But if you screw up your picturesque speech and call the millions of people in the Gulf affected by the oil leak “small people”…well…don’t forget to duck. (here’s a link to the video of the gaffe.

After all, most Americans have no idea that the colorful language “Sweglish” exists and it should be found charming at best and silly at worst. It still makes me crack a smile when I hear some refer to the CEO as the VD. My all time favorite Swenglish anecdote is when a beautiful Swedish woman offers to pluck a canape off a waiter’s tray for an Englishman and to be polite asks if it’s ok to “Take it with my body.” (They ended up marrying, true story)

In the end the native-Swedish CEO and Chair, Carl-Henric Svanberg did apologize (link) but this one he is just never, ever, ever going to live down.

Maybe the little guy will eventually forgive him.little guy

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8 responses to “BP & Swenglish: “Small people” comment is gonna cost”

  1. Ray says:

    The idea of Mr. Swanberg making a mistake in Swinglish is total BULL,
    Mr. Swanberg just came out of a meeting with the Pres of the USA and
    got his Swedish Butt chewed for standing around quietly while his company
    slowly is destroying the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Swanberg was only smarting off
    in typical Swedish fashion to protect his delicate Swedish ego.

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  2. Boston Blatte says:

    @Ray. If you’ve heard Svanberg speak English you’d understand that his command of the language isn’t versatile enough to be able to manipulate his choice of words to smart off. They ought to have had him read his prepared statement and defer to a PR officer to answer questions.

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  3. Ray says:

    That sounds like a typical Swedish cover-up using language to help lob the ‘brick over the wall’ after having had your Swedish tail placed between your legs by the Pres.

    The best words for Mr. Swanberg’s mouth in any language and especially from the whitehouse lawn would have been NO words. American’s want action from BP not BS with a Swedish accent.

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  4. Mats says:

    “Take it with my body”? What kind of swedish comment was she directly translating? I don’t recognize it.

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  5. Boston Blatte says:

    @Ray. I’m not familiar with the typical Swedish cover-up language. Could you provide a few examples?
    @Mats. “Ta med kroppen”. She might have said “Take it with the body” instead of “my”. She did describe the look of surprised delight on the face of her future husband. She still blushes when telling the story.

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  6. Oliver says:

    This incident brings back memories of the countless stories I’ve heard about Swedes using the word “fack” (union in Swedish) when they’ve been to the States. “This is what we in Sweden call facklitteratur”…. “The Swedish fack is very powerful”… etc, etc, etc…

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  7. Ray says:

    Hej Boston,
    There is no Swedish ‘cover-up’ language just like there is no
    official ‘Swenglish’ language which is why most Americans
    have never heard of it.

    Mr. Swanberg was probably following the instructions of his BP pr and legal people when he redirected the focus of the meeting with the US Pres from BP’s lack of ability to get the job done and re-focus the attention to his poor Swedish knowledge of the English language while insulting Americans. He was very successful as most Swedes are in performing this exercise. If he were addressing the people from Småland maybe he would not have been so successful.

    An example of this would be if I (being a LA Laker fan) would try to explain to you (from Boston) that the Boston Celtics were a better team then the LA Clippers. I would be refocusing the subject away from the superior LA Laker basketball team and placing Boston at the same lower level as the LA Clippers.


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  8. Boston Blatte says:

    @Oliver, there are times I quickly add “förening” to an expletive when I’ve stubbed my toe;)
    @Ray, I think you give the BP PR team too much credit to have plotted and executed that evil ruse. Congrats on the Lakers win. Guess we’re going to have to hold out for the Red Sox and Pats. Now if only the Bruins could get themselves up to the fight for championships like the other Boston teams.

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