So you think you can speak Swedish?


I remember the first time I visited Skåne, in the south of Sweden. I flew to Malmö airport and boarded the bus to the city. As I boarded, the driver looked up at me and spoke. Now, I thought I could speak Swedish, but I didn’t understand a word the driver said.

I asked him to repeat. He repeated. And I still didn’t understand a thing.

You see, he wasn’t speaking Swedish. Well not as I know it. He was speaking Skånish -the dialect they have in this part of Sweden. And to me, it was indecipherable.

He might as well have speaking Swahili.

Now many years later, after 3 years of living in Skåne and very many visits, I can understand the dialect a little better. But still, it is really difficult. I always get my partner to make phone calls to plumbers, electricians and the like when we need help around the house. I know I probably won’t be able to understand a thing they say to me.

To help me in my language development, a friend gave me a dictionary. It is a Swedish-Skånish dictionary, and I recommend it to anyone venturing into this part of the country and to anyone who thought they could speak Swedish.

Here are some gems:

Potato
Potatis (Swedish), Pantoffel, Pantålla (Skånish)

Penis
Penis (Swedish), Koddastake (Skånish)

Strong coffee
Starkt kaffe (Swedish), Rävegift (Skånish)

Garden
Trädgård (Swedish), Have (Skånish)

Clothes
Kläder (Swedish), Töj (Skånish)

2 thoughts on “So you think you can speak Swedish?

  1. Skåne used to be a part of Denmark, so they use some danish words, like “have” and “töj”. “Rävegift” literally means “fox poison”.

  2. I live in Skåne and agree that the dialect takes some getting used to! However, I have never heard any of the words you’ve mentioned! I will need to listen out a bit more!

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