I was really trying to find some conflicts when asked about the “kulturkrock”(cultural conflicts) today. Honestly I feel that the differences between individuals are larger than the differences between those so-called national stereotypes. Nevertheless, there were something of the Swedish language caused a lot of confusion at the beginning when I got along with Swedes:
– One Swedish way of agreeing upon something. Usually it sounds like “Ah” with a rising tone as the end of the word. So to put it in writing, it will be like “Aah?”.
I was so confused before. I always repeated what I said after the “Aah”, because it sounded really like a “pardon”/a request for clarification to me.
Once one teacher said something, I replied “Aaah?”. I did mean “what?” since I did not hear what she said. But she just walked away to the next student as she thought I understood.
– Sometimes the “aah” is a bit odd with a inhaling sound.
The first time I noticed was when I visited the health center on campus. I described the problem with my throat to the lady there. She did the “aah” with inhaling sound very often. I really did not know it meant something or it was part of the conversation. Instead, I thought she had some problem with her throat too.
Then I went to the pharmacy a few days later. The lady I talked with made this “strange” sound as well. I was so confused and asked my friend who went with me, why it seemed like people working with health care all had problems with their throat and if he had noticed that they made strange sound when we talked. He laughed and explained to me that it was just like “well”, “OK”, “hmmm” etc. in English.
OMG, finally, the puzzle that had bothered me for a long time was solved!
And…. I start to realize I say it as well when I try to speak Swedish…..
Oh, right, there’s something to add:
– People from the far north, they don’t even say the “aah”. In fact, they don’t even need their vocal cords, they just make the inhaling sound…. It’s really hard to put in words and make it clear… I couldn’t find any video on Youtube. Probably I will do one myself…