Category Archives: Svenska (Swedish language)

Oh no you d’inte!

Swedish is proving a bit difficult to master. I am picking up vocabulary at work and get to listen, but my accent is atrocious. No one makes fun of me (in a mean way, anyway) when I speak, but I still find myself a bit shy to practice on my work mates. I have to remind myself that we have only had two lessons so far and lots of people take many weeks to learn a language. Our buddy Hasse says I need to våga (‘dare’) to speak Swedish more.  So I am resolved to practice more!

When I first got to Sweden, I met a fellow from Brasil who speaks 8 or so languages, has taught languages, and learned Swedish three months after coming to Sweden. Granted, he was taking the intensive every-day classes, but still, pretty amazing. Being a bit competitive and thinking I was pretty smart, I thought to myself: “I’ll have a handle on Swedish in three months too”. I am two months in but ready to concede that he is smarter than me. Felicidade, Guil!

Har den äran!

From Graham:

Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the signs?  Well in most cases, “No, I can’t read the sign”.  And there are signs everywhere here and while some have pictures that you can decipher there are plenty that I just guess or normally ignore and hope not to have to use the “ignorant foreigner” excuse later.  Here are some good “sign” words that we do know:

fart = speed

farthinder = speed bump

ingång/infart – entrance

utgång/utfart = exit

förbjuden = forbidden; a good word to know in the local language when travelling

tillåten = permitted/allowed

vänster = left

höger = right

framåt = ahead

bakom = behind

We’ve spend a decent amount of time food shopping so the food vocabulary is getting better.  Here are some food words:

bullar = buns, so we can have kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) or köttbullar (meat balls); balls, buns what’s the difference?  well in English…

kött = meat and nötkött is beef … so is or isn’t beef a meat…

fullkorn = whole wheat; kind of makes sense

sås – sauce; they compound-word this one a lot to make all sorts of sauces like chilisås, pastasås, tomatsås, ostsås (cheese sauce), etc.

knäckbröd – crispy bread that they have fifty brands of here as a delivery device for matjessill (pickled herring) and other delicacies.  Bröd by itself is regular bread

poäng – you thought you knew this one – those ugly IKEA chairs.  No it means “points” – not sure how the chair got its name.

jämförpris – the per unit measure price used for comparing prices of different sized items.  By law most things you see in stores have this price along with the item price.

Nytt lägre pris – the ever popular “new lower price” unless of course you bought the item at the “gammal högre pris” last week.

From Catherine:

I have a few more favorite words

Häsla hem means “greetings/regards to those at your home”.  Swedes express this sentiment enough that it made sense to have a brief greeting than “tell your mom and dad and sisters I said hi and wish them well”.

Grattis is an all-purpose festive greeting, congratulations and happy and merry all rolled into one.  You can use this at almost any occasion: births, engagements, graduation, anniversary, mother’s day, and birthdays.   If you want to get fancy, for birthdays you could also say Har den äran.

So… Grattis och har den äran, sister Bridget. I know you like words so I hope you have enjoyed these posts, just for you!   🙂

Great Swedish Words

Swedish is an interesting language.  If you squint your ears, it is a bit like English, and a lot of English words were brought to England by the Vikings.  For example, ‘Window’ comes from descriptions that Vikings made of the holes in their roofs through which the smoke escaped.  You could see the clouds and smoke get pushed along by the wind through this hole, so this was the ‘wind eye’, or window.  Although this word was good enough for export, the Swedish word for window is ‘fenstre’, which you might recognize as latin.  This is why I went into the sciences.

Graham got some Swedish Rosetta Stone software and so far we are good at identifying dogs, cats, and horses.  We are doing this at home, but the most Swedish I learn is actually at work over lunch.  Here are some of my favourite Swedish words so far; I know Graham has some favourites of his own.

Hemkost this a combination of home (hem) and nutrition (kost).  It’s what you do at the end of the day: go home to dinner.  I like it because I think coming home should always include some food.  It just seems like a very nurturing word.

Hemkost could be Swedish pancakes with lingon, plumon, and vanilijsås
Hemkost could be Swedish pancakes with lingon, plumon, and vanilijsås

Lagom officially this means ‘moderation’, but in use in means ‘just right’ and ‘just enough’ and also gentle or calm, like if you’re soothing someone (and I have heard parents say lagom to cranky toddlers.)

Apelsin is an orange (the fruit, which you may recall from an earlier post about a neighbourhood cat that I decided to name Apelsin.)  Mostly I like this because it is so close to the English/Swedish word for apple/äpple.  I think it explains why in Sweden no one compares äpplenar to apelsinar, it is already confusing.