Swedes like to know to whom they are speaking, and this means that when speaking to a Swede, introductions are in order. While Swedish used to be more formal and included a strict use of titles indicating social, and marital status, this is completely abolished. Even very old people expect to be addressed as du "you" and only occasionally is Ni "you (plural)" used by sales clerks to address customers.
The simplest way to greet a Swede is to establish eye-contact, followed by a simple hej "hi". It should not be confused with the English "hey", the use of which is more to attract attention, a meaning the Swedish greeting does not contain. A variation and more informal variant of this word is hejsan. To show enthusiasm, you can repeat words; hej hej. Shaking hands is the most common way of greeting a stranger in Sweden. More informal and friendly forms of greeting are the words tja, tjena or tjenare. Though more common among younger people, they are often used by considerably older speakers to establish familiarity or intimacy with the listener.
God dag "good day" has a formal tone to it, but is very seldom used in everyday life, and is mostly seen in formal speeches and likewise. In the morning, god morgon "good morning", is commonly used and is not perceived as particularly formal, if polite. In the evening god kväll "good evening" can be used, but like god dag it's quite uncommon either with strangers or friends, but is entirely appropriate for a TV host to say in the introduction of a show.
Two students are meeting in a university cafeteria in Sweden. One of them is Sven - a Swedish student - and the other one is Peter - an American exchange student.
Sven: Hej. Hur mår du?
English: Hi. How are you?
Peter: Bara bra, tack. Förlåt, jag har glömt, varifrån kommer du nu igen?
English: Just fine, thanks. Sorry, I have forgotten, where are you from now again?
Sven: Jag kommer ifrån Sverige. Varifrån kommer du?
English: I'm from Sweden. Where do you come from?
Peter: Jag är amerikansk, jag kommer ifrån USA.
English: I am American, I'm from the USA.
Sven: Ja, just det! Förlåt, vad heter du igen?
English: Oh, that's right! Sorry, what's your name again?
Peter: Jag heter Peter och du heter Sven.
English: My name is Peter and your name is Sven.
Sven: Tack. Vi ses!
English: Thank you. See you later!
Long and short vowelsEdit
Not unlike many other Scandinavian languages, Swedish distinguishes quite clearly between long and short vowels. English doesn't have the same clear distinction, but the phonetic sound differences are in the language. Compare for example the A in "haha" with the A in "heart," the former being short and the latter being long. The short A in "haha" matches the short Swedish A pretty well, as does the A in "heart" but with the long A.
To defer long or short vowels in written language, the consonants is repeated immediately after the vowel to hint for a short vowel, and only one to hint for a long. "Kommer" (coming) has a short O, because there are two M's, but it also has a short E, because more often than not, a word ends in a short vowel to aid in language flow when spoken. K is an exception to this rule, as you write "CK" when you want to hint for a short vowel.
There are traces of a similar system in English, for example "rock" has a short O, compared to "rookie" which has a long O, but instead of letting the single consonant hint for a long O, "rookie" has two O's, unlike Swedish, where something along the lines of "rokie" would have been enough to say that the O is probably a long O.
- Hur är det? -- How is it?
- Hur mår du? -- How are you?
- Var bor du? -- Where do you live?
- Jag bor i ___ -- I live in ___
- Vad heter du? -- What's your name?
- Jag heter ___ -- My name is ___
- Varifrån kommer du? -- Where are you from?
- Jag kommer ifrån ___ -- I'm from ___
- Och du [själv]? -- And you?
- Ha det bra! -- Have a nice day!
- Vi ses! -- See you (later)!*
- Vi hörs! -- We'll keep in touch!*
- Tack! -- Thanks!
- Jag har glömt -- I've forgotten
Note that "hörs" and "ses" use a verb form that English does not have, the passive form. Its main objective is to take away focus from the subject ("vi," or we) and instead emphasize the verb.
- Bra -- Good.
- Förlåt -- Sorry. Literally "pardon (me)".
- Igen -- Again.
- Och -- And.
- Amerika -- America*
- Chile -- Chile
- England -- England
- Kina -- China
- Peru -- Peru
- Polen -- Poland
- Somalien -- Somalia
- Sverige -- Sweden
- Tyskland -- Germany
- Tjeckien -- Czech Republic
- Turkiet -- Turkey
- Ungern -- Hungary
- Vietnam -- Vietnam
USA is USA in Swedish as well. Can also be Amerikas Förenta Stater.
Write a short dialogue, or practice with a friend. In the dialogue, use the phrases for greeting someone, telling them your name and where you're from. Finish it by using one of the phrases for telling the other person goodbye.
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