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Ten Swedish words you won't find in English

The Local
post 20.Mar.2012, 01:34 PM
Post #1
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 22.Dec.2004

Whether Swedish is the world's richest language or not, it can lay claim to at least ten very common words that are sorely lacking from English. We've compiled a list of the top ten here, and you may be surprised what's NOT in the list…

The only thing a Swede likes more than having a "fika" (which means, essentially, coffee and cake) is talking about the word fika and how you'll never find it in English.

"So it's like a coffee break?" you may foolishly ask a Swede.
"No, no, it's a lot more than just coffee. There are cinnamon buns."

Click to read the full article.
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post 20.Mar.2012, 02:26 PM
Post #2
Joined: 12.Aug.2005

Either the article is wrong about the word "hinna" or the examples are bad, because in both examples the English word "manage" does the job perfectly...
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post 20.Mar.2012, 02:35 PM
Post #3
Joined: 20.Mar.2012

I can believe that you missed "Lagom". The one word we are truly proud of being alone having in our language. In fact, Sweden IS lagom. Not to much, but not to little - lagom!
It has been said that the word originated from meetings with only one mug of beverage. The mug then went "around the bunch" (in swedish "laget om"=lagom) giving everyone a sip. To make sure that the beverage would suffice to the last person you could not drink too much. But neither did you want to drink to little. You sip from the cup had to be "lagom".
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post 20.Mar.2012, 03:29 PM
Post #4
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 30.Sep.2010

Hej Karin... looks like you missed the part of the article above that says
"If it's not fika, you can bet your bottom krona that talk of untranslatable Swedish words will lead directly to the word "lagom" which means "just right" - (think Goldilocks and her final bowl of porridge).
However, these two words have been done to death in language discussions, and here at The Local we've found ten (dare we say it) more useful words that don't have any English word equivalent, at least not yet…"
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post 20.Mar.2012, 03:49 PM
Post #5
Joined: 9.Jul.2010

Not to mention Faster Moster farbror Morbror.
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post 20.Mar.2012, 03:54 PM
Post #6
Joined: 28.Jan.2010

'blunda' is used exactly as the English phrase "to close your eyes". It cannot be used to mean 'cover your eyes'. It actually means 'to close one's eyelids' (if you do not close your eyelids you are not blunding.).
'mysa' does probably literary mean 'to snuggle' but it has come to be used metaphorically to mean 'have a nice and relaxed time'.
'jobbig' does more or less correspond to 'a pain in the ass'.
The only word in the list which is really unique is "vabba", and that's only because you need a certain type of welfare state were you get a tax reduction for being home with a sick child.
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Douglas Garner
post 20.Mar.2012, 04:03 PM
Post #7
Joined: 11.Mar.2009

Sambo is my favorite Swedish word. Much more descriptive than boyfriend or girlfriend and sounds a lot better than "live-in"!
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post 20.Mar.2012, 04:13 PM
Post #8
Joined: 9.Jul.2010

Not to mention ,Generalska,Overstinna,Kapenska,Majorska amd perhaps Doctorinna.
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post 20.Mar.2012, 04:30 PM
Post #9
Joined: 26.Aug.2011

"fika" is quite simply Elevenses....article writer is not the best ^^
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post 20.Mar.2012, 04:38 PM
Post #10
Joined: 25.Aug.2009

"Fika" means just coffee. Nothing more, though I know there are parts of Sweden where the meaning has grown to become what in England is covered by the word "tea".
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post 20.Mar.2012, 05:07 PM
Post #11
Joined: 18.Feb.2012

vabba: the period during which non-breeders are forced to pay for breeders' homelife :(
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post 20.Mar.2012, 06:49 PM
Post #12
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 20.Mar.2012

People talk about "lagom" when it comes to learning Swedish or Swedish culture etc, but I've lived here for 2 years, speak Swedish, etc and no one has used that word to describe anything or any situation ever. I've been in "lagom" situations as well.
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post 20.Mar.2012, 07:28 PM
Post #13
Joined: 30.Sep.2010

Wouldn't "orka" simply be stamina?
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post 20.Mar.2012, 10:50 PM
Post #14
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 1.Mar.2012

@ Tanskalainen, orka is a verb so more like "feel like" or to "have the stamina".
@ Douglas Garner, #6, I also like "särbo", for two people who are together but live apart.
The list definitely has some great words, but most of them can still easily be translated into single words in English depending on the senses you use them for (as many have commented already).
"Jobbig" could easily be translated to "hard" but it depends on the sense. E.g. "I cleaned the house. How jobbigt it was". You can't really say "I had a jobbig day", but you could say "It was jobbigt today" to mean the same thing.
I always use "duktig" to mean "clever" and I don't believe I'm wrong. E.g. "He is a duktig programmer", "You are duktig at what you do", "A duktig child".
As for Gubbe/Gumma, again it depends on the sense. For young kids, there are many names for little boy, like "tiger" and for girl there is "button", "muffin", etc. For old man I would use "wind-bag" and for old woman just "bag" or "old bag". They're words you say about them but not actually to them just like in the Local's Swedish examples. I guess it all depends on which variety of English you speak too.
But I think Swedes are kidding themselves if they think Swedish is the richest language. "Sjukhus" (hospital), "trägårdsmästare" (gardener), "barnvagn" (pram/stroller), "tandläkare" (dentist), Mormor/farmor/morfar/farfar (maternal/paternal grandparents)…there's some "rich"every day compound words for you. Swedish is just elementary compared to other languages. Self-explanatory but not rich.
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post 20.Mar.2012, 11:06 PM
Post #15
Joined: 30.Oct.2009

good list! plenty of handy words :)
Morfar and Mormor are särbo etc
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