Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Alphabet and Language


The Swedish Alphabet

I’ve been doing a few ABC-memes lately – like my previous post today for ABC Wednesday. In connection with this I’ve noted that my brain seems to be finding this more of a challenge than the purely visual ones (themes like reflections, water, sky, a certain colour etc). Or, to be more precise – it seems that when presented with the task of finding things beginning with a certain letter, my brain automatically starts searching in Swedish (my first language); even though I know that I’ll be using English. 

If you look at the illustrations in the Swedish alphabet poster above (which I found on the internet), it will give you an idea, although “the other way round”. Some of the pictures will seem out of place to you, unless you know the Swedish words. (Why is there a duck for A? Because the Swedish word is “anka” – etc.)

When I write in English, I usually also think in English. I don’t go through a whole translation process in my head for every sentence. My guess is that our first experiences of learning the alphabet and learning to read – in our first language – are very deeply rooted in the brain. When I started learning English (at the age of 10) I had already been reading books in Swedish for years. Learning English was not interwoven with learning the alphabet, since we already knew that. So the approach to the second language is different, and less associated with “A for…”

What took me a bit by surprise now is that I can’t recall ever having thought about this before; not even during my university years or during the (few) years that I worked as a teacher.

Anyhow I’m sure it will be good practice for me to continue with the ABC challenges… ;)


  1. Very interesting post. Your English is wonderful. I'm always so impressed.

  2. Languages are HARD, and the older we get, the harder they are to learn. I really respect anyone who is multi-lingual, I just don't know how you can get your brain wrapped around more than your origional language!

  3. wonderful post, very interesting to see the letters and know what you go through to publish a post in your second language. you do such a wonderful blog that i forget it is not in your native words. thanks for the object lesson


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