I started learning Swedish six months ago and during this learning experience, I have defined some milestones for me. I will accept myself fluent in Swedish when I check all these milestones!
This one is relatively easy but it is a good first milestone. “Jaha” is fun to say, so when I first learned it I used it a lot, usually instead of just saying “Ja”. But this is, of course, a misuse. Now I use it properly!
“Jaha” has a meaning of understanding, recognizing or finding out some new info, including maybe some element of surprise or revelation at the same time. It’s like “Oh, yes” or “Okaaay” or “I see” 🙂
This is also taught at the beginning of Swedish courses but this is the when you start to realise things are getting complicated…It has a similar meaning to “Jaha” but you can use “Nähä” if the counterpart says something negative in the sentence. You’re still understanding by saying “Nähä” but you’re understanding something negative. So good luck with that! 🙂 I haven’t had a chance to use it yet but I feel confident that I can use it when the time is right! So I count this as a check also.
Here is an example of Jaha and Nähä from my Swedish book:
-Jag har en flickvän (I have a girlfriend)
-Vi bor inte ihop. (We do not live together)
Absolut & precis
These are the backbone of the Swedish language. If you want to have a flow in your Swedish dialogue you need to use them a lot. You should keep saying “Absolut” or “Precis” frequently while listening someone. This way the speaking person will know you’re listening and understanding what the other part talks about.
I don’t use them too much but I use them sometimes in my dialogues so it helps me with the flow. So this is another check!
Those sounds you cannot describe
There are some non-word expressions that distinguishes an original Swede from Newbies. One of them sounds like you are having a heart attack (like you’re having reeeeally deep breath). At first, I was afraid every time I heard it. Now I am used to it but I’m not sure if I dare use it.
The other one reminds me of gulping down or swallowing air really fast (hope you get what I mean because even I’m not sure I get it). Obviously, it has a meaning of approval. People say it is common among young people so since I’m getting older day by day I can excuse myself from that one 🙂
And then there is the continuous “A,a,a” expression. It has both meaning of confirmation and “keep talking / I’m listening”. I actually started to catch myself saying “A” sometimes within the dialogue. I am not still at the Swede level but I’m improving 🙂
This is the nirvana for me and I will definitely accept myself as a fluent Swedish speaker when I’ve managed to use it in an ordinary sentence.
“Ju” doesn’t have a direct translation in English but it gives the sentence the meaning of “as you know / obviously / of course” So actually any sentence can survive without that word and when you remove “ju” from the sentence it’s still a regular sentence with pretty much the similar meaning.
This is like an impossible mission for a non-Swede to use it in a sentence. So for me it’s a good graduation point!
Honestly, I’m in the beginning of my Swedish language journey so I might make some mistakes while explaining the meanings. Feel free to correct or improve my explanations! And just let me know if you have other milestones in Swedish, so I can enhance my road map 🙂
Written by Busra Zenging
Hej! I am a Newbie who is close to become an Oldbie in Sweden! I’ve been in Stockholm nearly for six months, I already did so many “fika”, swam in cold waters of Sweden, walked barefoot in Stockholm’s parks during the summer and, of course, had too many interactions with the Swedish bureaucracy 🙂 So far so good! My next challenge is job hunting – we’ll see how this will go 😉