Saturday, September 02, 2006

Engelska



As Americans, we only have to speak one language. I'm not nearly as critical as some people are about this, because it's simply a result of not being geographically located or economically obligated to learn another language. Most of us speak a little Spanish, German or French--whatever we remember from high school. The rest of the developed world (generally 50 years old and younger) speaks at least two and sometimes three languages, almost always including English because somewhere along the line English became the dominant and default language for communication across the developed world.

I have total admiration for the way Swedes can go from Swedish to English and back to Swedish without a second thought. "Svenska till Engelska till Svenska igen." I would not be here if they were not able to do this. One of the first things people would ask me when hearing about this adventure was "Do you speak Swedish?" I would look at them and say, "Of course not. But fortunately they all speak near perfect English." From the university professor to the student to the barista or bartender, they can all communicate with me perfectly. While I'm sheepish about always making others speak English, I can at least start conversations in Swedish, then divulge that "Jag taller lite Svenska" (I speak a little Swedish), then they shift gears into English, usually without hesitation. They start learning it in 3rd grade! Very impressive.

I start my Swedish classes in mid-September. Two times a week for three hours at a time. Really, it's the least I can do....

Here's some more fun pictures, since language does not easily lend itself to quality supplemental photos (except for one, I guess). First: A quaint square in Gamla Stan, the old city of Stockholm. Second: The view from my temporary apartment in Linköping of the city. Nice, huh? See you next week!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

What an awesome adventure, I am jealous! -Stephanie V.

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Todd said...

If Sean's going to write this blog, the least I can do as his loving brother is make a sarcastic remark every week...So, my challenge to all you Swedes out there: Do not let Sean get away with "Jag taller lite Svenska" When he says this...I urge you to respond with "alltför dålig du tokig Amerikanen. du er i Sverige nu"

Scott said...

Sean, welcome to the blogging world. I'm glad to know that the rest of us can be a part of your next few years... or at least virtually so.

Also, glad to see that your brother is providing the appropriate level of sarcasm & prodding. Keep it up, Todd!!

Anonymous said...

Sean, just tell them "No hablo ingles." See if you can't confuse some people. Seriously, good luck learning the language. I'm looking forward to you randomly calling me and screaming at me in Swedish. That will be a good day.
-Diana
P.S. I'm with your brother on the sarcasm.

Fredrik Persson said...

(Just found this site via the Linköping newspaper.)

Sean, do you have any idea what that part about us swedes speaking english well does to a swede? We *LOVE* to hear that. Really, really love it. If you want to make friends for life with a swede, comment on their english skills like that.