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bilky asko5,287 posts since 9 Sep 2006 Recently warned
Tyne Tees Look North (North East)
Apologies for not writing an essay on Swedes speaking English but I don't think my point is at all invalid.


Swedish has 9 vowels, each with a long and short variant. English is said to have 12 monophthongs, but it depends on the accent. It also has a wide range of diphthongs and some triphthongs, which aren't a feature of Swedish.

None of that is particularly relevant to why Swedish people are good at speaking English. It is far more to do with immersion and affinity with the culture and television, as well as the quality of language teaching.
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Jon gave kudos
noggin14,095 posts since 26 Jun 2001

None of that is particularly relevant to why Swedish people are good at speaking English. It is far more to do with immersion and affinity with the culture and television, as well as the quality of language teaching.


All that is true, and Swedish kids learn English at a really young age (both formally, from watching TV and from exposure through all the other outlets that use it) (Finnish kids are learning English in their first year at school now - from age 7)

However Swedish, Norwegian and Dutch are all pretty close to English in lots of ways - word order, "past words" ending in d or t, possessives adding an s etc.

In my experience Norwegian and Danes often have the easier time mastering an 'English' accent, Swedes really struggle to lose the sing-song.
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bilky asko gave kudos
noggin14,095 posts since 26 Jun 2001
I'd agree with that. I met up with two Swedish girls on holiday last year (long story) and they were able to have a completely natural conversation; Swedes especially "get" British humour I find.


Swedish speakers are usually great with speaking and interpreting other languages as they have 17 vowel sounds, compared to 8 French and 12 English. The way in which the language is constructed makes it easier to learn a language like English (IMO).

The amount of English language programmes transmitted in on Swedish television can't do any harm either, especially to the pronunciation of English.


I'd say the latter is pretty important. There are entire channels in Sweden that just carry US or British shows, and broadcasting English language commercials is not at all unusual.

Swedish people have few problems learning English grammar and vocabulary, but Norwegians are usually better at mastering accent.