Laura Wideburg, Translator

Book Excerpt


Toni Pinto ©2017

Laura A. Wideburg




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The Basics

Sixth Edition
by Laura A. Wideburg

About the book

Swedish is the most beautiful language I have ever had the pleasure to learn. As I started to teach evening classes, I noticed that the materials available were either geared toward immigrants to Sweden or else to college students. Self-study materials also left a great deal to be desired.

Finally I realized that if there were to be a book aimed at American English speakers who attend evening classes once a week and otherwise have busy lives, I needed to write that book myself.

Because Americans studying Swedish often need to know the language for visiting relatives or friends, I have concentrated on basic family language in the first few chapters. I cover basic Swedish culture, such as food and holidays.

In Swedish: The Basics I put great emphasis on repetition and review so that the vocabulary is easier to retain, and the chapters are short so that they are not overwhelming. Each chapter can be done in one evening for a two hour class. Some evening classes, such as the one I teach at the Swedish Cultural Center, meet for less than two hours, and I have made the chapters just long enough to cover two class periods. This would also give the teacher a time for additional activities.

I wish all students great pleasure in learning this wonderful Scandinavian language.

Introduction to the Language

 If you are a speaker of North American English, learning Swedish is relatively easy, even compared to other Indo-European languages such as French, Spanish or German. Swedish is a cousin language to English. Both Swedish and English are descended from the same mother language spoken in Southern Scandinavia around 2000 years ago.

Many of our basic words are even spelled identically. You can guess these words: arm, hand, finger, ring, son. The pronunciation is a little different, but the meaning and the spelling is identical to English. Other words are spelled a little differently, but can still be guessed easily: katt, syster, dotter, (cat, sister, daughter, toe).

We also have a number of shared words due to our Latin-based academic heritage: information, position, nation. While these are spelled the same, they would be pronounced a little bit differently in Swedish. Knowing a few sound changes will also increase your understanding. For instance, the Northern Germanic language dropped w in front of the “oh” sound. So word becomes ord and worm becomes orm.


Here's the opening of the very first lesson, appropriately titled "The Absolute Basics."





TACKThank You


Tack is the most basic word in Swedish. It means thank you and it is used in many ways to smooth social interaction. A simple tack at the end of a sentence also means please. You are at the table and want to have the butter:

Jag vill ha smöret, tack. = I want the butter, please.

Here are a number of variations:

Tack, tack.
Tack så mycket.
Tack ska du ha.
Tusen tack.
Tackar, tackar.
Jag tackar så mycket.
Du får ha stort tack.


There are many more variations and, believe me, you cannot say tack enough!



Companion Volumes

If you have completed Swedish: The Basics are are ready to take the next step, consider the follow-on volume, Swedish: Beyond The Basics. Or, if you want more reading texts and excercises, check out: Swedish: More Basics.

For more advanced students I have created a three-volume set Swedish: Becoming Fluent, which will take you in three steps to increased fluency in using Swedish.


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