Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Swedish consonants are not so much the problem as are vowels, stress and tone.

Swedish pronunciation is confounding me.

I had my weekly lesson with Pastor Dean, a retired Lutheran minister in his 90s who gives me lessons at the church in Eureka. We have met twice now, and it's been tremendously helpful.

I really enjoy it, and kind of wish it happened more than once a week.

I am now envying my students with their intensive 5-hours-a-day, 4-days-a-week courses in English Listening, Speaking, Writing, Reading and Grammar. How I would love such a program in Swedish!

When I see Pastor Dean, I bring with me these two ancient children's readers that I picked up at a used book store in Eureka last summer. From those, I read to him, and he corrects my pronunciation.

Things I read or mistakes I make are segues into impromptu grammar lessons, on which I take many notes. I've learned a lot. When I say something right, he says encouragingly,"Beautiful!" Of course, he is Swedish-American and speaks with an American accent.

A friend in Sweden whom I occasionally try to speak to is not so impressed. He corrects me, but I don't hear the difference. I get shy and less willing to try.

This has made me more aware of when I correct my students' pronunciation. I correct them when they can't be understood. I want them to be understood, but I leave their beautiful accents alone. Maybe in Swedish, an American accent is not beautiful.
Those pesky vowels.


steviewren said...

I am terrible at imitating other accents. Every dialect I try to imitate comes out sounding the same...southern countrified.

I say more power to you for trying to learn to speak Swedish. I'm sure many people there will love your American accent. The unusual is always fascinating to people.

Indie said...

I tried to find a visual representation of the tones, but I couldn't.

Also, the long & short vowels and the stressed and unstressed syllables are killing me.

I know you want to travel, Steviewren, so where do you want to go? What strikes your fancy?

Anonymous said...

Rosetta Stone, a computer-based language learning system, is described as an immersion-type program. It's a little pricey, but it might work to give you the Swedish language skills you need in the time you have available.

By the way, please remind me. When are you leaving and returning?

Oh, yes! One more question. Has Paris found a place to stay while you are in Sweden?

Indie said...

Anonymous, I have heard of Rosetta Stone. I will look into that. I'm leaving July 28 and back August 16. I was hoping to wrangle a friend in McK to come feed Paris while I'm away, but I haven't popped the question yet.

Are you volunteering to spoil him while I'm away? He could visit you, then I wouldn't have to worry about him, except that he wouldn't want to come home when I got back!!

Anonymous said...

Indie, I really would like to have Paris as a house-guest while you are away. You already know he is one of my best friends. Sadly, I have some new responsibilities these days and so I must miss this opportunity to renew our old friendship. Please convey my regrets. I'm sure he will charm whichever of your friends he stays with. And naturally, I am hoping your trip to Sweden will fulfill all your expectations.

By the way, are you going to blog from Sweden?

steviewren said...

Indie, I would love to visit Scandinavia, Spain and China. I've been quite a few places, but I want to see more. More. More! : )

Anonymous said...

Bastille Day!