Swedish Class

Swedish class was quite good fun tonight, especially as this week’s homework is a challenge right up my alley: I need to conduct an interview in Swedish with a Swedish person in Sydney.

I’m going to interview a colleague about her life in Australia, her Australian-Swedishness etc.

Overall, it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to, and much more fun than inserting an adverb!

And of course the other bit of regular homework I do is listen to Swedish pop songs. Well, I consider it homework. And I’m reasonably sure it’s helped a lot with both pronunciation and vocabulary!

Amongst the many things I did after arriving home from class was put together a new page of my favourite music for this website which includes, amongst many other things, quite a few video clips of Swedish songs.

If you ever wanted to understand the language similarities (and differences) between Swedish and English, have a look at the video clip of “Dom andra” by Kent on this page, where the Swedish lyrics and an English translation are shown on the screen together. Perhaps the only line you might put a question mark over is the one where they sing about being an alien, and eating too much sugar and vomiting, and becoming a “four ton martyr”.

The other cross-cultural comparison are the two clips of the song, Sa lang vi har varran, which Frida from ABBA recorded with Swedish band, Ratata. And although there’s both a Swedish version and an English version of both songs on this page, I think Frida recorded it more for fun than anything. Though perhaps in the back of their minds was the idea Ratata might have had some international potential in the days of Wham, Tears for Fears, and all those other “two blokes with synthesiser” bands in the period when that was all the rage. It’s an interesting cultural document in lots of way.

Frida from ABBA sings with Swedish group, Ratata back in the late 1980s. Note the difference between the Swedish and English version video clips where one of the blokes in the band is absent for much of the Swedish language version of the clip.

But for me the most interesting thing is that, having seen both clips many times over many years, is that you realise although very similar, they’re also quite different. In particular, the near absence of “the other bloke” in the band, Johan Ekelund from the Swedish clip. I’d just never noticed this before. But when you play both clips at the same time, you just notice Johan is just not there all that much in the English clip.

The English version has pretty much disappeared into history, as all of the subsequent releases have been produced in Scandinavia where there’s more interest in the Swedish language version. I also think this version has a little more “authenticity” if you listen to the way in which it’s sung.

Both clips are completely “80’s power pop” in style, with shoulder pads, though thankfully, they’ve held back on the big hair. And Frida, in particular, looks pretty fab. She would have been 41 or 42 years old at the time of recording.

I like both versions, by the way, and think it’s a good song in either language.

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