Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Swedish "i"

So going into Swedish, I'd heard the elision (running words together) and rules for softening SK/STJ would be my toughies. Now, as a pretty decent french speaker, you can't scare me with elision - any language that says "qu'est-ce que c'est" as "KESkaSAY" toughens one to the vagaries of slamming words together.

Then I got worried about that å character... but turns out that's just an O that finishes with a little "ah". Easy. Then the possible issues with the Swedish lilting cadence: The key there is to catch yourself before you start just alternating high and low singsongs and sounding like the muppet Swedish Chef.

No, I'm finding the truly tough thing is the letter "i". Like in "hur står det till" (how's it going). You can say it "teel", but it doesn't sound Swedish. No, you need to somehow move that sound back further in the throat and make a very silly sound. There's no equivalent sound in English - the closest feeling I can get is the French "u" in "cuilliere".

But the only TRUE way to do this is to imitate a Swedish accent. Fortunately, that's one of my favorite parts about language - putting on the accents. It makes me just mad to think about all of the high school and college classes I had where people kept thinking it wasn't "cool" to have the accent, that the key was to say the words but to sound like yourself. But if you don't do the accent, you don't sound right.

I think I'll be ready to call up our Swedish friends in a week with my first "conversation". As I lay awake last night, I was imagining what I could say with what I know already... and I think that in 7 days, I can know a very good amount.

2 comments:

Catie Cara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jimmy said...

It was nice to get your comment! Sorry it got deleted - you can repost without your email if you prefer.

Have a good one.