V as in – what?

You got it. The Swedish language does not differentiate between W and V, or at least most of the time. Often as not V and W are listed together in the phonebook, for those of you who still remember those, and if you are listed as Vilhemlsson at the dentist you may well be Wilhelmsson at the post office. In Sweden you don’t pronounce www as in English double-u, double-u, double-u, but vee-vee-vee.

Swedish people don’t seem to understand that English makes a rather substantial difference between the pronunciation of v-words and w-words. Unfortunately it seems us Swedes get easily confused, but that does not turn a W into a V, and definitely does not change V into W. W has a soft sound and can be noted in words such as would, water, wish, wet and so on.

In Sweden we do make fun of our own shortcomings though. Badly pronounced English v- and w-words are a common occurrence in comedy movies. Problem is that it’s an inside joke for Swedish people and when I try to explain it to my friends from over sees I can’t seem to get the message across. Lost in translation?

Recently I was out clubbing in Germany. As I was standing at the bar I heard a classic signature Swedish accent, “I vud like a wodka-redbull”. The funny thing is that mispronouncing W as V and V as W aside, actually botching both the W and the V in the same sentence is astounding. I mean if you stick to just one pronunciation you automatically get at least half your words right, right?

I have no idea how to convince the Swedish EFL learners out there that it’s Viking not Wyking, it’s vodka not wodka, wet not vett, wish not visch etc. On the other hand, why should we? It’s kind of nice to have a signature accent. The French accent is considered romantic, so why couldn’t the Swedish accent develop it’s own romantic charm?

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