“Why Swedish?” It’s the one question all of us, every – single – one – of us that studies the Swedish language in Belgium is confronted with. Many times. Too many times. Why NOT Swedish? It’s as good as any other language. “It’s not a world language.” But isn’t it, though? What makes a language a world language? I believe that learning a language is not just about studying the grammar and the vocabulary. It’s important, but learning a language is also learning about the culture it is submerged in, it is taking part in social dialogue, it is learning to take a new perspective on the world. Hence also: any language is a world language. Any language is a language of the world. Whether that language has two speakers or millions. Language is about connecting. And does that then mean I should choose to learn a language because it allows me to connect to more people? No. I pick a language to learn because it allows me to connect better. So once and for all: why Swedish? Because it’s a damn beautiful language, spoken in a fast-moving, progressive country that is just as breathtaking. Jaha. Så där.
My 5 favourite words in Swedish:
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I’ve gone on and on about this to pretty much anyone I know. It’s a wonderful concept: coffee/tea with sweet pastries. Taking a break, making time for friends, family, colleagues. Taking a breath.
The key to Sweden: not too much, not to little, just the right amount. As life should be.
A Swedish word for ‘darling’. But so much better.
This translates to the English ‘homesickness’, which I think sounds awful. Hemlängtan has a bit more of a positive connotation, which I like. Because being homesick is a good thing; it means you have something wonderful to go back to.
Gone is any formality. In Swedish everyone is addressed equally. And getting a ‘Hej!’ never manages to disappoint: it sound cheerful, happy. Even if the person who says it isn’t really happy to see you, they would have to try REALLY hard to come across that way.