Without a doubt, the world’s worst online Swedish lessons

Raymond Chen

Lesson 3: Schomething schtranger (mp3) is part three of a series of four (so far) horrifically bad Swedish lessons. (Warning: Off-color content and copious swearing, but nevertheless very funny.) Boz has been living in Sweden since June, and two of his so-called friends have been putting together Swedish language tapes for him. Listen along as he goes through the tapes, trying to repeat each of the phrases.

Each of the lessons does illustrate a genuine detail of the Swedish language, even though Slaygon and Makke choose to illustrate the points using sentences you’re unlikely to encounter in your average Swedish textbook…

  • Lesson 1: Homographs, words spelled the same but with different meaning, sometimes with different pronunciation.
  • Lesson 2: Inflections and compound words, where two words change meaning when combined into a single word.
  • Lesson 3: The sj and tj sounds, two difficult sounds. The “sj” sounds like rushing wind, which I tend to mispronounce as German frontal “ch” because I forget to lower my tongue and open my mouth cavity in order to get that echo-ey whistling effect. The “tj” sound is close to English “sh” (differing in some subtle way I have yet to learn).
  • Lesson 4: The letters K, G and Y. The pronunciations of “K” and “G” vary depending on context. The “Y” is a tricky rounded vowel.

One fine point of pronunciation that doesn’t get much attention in textbooks is the Swedish long “i” sound. Most sources just tell you to pronounce it like English “ee”, but you’re also supposed to push it towards the back of the mouth, so that you sound like Kermit the Frog. I tend to pronounce it like English “ee” and forget to do the Kermit thing. Just like with my problems with “sj”, it’s not that I don’t know how to do it; I just forget.


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