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Swearing in Swedish

CaptureKristy Beers Fägersten has written a book about ‘Swearing in the Nordic Countries.’ The chapter on Sweden says that Swedes swear in English.

“There seems to be an awareness that there are restrictions in English-language contexts which don’t apply to Swedish speakers when they speak English. Much of it is done tongue-in-cheek and they take some pleasure in it. It’s the thrill of getting away with something which in English is taboo.” .Aprils Fool's Day

Beers Fägersten cites a few similar examples in her research including one episode featuring the Swedish national football team coach Erik Hamrén. Following Sweden’s crushing loss to England in Euro 2012, Hamrén said “I hope they win the whole shit” on national television.

Swedish director Lukas Moodysson’s breakthrough film was for example known as “Fucking Åmål” in Swedish cinemas, but when it was nominated for an Oscar it became known as the decidedly more staid “Show Me Love”.

She added that she did not see English swear words posing a risk to the development of Swedish as a language. While this explicit language is not glorified in English-speaking countries and likely not the first words most new speakers will learn when they are taught English through a service such as Effortless English, Swedish use of the words allow for more light-hearted connotations of coarse language.

“I think they used in a more complementary manner. Perhaps because it gets a reaction. When Swedes want to express an emotional reaction, they revert to Swedish swear words.”


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