About Sweden

2010-08-22. Published in Language & Culture
by Sanna

Swedes are humans too!

Some time ago, I was on a show with Fredrik Lindström, a publicly loved academic stand-up artist and author who delivers truths about the Swedish people and language in a humoristic way. He has also been this season's host of the Swedish quiz program "På spåret". The show was funny and clever, with a mix of facts, jokes and observations of Sweden and the Swedes. Fredrik's conclusion was that Sweden is the best country in the world, with the worst people; while Sweden is clean, healthy, rich, well developed and equal, Swedes is an "un-continental", stiff, engineer-wise people who worship rules, statistics and constitutions. As always Fredrik Lindström delivered some wise spot-on observations about the Swedish people. After a couple of months in Sweden, maybe you will notice, for example, this?

  • Sweden is the only country where week numbers are used. Do you have any idea of when week 13 will occur? We do.

  • One "Hej!" means that the person is happy to see you, while a double-hej "Hej hej!" means that the person doesn't want to speak with you at all, just great and leave as quick as possible.

  • All Swedes know the exact area of thier homes. Any Swede will be able to deliver the exact set of square meeters even if you wake them up in the middle of the night. And the feeling doesn't matter: even if your studio feels small, it is not if it is 40 m2.

  • Un-Swedish is something very positive, when it is used about "soft values", like "There was such an un-Swedish atmosphere, everyone was danicing!" or "Oh, a very un-Swedish taste!". But,  when concerning hard facts and constitutions, un-Swedish is something negative, like "A very un-Swedish meat handling" or "an un-Swedish way of paying out salaries".

If you are learing Swedish and want to find out more about Sweden, it's inhabitants and language, check out the books Världens dåligaste språk (Lindström 2000) and Jordens smartaste ord (Lindström 2002) as well as cuts from Värsta Språket on Youtube (like this or this) and Fredrik Lindström in radio. Enjoy!

/ Sanna, Misi.se team 2010