Swedish police officer in need of guidance

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ConflictedSwede
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Swedish police officer in need of guidance

Postby ConflictedSwede » 2021-01-23, 19:54

Hey everyone,

I'm new to this forum but with a very specific goal.
I work as a police officer in Sweden and very often I need to be able to communicate with people in a very basic manner. Usually the purpose of this communication is to get answers to basic questions or to provide basic information such as:

"- Are you hurt in any way?"

"- You are under arrest/being detained."

"- What is your name? Where do you live?"

"- How can we help you?"

etc.

If the person is going to be formally interrogated a translator will be provided but it would help me and make a lot of those I interact with a lot more comfortable and less afraid if I could explain what is happening right now and what is going to happen next. Also it would make things easier if I could answer basic questions.

So my question really is which languages I should prioritize and in what order to reach a basic-basic level so to speak. I am aware that nationality and language doesn't always correlate perfectly and I'm not trying to offend anyone by doing some generalization. These are the nationalities I encounter the most:

Romania (a lot of times from the Romani community)
Poland
Ukraine
Georgia
Syria
Afghanistan
Iraq
Lebanon
Somalia
Ethiopia


As of right now I speak somewhat functional english and very basic german (besides swedish) but I want to find out which languages would make it possible for me to communicate with the most people from the above mentioned countries. Obviously it won't be the mother tongue of all of those mentioned but as long as we can understand each other on a basic level it would be good enough.

How do you think I should prioritize?

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Yasna
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Re: Swedish police officer in need of guidance

Postby Yasna » 2021-01-23, 22:21

ConflictedSwede wrote:As of right now I speak somewhat functional english and very basic german (besides swedish) but I want to find out which languages would make it possible for me to communicate with the most people from the above mentioned countries. Obviously it won't be the mother tongue of all of those mentioned but as long as we can understand each other on a basic level it would be good enough.

How do you think I should prioritize?

Levantine Arabic is spoken in both Syria and Lebanon, and quite similar to the Arabic spoken in Iraq.
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awrui
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Re: Swedish police officer in need of guidance

Postby awrui » 2021-01-24, 2:46

All those languages and cultures are very different. You can think about:
- Which group is the most difficult to communicate with?
- Which group would profit the most from you speaking their language?
- Which languages are accessible to you? Sometimes it can be really hard finding a language course in Romani, Georgian, Dari, Tigrinya etc.
- What are your preferences and interests? For me, It's much easier to learn a language when I'm interested in the culture that belongs to it.

I'd maybe remove Ethiopia from the list of languages to learn. That country has a ton of different languages! I've met a few Ethiopians, and not two of them spoke the same language. Afghanistan also has serveral languages. So unless it's one certain ethnic group you're dealing with, learning one language from those countries is a drop on a hot stone.

ConflictedSwede
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Re: Swedish police officer in need of guidance

Postby ConflictedSwede » 2021-01-24, 12:17

Thanks for the replies! I really appreciate it :)

awrui wrote:All those languages and cultures are very different. You can think about:
- Which group is the most difficult to communicate with?
- Which group would profit the most from you speaking their language?
- Which languages are accessible to you? Sometimes it can be really hard finding a language course in Romani, Georgian, Dari, Tigrinya etc.
- What are your preferences and interests? For me, It's much easier to learn a language when I'm interested in the culture that belongs to it.

I'd maybe remove Ethiopia from the list of languages to learn. That country has a ton of different languages! I've met a few Ethiopians, and not two of them spoke the same language. Afghanistan also has serveral languages. So unless it's one certain ethnic group you're dealing with, learning one language from those countries is a drop on a hot stone.


I would say the most difficult is to verbally communicate with afghans, georgians and romanians.
This is a gross generalization and only comes down to differences in language of course.
Also I think these three groups would benefit most from better communication since they also, in my opinion, are being left out from a lot of help that government agencies could provide for them due to the lack of understanding.

I've found decent courses in arabic, russian, french and spanish which I believe would make me a lot better within a few months/years.

I'm not looking to learn 10 different languages. My question is basically which 2-3 languages that would provide most coverage among the mentioned nationalities. In other words, which languages would provide a super basic understanding between us?

I'm not looking to learn everybodys native tongue, simply just to get a basic understanding of a few languages that increases the probability of some form of basic communication.

Thankful for any help I can get :)

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Osias
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Re: Swedish police officer in need of guidance

Postby Osias » 2021-01-24, 13:59

Hello and welcome!

ConflictedSwede wrote:My question is basically which 2-3 languages that would provide most coverage among the mentioned nationalities. In other words, which languages would provide a super basic understanding between us?


What a difficult question! Reading your list, I see no single language you can use to communicate with even two of these people! Maybe Arabic, but as far as I understood, Modern Standard Arabic is a high register language know mostly by the 'educated' and people 'from the street' will speak a different 'dialect' in every country, but 'dialect' is between commas because they are considered by linguists as separated languages. But let's wait for the people from this forum who actually speak Arabic to answer.
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Re: Swedish police officer in need of guidance

Postby Osias » 2021-01-24, 14:00

(And now I'm wanderlusting for every single item of that list.)
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h34
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Re: Swedish police officer in need of guidance

Postby h34 » 2021-01-24, 14:31

ConflictedSwede wrote: These are the nationalities I encounter the most:

Romania (a lot of times from the Romani community)

Perhaps Romanian, since you mentioned it first and as it might be the easiest one to begin with. There are some courses on Memrise, e. g. "Learn Romanian for Real" (useful phrases, 1099 words) and also on the 50 Languages app.
Thanks for any corrections

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Re: Swedish police officer in need of guidance

Postby voron » 2021-01-24, 18:13

Russian is a reasonable choice for Ukraine and Georgia, even though many young speakers from Georgia may not understand it or understand it poorly. I am a native Russian speaker, visited Georgia a few years ago, and I was able to communicate in Russian when speaking to people of age 30 and older (with no exception), but had difficulties a few times with younger people and had to use English. As for Ukraine, all Ukrainians understand Russian (except maybe a negligible number of people you are highly unlikely to come across), and while I saw people on TV who couldn't speak it, I have never run into such in real life -- and I travelled to different areas of Ukraine many times.

And Levantine Arabic would be a good choice for Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. I would definitely not recommend Modern Standard Arabic --- not only because communication would be harder in Standard Arabic, but also because you would waste lots of time learning grammar you will never need. I used Levantine many times when talking to people from Lebanon and Syria, most times we were able to communicate fine, but I had problems with some dialects of Syria, for example with people from Aleppo -- they understand my 'Standard Damascene' just fine, but I have problems understanding their replies. The only solution is to practice speaking with people from these regions.

Allekanger
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Re: Swedish police officer in need of guidance

Postby Allekanger » 2021-01-25, 15:00

ConflictedSwede wrote:Hey everyone,

I'm new to this forum but with a very specific goal.
I work as a police officer in Sweden and very often I need to be able to communicate with people in a very basic manner. Usually the purpose of this communication is to get answers to basic questions or to provide basic information such as:

"- Are you hurt in any way?"

"- You are under arrest/being detained."

"- What is your name? Where do you live?"

"- How can we help you?"

etc.

Welcome! :)

I think your ambition is great, but as I'm sure you're aware, being able to ask the questions requires you to also know what they reply, which may not always be a straight answer to the question. You might ask where their pain is, but what if they keep asking you back if you've seen their daughter? It might be basic questions, but what if asking these in the native language makes for a false comfort with them believing you are actually able to understand them to a much further extent than your abilities reach? I dunno.

What if you have an app on your smartphone (assuming Swedish police have smartphones) with prerecorded questions or statements in each language that you could choose from and play for the people you're interacting with? And they could speak back and the app translates and chooses replies accordingly? You wouldn't have to learn (too much or many, at least) of the listed languages. It's great that you want to learn, but I'm thinking this conflict is more widespread within the police force and all police officers won't have the same time or resources as you to learn multiple languages. It should be solved in some other way, seeing as the world becomes a more international place.

But also, why is this your issue to solve (on your free time nonetheless)? Why hasn't this question been raised within the police force?
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Rí.na.dTeangacha
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Re: Swedish police officer in need of guidance

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-01-27, 19:24

I mostly agree with Allekanger. If you do want to learn something useful for this purpose, I'd suggest you pick just one language first, the one you'll use most. You listed Romanian of a Roma background - I imagine it's safe to assume Roma from Romania will be fluent in Romanian even if it's not their native language, and learning basic Romanian is probably one of the more "doable" languages on that list, so that might be a good place to start. Once you've acquired enough ability in it that you find it is actually useful in your work, you'll have a better idea of how good you need to get at these languages to be able to put them to use in the way you want, and you can choose which one to do next.
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Re: Swedish police officer in need of guidance

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-01-27, 22:31

It's great that you are trying to do this. I have no opinion on which language(s) you should learn. :mrgreen: But you are not going to learn all of them, so for the ones that you don't learn I have a different suggestion. Make and carry cards with translations and/or pictures that you and the people you are communicating with can point to. You can include the phrases you mentioned earlier, "I'm sorry I don't speak your language," "point to what you want to say", "we will get an interpreter as soon as we can" or whatever.
I'm thinking that you (and your department) should make your own to fit your own needs. That will require some time and require working together with speakers of those languages, but so does learning a language, which is what you asked about here.
An advantage would be that once they have been made, not just you, but anyone in your department (or in other departments) could use them.
Here are a few random examples of the kind of thing I'm thinking of, which are used here. Some have just one language, some have several, some have mostly pictures. These specific ones won't fit your needs but might give you some ideas of something that could be created (or what to look for, if something similar might have been already made in Sweden by others).

Image

This one has a single statement, but you could have more pages, with other things that you want to communicate.
Image

Just one language. Would be more useful with sentences, and those are out there too, I just couldn't find a good image to post.
Image

etc.


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