There’s plenty of info on the web on how good Scandinavians are when it comes to the English language. The school systems in these countries employ several top-notch strategies. Those include not only an early focus on communication but also daily exposure to English on campus and outside. Nevertheless, here are the 5 most common mistakes Scandinavians make when speaking English
During the final year of study, young students receive special career-oriented language instructions, whether that is a vocational school or university.
Even such popular writing services like EssayPro claim that among their customers, there are a few Scandinavian students who tend to order essays in English. This fact is rather revealing that young adults are pretty good at their language skills.
Nevertheless, there are still many people whose English is far away from profound. This is the case predominantly with adults, who grew up when the education system was less effective.
Now, they simply don’t have enough time to reskill and continue to make the same mistakes. So, let’s try to figure out some common errors that Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes repeat.
The first one is translating idioms directly.
Idioms are phrases or expressions that we use in our everyday life that don’t necessarily make sense when directly translated. If you are just learning English, try to avoid them.
For example, in Danish, there is a common tragic-comic idiom “At gå agurk,” which means “to go mad,” and is translated as “to go cucumber”. It is hardly possible that someone will get the meaning if this idiom is translated literally.
A word-for-word translation cannot be applied when English is a target language. No doubt, the best way here would be finding an analog or providing explanatory translation.
Translating Interrogative Forms
Another common mistake many Scandinavians make is not structuring the questions properly. Many can say, “take your credit card?” instead of, “did you take your credit card?”
They simply forget that the verb needs “do” in the interrogative form.
Misinterpretation of Words
As Scandinavian languages “gave birth” to Old English, many of the words and their meaning are confusing.
For example, the Danish word “sjov” means either fun or funny. When Danes speak English they tend to say “I had a very funny time this morning” or “That was a day full of funny.” With almost everyone being so good at English, it is quite interesting to spot such funny flaws.
Another good example is the Danish verb “lære” means either learn or teach. Many Danes can propose you “to learn to speak Danish,” meaning that they are ready to teach you their mother tongue.
Probably this kind of mistake is the most common among non-native English speakers. Many tend to calque the voices and sounds from the source language to the target language.
Let’s get over some particular cases of Scandinavian mispronunciation:
Found vs. Phoned. This is a very common mistake you may hear a lot of times. Scandinavians do not distinguish the past participle of “to find” and “to phone”;
Vine vs. Wine. In Scandinavian countries, there is only one sound for “v,” and both of these words could be read (and pronounced) similarly. While in English, the meaning is quite different;
Fin versus Thin. This is especially hard for all French and German people opting to speak English, but Scandinavians make the same mistake as well;
Free vs. Tree vs. Three. It remains one of the most prevalent pronunciation mistakes you may hear from Scandinavians;
Use vs. Juice. Swedes are the ones who make this mistake most commonly, pronouncing both of the words with the “j” sound;
Wash vs. Watch or Cash vs. Catch. This one is not so prevalent but is still worth mentioning.
Putting an emphasis properly is really hard for Scandinavians. It derives from the peculiarity of their languages.
In these countries, people don’t really have emphases in words. For example, saying “economy” in English, we put stress to the second syllable, while in “økonomi” the stressed one is the usual last syllable. The same happens with “democracy” or “anatomy.”
It basically goes for the majority of the English words that derived from Latin or Greek. In Scandinavian languages, these are words that end on “en”, “om”, “am”, “i” like “økonomi” or the words which end on “t” or “et” like “universitet”.
These are the most confusing endings in which Scandinavian put the stresses incorrectly.
5 most common mistakes Scandinavians make when speaking English – Wrapping Up
In this article top five mistakes Scandinavians make while speaking English have been mentioned. Even with the highest results of the Language Proficiency Test, there are still many adults whose English is hardly understandable.
The good news is that Scandinavians do not neglect the issue. Many take several courses of skills development to enrich their knowledge of the second language and be rightfully named as the best non-native English speakers in the world.
5 Most Common Mistakes Scandinavians Make When Speaking English, written for Daily Scandinavian by Michael Brand. Michael is an observer of educational achievements and goals, motivated with the wishing to encourage people exploring the world around and break their limits. Strong educational background and a wide work and life experiences helped to collect a great foundation of knowledges to share with young minds having insecurities in their studies.