Friday, November 18, 2005

How to Annoy a Swede (or, why I'll never learn proper Swedish part II)

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThere are two surefire ways to annoy a Swede, or just embarrass yourself: 1) Do an "I am Inga fram Sveden" impression in a sing-songy voice, sounding like you're about ready to hyperventilate; 2) even better, do a Swedish Chef impersonation, mumbling börk börk and something about chickens in baskets.

Here's the scenario:

I'm at Mojo Coffee. I want to order a latte. Not just any latte, mind you, but a latte from the city of Starbucks, the Emerald City, the city where caffeine addictions begin, the coffee capital of North America. I want a "Seattle City Style Latte," as opposed to just a plain 'ol regular style latte.

So if I order entirely in Swedish, it's going to come out sounding like: "Jag skulle vilja ha en Seettle-a Ceety Style-a Lette-a," in my poor attempt to keep the Swedish melody throughout the sentence. I tried that. Once. And never again. It's just plain wrong, no matter how you look at it.

If I say, "Jag tar en Seattle City Style Latte," breaking back into my American accent when I pronounce "Seattle City Style Latte," I can guarantee the barista is going to answer me in English.

If I order in English, I'll be re-inforcing the thought that Americans aren't good at foreign languages. Or I can try pointing. Once again, guaranteed English.

While the importation of English words into the middle of a Swedish sentence helps when it comes to comphrehension, it doesn't help at all with pronunciation. I tried speaking Swedish in a course where the literature was entirely in English, and it ended up being incomprehensible to every else in the class since my "swedish" than became English words with Swedish conjuctions. The instructor finally said, "You know, you can speak English. We'll probably understand you better."


Until I find a way around this dilemma, I'm going to go back to drinking my Seettle-a Ceety Style-a Lette-a.

And as an aside, I've been here three years and I still haven't met any girls named Inga who come fram Sveden.


Blogger The Pale Green Woman said...

All the Ingas are 90 years old. Trust me.

3:56 PM  
Blogger S. said...

But my grandma is only 70...

4:11 PM  
Anonymous eV said...

Inga is totally out of style. wonder why....

4:28 PM  
Blogger eff said...

I'm sorry but; what?!

You have actually met Swedes who have been annoyed when you have impersonated "Inga" or the Swedish Chef?

Living, breating (mouth breathing knuckle draggers, possibly?) Swedes that are annoyed by that? Such creatures devoid of humor exist?

If you ask me, doing such impressions is a Good Thing™.

I may just have confused myself enough to misunderstand you. I hope that is the case. I seldom hope I'm dumb, but I do now.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Curiosa said...

Well, at the very least, it illicits very weak pleads of "But we don't sound like that, do we?"

4:31 PM  
Blogger eff said...

Really? Well, that's not as bad I suppose, but still. Haven't they heard Ingvar Carlsson* speak English? Then it's so obvious. "Vi here in sviiden..."

As for the Swedish Chef, I guess it's my sense of humor that bleeds through. If a woman should, say, hand me a piece of chocolate and say "Yom-yom-yooom, ze chocolad!" I might just ask her to marry me purely by reflex. I'm odd, I guess.

(* He was the prime minister in the late 80's after Palme was shot and some time during the 90's, before Göran Persson.)

10:02 PM  
Blogger Curiosa said...

Eff, what are you doing at home on the computer at 10 pm on a Friday night?

10:13 PM  
Blogger eff said...

I spend most nights in solitude. I'm currently listening to Neutral Milk Hotel's superb record In The Aeroplane Over The Sea on repeat. Pondering some things regarding the brain and memory and the associated processes and how they relate to artificial intelligence.

Oh, and I have a chat window open with Her on the other end. A while ago I told her she'd look beautiful in any piece of clothing, since it's her that's dressed in it. She liked it. It made me happy.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Curiosa said...


sometimes solitude isn't such a bad thing.

and the world is a small place. are you actually studying AI?


12:02 AM  
Blogger eff said...

Nope. I just remembered this weird thing on the bus tonight, and I started thinking about how AI strives for order when the mind is actually more chaos than order. At least that's how I perceive it.

I took a course in AI as a part of my studies, though. But that was, oh, 2.5 years ago or so.

12:07 AM  
Anonymous inga said...

Hello. I don't exist.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Karin said...

My hubby still laughs(after 4 years in Sweden) when I say "Cheeseburgare" at McDonalds. Us swedes use swenglish all the time, so why couldn't you? ;)

2:39 PM  

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