Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dear Hemmakväll - a note on mocking Americans in Swedish advertisements

I know we Americans can sometimes sound very silly when speaking Swedish. I get it. One guy in my beginner Swedish class pronounced Sverige like Svarage - as in rhymes with Faberge - and he would not change it.


Mock us. I am totally OK with that. I could live with the blå kläder commercial with the guy saying 'blah klahder' haha.

It doesn't always make me think of the time I was 10 years old and was visiting a friend in a Swedish school and the teacher (yes you, Ingemar) made me read out loud from a Swedish textbook in front of the class while everyone laughed. Most of the time it reminds me of that, but not always.

And I do LOVE the Tele2 commercials which make fun of the sheep/cheap issue many Swedes have, so I can totally take that some people take digs at Americans pronunciation of Swedish. Really I do.

But Hemmakväll - you have it wrong. All wrong. And it makes me yell at the radio every time your stupid commercial comes on the air.

See, the American pronouncing the Swedish calls Hemmakväll -Hemmakwell.

Let's be serious here. No self respecting American who doesn't know Swedish would pronounce Hemmakväll - Hemmakwell. They would probably say something like Hemmakvall. That's it. As in Hemmakvaahhhlll. Because we don't understand the ä, but we totally understand how the V works.

 It is the W that we sometimes mispronounce because in English W always says wah and never vah.

Seriously Hemmakväll it isn't funny it is just annoying.

You can listen to it here, but be warned, the stupid hemmakwell moment comes at the end, after a long string of bad acting and unnecessary profanity.

I used to feel bad for Hemmakväll because I am pretty sure movie rental will be obsolete in about 5 years, and it's been about 3 since I have last rented a film. But now I don't feel so bad.


  1. I am SO glad you posted about this! I, too, yell at the radio every single time I hear that commercial. No American would ever mistake a V for a W. Swedes should know that's a pronunciation problem they have when speaking English, not a problem Americans have speaking Swedish. I feel vindicated after reading your post! Thank you!

  2. yes! Exactly! I completely agree and find it outrageously frustrating and I'm an Aussie. I did entertain some Swedish friends recently though by reading some Swedish with an exceptionally broad accent. Even amused myself a bit.

  3. Hahaaaa! I get it! And totally agree with you! Here the "Ä" is the thing of "AAAAAAHH" instead but "V" always is "VVV". :-)
    Well, I guess Swedes have a little hard time knowing how the english language really works when it comes to accents....?
    It's fun though that you bring up the Swedes pronunciation of "CH". :-) In Sweden you will eat a lot of "Sheeeees" to... ;-)

  4. I hate the new three letters I have to learn to pronounce, however I am pretty comfortable with my old pal, "v". While I do love the cheap/sheep (I never realized it was due to the Ch sound, I just thought it was a fun word play) I don't enjoy anything that makes fun of any mispronunciations, from someone learning Swedish to a Swede speaking English. Would hate to be reminded of an embarrassing childhood memory, or the embarrassing moment I will have in the future while attempting to speak a new complicated language. Never funny in my book :/

  5. The american v sounds a little different from the swedish v though, maybe you can't tell the difference between a mock v and a mock w :)

    Glad to hear they're still running the blåkläder ads, a favourite from my childhood!

  6. Mate, I am french. If you only knew how much shit I go through on a daily basis you would laugh at all this! And before moving here I worked and lived in England for about three years.. worst of all! :)
    That's part of the game I guess and I actually play on my accent quite often.
    As for this advert, my feeling is that they didn't intend to mock the american accent, they probably just wanted to give a little 'hollywood' twist to their name (but failed big time).
    I like your blog btw!