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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

What’s your favourite Swedish dialect?

The Local's regular panel grapples with Sweden's many dialects and tries to decide whether they should be classified as throat diseases or things of poetic beauty.

What's your favourite Swedish dialect?
Image: Paulo Correa

Tiffany Hoffman

Tiffany Hoffman

Since I’m still new to the Swedish language, it’s quite difficult for me to distinguish between the dialects, but I can recognize a few. Here in Linköping, I think the dialect is easy to understand, but Skånska–really deep Skånska–is like its own language.

Because of my own southern American accent, I can definitely appreciate and respect the Skåne dialect–and the teasing that comes with it–and I think it’s fun to hear. I haven’t heard many dialects from the north, but I look forward to the day when I’m fluent enough in Swedish to pick them out.

Robert Flahiff

Robert Flahiff

Dalarna’s Dalmål! C’mon, who doesn’t get a chuckle from “Jordpäron” (Earth Pear), which is a potato in my parts. Funny part is that we have so many sub-dialects that old-timers can tell people their neighborhood or village just by listening to them for a few sentences.

But I think the real reason I like Dalmål is that I just don’t comprehend Skånska – it sounds like somebody speaking out of their nose with their mouth full of gravel. And I know I may take some heat for that, but if you are speaking in Skånska, I just won’t be able to understand you anyways….

Sanna Holmqvist

Sanna Holmqvist

Without any trace of doubt in my mind – Skånska. The Skåne dialect. That is what I have grown up with and that is what makes me feel comfortable and at home.

There are so many kinds of Skånska, every district or city has its own. Within the cities, the different parts may have their own too. Old people in Malmö, where I live, tell me that in their youth, they could easily decide from which side of town someone was (so it is worth remembering that the city used to be perhaps even more segregated than it is today).

Posh Fridhem or workers’ Möllan; Kirseberg, Holma or Kulladal; your specific version of Malmöitiska gave you away instantly (to native Malmö ears). But this is probably true in many cities.

Skånska is soft and singing, yet with a rougher touch from the r’s (that are pronounced as in Denmark, Germany and France) and the diphthongs, somehow: cursing or getting angry in Skånska is more efficient than in other dialects… But when spoken in a friendly voice, there is nothing that sounds nicer and kinder.

And Skånska is absolutely impossible to imitate, if you don’t speak it naturally. So many actors and comedians and imitators have tried and failed (embarrassingly enough, often without realising). It is almost impossible to get the melody absolutely right and the r’s flowing effortlessly.

We mostly get embarrassed and feel awkward when people try. Especially if they think they are funny. I haven’t ever heard anyone succeed. I don’t know if this is good or bad – it is simply how it is.

Nabeel Shehzad

Nabeel Shehzad

I am very new to the Swedish language and still do not understand it fully. In the beginning all the dialects were the same to me. I couldn’t understand anything. Now when I have started understanding, I can see the difference in dialects too.

The Swedish dialect spoken in southern Sweden, like Gothenburg, seems best to me as it is easy to understand. I think they speak it very calmly. Stockholmers on the other hand speak much faster and always look like they’re in a hurry and skip over words. I find it very difficult to understand even a single word sometimes.

Then there is this Rinkeby Swedish, Swedish spoken by immigrants mostly. I like it too as it comes in a different flavour, a bit harsh and a bit loud and with an Arabian accent to it, though a friend of mine calls it a throat disease.

I am still in the learning process and since I am living in Gothenburg I have more influence from Gothenburgish (that’s what I call it at least). To me it is simple, slow and easy to learn and the good thing is people are very cooperative even if you speak it wrong.

Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström

I am constantly amazed by the number of dialects in Sweden. In a country of only nine million people there seem to be countless dialects, some that differ significantly from one another in regions that are just a few Swedish miles apart.

But of all those different dialects, my favourite by far is Skånska. And I blame my father completely for that.

My father and his family originate from Skåne. He spent his childhood there and still carries the classic dialect of the region. While he spent his childhood in Skåne, I spent mine in the next best thing. Colorado, in the middle of the United States. Which is almost the same.

Seeing as how my old man was the only Swedish speaker for miles around though, I grew up hearing nothing but Skånska. When we returned to Sweden for our summer vacations, we travelled to Skåne. I have been inundated with the dialect all of my life. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Living in Stockholm, I am surrounded by the classic accent of the region, but every time I hear that Skånsk accent, my ears perk up and I feel like I’m home.

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian word of the day: ‘Inchiodare’

You'll nail this word in no time.

Italian word of the day: 'Inchiodare'

What do a carpenter, a detective, and a bank robber screeching to a halt in their getaway car all have in common?

In English, not much – but in Italian, they could all be said to inchiodare (eenk-ee-ohd-AHR-eh) in the course of their professional activities.

In its simplest form, inchiodare simply means ‘to nail’ (chiodo, ‘kee-OH-do’, is a nail) – a picture to a wall, or a leg to a table.

Ha trovato questo cartello inchiodato alla sua porta.
She found this notice nailed to her door.

Inchioderò la mensola al muro più tardi.
I’ll nail the shelf to the wall later.

But like ‘to nail’, inchiodare has more than one definition.

You can use it to describe someone or something being ‘pinned’ in place, without actually having been literally nailed there.

Mi ha inchiodato al muro.
He pinned me to the wall.

La mia gamba è inchiodata al terreno.
My leg is pinned to the ground.

You can be metaphorically inchiodato to a place in the sense of being stuck there, tied down, or trapped.

Dovrei essere in vacanza e invece sono inchiodata alla mia scrivenia.
I should be on holiday and instead I’m stuck at my desk.

Don'T Forger You'Re Here Forever GIF - The Simpsons Mr Burns Youre Here GIFs

Siamo inchiodati a questa scuola per altri tre anni.
We’re stuck at this school for another three years.

Sono stati inchiodati dal fuoco di armi.
They were trapped by gunfire.

Just like in English, you can inchiodare (‘nail’) someone in the sense of proving their guilt.

Chiunque sia stato, ha lasciato tracce di DNA che lo inchioderanno.
Whoever it was, they left traces of DNA that will take them down.

Ti inchioderò per questo omicidio.
I’m going to nail you for this murder.

Thomas Sadoski Tommy GIF by CBS

Senza la pistola non lo inchioderemo, perché non abbiamo altre prove.
Without the gun we’re not going to get him, because we have no other proof.

For reasons that are less clear, the word can also mean to slam on the brakes in a car.

Ha inchiodato e ha afferrato la pistola quando ha visto la volante bloccando la strada.
He slammed on the brakes and grabbed the gun when he saw the police car blocking the road.

Hanno inchiodato la macchina a pochi passi da noi.
They screeched to a halt in the car just a few feet away from us.

Those last two definitions mean that you’re very likely to encounter the word when watching mystery shows or listening to true crime podcasts. Look out for it the next time you watch a detective drama.

In the meantime, have a think about what (or who) you can inchiodare this week.

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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