https://www.duolingo.com/vball_01

A Question About Languages

Hello everyone. I have seen a lot of websites and posts and just random things that say that if you go to Sweden, people will talk to you in English, even if you know Swedish. I have also heard that you can go a long time in Sweden without learning pretty much anything, because when people hear your accent, they switch to English.

I was just wondering if this was true? If they would switch to English upon hearing your accent, or would they talk to you in Swedish if you knew it? I think that it would be fun to talk to people in Swedish, or to just start up a conversation and have them talk to you in Swedish (Even though it's not the custom to do that). I just don't want to go and then spend almost the entire time speaking English in a country that I know the native language to. Tack så mycket!

ps. Do they do that in Spanish speaking countries as well? I think I might want to go there too.

2 years ago

26 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/CosmoKaiza
CosmoKaiza
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If someone speaks to you in English in Sweden just say that you want to practice your swedish. I think that Northern Europe (including Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia) are proud to show off their English. While countries like Spain and France don't like to speak in English. So maybe spanish countries don't do that

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vball_01

Oh ok thanks. I think that what you said is true, as Sweden has a high rate of English learning :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hdcanis
hdcanis
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Going a bit outside the topic and talking about Finland because this is definitely a thing here, but I guess some of it applies in Sweden too.

Many native speakers indeed speak English and are quick to switch the language, and it can indeed be a bit annoying when you want to learn...

At least in Finnish one issue is that many of us are not used to hearing our native language spoken with an accent, either you are a native speaker or you don't speak Finnish, so it just sounds weird...so some react to broken Finnish like they automatically don't understand it, often unintentionally, while broken English is just natural.

Also it's a politeness thing to try to avoid causing extra trouble for others, so when you hear that the the other speaker is having a lot of trouble to communicate, much more than you have in English, there is a mental red alert going on that you are being impolite and bad person here.

So the language switch often comes automatically without much thought. And I know it's a bad habit and should be avoided, but I admit I too often waver from one language to another.

But generally I do try to answer on the language I am talked to, and for foreigners who wish to practice their language it is usually better to just keep on talking on the language you want. It takes some effort and indeed many just let it slip...

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vball_01

Ok, thank you :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lars200
Lars200
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Do they change to English even if you speak Finnish with a Swedish accent? I've heard most Finns expect Swedish speakers to understand Finnish.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hdcanis
hdcanis
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I guess it depends on the level of language: almost all Finnish Swedes speak Finnish well enough that even though accent was noticeable, so no need for change, but if one talked on, say, low Duolingo level, then there would be a strong temptation to switch to English or Swedish (whatever one speaks well enough) (Swedish people in Sweden are generally not expected to understand Finnish, even though some do).

And I'd guess it would be a bit of the same if Swedish people would hear me speak Swedish :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lars200
Lars200
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Tack för svaret! Ja, ibland svarar svenskar t.o.m. finlandssvenskar på engelska eftersom de antar att finska är deras modersmål (för oss är det väldigt svårt att höra skillnaden mellan standardfinlandssvenska och svenska med finsk brytning). Gissar att det inte behöver sägas att detta inte är så populärt bland finlandssvenskarna.

Hur är det i Finland, kan ni höra skillnaden mellan någon som pratar finska med finlandssvensk och någon med rikssvensk brytning?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hdcanis
hdcanis
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Ofta ja, finlandsvenska är lättare att förstå än rikssvenska :)

Det är lite som svenska med finsk brytning, rikssvenska är mer sjungande (som jag har hört att svenskar tycker norsk är).

Men jag vet de finns men jag känner inte skillnaden mellan finlandssvenska från Österbotten och södra kusten eller olika rikssvenska dialekter (men jag hör sällan andra dialekter än Helsingfors och "officiell" rikssvenska).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/staparry
staparry
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I traveled to Sweden this past summer. I bought museum tickets in Swedish, ordered coffee in Swedish, and asked for directions in Swedish. Most of the time, people did not switch into English unless I initiated the change. It is very easy that you find yourself in a conversation where you lack advanced vocabulary. However, if some one greets you in Swedish, and you greet them back in Swedish with a believable accent, they will play along ( at least this is my experience). As with Spanish, I traveled to Barcelona a few years ago, where I found a lot of people didn't know English, so knowledge of Spanish (or Catalan) is rather useful there.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vball_01

alright, thanks for replying!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Johnnyplot

I don't know about Sweden but I've been reading the same stuff as you and it bothers me a bit. The idea of being in a country, making the effort to speak their language and not getting some sort of "recognition" by having them answer to you in the language you are speaking is kind of discouraging. :( I guess it's a matter of culture...since in Spain I can guarantee you no one will do that (or in any other Spanish speaking culture for that matter). I'm not saying the first is the bad one and the second is the good/right one since it kindda shows how confortable the Swedish are with English in contrast with the Spanish/Other Spanish speaking nationalities but as a foreigner, I would definitely prefer the second option. Everytime I am in Spain I always try to speak to them in Spanish and no one ever replied to me in Portuguese or in English. I would actually be offended if they did that to me in Spain. :P

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vball_01

I know! And if you were there for a long time, and still had nobody speaking in that language to you, I would probably forget a lot of the language, and then it would be a waste. It would be a good experience to see the country, though. :P

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Johnnyplot

I'm also learning it even though I have no idea if I'll ever get the chance to go to Sweden (I hope I will). I just think it's really interesting, I am having fun and I guess nothing else matters. if that's the way you feel about it too, there's no reason to stop it. If you have the chance to go there, see for yourself and report back to me. :p

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vball_01

Ok, I will

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/airelibre
airelibre
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Haha, you couldn't be more wrong about Spain and (Spanish speaking countries in general). Take a look at this map and you'll see that Spain is almost rock-bottom in the leaderboard of English proficiency among European countries. Sure, if you stick to restaurants, bars and hotels in very touristy areas, such as Barcelona, Madrid, the Balearic Islands, most of the staff have passable English (but rarely very good English). However, you can easily improve your Spanish in Spain without people always resorting to English to facilitate the communication. That's not to write off the whole country. I've met some people with a very good level of English, and even more who at least show some kind of interest in the language, but unfortunately many people in Spain just don't care about English (all the films are dubbed, not subtitled), and the teaching system isn't all that great either.

Edit (best if I include the map!):
map

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vball_01

Haha that's what I thought, based on my parent's experiences :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Vevlira

I was in Sweden last year and every Swede I tried to talk to in Swedish was more than happy to do so. I often had to change to English because my vocabulary was still lacking, but it was always me who changed to English, not the other way around.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vball_01

Thanks:) When you went, how much Swedish did you know?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Vevlira

I finished the Swedish tree shortly before I went that, but that was basically all I knew. I wrote a post about my trip last year, maybe you'll find it interesting: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/10516004

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vball_01

Thanks!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LynnUSA
LynnUSA
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I think it may be overstated a bit. I traveled around Sweden a few years ago with a Swedish girl who spoke great English, but all her friends family were pretty shy about speaking English with me, and of course they spoke Swedish to each other even when I was around (with a few exceptions). I feel I would have been able to fit in better with everyone if I had known Swedish at that time.

I have however experienced the situation in several languages where natives try to switch to English during the beginning of a conversation, but the better you get at the language the fewer times this happens.

edit: forgot to add that, in my experience, the language you spend talking with a person during most of the first day you meet them is the language you will always communicate in with them, so I don't really believe in switching back and forth.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vball_01

oh ok that kinda clears things up. Thank you!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kellin09
Kellin09
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I often read the same thing about Swedish. Some say that Swedish people don't like hearing the "bad" swedish from the tourists. "Speak without accent or don't speak at all". And that's why most sites persude others from learning Swedish . Why even bother if Swedish people completely ignore your efforts and switch to english anyway?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vball_01

That is true, but from what I've heard from all the comments some of them will keep on speaking Swedish once they see that you know it. I used to think the same thing as you, that they would completely ignore your efforts :P But I think I see now that if you kind of make it clear that you would like to speak in Swedish, they will speak to you in Swedish too. :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sple00

I don't think thats true. Although the last year we had quit a heated discussion about immigration in Sweden and some people don't like foreigners. This is a problem mostly if your native language is arabic (I'm sorry but this is the truth - but only for some people).

Most people will be a bit flattered when people from other countries take interest in our language. They might want to practice their English thou. Swedes usually mix Swedish in their English because the languages are closely related and it's sometimes hard to remember when the words are the same and when they are not.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lars200
Lars200
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If someone answers you in English just reply "Ursäkta?" and they will continue in Swedish.

As for Spanish speaking countries, yes a few people in Spain and Latin America are very proud of their English skills and want to show that they can speak it or practise with you. Almost everyone prefer Spanish though.

2 years ago
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