They would understand more than we would if the situation were
reversed. Or they would almost certainly know someone younger (family,
friend) who could translate. Or if they have computers, they might try
one of the translating programs. Include your email address so they can
write to you directly (or a relative/friend could if they need someone
The Scandinavian countries start teaching English as a Second Language
when students are in very early grade school, and continue that all the
way through high school and college. The Eurovision contest hosts use
English as the primary language and also speak French and one other
language (not sure which one; perhaps German or Spanish), plus the
language of the host nation, and most of the musical acts that win use
English for their song lyrics. Sweden has won Eurovision at least twice
in the last decade.
Or, type your letter, ask someone who speaks/writes Swedish fluently to
translate and send the translated version with your letter in English,
but also explain that you don't know Swedish (except for perhaps
genealogy terms). I'd also suggest sending a pedigree chart, or maybe
family group sheets showing who your common ancestors are.
Relatives in Sweden and Norway were able to understand more of what I
said than they were able to write back in English. I just turned 73 and
most of them are close in age. I am able to understand genealogy terms
in all three languages since I do research in them. I also watch Swedish
movies/TV shows with English subtitles, but I am able to understand a
few (emphasis on "few") simple sentences and words here and there
without anyone translating. I took Norwegian in the early '80's hoping
someday to use it to research in records, and knowing that at least the
written languages are mutually intelligible. Twenty-plus years later
when I got my first computer, I discovered the Norwegian records I'd
found with the assistance of fifth cousins (one of them was a genealogy
researcher), and found out the pre-1910 Norwegian records are all in
Dano-Norsk (still mutually intelligible - but one must also realize
there was no standardized spelling or dictionaries then, so some records
use phonetic spelling for local dialects), and in modern times the
Norwegians have two official versions of their language that they all
learn in school. For etymologists this is a fun learning experience in
languages and how they are used, as well as useful miscellaneous
knowledge to know to be successful in finding genealogy records.
Good luck in your endeavors and may your communication be fruitful.
On 3/5/2019 5:18 PM, Sue Barham wrote:
How likely would Swedish people in their mid-late 70's be to be
able to read
and write English?
I have discovered 3 second cousins who don't know I exist.
Sensible to write to them? I have mail addresses, but no e-mail addresses.