Enthusiast: ''It's not easy at all to learn Tatar because there is almost no information in Swedish or English''
How schools pay teachers for Tatars in Scandinavia, the media run smear campaigns in the country with the help of migrants about ''Russian threat''
Swede Pierre Aberg who decided to discover Tukay's language for himself faced translation problems. As the enthusiast told, when he tried to learn a new language, he faced a deficit of books in English. Songs of Ak Bure folk group solved the problem. Realnoe Vremya's correspondent talked to the enthusiast from Scandinavia.
How ethnic folk music helps learn Tatar
Could you tell about yourself?
My name is Pierre, I'm from Sweden. I grew up in a small city at the port of Umea. Now I'm working right as a social worker assistant in a refugee camp for teenagers. Before that, I studied the Russian language at college.
Why did you start to learn the Tatar language?
I started to learn more and more about Russia when I started to learn Russian a few years ago. I started to talk with people from around Russia, I meet some people on the Internet from Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. I started to read more about their native language and started to learn about the culture. I felt there is something special about the Tatar language and Tatar culture as well. The music is also very special, it is a mixture of different styles and feelings. I felt a strong connection with Tatar and Bashkir people. Maybe it's a connection with nature and the friendliness I felt.
How do you learn it? What difficulties do you face?
It's not easy at all to learn Tatar because there is almost no information in Swedish or English, so I have to use Russian sources even it's not my native language. Let's Learn Tatar YouTube channel helped me because they have a few lessons where they say a word first in Tatar, then Russian and English, but they only explain in Russian. Aq Bure folk metal band from Tatarstan is also how I learn Tatar with songs. This group also plays very amazing folk songs but in metal.
Where do you use the language?
As I don't know anybody in Sweden personally, I don't use spoken Tatar, but I use it with my friends on the Internet.
''Let's Learn Tatar YouTube channel helped me because they have a few lessons where they say a word first in Tatar, then Russian and English, but they only explain in Russian. Aq Bure folk metal band from Tatarstan is also how I learn Tatar with songs.'' Photo: vk.com
Have you ever been to Russia, Kazan?
I have been to Russia twice, the first time in Petrozavodsk in Karelia, where I was a volunteer for a week and helped to repair a school for children with special needs. The second time I was in Murmansk. I helped to translate during a conference. But I never been to Kazan or Tatarstan.
Do you talk to Tatars who live in Sweden?
I know one Tatar who lives in Sweden, we talk on Facebook from time to time but we have never met in person.
What do your family and friends think about your interest in the Tatar language?
They are positive, they think it's interesting. Sure, even a lot of people don't know about Tatars or even that I speak some Tatar.
What do you know about Tatars, in general?
I know that Tatars have a rich history, that they are Turkic people. I know that there are different types of Tatars, for example, Crimean Tatars and Volga Tatars.
What other languages do you speak?
I know Swedish, English, Russian at an intermediate level and a bit of Persian and Tatar. My Polish is also not so bad. I always was good at learning languages but I always struggle with grammar.
''I know Swedish, English, Russian at an intermediate level and a bit of Persian and Tatar. My Polish is also not so bad. I always was good at learning languages but I always struggle with grammar.'' Photo: instagram.com/pierreaberg
Is there any opportunity to learn Tatar in Sweden? Have the local population ever heard of Tatars?
Children of Tatar parents can go to a special teacher once a week or so. This is paid by the school where the child studies. Most people here don't know about Tatars or other minorities in Russia.
Do you believe in the future of the Tatar language? Don't you think that you learn an endangered language?
I wish that people would not stop speaking Tatar, that's why it's important to teach children Tatar from a young age. And if a language dies, the culture will die. If you don't know the language so well, it's better to try, always try, like me, even if I don't speak Russian so perfect, I always try first.
What language do people speak in Sweden? How do they solve linguistic problems? Are there any rare or endangered languages?
People speak Swedish, but almost everybody knows English. Most people also studied it as a third language at school. In Sweden, we have official minority languages, for example, Sami, Finnish. The rights of the minority languages and their development in Sweden are affected by several factors, for example, the Swedish law, EU rules on the need to preserve minority languages
What do the Swedes think about Tatars and Muslims?
Swedish people are very open-minded people, we respect anybody, and it does not matter if a person is from another place or having a different religion. We are very friendly people.
Is the colder attitude Europe to Russia perceptible?
I feel something has changed. Earlier many people from Sweden had city friendship projects, and also more tourists went to Russia in the 90s than today. I would be happy if there were no visa requirements to enter Russia. If so, I would travel there more often.
''Earlier many people from Sweden had city friendship projects, and also more tourists went to Russia in the 90s than today. I would be happy if there were no visa requirements to enter Russia. If so, I would travel there more often.'' Photo: vk.com/pierre1989
Sweden is called a paradise for migrants (especially for Muslims). At the same time, the world media spread news from time to time that the country has huge problems because of them, there is a domination of migrants, growing criminality and violence. What is going on in Sweden in fact?
I believe there are a lot of false facts about what's going on in Sweden. A lot of migrants came to Sweden some years ago. Now, less people come here, more and more refugee camps are closing down because few people come here. I'm working in one of those that are about to close. I believe the media are trying to show that Sweden is a bad place. We are still one of the best countries in the world to live in with high income, free education and low corruption, the crime rate is also very low, compared with other countries. I think it's very important to integrate the migrants into the society from an early stage.
Is Sweden really afraid that Russians will occupy the country? We heard that there is a popular series about it.
I think it's just some kind of media war. People ask me about that sometimes, but I say the day when we see tanks in our streets is the day when we should worry. The media are writing things to make people scared. And people are reading more news because of that.