Something Swedish

Awkward & Offensive Language Mishap # 1


Brought to you by the letter “K”

So maybe a Sesame Street reference isn’t the best way to start this topic, but I felt the need for balance.

Ever notice when someone is learning a new language that the funny stories about mispronunciation and failed communication include accidentally saying vulgar words? Well, this is one of those stories, so please excuse me and bear with me. Also note that this is post # 1, because I expect this to happen many times bringing me great embarrassment and laughter (both being laughed at and with) while supplying me with entertaining writing material for your curious eyes. Win win!

Today I decided to re-strategize my self-studying efforts with my new green post- its. I made a list of kitchen friendly vocabulary and phrases and stuck them to the cabinet so I can study them while cooking. You know, context and all that.

While compiling my list I consulted my husband if words were correct and how to pronounce them. This seems to be my best shot at speaking at this point, trying and then repeating vocabulary. I decided to only put the Swedish words without translation, so I was very serious and stubborn about this study session. And so I compiled my list, and then read each word or phrase out loud, rinse and repeat. I tried hard to pronounce everything as best as I could which was going great until a warning was set in motion that one of the words is dangerously close to something that has nothing to do with cooking or kitchen, but instead male genitalia.

And so, I tried again. And again. and again. And each time I repeated the word I got further and further away from the word “kokar” (cook) and closer to the word “kukar” (…cocks). Which, come to think of it are awfully alike in English as well. The more emphasis my husband put on the “oo” sound the more I pronounced the “uu.” Determined to get it right, through tears of hysterical laughter I couldn’t stop accidentally saying “coooc… (you get the idea).” Repeatedly. And Loudly. I was just thankful that no one could hear me (hopefully), and that my pronunciation was discovered at home instead of in two weeks when we go to visit my husbands family and I am always helping in the kitchen (one of my motivations for this list).

The good news is that after trying for 15 minutes straight I can now pronounce “kukar” perfectly (but “kokar” is still to be avoided at all costs).


19 thoughts on “Awkward & Offensive Language Mishap # 1

  1. Lol, hilarious! 😀

  2. Our teacher came in the other day after our fika and goes “Okay, this isn’t in the books or on any test but who wants to learn some swears?” Then she proceeded to have us give her English swears and she would translate them. Best class ever.

    • Though she did warn us that we should never say any of them – not for fear of us sounding offensive but for us sounding dumb when we can’t match the emotions a swear should embody.

      • Ah, very interesting point. I hear my husband swear all the time so I’m pretty sure I can pick up a potty mouth before feeling confidant enough to speak regularly (I only know a couple of words – a few if you include my accidental pronunciation, but I don’t think I can throw that around as a swear word). I think being fueled by frustration helps with the punch of a curse, which is how I feel about all the other words I’m learning! lol Pretty neat that your teacher did that though, it might not be in the books but its good to know, even if its just to be aware, to avoid, or to know what you are hearing when other people say it.

      • Exactly I’m happy she at least covered it so I could learn how I SHOULD be pronouncing them instead of just trying to adapt to someone else yelling it quickly! I think it all depends on how similar the word structure of the curse is to its English translation. For example, I was taught “jävla idiot” and I think I can say this fairly confidently because it has the same syllables as the English version (I’ll let you look it up ;D).

  3. Never cease to be amazed at your delicacy of pronunciation, Meg! Good job with an amusing session at learning Swedish today. Love ya’

  4. Haha,I almost got to the last page in your blog before I realised that you live in Halmstad. I´m defenatly going to follow your blog, not only for the oportunity to see some pictures from the place where I gow up and lived for 18 years, but also for tha fact that its reallty intresting to read what a non-swedish person thinks and find wierd/good/bad about the swedish life and culture.

    I moved from Halmstad when I was 18 for two years in Norway, some months in Spain and Europe and ended up studying at Aalborg University in Denmark, and right now im in Spain, Granada for a exchange semester at the university.
    It doesent matter if I was in Norway, Denmark or Spain, the cultures can be very alike, but with slightley difrenses that can be hard to understand, or as in Spain, totally diffrent, thinks that can make me cry one day, are a part of my new life the other.

    Keep up the good spirit, and good luck in Halmstad, I hope the spring is comming to you soon!

    • Oh, I’m glad that you stumbled upon a blog about your own hometown! That’s great, and I’m happy you like it! You are certainly correct, slight differences and large differences are differences all the same! Amazing that you are in Spain now- good luck with the exchange program! Spring is tempting us, I hope it actually arrives soon! Hope to hear from you again!

  5. Good luck to you, my friend. I remember vividly once when I said I was “sleeping with” my German host family, instead of living in their house. I also once proudly proclaimed in Chile “I’m horny” instead of “I’m hot”. My bad.

  6. I think this is very funny. Today at work, I went for lunch with some of our interns. I was speaking about Sweden and the importance of ‘fika’. The Italian intern told me that ‘fika’ actually sounds like the Italian word which means ‘pussy’. 😀

    Very easy to fall into the traps of rude words through mispronunciation! 🙂

    • LOL I’ve heard a few people say things like this about different languages, if you translate it into some other random language that word will mean something so different. Actually onme of the recent @Sweden users found out her sons name means “penis” in another language (Don’t remember which) Ouch.

  7. Haha wonderful!!! I know exactly what you mean!!! You should hear me pronounce ‘lilla kort stugan’

    • Tiff, are you accidentally saying “Lilla kåt stugan”? (Little horny cottage) lol that’s what my husband said it can be mispronounced as, so I’m curious! (They sound exactly the same to me!)

  8. Indeed I am and no matter how much i try i cannot pronounce the word kort without it sounding like kåt!!!! Tis a dilemma when you jave a shop full of them haha!

  9. I love little mistakes when learning! It gives you a reason to improve!

    Hope you’re enjoying Copenhagen!

  10. I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM! It came up when I tried to pronounce the word for “cookbook”. I blame part of my problem on the the skånska prononciation. After 2 1/2 months I still am not allowed to say that word or anything close to it.

  11. Pingback: Awkward & Offensive Language Mishap # 2 « Something Swedish

  12. Pingback: Awkward & Offensive Language Mishaps # 3 « Something Swedish

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