Swedish Language Blog

A Little Bit About Skåne Posted by on Jul 8, 2008 in Culture

I promised you that we would talk about Skåne today. And depending on how we do, we may have to spread it over several posts. Why? There’s much to talk about!

Skåne is a very odd part of Sweden. And some may argue that it’s not even Sweden at all. Well, once upon a time it was called Skåneland (Scania in English) and was one of the three lands of Denmark. The city of Lund was its center. So those who say that if you scratch a skåning, you’ll see a Dane underneath, are kind of sort of right. And those skåningar may even say that as far as the historical details go, the province is a quite recent Swedish acquisition.

In order to learn more about the event that gave Skåne to Sweden, I started to read about the Northern Wars (1655-1661) and the Treaty of Roskilde (February 26, 1658) but the overload of war-mongering kings, conquests, and who did what to whom was slowly putting me to sleep.

Roskilde is in Denmark, by the way, and today is more known for its music festival than for some old historical treaties.

And why am I telling you all this boring stuff? Because it’s hard to understand what Skåne is all about without a little bit of background research. It’s closer, much closer in fact, to Copenhagen than to Stockholm, people talk funny there, and even the climate and nature are different from the rest of Sweden.

So just how close is Skåne to Copenhagen? So close that some people who live in Malmö go to work in Denmark. It’s just a short train ride across the Öresund strait, and boom, you’re in Copenhagen, the other Capital of Scandinavia. There’s even a nice, long bridge across the Öresund to make the trip to the motherland easy and painless. Skåningar use the international airport in Copenhagen, go to Denmark for cultural events, music concerts, and shopping. If I sound just a tad bit jealous, I am. I live a day’s drive north of Stockholm and I’m slowly forgetting what a civilized world looks like. And I think Copenhagen is definitely civilized.

But all this proximity of Skåne to Denmark has left a hideous mark on the local people. They talk funny. Why? They speak skånska.

The question of whether skånska is a dialect of Swedish, or a dialect of Danish, or a whole separate language altogether, has been keeping the linguists busy for a bigger part of the last century. To this day some radical skåningar say that skånska is a suppressed minority language and should be treated as such. It’s all fine by me, the language, or dialect doesn’t even sound like Swedish to my delicate västerbottniska ears.

Take the “r” sound, for example. While we in northern Sweden think that “r” should not be tampered with and do our best to pretend that sometimes the sound doesn’t exist at all, those skåningar dredge up their rs from a deep, hidden place where only phlegm should reside. And they don’t stop there. They mess with “sj” and “ch” sounds and scores of others. They abuse the vowels, too. And did I mention they use a whole bunch of words that nobody else does?

So how can you tell if someone is speaking skånska? The easiest way is to ask the person to say something, anything, that contains those problem sounds:
Kerstin och Christer är arga. (Kerstin and Christer are angry.)

And if the speaker appears to be clearing his throat in a very violent manner, then you got, it’s skånska.

Here is an example of several skåningar clearing their throats on youtube.

And then there’s this issue of where Skåne should belong. Last December a Danish politico expressed a burning desire to see Skåne reunited with the motherland. Needless to say, it caused quite a stir on both sides of the Öresund strait. Local and national newspapers held opinion polls regarding the fate of the province. Should it stay or should it go? The results were not all that surprising at all. About half of skåningar wanted to be reunited with Denmark. The other half wanted to stay in Sweden. And on a national scale, the opinion was divided more or less equally, too. 50% was in favor of giving it back to the Danish, 50% against.

So there you have it. That’s Skåne for you.

Here are some useful words:

  • skånska – whatever it is that they speak in Skåne (en variant av svenska som talas i Skåne)
  • skånska (noun, def. skånskan, plural: skånskor) – a woman from Skåne (en kvinna från Skåne)
  • skåning (noun, def. skåningen, plural: skåningar) – a person from Skåne (en skånsk person är en skåning)
Tags: , , , , ,
Keep learning Swedish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Transparent Language

Transparent Language is a leading provider of best-practice language learning software for consumers, government agencies, educational institutions, and businesses. We want everyone to love learning language as much as we do, so we provide a large offering of free resources and social media communities to help you do just that!


  1. Gemma:

    I loved your post. I’m trying to learn Swedish at the moment and my partner is from Skåne! I have real trouble understanding him at times as he sounds so different from the Swedish I hear on the radio and from my tapes. However, I speak a little Welsh too so all those ‘rrrrr’s and ‘ch’ throat clearing sounds are nothing new to me and I can do them with ease…

    I just hope all the other Swedes I speak to over time will forgive the accent I’m picking up *giggle*

  2. Anna:

    Hej Gemma!

    Don’t worry! That makes two of us when it comes to understanding skånska. 😉 When a skåning comes out at me with that heavy accent/dialect of theirs, I just switch to finsvenska and watch them squirm. hehehe! There are so many different accents in Swedish, it truly boggles one’s mind. Especially since there aren’t that many Swedish speakers! 😉

  3. chris:

    wow I’m going to be honest that confused me! Is it possible to avoid skanska at all costs? haha because if so I’m going to try and do that until jag forstar svenska lite mer (I’m not even sure that made sense haha)

    Your posts are helping me though alot so please continue! your the best swedish teacher I’ve ever had! since my friends from sweden are to lazy to teach me haha so the internet is the best tool I have to learn swedish.

  4. Gemma:

    I’ve found that if you know a Swedish person and you try talking Swedish with them, they get bored really quickly as they have to keep translating words and correcting things.

    I’d love to find some Swedish TV to watch online just to see the language in action… anyone know of anything like that?

    Unfortunately I can’t escape Skåne as thats the only part of Sweden I’ve ever been to!

  5. Anna:

    hahaha! You guys crack me up! 🙂

    Actually, Skåne is quite lovely and I do enjoy visiting there.
    And Gemma, I’ll look into that TV thing for you. I’m not much of a TV watcher, but be prepared for a disappointment. I’d say that 90% of everything is in English, with Swedish subtitles. But why don’t you try renting some Swedish movies? If you want some recommendations, I can prepare a post on Swedish cinema and whatnot.

  6. Gemma:

    Anything actually in Swedish would be great. 🙂

    Are there any thing you watch regularly? Or any films that are dubbed in Swedish that you’ve liked?

  7. Anna:

    Hej Gemma!
    Ok, for next week I’ll prepare a post about films – this should be fun! 🙂
    In the meantime, check out the official site of the Swedish TV:
    They have some programs you can watch on the internet.

    And here are TV4 and TV3 websites:

    This should keep you busy for a while! 😉

  8. Gemma:

    Tack so mycket! 😀

  9. sabahat hussain:

    i love to learn this language but in pakistan we can’t learn this language.so how can i learn this language.

  10. nick:

    I started to learn Swedish about 10 years back but only managed a few years so I’m very rusty now, but one funny story I remember from that class was that one of the guys there was married to a girl from Skåna, and they had just come back from a holiday in Stockholm. Apparently, the girl had tried to order a hot-dog from one of the many hot-dog stands, and the guy inside couldn’t understand a word of her Swedish, and as a result, she, a native Swede, had to order it in English! I never really believed the story at the time but maybe it is true after all 🙂 Little question – my tacher was from Göteborg so she promounced the Swedish ‘sk’ the same as the English ‘sh’ i.e. ‘skepp’ was pronounced ‘shep,’ rather than the usual Swedish sound for this… I was wondering what version the people from Skåna use, as to an English person’s ears I’m afraid to tell you that the ‘soft’ Göteborg version is so much easier for us 🙂

  11. Anna:

    Hi Nick!
    I’ve seen similar situations at the university here in my town. Students from southern Sweden sometimes resort to speaking English, so the rest of us can understand them. But it’s not just Skåne that has a funky accent. Jämtland is no better (or maybe even worse) 😉

    When it comes to “sk” I’d say that the majority of Swedes pronounce it as “sh” these days, at least where I live. In the past 5 years I have not seen one person under the age of 30 who would still pronounce it the hard way – you know, the way that’s unpronounceable for foreigners. 🙂

  12. timan:

    Hej Anna ,
    This is important! why they called city of Lund..the city of ideas. please tell me something about it’s community& university .My best friend’s requsit.So vara snäll och respond.You have my email.
    vänlig hälsning
    Timan R

  13. Luke (Sydney):

    Hej Anna,

    Thanks god I haven’t bought the Kurt Wallander(Krister Henriksson and the late Johanna Sällström version) box set yet. As far as I know it’s filmed in Ystad, but Johanna is from Stockholm right? …anyway, will it be a good buy to learn the ‘proper’ Swedish accent? Tack.

  14. Alex:

    So does this mean when I go to Malmö next month I won’t understand anything?