10 words of Swedish

by Jax on July 20, 2012

Whenever we visit a new country I always try to learn 10 words of the language. It just seems polite to be able to say ‘Hello’, ‘Excuse me’, ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’ – even if the natives wouldn’t normally use those words (Russia, Spain).

Welcome to visitors from Yorkshire?
“Ej upp” not a Swedish greeting to visitors from Yorkshire, but a helpful sign telling you this side “Not up”.

Traveling around the med, with the exception of Greece, this didn’t prove too difficult, but this year in the Baltic, apart from Germany where I could dredge the depths of my mind for the remnants of my (ahem, more than zwanzig jahre alt) GCSE Deustch, I have failed miserably. I did just about scrape by in Russia where I even managed to have an entire (mini) conversation entirely in Russian, OK so it only involved asking for the bill in a restaurant, but I made the request and understood the response. Adrian, who has never bothered to attempt to communicate in any other language (computing code doesn’t count here!) and still upholds that there’s no point in having a dog and barking yourself (yes, I think that makes me a dog!) does have a Russian phrase which he can’t write, but can say “Can I buy you a drink?”….I don’t think we should enquire as the the how and why!

This failing on my part probably has a lot to do with the fact that across Scandinavia the vast majority of people speak beautiful English and are happy to do so – such a contrast to our own nation’s poor language skills. But a sum total of 0 Danish words, 2 in Finnish – both of which begin with ‘k’ and I get them mixed up: kitos (thank you) and kippis (cheers) although I did also pick up a few random words such as ‘maito’ (milk) and ‘mansikka’ (strawberry), which I could have done with in the supermarket in Sweden the other day when I ended up buying 2 litres of drinking yoghurt instead of milk – is a poor effort, so to make amends, here are my 10 (more or less) words of Swedish:

Hej or hej hej – hi (I didn’t say I had to make it difficult for myself – every word counts!)

Hej or hej hej – also used for goodbye – can I count that one twice?

Ja – Yes

No – Nej (see note above about not making this difficult!)

Tack – thank you. Can also mean please, and as there are so many ways of doing that in Swedish I’ll take the easy option.

pratar du engelska – do you speak English (that’s 3 words!)

Ursäkta – Excuse me

one – ett

Skol – Cheers (always an important one for sailors, a translation of ‘is the sun over the yard arm?’ would also be helpful)

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