Swedish into English translation

Although Sweden may be a small country with less than 10 million inhabitants, Swedish speakers are nonetheless very active within a range of sectors and international contexts. This means there is no end to the number of Swedish into English translation jobs being undertaken on a daily basis – from tender specification documents and business proposals through to marketing materials and website content.

For many Swedes and their business partners, Swedish into English translation may seem like a routine task that can be undertaken by just about any native Swede. After all, Swedish people have no problem conducting business in English, and they can seemingly understand almost everything, from the latest Hollywood blockbusters to marketing texts and business proposals.

But don’t be fooled: the cultural gap between Swedish and English is much broader than you might think, and the Swedish language is packed full of subtleties and quirks that are often quite difficult to express clearly in English.

For one thing, instructions are given quite differently in Swedish and English. Swedish can be very procedural, with the word ska being used to explain quite simply what will be done. In English, this may need to be translated either as will, shall or must depending on the context, and getting it wrong could cause confusion.

The word verksamhet can be similarly tricky when performing Swedish into English translation. in Swedish, it refers to an entire company or organisation and/or everything that it does, and it can take many different forms in English. Selecting the right one requires a deep understanding of the original Swedish and a native mastery of the English language.

Swedish is also loaded with one-word concepts unique to the culture. Some of these have become quite well known in recent years, such as fika or lagom, meaning something along the lines of coffee break and just right respectively. Swedish marketing texts are chock-full of similar examples.

Take Kulturtant, for example. In one word, Swedish can reference a very particular type of older lady, known for her bright, bold fashion sense and her love of fine wine. It’s a cultural phenomenon that is instantly recognisable to all Swedes and loaded with social and political connotations. Communicating this concept while also maintaining a smooth and free-flowing tone is no easy task and another reason to always use native language linguists for your Swedish into English translation tasks.

There are tons of other potential pitfalls when translating from Swedish into English. From gender neutrality through to politeness and register, the two languages are often at odds with one another, and it takes a skilled mother tongue translator to ensure that nothing gets lost in translation.