Saturday, 27 April 2013

The Making of Swenglish - the Documentary

For a whole week I've been followed by a film maker from Brighton. So now I've gained a greater understanding for how the participants in the Swenglish project felt when I invaded their lives. To have someone who's always there, observing every step you take is both exciting and exhausting. 

Adriana Sabau has previously worked for a TV company in Romania, made music videos for English bands and now she's working with Sean Creed for Brighton & Hove Community TV.

Apart from interviewing me and some of the people I stayed with during the project, she filmed Swedish environments in Stockholm as well as Småland. Everything from Västerbron ("The Western Bridge") to the last bit of snow that was left in the outskirts of Nässjö.

In the English part of the documentary, Adriana filmed me when I had English breakfast and Sunday roast. Here in Sweden she filmed "Swedish" pizza, Swedish cheesecake and pytt i panna ("bits in a pan").

Other highlights included filming elks at Skansen Zoo (we weren't patient enough to wait them out in the forest) and partying in the City Hall of Stockholm - something that is normally reserved for Nobel Prize Winners, but we were lucky to be there for Culture Night.
There are 15 hours of film if you add up the English and Swedish part .... I'm looking forward to see the result that will be a 50 minute long documentary.
Photo 1 & 3: Daniel Halvardsson

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Question 6b: How does it affect you if people make language mistakes?

8 of the 15 people I stayed with in Sweden are "language police" which is a common expression in Swedish for someone who gets annoyed if people use the language in the wrong way.
But only 4 of the 15 people i stayed with in England are bothered about mistakes.
What the "language police" in Sweden said:
"I'm a bit of a language snob unfortunately. I get anxious if I've sent a text with spelling mistakes and can't take it back. I can also get turned off if a guy writes a sloppy text."
"I notice how language is used and if it's not used according to the norm I react. If someone makes a mistake on Facebook I'll write an ironic comment. It's fun to take the piss. I also have this obsession if someone writes an exclamation mark or put dots at the end of a sentence I have to count the exclamation marks or dots."
"If someone makes spelling mistakes, I think they're stupid. Or if they split a compound word ... Then I can't be their friend. I'm very honest, I feel bad if I've spelt something wrong."
What the "language police" in England said:
"I do notice when people make mistakes. I immediately wonder how educated they are, what class they are, it’s terrible."

"I’m a bit of a pedant when it comes to written English, partly being a teacher. Whenever I read I pick up mistakes, I'm an unpaid proof-reader."
"I’m quit sensitive to people who make mistakes and I correct them. Especially English people" (said by Swede in England.)

And there are some English language rebels:
"I like the damage of language and how new things develop. That "google" * can be used as a verb and people using “literally” in the wrong way."

"I’m not bothered at all. Languages are evolving. Without changes there’s no revolution. If you’re strict about language it’ll never change. There wouldn’t be words like "LOL"."

What I say:
I think the language police exists to a bigger extent in Sweden because Swedish is such a small language and hasn't been as influenced by other cultures. Both Swedish people and English people are tolerant if foreigners make mistakes though. The biggest case for the language police in Sweden is the splitting of compound words, e.g. in English you would write "police station" - in Swedish you world write "policestation".
I really don't care about language mistakes. After having lived in England for many years I now struggle with both English and Swedish! My English will never be perfect and I've lost some of my Swedish from living abroad. When I was interviewed on telly about my novel I kind of spoke English in Swedish. I said that I was from a small town. In Swedish you'd say "I'm from a smalltown".
*Although the Swedish invention "ungoogleable" was disliked by Google!
 The picture is from Matilda's blog and is hard to translate, but can possibly be compared to the language difference between "You and I" or "You and me".

This study is by no means scientific, the answers to this question are based on interviews with 15 people in England and 15 people Sweden, aged 22-59. Next question: What's your favourite word?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Thoughts after having finished the Swenglish project

Filmed and edited by Adriana Sabau
Interview made by Sean Creed

In 2012 novelist and performance poet Louise Halvardsson turned 30, but instead of throwing a big party, she embarked on a journey through everyday life of people in England and Sweden. She stayed with 30 different people during 30 weeks and asked each person 30 questions about nothing and everything all at once.

But she didn’t just stay with those people – she actually tried to live their lives, shadowing them at work as well as at play. The aim was to write a book about cultural differences, but in the end it turned out to be more of a personal quest – whether to settle in England or Sweden. At the time of the interview the author was yet to make her decision.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Swedish Easter Traditions

We import Cadbury's Creme Eggs as you can't find them in Sweden.

We eat the same food as you do at Christmas - "prinskorv" (prince sausage), "köttbullar" (meat balls) and "Janssons Frestelse" (Janson's temptation - potato casserole with anchovies).
Veggie options available. Hence one potato thing without the fish.

We throw out the Christmas Tree. 
From the song "Julen varar än till påska." (Christmas lasts until Easter)

I know it's April's Fool today, but this is what actually happened. At least in my family ... If only the snow was a real joke!