Is Swenglish even a thing?
Despite the pic, there are no football jokes, puns or commentary here – not that there’s anything to go on in the context of Sweden and England (although things would have been very different had the Swedes beaten Ukraine). This is solely about copywriting services.
In 2010 we began working with a Swedish global waste technology provider. One of our early jobs was less PR and media relations services-based (our primary PR agency brief) and more about translation services.
None of the team could speak Swedish. Nor could they write a single word of it. But that didn’t matter, as it turned out that Envac wanted us to take all of their existing copy (website copy, brochure copy) and transform it into English – from Swenglish.
Swenglish!? We’d never heard of it. But yes, it’s actually a real thing.
Swenglish is a term that relates to English language influenced by Swedish in terms of grammar, phrasing and vocabulary. At best, it can sound a little awkward. At its worst, it needs a lot of concentration in order to decipher what’s actually being said and significant re-writes.
Since 2010, it’s fair to say that we’ve become Swenglish experts. In fact, we could probably launch a business focused exclusively on translating Swenglish to English. We’ve even carried out similar work with a Belgian firm (Belgish, or Belgiumish maybe?).
The point is that there’s a halfway house when it comes to translation. International companies that have a UK presence may have already broken the back of their translation work, and kind of translated their PR and marketing copy into English, but it only takes a few oddly chosen words, or one awkwardly phrased sentence to know it’s not true English – and that can be a bit of a turn off for a UK audience.
We’re a bunch of sticklers when it comes to copy, so maybe we’re more sensitive to it. However, if you’ve ever read copy on a UK website whereby the language clearly isn’t UK English (or even accurate English full stop) and it’s grated on you, then you’ll understand.
If you’re an international company with a UK presence then it’s important that you get your UK audience-facing copy spot on. Whether it’s translated copywriting for websites, or copywriting for marketing collateral that needs finessing (or converting from European or Scandinavian English to UK English) you really need to get it right or risk losing a customer from the outset.