Watch out, there are Swedes in the hallway!


Whenever I go to IKEA Seattle, I try to speak Swedish with the people who work there, but it never works.

Yesterday, I was heading to a colleague's office to drop off Symphony tickets. (A group of friends wanted tickets together, so the order was placed in my name, and I needed to distribute them to the people in the group.) As I neared his office, I noticed a crowd of people outside and realized that they were speaking Swedish. I tried to follow what they were saying, but of course since they were speaking among themselves, they weren't taking very much effort to enunciate clearly enough for a beginner to follow.

The solution, therefore, is to change the subject.

I said hello and told them I had been studying Swedish for two years. One of them asked me a question that I couldn't understand, so I apologized for my bad Swedish, but they insisted it was "jättebra" (great). How they could conclude that from one misunderstood question I'm not sure. They asked me simpler questions like whether I had ever lived in Sweden (no), and why I started studying it in the first place.

After a brief chat, I excused myself to deliver the tickets. Afterwards, I realized that I forgot to ask them whether they were Microsoft employees or whether they were visiting (and if visiting, from what company).

Comments (10)
  1. I always run into fellow swedes at IKEA. One of my pastimes during college was to "test sit" one of their chairs and try and guess which people passing by were Swedes by looks alone.

  2. BTX says:

    wow… Raymond the "jättebra" got nervous?

  3. Heja, heja, friskt humör!

    Det är det som susen gör!

    My guess is that Swedish will be a dying language in 100 years or so. The English language is invading us.

  4. vishnu vyas says:

    Hey, I sorta ‘used’ your color scheme for my blog (though) I’ve made some subtle changes to it. does this constitute any copyright violations?

  5. kalleboo says:

    Odd, everyone at the IKEA here speaks Swedish…

    Oh wait! I live *in* Sweden :)

    Jokes aside, I actually have an IKEA Seattle tote bag at home.

  6. Benny Olsson says:

    Hade helt missat att du läst Svenska. :-) Har du några planer på att återuppta studierna igen?

    Bra jobbat hursomhelst.. Tack för en lärorik och underhållande blogg!

  7. Nick Lamb says:

    Better to be embraced by English (which will be happy to add your favourite hundred or so words to its vocabulary in the process) than to overrun by French, or obliged to put up with Chinese (aieee Swedish dialect of Chinese, we so don’t need that)

    It’s interesting to contrast the enthusiasm of some people for their native language being replaced by an English dialect, to the desire among some British people to re-invigorate or in some cases outright invent ancient regional languages.

    What possible use are Welsh signposts? Or Gaelic translations of government information leaflets? And how did my taxes come to be funding a school that teaches children Cornish ? Is this perhaps an obscure type of art funding? A new piece entitled "A village full of children who’ve been taught made-up nonsense as a second language" perhaps.

    Sure, we were taught Latin at school, and optionally Greek (in my case with little success) but it wasn’t a primary school, and if you studied hard it enabled you to properly understand the graffiti scene in Life of Brian, whereas I’ve yet to see a movie with a good Cornish joke in it.

  8. Marche says:

    I took Swedish for about two years, but found the lack of Swedes in America made it hard to practice, so I finally have lost my fluency. I can pick up bits and pieces here and there, but nothing like I used to. GOOD LUCK and keep it up! =)

  9. D. Philippe says:

    "why I started studying it in the first place" (link)

    Grrr…I’ve never been sure what the point of that post was in the first place. That’s great that you know some Swedish, but 99% of your readers probably don’t. So what’s the point of excluding them?

  10. "Grrr…I’ve never been sure what the point of that post was in the first place. That’s great that you know some Swedish, but 99% of your readers probably don’t. So what’s the point of excluding them?"

    It’s because he’s talking about you! (http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2005/08/04/447655.aspx)

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