On average, Swedes speak fantastically good English, many without a noticable accent. For those who do have an accent, one of the English sounds that tends to cause problems is “z” — they don’t have this sound in Swedish. So when “s” comes at the end of a word and would be pronounced by a native English speaker as “z”, in the Swedish accent it’s still “s”.

This morning was the Sankta Lucia celebration at the university — more on that later. Anyway, there was a nice chorale singing traditional Swedish holiday songs, and they sang one song in English – “Christmas Bells are Ringing” which was very lovely except for that one “s” which made me want to giggle. They must have made a decision as a choir to sing it that way, because it seems unlikely that 15 young Swedes would all mispronounce it spontaneously while pronouncing everything else without an accent.