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Ten ways to annoy Swedish people

January 25, 2012

The Local (online newspaper with the tagline “Sweden’s news in English”) has made a list, unoriginally named How to lose all your Swedish friends in 10 days. Well, I’ve got nothing better to do at the moment, so let’s see if they can annoy me!

Day 1. In conversation, mention how you have always wanted to see Sweden; the country of the cuckoo clocks, watches and chocolate.

Oh yes. The constant confusing of Sweden and Switzerland is mighty annoying. Hardly worth giving up a friendship for, though.

Day 2. Refuse to give up on the idea that the Vikings were really Norwegian.

But they were! Well, some of them were. If modern nationalities are at all helpful when discussing societies that disappeared a thousand years ago. Nah, unless this means “refuse to acknowledge that some Viking descendants became part of the nation of Sweden”, I would be more annoyed over the pushing of unappropriately modern concepts than over the supposed insult to my country.

Day 3. Whether it is to have another coffee, bring some food with them home or borrow your auntie’s suitcase – refuse to take no for an answer. At all costs. Even when they have declined twice.

Even if your culture decrees that there be two or three rounds of “Please take it!” “Oh, but I couldn’t possibly accept such a gift!” “No, no, I insist!” “You are too kind…” before you get down to the actual acceptance or declining of an offer, there has to be some way to decline. Right? Right? One instance of being forced to accept something I could survive without too much increased blood pressure. If someone were to repeat this behaviour several times a week, on the other hand… hoo boy. That I could see myself breaking a friendship over.

Day 4. Pretend you’ve never heard of Abba, Ikea or Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Meh. I’ll find it’s odd, that’s all. Then I’ll tell you about them until you beg me to stop.

Day 5. Refuse to sing along to ‘Helan Går’ at events – even when they have provided the lyrics in phonetics.

Depends. If you sit there quietly and smile, I wouldn’t care. If you make a big scene about it, and loudly proclaim that you couldn’t possibly sing it, it’s an insult against your religion or something… yeah, that’s annoying. Making big scenes over something small usually is.

Day 6. Nag them into takíng part in a colloquial dance or song from your own country – WITHOUT OFFERING THEM ANY ALCOHOL FIRST.

I actually prefer to be sober when singing, dancing or otherwise making music. I must be an anomaly.

Day 7. Refer to a Swedish cup of coffee as a ”Café Americano”.

Meh. I don’t drink coffee, and I’ve only the vaguest of idea how different countries prefer their coffee. Americans tend to drink it rather weak, compared to Europeans, don’t they?

Day 8. Claim your country invented the ‘kanelbulle’…or perhaps the meatball.

Again, meh. I grew up in the late 80s-early 90s, when political correctness dictated that every Swedish schoolchild should learn that everything traditionally Swedish was actually invented somewhere else, there is no such thing as Swedish culture, long live the immigrants! I even won a prize in eighth grade for writing an essay on the topic. Claim whatever you want, it can’t be worse than what our schoolbooks claimed.

Day 9. Repeatedly refer to Copenhagen as the ‘Venice of the North’.

Huh? I’m not from Stockholm. I don’t care if you stealthily insult Stockholm. Try again.

Day 10. Make up a word in your own language and stay adamant it is a fair translation of the word ‘lagom’, which to Swedes is a national heirloom – believed to be completely and utterly untranslatable in any language known to man.

There was a day when I, too, believed in the myth that “lagom” was unique to Sweden. I’ve since studied languages enough to learn that just because a word can’t be translated into one word, the same one word for every context, doesn’t mean that it can’t be translated at all. A fair translation of “lagom” into English, for most contexts, is “the right amount of”.

Conclusion: There have been other articles on The Local that annoyed me a lot more than this one. Without even trying.

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