December 8, 2014 | Swedish

More Swedish Books Have Arrived!

I love when I get a package notice from the mailroom.

Today four more Swedish books arrived. Left to right are Get Started in Swedish, by Ivo Holmqvist (Teach Yourself); Essential Swedish Grammar by Julian Granberry (Dover); Swedish: Essentials of Grammar by Åke Viberg, Kerstin Ballardini, and Sune Stjärnlöf (McGraw-Hill); and Beginner’s Swedish with 2 Audio CDs by Scott A. Mellor (Hippocrene).

The Cool Stuff That Arrived Today

The Cool Stuff That Arrived Today

This afternoon I decided that the Routledge book I wrote about yesterday was a bit intense for a newbie and instead began the book Swedish: Essentials of Grammar, shown in the middle of this picture.

I really like it.

For one thing, the three writers include Swedish translations of useful words throughout the English grammar explanations. On the first page of the introduction I am provided with ordbook (dictionary), ljud (sounds), stavning (spelling), and alfabet (alphabet). It’s like finding a dollar on the ground.

No, make that five dollars.

The writers have also already taught me that there is no Oxford comma in Swedish. Good. There will be no heated arguments about what is an endless source of irritable debate in English. You simply are not allowed to write the Swedish equivalent of “Mona, Peter, Eva, and Per live here.”

Rather, you have the comma-lighter version “Mona, Peter, Eva och Per bor här.” (Och is “and.”)

Many words in Swedish look familiar from other languages. 

Take a look at these, from the book’s early chapters: Han duschar = he showers. Han arbetar = he works. Hon är = she is. Hon cyklar = she cycles.

Swedish Fish, Seen Yesterday at a Local Grocery Store

Swedish Fish, Seen Yesterday at a Local Grocery Store

On pronunciation, the book told me, “The combinations sj or skj in Swedish represent one sound, a sound fairly similar to the sound represented by sh in English.”

Oops. I have been listening to words with those combinations on Memrise, but the audio quality there isn’t always great, and that is not quite the conclusion I had come to about what I was hearing. I will have to keep listening.

What is knocking me on my butt right now is Swedish pronunciation. It is reminding me of my Dutch experience, though the relationship between written and spoken text is much more…astonishing, I would say.

Fortunately, I feel confident that with Memrise, Pimsleur, and Glossika—all of which offer tons of oral assistance—I will get that under control fast. Technological advances are making pronunciation tools for language more and more accessible, thus conquering an important longstanding barrier to new-language acquisition.

I will keep reading this helpful McGraw-Hill book. I appreciate the spare, clean, sensible writing and numerous example.

On a totally superficial note, the paper is really pleasant to write on with my favorite mechanical pencil. Little details like that give me a inexplicably large amount of pleasure.

Comments (2)

Carol • Posted on Tue, December 09, 2014 - 1:47 pm EST

I only realized yesterday how much the Swedish pronunciation differs from the spelling! I was trying to teach my boyfriend a few phrases and he was wondering where all the consonants were disappearing to and why half the vowels were all making the same sounds.
As for the sj / skj sound, it’s pronounced differently in different parts of Sweden. Up north it’s like ‘sh’ but otherwise it’s more like the ‘ch’ in Loch Ness.

Karl Peterson • Posted on Tue, January 20, 2015 - 10:58 am EST

In other parts of
Sweden, the letters ch at the beginning of a word sounds more like wh as in where. Chevrolet sounds like whev o let

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