Swedish: Vad er dät?

Hong Kong is a great place for hosting Couchsurfers. My flatmate and girlfriend put a limit to how many we host, otherwise we could have people around on a continuous basis :). Right now there are three guys from Sweden around, so we did a short Swedish/German/Cantonese session. We started with German, and while one of them (B; she’s a language lover) soaked it up instantly, the other two got pretty intimidated, and soon signaled Full. Which is kind of a success, as normally new player are very hesitant to do this :) I was going pretty fast, which might have been a factor. So I switched to Cantonese. This might seem counter-intuitive, but worked pretty well. The first of them again assimilated everything so rapidly that it almost took my breath away, definitely the fastest learner I’ve encountered so far, while the others were mostly overwhelmed by their own anxieties, but played along nevertheless. I breezed through yes/no; I/you/she; my/your/her; have/give/want in maybe 10 minutes with B, while the others mostly watched from the meadow, occasionally taking part in the game. When I overwhelmed her with a slightly difficult yes/no construction, we switched to Swedish.

I never realized how similar Swedish is to German! It felt like learning a German dialect with a simplified grammar. Would love to learn more! Maybe it becomes more difficult further in, but right now it feels like a language for free :) Definitely a break from the beautiful, but demanding Cantonese.

After the fast Swedish we did some more Cantonese. Switching languages is a great way to make people relax after they became Full, especially of course when doing it in their native tongue ;)

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2 comments
  1. I’ve done a little Swedish before. Casual spoken Swedish drops a lot of consonants (“Va’ ä’ de’?”). Formal and deliberate Swedish pronounces words as written(“Vad är det?”).

    At the beginning of a game in Swedish, when I speak slowly and clearly, I find myself wanting to pronounce those additional sounds, which is what a native Swede would do. But when the conversation speeds up & relaxes in to itself, those sounds disappear, and that would be confusing for a newbie. So I have to maintain the discipline of casual pronunciation even in the slow, deliberate beginning.

    I also found that the words for stick (“pinne”) and pen (“penna”) sounded so much alike to my players that it was confusing; they got full fast. So watch out for that.

    I haven’t gotten to want/have/give/take. My Swedish is very rusty, and I don’t have anyone to hunt. I think “Do you want my stick?” would be “Vill du ha min pinne?” (literally “Do you want to have my stick?”). Two verbs in the same sentence is a bit much this early in the game (LIMIT), but maybe that’s how it goes (ALIVE).

    • Yes, I noticed the vanishing consonants :) I found that fascinating, and tried to approach the casual version as soon as possible. pinne/penna was confusing me too at first, then when I realized that penna probably has to do with a (writing) feather, the confusion went away. I didn’t do “Vill du ha min pinne?”, but this is essentially the same construction as in German or English, with some word shuffling, so I’d go for it for myself.
      Thanks for the insights! :)

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