Swedish tonal accents: Va då


English - England
Curious to know why especially when some Swedish ladies speak, they place such a heavy sing song emphasis on certain words especially the phrase "Va då" as if something has really upset them, or is there some other reason say regional accents ?

I've just found an interesting possible answer to this question at last in the main link below, however check out a lot of other very interesting comments in several further spin off links to other similar questions.

Do Swedes sound like they're singing when they speak? - Quora

A really funny one from the link....:D

"For me, Norwegian sounds happy and energetic. I can barely imagine an angry or sad Norwegian. Someone pointed out that not all Norwegian dialects have the upwards swing melody going, but I haven’t heard the language spoken without those features.
It also feels like the vocabulary, which I, as a Swede understand, consists of antique words. Just a thing like saying “icke” instead of “inte”. You CAN do so in Sweden. “Icke” is a legitimate word for the english “not”. But it sounds old, like biblical language or something.
That ancient vocabulary is broken up by such words as “rumpetroll” or “butt troll” for tadpole, as someone else mentioned. This combination makes the language sound like some sort of Bizarro World Swedish. Like some sort of twilight zone tongue from a parallell reality where Swedes speak differently and call frog spawn “butt trolls”.
In Sweden, we make fun of the Norwegian vocabulary. A classical formula for a Swedish joke is “Do you know what X is in Norwegian”, and then you say something that sounds like it COULD have been a Norwegian word.
“Do you know what the Norwegian word for shark is?” - “Kjempetorsk” (Giant cod)
“Do you know what the Norwegian word for toilet is?” - “Brusefåtölj” (Murmuring armchair)
“Do you know what the Norwegian word for banana is?” - “Guleböj” (Yellow Bend)
… Yeah.
We can’t do that with Danish, because everything in Danish sounds like you’re speaking with your mouth full of porridge. It’s difficult to even make out the words, even though it’s completely comprehensible in writing.
Spoken Danish is completely incomprehensible. It sounds kind of like Norwegian, only it’s spoken by someone who is completely shitfaced drunk. Like they can’t articulate normal letters or even stand up because of how intoxicated they are. Everything kind of flows together into a guttural mess.
… However, once you get the hang of it, it starts to make sense. I spent a few days in Denmark, maybe a year ago. At the beginning, I didn’t understand shit. In the end, I could decode and translate most of what I heard into Swedish, with a few exceptions."
  • Moorland

    English - England
    Going back to the original first post I've just discovered this link below which I'd never heard of before and very interesting indeed as I don't think this ever been posted on here before either, yet it makes sense. Furthermore I can't immediately think of anything similar in English, so what about other languages or is Swedish the only one ?

    How do Swedes react when a native English speaker visits Sweden and insists on speaking Swedish, even if it isn't perfect but is mostly understandable? - Quora

    Scroll down to Milan Petrovic's answer on 18th October....
    Hi, I'm a swedish native speaker I'm gonna give some feedback. The reason why swedes somethimes have a hard time to understand foregins accents of swedish, is because it's because you are failing on what we call “Betoning” (meaning to put tone on). Its basically where the “weight” of the word I put. Let's check a earlier example, förvånad. If you say förVÅNad ,then it's betonat correctly. But if you say FÖRvånad, it's sounds to a swedes as “för vårdnad” wich means “in favor of custody”, and that doesn't usually makes sense in a situation. Its not that swedes are stupid or doesn't understand what you are saying, it is because you have failed to realise that one pronounciation can have different meaning depending on the “BeTONing”. In English “beTONing” is not as common because often it doesn't change the meaning of the words you pronounce. Trie to learn how words are “beTONade”, and people will understand you much better!


    Norwegian, Australia
    I think you can find the same kind of problems in Norwegian, the different way of saying "bønner" and "Bønder" might give either beans or farmers.
    Last edited:


    English - England
    Having thought about I don't think we really have a need for tonal accents in English rather putting emphasis on the word in the sentence instead. For example you could have the two words "downstairs" and "down stairs" implying firstly urgency and secondly no hurry....

    1. He raced "downstairs" as fast as he could to catch the postman before he left.

    2. He went "down stairs" slowly thinking that the postman was due sooner or later.

    Doing it the Swedish emphasising tonal way might work in the first example, but the second way could imply he was still suffering from a big hangover.

    Another thought is take for example the word "essential" which in itself with no emphasis implies something of importance. However to imply urgency the voice is raised and spoken very loudly which is why I think tonal emphasis can be hard to understand in English. Consequently the examples below given in the article are for me very useful.

    Acute: normen – “the norm” (from en norm)
    Grave: norrmän – “Norwegians” (from en norrman)

    Acute: modet – “the courage” (from mod)
    Grave: modet – “the fashion” (from mode)

    Acute: tanken – “the tank” (from en tank)
    Grave: tanken – “the thought” (from en tanke)

    Swedish is full of these differences – the key is to learn the word without any ending! For example, for the word “thought”, learn that it’s base form is tanke. If you know the tone accent of the base word, you’ll know that tanken with the meaning “the thought” has the same tone accent. When you’ve mastered tone accents, you’ll sing just like a Swede!