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Learning Swedish â€“ Who & Why
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February 2020 Vol 91:01 $5.95
Scandinavian Studies Sverigekontakt Swede Hollow Icehotel 2020
Scandinavian Studies Thrive in Alberta By Nordahl Flakstad president of the Scandinavian Studies Association
niversities generally benefit from good townand-gown relations. For example, take the University of Alberta (UofA) as the gown, and consider the Nordic communities in Alberta as the town. The Scandinavian Studies Association (SSA) was incorporated under Alberta’s Societies Act in 1990. For almost three decades it has lent financial and moral support to the UofA’s Scandinavian Studies program. The program originated when the University began offering Scandinavian language courses in 1970. The arrival shortly thereafter of Dr. Christopher (Chris) Hale, as program head, bolstered the program. Professor Hale, who died in 2019, contributed actively to the Scandinavian Studies program as an administrator and instructor for almost 50 years. Under his leadership, the UofA became the only Canadian university granting a BA in Scandinavian Studies. Shortly before the formation of the Scandinavian Studies Association, individuals, businesses and organizations had supported the establishment of a Scandinavian Professorship Endowment Fund (SPEF). The local Swedish-Canadian community has played a conspicuous role since the Association’s
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early days – notably through the support by Vasa Order of America, Scandia Lodge No. 549. The late Lennart Petersson, no doubt familiar to many readers, was SSA’s founding president. Another prominent Vasa member, Linnea Lodge, not only served as Association president from 2000 to 2014 (and remains an honorary president) but also was a generous benefactor to the endowment. The fund now honors Linnea and her late husband in its title – Henry Cabot and Linnea Lodge Scandinavian Professorship Endowment Fund. The late Anna Marie Campbell, also of Swedish descent, was another significant donor. Dr. Kenneth Domier was long active in SSA. He is of partial Swedish extraction and spent part of his career as an engineering professor in Sweden. Marianne Lindvall, a native of Sweden, for many years taught both Swedish and Norwegian at the UofA. She was succeeded as an instructor in Swedish and Norwegian by Dr. John Eason. In addition to holding advanced degrees in Scandinavian from the U.S., he worked for seven years in Sweden as a Swedish-English translator. Over the years, the SSA has led the parade in raising money for the endowment fund. Throughout, a fundamental Association motivator has been ensuring that Scandinavian Studies, and notably language instruction, could withstand the ups and downs in university funding and administrative changes. Canadian and Scandinavian governments, individuals, companies and Nordic organizations have contributed to growth of the endowment. So have the proceeds from countless volunteer-hours
University of Alberta’s North Campus. Photo: University of Alberta
at casinos, rummage sales and other fundraisers. Today, the University oversees a $3-million-plus endowment, whose earnings provide steady support for Scandinavian Studies instruction.
Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se
The Association reaches out to the wider community through annual Lecture Events, featuring lectures on a wide range of Scandinavia-related themes. Topics have included the impact of ABBA on pop culture; Pippi Longstocking; and Scandinavian choral music. The 2019 lecture featured a presentation on the Danish arctic explorer Jens Munk. Beside being instructive and entertaining, the Lecture Events help raise the wider public profile of Scandinavian Studies. In 2012, Dr. Natalie Van Deusen succeeded Dr. Hale, becoming the Henry Cabot and Linnea Lodge Scandinavian Professor. Beyond her teaching, Professor Van Deusen’s academic research centres on Norse and Icelandic-related subjects. Her lectures, far-ranging in their scope, generate enthusiastic responses and often overflowing classes. Themes of recent Scandinavian Program courses include Scandinavian crime fiction, Scandinavian children’s literature, and Old Norse mythology and legends. The syllabus also includes introductory and advanced instruction in Swedish and Norwegian (Danish was formerly taught). The makeup of students enrolled in Scandinavian courses, including language instruction, has evolved over the years. Earlier on, students often had personal or family ties to Scandinavia. Currently, quite a few students have no direct Nordic links. They may enroll due to interest in Nordic literature,
music or pop culture, or perhaps an intention to work or study somewhere in Scandinavia. The Scandinavian Studies Association recognizes shifting motivations, but still sees value in developing and enhancing Scandinavian language skills. With that in mind, the Association encourages enrolment in advanced Scandinavian language instruction by offering scholarships through the recently created Scandinavian Studies Fund, which runs parallel to the well-established endowment fund. To that end, SSA is working with the Torskeklubben of Edmonton, a service club, to raise funds for up to eight annual scholarships. The first ones are expected to be awarded in 2020. The University of Alberta sees the Scandinavian Studies Association as a template for campuscommunity partnership. In 2018, the UofA demonstrated its appreciation of SSA by nominating it for recognition on National Philanthropy Day for the support of Scandinavian Studies. The nomination to the Edmonton & Area Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals noted: ‘’Scandinavian Studies are thriving at the University of Alberta thanks to the incredible and long-standing support of the Scandinavian Studies Association.” Viking ship carrying Harold III of Norway against his half-brother Olaf II in 1030, c.1375. Source: History Today
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H ERITAG E
Fapur, Mopir, Sun, Dottær and the Law By Peter Berlin
efore the 8th century, the peoples of Scandinavia spoke more or less the same Germanic language called Proto-Norse. During the Viking period it evolved into separate dialects known as Old West Norse and Old East Norse. The Old East Norse spoken in Sweden became known as Runic Swedish, because most of the written records from the period used runes – that angular alphabet that Vikings used to chisel into rune
stones. The runes gave way to Latin letters when Christianity took hold in Sweden. The earliest written sample in Latin script is found in the Västgötalagen, a law book written in the 13th century. Here is a taster:
Sun ær fapurs arvi. Ær eig sun. pa ær dottær. Ær eig dottær. pa ær fapir. Ær eig. fapir pa ær moper. pa ær broper. Ær eig broper. pa er. systir. Ær eig systir. pa æru sunærbörn etc.
Translated into contemporary Swedish: Son är faders arving. Finnes ej son, då är dotter. Finnes ej dotter, då är fader. Finnes ej fader, då är moder. [Finnes ej moder,] då är broder. Finnes ej broder, då är syster. Finnes ej syster, då äro sonbarn etc.
... and into English: The son inherits the father. If there is no son, then the daughter [inherits]. If there is no daughter, then the father. If there is no father, then the mother. If there is no mother, then the brother. If there is no brother, then the sister. If there is no sister, then the son’s child, etc.
For a native Swedish-speaker it is not too difficult to follow how the language evolved. Most people can just about read 13th century Swedish
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A page out of Västgötalagen. Source: www. litteraturbanken.se
by studying a page or two in the law book, keeping a modern translation on the side. In the same century parts of Sweden joined the Hanseatic League, a forerunner of the European Union which was heavily dominated by the Germans. The Swedish language was enriched with Middle Low German vocabulary. (Example: Stadt in German became stad in Swedish.) After 1818 the language assimilated a large number of French words when one of Napoleon’s generals was headhunted to became King of Sweden. (Example: fauteuil in French became fåtölj in Swedish.) Fast forward to the mid-20th century when American English began to infiltrate the language, to the chagrin of Swedish linguistic purists who maintain that the English words have eclipsed perfectly adequate Swedish equivalents. (Example: vocabulary in English has become vokabulär in Swedish, when the Swedish word ordförråd does the same job.) Another English language influence is the habit of younger Swedes to split up written compound
H E RI TAG E nouns and adjectives into their element parts which sometimes leads to hilarious misunderstandings. Dividing up “En brunhårig sjuksköterska” (verbatim: “A brownhaired sicksister”, i.e. a nurse) yields “En brun hårig sjuk sköterska”, which will be understood as “A brown hairy sick sister”. According to +Babbel Magazine, Swedish is the second easiest foreign language for English-speakers to learn (the easiest of all is Norwegian). The reason is that many words are the same, and the grammar is not too different either. However, Swedish nouns do come in two genders which have to be learned by heart, similar to le and la in French. Another peculiarity is that the English “the” is tacked on at the end of nouns. (Example: “the car” in English becomes “bilen” in Swedish, and “the cars” becomes “bilarna”.) Then there is Swedish pronunciation. In the 1950s Scandinavians were exempted from carrying passports when travelling between Sweden, Norway and Denmark …
but not non-Scandinavians. At the ferry terminal in Malmö, incoming travellers from Copenhagen had to choose between two doorways, one marked “For Scandinavian Citizens” (i.e. no need to show a passport) and the other “For NonScandinavians” (passport required). To catch any Non-Scandics trying to sneak through without a passport, an immigration official was posted just beyond the “Scandinavian” doorway who challenged each traveller with the words “Say after me: sjutusen sjuhundra sjuttisju” (Swedish for “7777”). Only true Scandinavians pronounce this correctly. Arriving from Copenhagen, I once amused myself by affecting a foreign accent and failed the test. I was less amused after having to spend another 15 minutes in an interrogation room … By learning Swedish, do you get Norwegian and Danish thrown in for free? Well, not quite. It is true that Norwegians and Danes can understand each other without difficulty, but Swedes are different. Understanding spoken Norwegian
Comparison of the Nordic Languages. Illustration © Minna Sundberg
is manageable as long as the speaker doesn’t use one of the many dialects. Spoken Danish is another matter. I grew up in Malmö across the Strait of Öresund from Copenhagen, so I understand Danish better than many Swedes, but it can still be a struggle. One technique I have developed is that, after listening to a Danishspeaker for a few minutes, I develop a kind of mental phonetic look-up table, and from then onwards I manage to understand spoken Danish fairly well. I can do the same thing with Norwegian. But memorably, on one occasion I had dinner with Danish and Norwegian colleagues. Switching my concentration back and forth between the two languages threw my fragile look-up tables out the window. I hardly understood a word of what was said all evening. After all that, are you longing to start learning Swedish? If you want to know who else is doing it and why, please read our interview with Lars Bergman on page 14. Lycka till!
Older Västgötalagen and its appendices in Cod. Holm. B 59. Published by The Society for Västgötalitteratur by Per-Axel Wiktorsson, Part 1. Source: www.litteraturbanken.se.
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2020 Decorator and designer Maria Löw told Expressen’s Leva&Bo magazine to be on the lookout for five interior design possibilities that might become big trends in 2020. Starting with earthy colors and tones, Löw suggests choosing warmer colors, such as light brown and beige with elements of pastel and classic blue. Round shapes such as vaults and arches are also on trend. Sustainability through the use of classic and vintage furniture will most likely become popular. Next on the list is playful and eclectic styles with inspiration from the 70’s and 80’s – think big green plants and applications that you yourself have repaired or patched. Löw also suspects that Manchester furniture and pillows will be fashionable this year.
200,000 Swedish hit musical “As in Heaven” by Kay Pollak, Carin Pollak and Fredrik Kämpe, with approximately 200,000 tickets sold, is back at the Oscarsteatern in Stockholm between January and March. Performances continue at The Theatre, Gothia Towers, in Gothenburg between May and
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Marabou Havssalt combines Marabou’s traditional smooth milk chocolate with a hint of salt, said to enhance the sweetness of the chocolate bar. Perfect for a loved one (or yourself ) on Valentine’s!
June. The powerful “As in Heaven” ensemble includes artists Philip Jalmelid, Malena Ernman and Tuva B Larsen. This is said to be the absolute last season of the show, so seize the opportunity! Tickets can be bought at www.showtic.se.
29.50 Many European cheeses have been blacklisted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) because of negative effects in the following areas: climate, biodiversity, chemical pesticides, animal welfare, and antibiotics. Swedish hard cheese and the Swedish variant of halloumi did, however, receive the green light. Red-labeled cheeses included hard cheese and salad cheese from Denmark and Germany, halloumi from Cyprus, mozzarella from Italy, and feta from Greece. ICA’s Swedish alternative to halloumi can be found in stores for 29.50 SEK.
279 New year, new challenges! “Snusfri – vägen till lyckan i en snusfri vardag” by Anders Åkerman was written for those who wish to kick the habit of using snuff, while having fun doing so. Åkerman’s book is based on research in health, lifestyle and cognitive behavioral therapy. The author offers hands-on tips, inspirational advice and fun anecdotes. Åkerman’s main goal is for people to have fun while on the road to a snuff-free life. A healthy New Year’s gift for yourself or someone close to you. Price at Akademibokhandeln is SEK 279.
11 Chocolate lovers take note: “Marabou Havssalt” arrives on January 11 in the huge selection of sweets at Swedish video store chain Hemmakväll.
4 Good news for Swedish vegans! Scandinavian dairy brand Carlshamn Mejeri’s new spread “Fyra frön” (Four Seeds) is made from vegetable oils and roasted sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and flax seeds. The spread is not only delicious on sandwiches, but works in cooking and baking as well. If you like seeds, this spread is for you.
14 February 14 is Valentine’s Day! The event, named after Saint Valentine, first became popular in Sweden during the 1960s. Celebrations, however, first took off around the 1990s when Valentine’s Day earned its place as a theme day in the Swedish calendar, and schools started paying great attention to the love-filled occasion. Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by most Swedish couples and is advertised by most stores.
[Lifestyle] Book The Darker Side of Swedish Immigration By Peter Berlin
ever judge a book by the first chapter. When I first started reading this novel, I thought it was just another predictable story about Swedish immigrants in the style of Wilhelm Moberg’s epic novels on the same subject. The Klar family, consisting of husband, wife and three children, decides to leave their untenable situation in Sweden and start a new life in America. The year is 1897. Their journey across the Atlantic in the bowels of a steamship is a nightmare characterized by overcrowding, seasickness and bad food. They arrive exhausted in New York with no knowledge of English and very little money. Work is difficult to find in the big, noisy city, so they take the train to Minnesota in a renewed attempt to improve their lot.
Swede Hollow (Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society)
In Ola Larsmo’s novel, the Klar family joins other Swedish immigrants in Saint Paul, MN. In a shantytown lining the slopes of a ravine called Swede Hollow, the Swedish
settlers live alongside close-knit Irish and Italian communities, but there is minimal interaction between them due to cultural, religious and language barriers. From here onwards the story takes off, and I found it difficult to put the book down. The men hire on as poorly paid day laborers, while the women clean houses, work at laundries or sew clothing in stifling factories. The Klars endure hardships, indignities, accidents and death, but also experience loyalty, kindness and moments of joy. This haunting story of plausible characters in a real place echoes the huge challenges of immigration in the 20th century, and even today. Due to their lack of education and marketable skills, the Klars are doomed to remain poor. Over time, poverty becomes almost a virtue. When one of the Klar daughters marries a lawyer and joins the middle
class, it only leads to mutual embarrassment and alienation within the family. The story spans the period from 1897 to 2007. By the early 1930s many of the older settlers had died, and the younger ones moved to other neighborhoods. In 1956 the Saint Paul authorities deemed the shantytown in Swede Hollow to be so unsanitary that they had it burned down. After the demolition, the area became a dumping ground and gathering place for the homeless. In the 1970s the ravine was cleaned up, and it was designated a nature center in 1976. Nowadays it a recreation area known as Swede Hollow Park. Ola Larsmo is a prize-winning critic and columnist for Sweden’s largest newspaper, Dagens Nyheter. He is the author of nine novels, as well as collections of short stories and essays. The Swede Hollow story is extensively researched and beautifully written. It was first published in Swedish in 2016. The English translation by Tiina Nunnally was released in October 2019 and can be pre-ordered at www.amazon.com.
Swede Hollow by Ola Larsmo. University of Minnesota (2019). ISBN 978-1-5179-0451-7. Photo: Christine Olsson
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Swedish Press is the world’s leading magazine on all good things Swedish. An authority on design, business, culture and travel since 1929, S...
Published on Jan 17, 2020
Swedish Press is the world’s leading magazine on all good things Swedish. An authority on design, business, culture and travel since 1929, S...