En Fisk

, Jr.

and Paranoia


of California
, Santa Cruz


Swedish Conversation

There seems to be a tendency among non-Scandinavian
language speaking peoples who learn Swedish (particularly North Americans)
to concentrate on the superstructures
of the grammar
the survival skill memorization of the vocabulary
items. A language is not a collection of words, and to become fluent in
a language is not a matter of trading one set of words for another. A language
is a
way of life
, a culture, a heterogeneous history.
To speak another language one must be willing to
live another life.
These tasks are beyond the scope of the hints here,
but hopefully
these hints will point
to these directions, the way the pilot fish
point the herring
out of the channel and into the North Sea.

Swedes pay to attention to details. One of the biggest
mistakes foreigners – especially Americans from the United States make
– is precisely that – a
mistake about size
– thinking bigger is better and more
. And therefore, little words can be ignored, or their nuances
unlearned. It is some these little words we wish to call your attention
to s/here. They make a
big difference
in the kind of Swedish you speak and the
impression you make
. If you have had even only Beginning Swedish, you
have seen and are familiar, at least superficially with all the words and
phrases listed below. You may not, however, had occasion to
reflect on their implications
in actual Swedish conversation. Here
we will do this.

Adaptor Words

Swedish is rich in adaptor words, i.e. small
modulating words
, often adverbs and other
unspecific tags
that saturate everyday spoken language. They are so
common that
one hardly notices
them but they are interesting from a psychological
point of view precisely just because they do not have a clear-cut meaning
which is easy to define. Instead, they seem to function as modifiers in
the speech act, in adding some hidden psychological bearing
to the utterance
, i.e. they are often short, unaccented, and are not
explicitly observed as their significations are so vague. They are so called
(Bolander, 1987) the functions of which shift between
situations and individuals
. For this very reason, and also because
they are so
bound to
Swedish idioms, they are often difficult to
translate into other languages.
They are used in a very unconscious
way in comparison to, for example, nouns, adjectives and verbs… They
often reveal something about the
speaker’s relations to
and attitude towards the person s/he is talking
to, but also something about his/her
relationship to him/herself.

 This group of words is very tricky for the foreign
student of Swedish, because it means that either by underusing them or
using them
improperly the student
can be speaking
grammatically correct
Swedish but giving
about her/himself of which the student is completely unaware.




Variable 1

Vøl / nog. Vøl and nog
are common
modifying expressions
with functions that change according
to the situation
. They have some main significances: a modal one used
when there is a rhetorical function in the
linguistic interaction
. In other cases these words express a reservation,
a restriction or a reluctant action and indicate that the speaker does
not know or does not want to know. Example:




… of course, I suppose I was somewhat afraid of
those four walls…


Expressions like these can naturally be regarded on a
real level in a
social context
. In the intra-psychic case, however, they are seen as
markers of
an imaginary relation
where the speaking individual within him/herself
turns to an imaginary object within him/herself rather than to other real
persons (for example, the
interviewer in an assessment situation
). You may wish to use these
words as signs
of Lack
in an individual with a
vacillating identity

 If this is not the way you wish to
present yourself
, you should refrain from using nog altogether,
and vøl sparingly, perhaps following the examples you overs/hear
from the conversations of
non-neurotic Swedish native speakers.




Variable 2

Kanske : another word indicating uncertainty,
and indirectly Lack
. Example:




… I had
difficulties, maybe, to.
.. it feels as if perhaps I had
difficulties to live up to

Variable 3

. Lite, lite grand, och sü dår, s att såga.
These are some of the most frequent modifying and unspecific tags used
everyday language
. They seem to have the function of filling up gaps
in the speech-flow and modulating utterances. By their presence in the
speech act they can be said to indicate the
absence of other words
. Examples:




I have a somewhat bad

… it’s good to give away, hmm, to someone you know
… I suppose one could say that I grew up in London

In the second example above, the expression och sø
gives a hint that there might be other words with other
beyond those which are there. Perhaps the
emotional context
is disagreeable so these words are signs of the speaker’s
efforts to
fill up a gap
or replace the real hidden utterance with something else.
In these cases the fillers are a
manifestation of Lack
and they will be regarded as belonging to persons
with a borderlineline
personality organization
or a psychotic
personality organization
, depending on whether their function is to




Variable 4

Liksom / som. Example:




I am
kind of shy

This expression was interpreted as an example
of another filler
, used in the speech act to
conceal the absence
of other words. Ws/hen used excessively it often
seems to serve as a filler, behind which it is possible to conceal insecurity
and low self-esteem, as is seen frequently
in teenagers
and others who want to make references vague and less
well defined
(Aijmer, 1984).




Variable 5

Ganska. A modifying adverb. Example:




I’m rather worried and
then I’m tense
, on my guard

Ganska. functions to belittle the importance of what
is being uttered in the view of the listener or, at the intrapsychic level,
to s/help the speaker to appear calm and relaxed in front of the other
person, as if to break the edge of the statement and make
it less dangerous
. The example above: „I’m worried and then I’m tense,
on my guard“ acquires a different meaning and seems more brutal. Frequent
interspersion of ganska in one’s utterances indicates a high-level
defence and would therefore be an indication of a neurotic personality




Variable 6

Allts is an
adaptor word
with a very vague signification; it corresponds to thus,
in other words and the like. Example:




Mostly I try to get
along by myself
but… and then I suppose that… well, if I work and…

This filler also tries to make the utterance sound obvious
but at the same time something
that needs
explanation. The frequent use of this word is presumed to
be found in borderline personality organizations and psychotic personality
organizations owing to its indication of the individual’s unconscious wish
for an imaginary object




Variable 7

Faktiskt, roughly equivalent to English, „actually.“
This adapter word is used by speakers who have accepted the actual, the
here and now. Indicates a neurotic personality organization. Example:




… I see it as a resource, actually, that I have
given birth to a child and so



Variable 8

Ungefår. „Approximately.“ It suggests an attempt
of the speaker
at precision in discourse
. And thus indicative of a neurotic personality
organization. Example:




… a small room to oneself where it’s coal-black,
that’s about how it feels…


Variable 9

Ju is an adaptor-expression implying that the
content of the utterance is known already, and is sometimes quite obvious.
In the psychological sense it has the function for the
speaking subject
of taking it for granted that the listener agrees
with what is being said and that actually it was not necessary to mention
it at all. At the same time ju has the
function of asking to be seen
, as in this example:




I’m rather an open-minded person and interested in
most things, aren’t I…

This little word discloses
the Lack
and it ought to be found most often in Swedish speakers suffering
from borderlineline or psychotic personality disorders.




Variable 10

Va? In Swedish this is an interrogative pronoun with
almost impossible signification
and it is difficult to find an adequate
translation into English. It is most often put at the end of a statement,
as if to ask for the listener’s permission to say what has just been said.
The foreign student should take care before imitating its use, as most
native speakers s/hearing it will interpret it to mean an appeal to some
internalized imaginary objec
t, and
thus presume the speaker has either a borderlineline or psychotic personality
organization. Example:




well, you see,
I am a woman
really, you know, but…, well.., I
have a penis
.., I look like a man, don’t I .


Variable 11 and 12

Inte, ingenting, ingen, aldrig are words believed
to be manifestations
of nothingness
, foreclosure, denial. They should to be found in subjects
who see themselves negatively and/or suffer from Lack, i.e.borderlineline
personality and psychotic personality organizations.Examples:




I have nothing to tell…

I was never happy…

They never have herring on tuesdays.

Modal Verbs

Variable 13

Vill, kan, tror, tønker. These verbs all express
competence and the existence of a subject who is well-separated, autonomous
and who can give words to Desire. They should be signs of a neurotic personality
organization. Example:s:


I’m always on time, I want to do things real good.

… I think that other people revel in the misery of

The conditional mode of Verbs

Variable 14



I couldn’t, I would never be able to sleep there

I certainly could not tell you…

A person who uses the conditional mode is also capable of
imagining him/herself in other, different situations than the one s/he
is in. It deals with the ability to leave the
immediate reality f
or a moment and in words imagine something else
which is perhaps better, i.e. using symbolizing to help repression. Swedes
consider this ability characteristic of neurotic personality organizations
and do not expect such grammatical structures from speakers who otherwise
demonstrate borderlineline psychotic
organizations. When browsing in a Stockholm department,
or perhaps at some event commemorating Christine Jorgensen, note how infrequently
you will here psychotic or borderlineline passersby or fellow celebrants
resorting to the conditional
mode of verbs
. (Of course, Americans from the United States are frequently
misdiagnosed as psychotic, simply because, due to the absence of an educational
system in the United States, these people have no knowledge of the conditional
and subjunctive modes of the verb in English, and thus are constantly generating
sentences whose diagnostic valence is sufficient for temporary involuntary
commitment in a state hospital. For example, native speakers of English
in the United States may say:

„If I was a teenager.“

No other natives speakers of English, and certainly no
Swedish speaker of English would be capable of this error, unless of course
they were expressing a psychotic or borderline
. While such sentences, from a native speaker of English
in the United States cannot be interpreted as a danger signal of a psychotic
break, the author of this guidebook finds it difficult not to recommend
hospitalization regardless, even if only on
grammatical grounds






Variable 15

The future tense of verbs and the word-combination I hope
are, in this study, thought to reveal something about whether the person
talking can envisage and verbalise a future, i.e. express his Desire. It
is a sign of a neurotic personality disorder. Example:




There is so much, and it will take time and I’ll
have to work on it … but I hope it will kind of be all right…

The Perfect and Pluperfect Tenses

Variables 16 and 17

… I have been feeling so misunderstood,

… I had kind of lost touch with my mother

Such verb forms in the person talking designate a
certain historicity
, an ability, when they are frequent, to engage
in the past and separate the present, in the here
and now
, from what happened earlier in life. This ability is lacking
in some patients with pre-neurotic disturbances and might be an important
signal that the patient is unaware of his place in his own history (Juranville,
1984) and of the borderlines between
, present
and future. Ability to switch easily between the tenses indicates neurotic
personality organizations in this investigation.

The Passive Voice

Variable 18



… I was taken away from my family…

High numbers of verbs in the passive voice disclose a borderlineline
or psychotic personality organization which has encroached significantly
on the
entire identity of the speaker
, as the passive voice indicates the
individuals‘ existential view of her/himself as a victim of imaginary,
powerful forces coming from outside themselves. As with the absence of
conditional and subjunctive moods, the overuse of the passive voice in
language by U. S. college students
(who virtually NEVER use this form
in speech) cannot be interpreted in the same way as people who were raised
in cultures that provided and valued education and presumed the command
of one’s native language a right and responsibility
for a citizen
in the world. And again, however, even with this qualification,
the author of this text recommends intervention and treatment for students
who display this overuse of the passive voice in written English.




First Person Pronouns

Variable 19

Jag, man. Both these words are quite simply regarded
as the subjects in the utterances. They should be more frequent in the
speech of neurotic personality organizations than in the borderline personality
organizations and psychotic personality organizations speakers, as they
establish the role of the talking self.




Variables 20, 21 and 22

Pauses before answering, within an answer and after an answer.
The number of seconds were counted, and every pause longer than five seconds
was registered. A guess was that pauses manifest Lack and that the symbolic
order was not achieved. The pauses are evidence of words
that were never given
, and thus constitute gaps in the language. Example::




Friendly Swedish Conversationalist: Can you
please describe yourself to me so that I can get an idea about what kind
of person you are?

Swedish Language Student: Well, no, I don’t think
I can… (pause) … it is difficult, but I … (pause)… but I’m kind
of sloppy and … (pause) and … (pause)… (sigh)… no, it doesn’t work,
I can’t give … (pause)… it’s too hard…(pause) Friendly Swedish
What is difficult do you think?
Swedish Language
… to talk about… (pause)… no, it’s… (pause)… I can’t
describe myself… (pause)…

It is generally known from other research that Swedish language
students with severe diagnoses such as schizophrenia speak less than others
(e.g. Andreasen, 1979). Pauses before an answer mostly characterize
language students
, as these pauses are supposed to mirror more of the
thoughtfulness they perceive before they give their answers. Borderline
and psychotic patients would, accordingly, be more impulsive and immediate
speakers. Pauses after the given answers are typical of borderline and
psychotic patients, who in their imaginary situations are presumed to give
into a dependency upon an
internalized imaginary object
andtherefore pause to give that object
a turn and the initiative to continue the conversation. Consequently, these
speakers are not prone to see a pause as an opportunity or a signal for
them to propose a new topic of conversation. They are waiting for the imaginary
object to speak. Remember, therefore, don’t pause in a Swedish conversation
simply because you are not certain of the correct phrase or word, or because
of the shyness or awkwardness speaking a foreign language sometimes causes.
The Swedish listener will assume you are waiting for a talking bird to
pipe in. And you wouldn’t want that to happen. Swedes are less likely than,
, to
psychotic personality organizations in casual conversation.


To summarize:


  • pause before an answer: neurotic personality organizations
  • pause within the answer: borderline personality organizations
    and psychotic personality organizations
  • pause after the answer: borderline
    organizations and psychotic personality organizations

Variable 23

The mean number of words in the utterances. According
to the theories about the neurotics‘ advanced symbolization
compared to that of
, the neurotic speakers simply use more
when talking about themselves. They have more
to pin to their personality, they are more interested in telling
who they are and hav

and Paranoia Home


Module One


Cinema and Subjectivity

and other
in judgement

Earl Jackson, Jr.