When I took Spanish classes in middle school and high school, I realized how hard it was for me to pronounce certain words because of the “Southernness” in my voice. For example, I would pronounce ‘señor’ as ‘senior’ and luckily got away with it. This same pronunciation problem arose while in Stockholm and taking my Swedish language class. The Swedish language has not been too difficult to learn, thanks to my outstanding Swedish professor and the resources we are provided. I have noticed that while not on my end, there is a translation barrier between Swedes and Americans or English speakers. Thanks to almost all of the Swedes in Stockholm knowing how to speak English because they were taught it in school, there is no language barrier.
When my Swedish language class visited a local Swedish high school to discuss the different aspects of our cultures, I noticed that there is not always a direct translation of things in Swedish into English. One student was trying to describe this subculture within the teenage driving world here in Stockholm, which he translated into what American culture as “redneck.” However, the teacher, an English speaker himself, said that this was not true, and he could not begin to think of how to describe the culture because there were no words in English that matched up to the Swedish way to describe it. To this day, I still cannot picture what the young Swedish student was trying to describe to me.
Going back to my reference earlier to my Spanish class days, there are many verbs in Swedish that look like verbs I used in Spanish. Sometimes in class, I will accidentally start speaking in Spanish because of this. Another memorable language mishap that happened while at the Swedish high school was when I had to list my majors in Swedish to the students. Instead of saying “och,” which means “and” in Swedish between saying psychology and art history, I said “y,” which means “and” in Spanish. I was so embarrassed afterward when I realized I spoke Spanish instead of Swedish. Oh well! I guess I should have stuck with taking Spanish courses because apparently, it has stuck with me. While I may not be the best Swedish speaker, I hope to continue to learn it when I return to the States through apps such as Duolingo. Hopefully, I will not speak “Spandish” and will be able to calm my Southern drawl down a bit.