Different aspects of the Swedish language are accentuated depending on who is doing the reading. The desire to make yourself understood in a whole new language will give you access to fresh opportunities and markets. You’ve got to be in it to win it.
If you live in Stockholm, Sweden, and speak Swedish as your first language, you will understand certain Swedish words differently compared to someone who lives in Finland and also speaks Swedish as their first language. This is entirely logical and natural if you are aware of Finland’s shared history with its neighbour to the west. With all the information available on the internet, it shouldn’t be too hard to get to grips with the different language variants. An expression in a dialect can gain an entirely new meaning depending on who says it and where. Every region of Sweden and Finland has its own dialect, for example, the Scanian dialect (skånska) in southern Sweden and the Närpes dialect and Nylänska dialect in Finland. Even Standard Swedish sounds different depending on the speaker. For someone unfamiliar with how Swedish has evolved based on its location and the local culture, this can appear to be a curious metamorphosis. Why can’t Swedish sound the same everywhere? For the same reason why someone from Yorkshire sounds entirely different to someone from London.
Obviously, Standard Swedish was modernised to meet today’s needs, although the Swedish used in Finland and Sweden evolved in different directions. The Swedish spoken in Sweden appropriates new expressions much faster than we do in the land of the Moomins. In Finland, we have a tendency to use outmoded expressions that have long since fallen out of favour in Sweden: Finlandisms. We also borrow or translate words from Finnish, i.e. Finnicisms. A typical example is the word “semla”. If you go for a coffee in Finland, you “gå på kaffe”, while in Sweden you “åker på fika”. If you order a bread roll in Finland it’s called a “semla”, while in Sweden the same product is called a “fralla”. This is because the word for bread roll is “sämpylä” in Finnish, which makes “semla” entirely logical to Finland’s Swedish speakers. If you order a “semla” in Sweden, you will instead get a sweet cream-filled bun, traditionally served around Shrove Tuesday. There are numerous variations of this kind in existence and that is where a translator’s expertise comes into play. As a customer, you don’t need to know the variations. We take care of that. All we need to know is whether the readers are located in Finland, Sweden, or both – we have the competence to adapt the contents according to your wishes.
The need to make yourself understood is important to achieve successful communication that is free of surprises. You want to achieve effective B2B and B2C communication that you can use to create monetary value or form deeper customer contacts, or achieve something else worthwhile. The main thing is that the reader understands you and your text and that it leaves no room for misinterpretation. Interpreters and translators play an important role; you can send us a text in the original language and be certain that we will transform it into a form that is engaging, also in the reader’s language.
Be bold and communicate, send an offer out into the ether and wait for the results. You’ve got to be in it to win it. I spent my childhood in a very monolingual Swedish-speaking region of Finland. When I was six years old, I really wanted to play with the coolest kid on the block, who only spoke Finnish. I asked my mum what I should say to get him to come out and play, in case someone else came to the door. “Missä Jasse on?” (Where is Jasse?) Ask that and you’ll be fine. I repeated those words over and over in my head. “Missä Jasse on, Missä Jasse on.” My hands shook as I reached his house. With a feeble finger I pressed the doorbell, which gave off a shrill, high-pitched noise. It sounded like an air-raid siren. I heard the patter of children’s feet approaching and the door was suddenly flung open. There stood Jasse’s little brother who stared unabashedly at me and asked me what I wanted. I hesitated, trying to remember what my mum had said, and with my voice failing, I said: “MITÄ SE ON JASSE?” (WHAT IS IT JASSE?). Jasse’s brother stared at me like I had some strange disease. He gave me a curious look, like he was trying to find some meaning in my communication glitch. “Whaaaat…?” was all he was able to get out. He was really trying to understand me. We stared at each other for a moment. “MITÄ SE ON JASSE?” I bleated out one more time. By now he decided that it was pointless to try anymore. He just grinned cheerfully at me. I grinned back as wide as I could and let out a delighted “GIIH!”. Not a real word. Just something I came up with in the heat of the moment. He imitated me, saying “GIIH!”. Then we laughed and he closed the door. I didn’t get to play with Jasse that day. This story is not all that different from a company trying to expand globally or nationally, but with just one language at its disposal.
Bring in a reliable translation partner when you need to be understood. We will help you.
Anders Nyman, Traduct Oy
P.S. Translating this blog post into English was quite the challenge because the original focuses on aspects specific to the Swedish language. Take a look at the original here! You can rely on us for meticulous and effective translations even if your text is a little out of the ordinary.