December 15th, 2006


Swedish is cool

I've been intending to write this post for ages, cos I want to babble about learning Swedish. I found out today that I passed my second level Swedish course, and that seems as good a motivation as any to actually get on and post this.

(In theory, the European A2 level of language competence means that I am supposed to be able to manage simple shopping conversations and ordering food in a restaurant; discuss hobbies, interests and jobs using simple questions and answers; understand the gist of written texts if I'm familiar with the subject matter; understand simple statements spoken at normal pace if I know the context; write simple notes and texts though not without errors. So it's probably a bit below GCSE level, I'd estimate. In practice my comprehension of both speech and writing is quite a bit ahead of this, but my active Swedish lags rather a way behind as yet.)

Anyway, yeah, Swedish is a great language for me, because it has lots of elongated vowels! It sounds slightly comical until you get used to it, something like if an Italian learnt English from a really plummy-voiced Etonian. In fact, it's more "lilting" than the languages that are traditionally described as such, because it has intrinsic tone. Apparently proto-IE had it, but I've never come across that feature in any modern day Germanic languages. Apart from that and a few other unique features, it's somewhere between English and German, but closer to English, particularly archaic and regional forms. So relatively easy for a native speaker of English with a smattering of German and an even smaller smattering of Yiddish. And lots of words that don't have obvious cognates in standard English do have them in Scots: barn -> bairn; grata -> greet [to cry].

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Anyway, yes, Swedish is cool. I'm having a lot of fun learning it, and I think I've got over the initial hump and know enough of the basic structure that I'm picking up new vocab, and feeling more natural with the grammar, as I go along just by being immersed. My accent still sucks, but I can make myself understood if people are prepared to overlook that.
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