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Some thoughts on the Swedish tree

After having rushed through the tree last night, I thought I would share some random thoughts of mine on the course here on the Swedish discussion board. Keep in mind that I am a native speaker, and that I tested out from most of the tree (54 skills), so what I write here might not apply to first-time learners of "the language of the honour and the heroes", as they (jokingly) used to call it at my school.

First of all, just the fact that I was able to test out of so many skills shows that the course has very few missing translations or actual mistakes. In other courses (even ones graduated from beta) the English is sometimes awkward and there are obvious translations missing, which then may or may not turn up months after they have been reported.

Here, some English sentences were not as elegant as one would translate them in a real text, but always correct and useful for the learner trying to piece together the Swedish sentence. Swedish does of course have the benefit of not being that different from English, but finding this balance of natural sounding but still relatively easily translatable sentences is certainly not easy, and here it has worked out very well. After all, the point of the course is not to display a bunch of perfect translations of very natural sounding English into very natural sounding Swedish, but to teach people the basics and a bit more of Swedish.

(I actually had a feeling that the last skills were pretty complex already, so I'm wondering if this course brings you a bit further in terms of actually knowing the language than some of the others... I guess the proof will be in the cinnamon bun when real learners get to the end of the tree and see how much they can do with what they have learned.)

Although I am fairly familiar with standard Swedish, I speak a completely different dialect (Fenno-Swedish), so I had been expecting more "missing translations" (from my point of view -- they might of course also be considered "strange regionalisms"...). But I think I only reported a couple of dozen (it's hard to keep count while you're at it, though), and 30+ of them have already been accepted -- the caffeine intake of this team must be absurd...

Edit: I forgot to mention that I have had the auto-voice turned off since a long time, so I can't comment at all on the voice of this course.

The course seems a bit more oriented towards practical usage of the language than the French, English, Dutch, and Spanish courses I have tried on here: there were quite some realistic sentences, asking for the way to touristic places, etc. I generally like the absurdities Duolingo presents us with, but I guess a bit of helpful and useful information can't be a bad thing, and Swedes are pretty helpful people. And there were some quirky ones, too:

"The course is perceived as very rewarding by most students."

closely followed by

"Fifty percent of the students will fail."

closely followed by

"Do not be afraid to take risks."...

Other favorites of mine include

"Everybody has to pay tax." (Very Nordic!) "She speaks nine languages." (Wishful thinking from my part...) "Some Finnish trolls sing in Swedish." (A cultural reference.)

There were many other funny ones, which I didn't think of writing down as I went along, but I'll leave those up to the learners to discover! Lycka till och ha det roligt! Tack Team Swedish för en fin kurs!

November 18, 2014



Thank you Annika, I'm glad you liked it so much! And thanks for all the reports. It's really difficult to think of all possible translations.


I sent an incorrect comment about moose as well: I was so tired by that time that I thought the plural of "moose" is "mooses"! X-D

(I have been thinking about that one all day ... just felt I had to confess it to the community.)


Obviously it's meese. Or was it meeses? ;)


A Møøse once bit my sister.


She tried tø carve her name intø it.


A room. With. A. MOOSE.


Stop messing with my head! :-) I am losing my previous languages on here anyway -- it's good to know that I can practice my Swedish here now if I ever lose it for real in this great big snålsoppa of languages that is Duolingo...


In your dialect: en moos -> flera möss :).


And if a moose eats apples, we like to call it an "apple moose". :)


I'm tempted to say something about "fish moose" here, but I guess I'd better not ;-)


Finlandssvenska = Rikssvenska except for some words called finlandismer which they do not understand in Sweden, either because they are old Swedish or because borrowed from Finnish.

In both countries we have

en mus, flera möss = a mouse, many mice

en älg, två älgar = a moose, two moose

mos = 1 pulp 2 mash

mousse (from Fr) = foam


goose - geese Of course it's moose - meese!


Sounds like courses from the incubator are surpassing the courses from the staff.

Maybe we should think about reincubating (look that up in your Oxford) such courses as ENG->FR or ENG->ESP xD


Maybe, as long as I can still keep my French owl! :-D

I think the Incubator system is generating some very healthy (at least in terms of the resulting courses -- the contributors sometimes seem a bit exhausted) competition between the teams: The Dutch course was great, I gather the Irish and Danish ones are great too, and this one's even better than the Dutch one in my opinion. Each team wants to surpass the other ones in fabulousness... Duolingo's future is looking pretty rosy from this angle!

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Feels good to hear that from a native speaker!


HA! I am so incredibly impressed with the cultural reference to Finnish trolls. Had I come across that on my own I might have fallen off my chair laughing. That is just fantastic. Great review! Looking forward to getting through this tree!


Also LMAO at the Finnish trolls reference. And I guess there is only one way to find other such sentences...:)


I'm not quite done yet, but I have to agree that they have been absolutely amazing when it comes to accepting translations. And I kind of feel like I'm back at school, and learning how to actually spell some words that I had kind of just assumed were spelled a certain way and uh, apparently they weren't? Well, I probably actually did know most of my spelling errors, but it becomes easy to write.. talspråkligt? And one forgets that there's some extra consonants around.


After reaching the owl, I decided to start from scratch. Now I have completed the first section (nine skills) without skipping a single lesson. And the few times I Iost a heart it was by own mistakes, so the course seems really stable. I also like the way new things are added and the way you practise them.

I appreciate the references to Swedish songs and movies, and so far I have found

Jag har en plan! (Jönssonligan)

Mina gyllene skor (Herreys)

Guldet blev till sand (Peter Jöback in Kristina från Duvemåla)

I will look out for more!


That song (guldet blev till sand) is one of my favourites! I'm really excited to advance down the tree and find it!


Another reference: Var nöjd med vad livet ger (Djungelboken)


"Äta myror?"

Haven't seen that one yet.

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Thank you very much Annika! It's great to have Swedish speakers go through the course and help us! So thank you for making our job much easier :) I believe that what you write actually reflects a lot of discussions that we've had internally. Our main objective is to teach correct Swedish and that does at times force us to write quite awkward English sentences.


Thanks for posting this Annika! I don't know anything about Swedish but I have noticed that this tree so far is really really good. I had four years of French before finding French on Duolingo and it took me forever to get through because the English translations were so weird. I'm really really enjoying Swedish so far :) The Swedish team definitely put a lot of work into it!


I feel as though the voice for "vegetarianen" is pretty bad and hard to make out.

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The voice has been disabled for this word, but that only means that you won't receive any hearing exercises involving this word. Unfortunately, we cannot disable the TTS completely for mispronounced words. You will encounter several mispronounced words throughout the course and that is our biggest problem at the moment. We have a list of about 100 words that the TTS can't pronounce.


If the TTS can't pronounce it then I'm totally hosed. :-)


Was this the TTS Duolingo uses or the one you guys put forward?

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Duolingo.. We recommended another one, but they have had problems integrating that one


Ah, Ok, Thank for the response.


Agree. Did you report it? I did not, but now I regret it.


I didn't either D:


Åh, finlandssvenska är så vackert (säger lilla My)! I think I saw a discussion about how to pronounce "djur", maybe you can help out :)?


Haha, I saw that discussion and the moderator's comment of the d always being silent, and decided to not mess with anyone's head. We'll understand you if you come over here saying jyyyyyr. :-p


I miss the character buttons at the bottom because I hate typing them on a PC. That's my only complaint so far. Enjoying it!


I really like this course, I know more swedish today than the last 20+ years


very nice, I tested out 45, not bad for a man from the holy land of berzekistan !


I LOVE this so far, I should be sleeping but it is so addictive!! The best course I have tried on here so far in all areas! I'm halfway through level 7 and while I admit so far I have mainly been using this to consolidate and put into practice what I've already been learning it is so SO helpful (and hilarious:"varför äter din moster sköldpaddor?" till exemple)! Once I've had a sleep I will get back on it, and into unknown territory ha! tack såååååå mycket guys!


Hahahahah cinnamon bun? What region is that from? Here it's "the proof is in the pudding".


Here, too. Why it's in the pudding, who knows, but there it is!


Any comments on the audio, some have indicated that it could be better.

It's interesting that you should say it's more complete I'm finding it easier than the French tree, but after learning French and playing with Spanish and German I'm finding so many relationships. Of course the lack of crazy conjugations probably helps.

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Swedish grammar is quite easy compared to many other languages and I think that that has given us the opportunity to focus more on teaching vocabulary and mastering the few grammar rules there are. Therefore, I think that the course may appear to be easier.


Having jumped on Irish when it launched, and been working my way through (oh! I thought latin grammar was brain-twisty!), I'm finding Swedish (so far, I realise I've barely started:-) ) so straightforward:-)


I'm seeing that as well. While the grammar appears easier I'm positive all the "funny" characters will take me a lot more time to assimilate and even more to regurgitate in the spoken form. :-) Still getting used to the keyboard shortcuts to produce them, it's a shame that every platform seems to have a different way to produce non ascii characters.


From what I remember, the most difficult part of Swedish grammar was the use of prepositions, when one uses på or till or åt and how they change the meaning (and already early on one sees the discussion about verb tycka om / tycka att...) But, well, that same thing is a problem also in English :)


As a native I personally think the audio is OK. She messes up some things but I can almost always understand her anyway. Two or three times I've had to play it slow to catch some word that she garbles but then it is usually better.


the biggest thing with the audio that I've noticed is that she pronounces "de" how it's spelled instead of "dom" like most native speakers do. I'm not native myself so I can't comment on the rest of the pronunciation.


I saw it written somewhere that de is always pronounced dom, but I wouldn't be that strict in this. In slightly more formal speech, like talking to a business contact, I would probably say it de rather than dom, and it wouldn't actually feel out of place for me even in a casual conversation.

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It is of course a matter of personal preference to most Swedish speakers, but as a foreigner trying to speak Swedish, it would sound bad to use the "de" pronunciation. It seems as if you've learnt it from a book, but you can never go wrong with the "dom" pronunciation. That is why we recommend to use it at all times.

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