Monday, June 8, 2009

English in Scandinavia.

Everyone in Scandinavia speaks English. Does that automatically mean you must or should use it whenever and wherever? I am rather unsure how common this is in other parts of the world, but whenever Scandinavians spend a fair amount of time in an English speaking environment and then come home, they always insist on using English in every other sentence. Victoria Silvstedt is a glorious example of this, and listening to her on TV is pure torture. She is, consequently, also parodized every now and then by other people on TV, notably by Christine Meltzer.

Anyway, the problem as I see it is that throwing English into your Swedish/Other Scandinavian language conversations with natives is a bit rude. Having half a sentence of English thrown at you all of a sudden may be a bit destabilizing (since you were after all expecting to hear another language with another set of sounds) and what are you supposed to reply anyway? I think it feels extremely weird to speak Swedish to someone who insists on speaking Swenglish, and what if your English isn't all that fabulous and you actually don't get what the person just said?

And how come Scandinavians always forget their native tongue as soon as they learn English? Do people of other nationalities do this as well? Or is it this eternal inferiority complex that seems to be rather unique to Scandinavia and that makes so many Swedes and Norwegians claim that they feel much "freer" when speaking English, that English is a much more practical language, that our Scandinavian languages just aren't good enough to really express oneself cause there are so few words. (Surely, this is something most people do much better in their second language in which they most certainly have a better command of the vocabulary! Actually I think the freedom of writing in another language is more a question of distancing oneself from the written text, making it feel less personal... )

Well, anyway, that was just a mini-rant to kick of my studying of the history of the Arab peoples. Totally unrelated, yes.

1 comment:

  1. » half a sentence of English thrown at you all
    » of a sudden may be a bit destabilizing

    That's a good point.
    I remember being absolutely perplexed and destabilized when visiting souther Bulgaria, where some people tried talking Russian to me, others tried English but most of them talked just Bulgarian with some Russian words in it. One and the same person could use any of the strategies all of a sudden; and finally I really had a problem of choosing a write language for a certain person...