What are your favourite words in Swedish?
The Local · 28 Jan 2009, 11:21
Published: 28 Jan 2009 11:21 GMT+01:00
The Swedish language is special. It’s funny and infuriating to learn. At first, every word sounds weird and wonderful. There are a few though that I’ll love forever.
I could be immature and put bajskorv (literally: poop sausage) at the top of my fun-Swedish-words-to-say-list. But admittedly it can be limiting when putting it into conversation, although I once convinced a visiting Australian friend to ask for a bajskorv off one of those street grills, after telling them innocently that it’s a Swedish specialty. Well, it was funny for me.
Just det - This phrase is simple and addictive. Scream it out loud, just det! Especially when used with emphasis. It just slides off the tongue, as people around you snap to attention. It is exactly the right sound/word to make when remembering something that you have momentarily forgotten.
Kackerlacka - Just because cockroach has never sounded so nice. It still sounds like something running across the floor... but somewhat humorously. I always picture a little roach in tap shoes and a hat. But that’s usually just funny to me too.
Sjuksköterska (nurse) - Try saying it fast at a hospital after five pints of Guinness, with glass splinters in your behind from sitting on the photocopy machine at the company Christmas dinner.
Sliddersladder (gossip) - Many Swedes haven't heard this word before, so it is great to drop into a conversation.
Skiftnyckel (monkey-wrench) - It does exactly what it says on the tin in Swedish, unlike the English equivalent, which sounds like a torture instrument for simians.
My three favourite Swedish words/expressions are faktiskt, eller hur? and aaa
Faktiskt is a word which I believe I overuse sometimes but it just fits so nicely in so many sentences. It gives you the possibility to focus on something and to express yourself with a little more passion. It is also a word which does not exist, at least in this form, in the Greek vocabulary (you need to express it in more words or in another construction in Greek) and I love that it’s there in Swedish.
Eller hur? is also an expression which really adds to a sentence when you wish to get consensus and show that something is correct. Many Swedes use it really often.
And last but not least, the very Swedish "aaa" is not really a favourite but an expression which amuses me a lot and sometimes irritates me. I guess most foreigners here have a very strong, often negative, opinion, about this "aaaa" which Swedes seem to love so much.
To be honest, I used it a lot in my first years here when my Swedish was really terrible just to show that I understood a conversation. Use a different intonation every time suddenly you’re a fluent Swedish speaker (or at least you can pretend that you understand Swedish for a long time). In the metro you can often listen to long phone conversations where people only say "aaa" and nothing else, eller hur?
I never thought about what is my favorite word in Swedish despite the fact that I have been spending much time recently improving my Swedish and have started speaking.
Maybe the Swedish language awoke the egalitarian in me that insists that all words should be treated equally.
However even before I started learning Swedish there were certain groups of words that I liked. I always liked verbs, adverbs, adjectives and pronouns ending in a. Some examples might be: sluta (stop), dina (your/yours), mina (my/mine). I don’t know why but that’s the way it is.
I had many problems with this preference in the beginning because I inserted “a” everywhere (Mina bil instead of min bil (my car).
Since I started learning Swedish, practical things became important as well. I prefer adjectives that do not inflect according to genus. These are the ones that end with a, e and s.
My favourite word is knö, short for knöka, mostly used on the west coast of Sweden and the Gothenburg region. It is a concise word that very accurately describes certain situations. It can, for example, be used when someone is trying to jump a queue or is pushing. It can also be used as an invitation to sit down or come in if it is a bit tightly packed.
Another very useful word is lagom, which means not too much and not too little. I chose it with mixed feelings as it sadly describes a recurring characteristic of Sweden and Swedes, but nonetheless, it is a very useful word.
Tjugo (twenty) - It is just a fun word to say.
Kristianstad - It took me so long to pronounce this city correctly, that I now look forward to saying it all the time!
Älska (to love) - It is the best word in the Swedish language and I try to say it every day to my Laila.
I love ridiculous technical words such as bloggbävning (blogquake?) and minnespinne (as in a USB-memory stick).
Other than these, I like the new words that the evening newspapers in Sweden invent, such as nakenchock (naked shock). Seriously. I think they illustrate our mindless society quite well and more than one laugh has been had on behalf of these.
Smörgåsbord is also a word that works in many countries and almost always have a positive meaning.