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Ten more Swedish words you won’t find in English

The Local · 15 Jan 2013, 16:34

Published: 15 Jan 2013 16:34 GMT+01:00

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English may be the world’s richest language, but it’s far from perfect. In fact, it’s somewhat limited.

Why do we not have a word for "the day after tomorrow", for example? Swedish does.

Sure, English does have some unusual and fascinating words (the little plastic thing at the end of a shoelace is called an aglet, for example), but these words are impractical and seldom used.

I bet the only time you'll ever hear the word aglet again is in a word list or a pub quiz.

RELATED PHOTO GALLERY: Ten more Swedish words you won’t find in English

Too many times you'll see that the Italians have a word for the bit of milk that stays on your lip after you drink it, or that the Japanese have a word for a person who giggles too much on the subway. But these are words we don't have for a reason - we don't need them.

What's more interesting is when a word or concept is simply missing from English, even though it's something we regularly say.

A concept yet to be coined. A word yet to be whispered.

We've written about this before on The Local, but now it’s round two - here are ten more Swedish words that you just can’t find in English.

Story continues below…

As always, the words fika (meaning coffee – “let’s grab a coffee sometime”) and lagom (the final bowl of porridge was lagom for Goldilocks) are NOT included in the list.

Oliver Gee

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Your comments about this article

18:06 January 15, 2013 by skogsbo
Comedy value, a local contributor is telling people that to do the dishes is bad Engish, try reading just about any item, on any page written and edited by the Local and you'll see reams of bad English !

You do make a bed, a bed is made up for a guest. ie the sheets/duvet/ blanket/ perhaps some towels on top for them too? It is made, you don't lay a bed sheet, it is made up for the first sheet, to the stuff on the top.

träningsvärk, there are many similar Engish phrases, the only difference is that in Swedish when many words are used in conjuction together, the space between them is removed.

Hen, as you are referring to good English or language, won't it be 'they' or 'de' ? You don't need hen,hon or han, you can just used They or De. Beside, it's hardly a new use of the words, it's just become a fad amongst certain groups of people, who think they are cool, arty, super liberal to use it.

Coffeesugen, you mean kaffasugen? Or are you specialising in Swenglish? ;)

Either way, another desperate article designed to get you to click through ten pages of advert and keep their web count up!
20:04 January 15, 2013 by redfish

Depends on how "hen" is being used by the people who are using it.

"They" can't replace "hen" the way the author used it, its only used for indefinite cases, such as referring to a general person, group of individuals, or unknown person. So "whoever was here left their coat". But in referring to a specific individual, a known masked robber as the author alluded to, "they" would be awkward.

So, if you had, say, a hermaphrodite/intersex person, you couldn't refer to that person as "they" without it being cumbersome and awkward feeling. I don't know how "hen" is used and whether or not it deals with this case, from what I gather, it probably does.

I've not heard "de" used in English at all, I'm not sure what you're talking about here.

There have been attempts to coin a gender neutral pronoun in the English language since the 1850s though:


21:18 January 15, 2013 by Flutterbye
Think someone needs to get a life.
21:32 January 15, 2013 by jostein
"Hen" adds one thing to the swedish language and that is the ability to expose yourself as a political extremist and a bully, and an ignorant at that.

The alleged meaning that "hen" would cover is already covered by the word "den". As for example "Den som inte vet det..." or "Den som vill röka får göra det på balkongen".

Normal people will find the swedish division of nouns into Uturum (den) and Neutrum (det) stupid and a useless, unnecessary pain. And so it is. But it does have a historical explanation that also shows why "Hen"s only purpuse is to give withess to your own ignorance and vile nature.

In the beginning swedish had three genders, masculine, feminine, neutrum. One would literally say "Månen han", "Solen hon", "Människan hon" etcetera and use the personal pronomin to refer to the concept/object when apropriate.

But then (18th centuary?) these two merged into uturum, ie, "Solen den", "Månen den". All words with the article "Den" in swedish formerely had either masculine or feminine gender.

"Den" therefor is the perfect word for a genderneutral pronomen. And is also used as such in a host of expressions and figures of speech. It is its orignial purpuse. Unless your an ignorant, powerhungering cultural marxist. Then "Hen" is better. Needless to say i lost respect for the author of this list and stopped looking at it when i reached "hen".
21:46 January 15, 2013 by KingArthur
In Dutch :





So not only Swedish :)
06:49 January 16, 2013 by Freelife

Dag = day

Midday = Dinner :)

I morgon = tomorrow

God morgon = Good morning :D

What is the word for 'please'?
07:52 January 16, 2013 by philster61
Two words I hope never become part of the English language... Lagom and jante lagen....
11:36 January 16, 2013 by Scepticion

quite right, most of these words are not specific to Sweden at all. German has them as well. Vorgestern, übermorgen, betten, etc. I think only 2 on the list are typical Swedish.
12:05 January 16, 2013 by cogito
philister61 (3/)

I'll drink to that.
18:45 January 16, 2013 by redfish

Some people over time have tried to introduce 'aftermorrow' into the English language, its never been successful.
22:29 January 18, 2013 by calebian22

I'll drink twice to that.
10:30 January 19, 2013 by Järven
I think that the surest mark of a word being "untranslatable" is its adoption in original form by another language. On that basis only "ombudsman" and "smorgasbord" qualify in English, and they don't even get a mention here!
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