The Swedish Chef, “Translated” By Swedes

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 28 2012 8:30 AM

What the Swedish Chef Sounds Like to Swedes

The Swedish Chef

Still of the Swedish Chef, with "translation" by Emanuel Tilly, from YouTube.

I recently went on a quest to investigate what Swedes really think of the shotgun-toting, gibberish-spouting chaos Muppet, the Swedish Chef. What I discovered was that they think he sounds Norwegian—and that they get that question a lot. Some Swedes, including House of Sweden general manager Cecilia Browning, even get asked to translate the chef’s incoherent jabberings. While TSC speaks a language of his own that perhaps only Jim Henson and Muppet Show head writer Jerry Juhl could understand, some Americans seem to be under the misimpression that the chef is actually speaking some form of Swedish.*

While this is a touchy subject among Swedes—their language isn’t just gibberish, after all—I did actually come across one native “translation.” Swedish YouTube user Emanuel Tilly has uploaded clips of the Swedish Chef from the original Muppet Show alongside transcriptions of what it sort of sounds like he might be saying in actual Swedish. These subtitles don’t perfectly match TSC’s nonsense—they’re “translated” into Swedish based on both the sound of the word and the context—but they do begin to give a sense of what he sounds like to the Swedish ear. We’ve translated them back into English so that you can get a sense as well.

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Herewith, we’re serving up three videos of the Swedish Chef as “translated” into Swedish, and then into English.

Bon appétit, or as TSC might say, gue der bork!

"Translation" in English:

Turtle... It's tasty! Yes, very tasty!
It tastes like shit in a Christmas buffet.
Go away, go away, go away.
Oops… Today, I am going to make turtle.
So we have to boil it. Shhh!
And it has nothing in its belly, so…
What a little buster…
Good turtle. Gooood turtle.
Oooh!
I gonna kill you! [in English]
Ahhhhh!
What an odd little guy!
Kadyboom-boom! Is anybody there?
You little...
Okay, now we're going to see who's the boss!
Stand still you coward!
Are you completely crazy?!?!?!?!
*!”@&%’#

"Translation" in English:

The salad is tasty, yes very taaasty!
If you mix it with a cow,
Moo! Moo! Moo!
You have to make salad with finesse! That's why I'm here.
It should go Boom, Boom!
And now we're going to hear the Boom, Boom!
Before you shoot, scream “fire” and shoot!
Voila, the salad.
Now we're going to make cabbage.
Ready, aim, fire!
Voila, the cabbage!

"Translation" in English:

 [Gibberish.]
I am cool! Really coooool. Hahahaha!
That always happens...
A doughnut is easier to make than first meets the eye.
Can you see my muffin?
Because otherwise you can't see properly…
Watch and learn!
Tralalalalala…
It will probably turn out tasty, and...
Same for that one, and...
Can you see that, you schmuck?
DONUT!


Translation courtesy Kristine Bergstrom.

*Correction, Aug. 28, 2012:

This article originally referred to The Muppet Show as  The Muppets Show.

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Jeremy Stahl is a Slate senior editor. You can follow him on Twitter.