Should I Learn Swedish?

Major disappointment: the first time I went to Sweden, I kept seeing signs that said “Runt Hornet” on doors. I was enchanted. What a fine way to say “Ring the Doorbell!” Then I saw this sign on the corner of a building and went to investigate. Bummer! It actually meant “Round the Corner.” Oh, well, it still sounds cool.

And “Obs” must mean “Careful!”, especially if it’s printed in red.


Smoking is “rokning.” I like the sound of the words.

Ok, I freely admit I’m a klutz in any language. Obviously, I don’t want to run for my train and risk “snubbeling.”

There are practical reasons to know the language.


Every breakfast buffet has a big tube of this stuff. I thought it was some kind of hummus.

No such luck! It’s really “Fish Roe Paste.” Not my favorite. In fact, I had to discreetly spit it into my napkin and then look around for something to erase the taste. Lingonberry sauce?

Sometimes, admittedly, words are not needed.

Sometimes, I’m not even interested in the words.

I don’t really want to know the translation of this sign in a subway car in Stockholm. For me, it says, and always will say “Sucks your job?” Or, for English speakers, “Does your job suck? Call this number and we’ll hook you up with a better gig.”

One big point in favor of learning some Swedish: it’s the second language in Finland. And the Finnish language looks much, much harder to learn.

In Finland, almost every single sign and caption is printed in both Finnish and Swedish. English is hit or miss.

At the Helsinki dog park near where I stayed in April, the rules are spelled out in great detail. Finnish and Swedish speaking dogs are all set. English-only speaking dogs are out of luck.

Yup, I guess this is telling me something. After years of traveling in French and German-speaking countries where I can at least muddle through with the native languages, I’ve found that  I love Scandinavia. Time to learn a little Swedish.

Now, about those Danish and Norwegian languages…

7 thoughts on “Should I Learn Swedish?

  1. Mary Murdock

    I love your posts!!
    Little mini-vacations. I’d love to see more of even older past postings I haven’t seen. I know i can find them on my own but i enjoy seeing your posts in my inbox. Anyway, thanks!

  2. sueleonardCFS

    Fish Roe Paste? No thank you. I think I’d rather eat the white School Paste that kids used to eat in my elementary school years. At least it smelled good enough to eat and not…….well, fishy!

  3. Sartenada

    As a Finn, I can say: no, start learning some other language, which You need when on travel. Therefore, I have done, because my blog is in four languages. I worked for Finnair (airline) nearly 40 years and I need only once Swedish! 🙂

    Runt hörnet means around the corner and runt hörnet means are you looking for a job?

    Happy and safe travels

  4. recavasca

    Fish roe paste, got it at Ikea and was disappointed by the amount of sugar. I was expecting something like greek tarama with garlic! Anyway, you made me laugh! I was in Frankfort trying to get a train connection in the 70’s, I read and could not understand any of the signs. Almost on the verge of tears, when a man sweeping the platform approached me, spoke in French and took me to the right place. What an angel! Yes, you’ll be happier if you know some Swedish. Try Duolingo it’s free online course. Good luck, Claudia.


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