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Seven seriously silly Swedish sayings

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Seven seriously silly Swedish sayings
What do a cow, beards and a dog have in common? Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/Leif R Jansson/TT
06:00 CET+01:00
Swedish is a tough language to learn, and strange proverbs about cows, dead dogs, and suspicious owls don't help. The Local has listed some of the seven silliest sayings to help you on the way.

1. There's no cow on the ice (det är ingen ko på isen)

This is a roundabout Swedish way of saying, quite simply, 'don't worry' or 'take it easy'. It remains unknown how often Swedish cattle are milling about on frozen lakes, but it's no stretch of the imagination to understand that a cow on the ice would be worth worrying about.


A cow. But don't worry, it's not on the ice. Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa via AP

2. Med skägget i brevlådan (with your beard in the letter box)

While their English-speaking cousins are messing around getting their hands stuck in cookie jars, Swedes are getting their (probably trendy hipster-style) beards caught in letter boxes. Don't ask what they were doing with their faces so close to the letter box in the first place.


Whatever you do, don't get it caught in the letter box. Photo: AP Photo/Keystone, Arno Balzarini

3. Det ligger en hund begraven (there's a dog buried here)

There's something fishy going on here… there's nothing fishier than a dead dog, right? Well, that's what a Swede would say. Perhaps it's the stench of the buried mutt, perhaps it's the idea of a missing canine companion, or perhaps it's just the absurdity of it all, but it's definitely fishy.


This dog doesn't look fishy at all. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

4. Ana ugglor i mossen (sensing owls in the bog)

You may think there is nothing fishier than a buried dog, and that's a perfectly logical assumption. But what about owls in the bog? Yes, those crazy Swedes are at it again. When something strange is afoot, they'll whisper to each other about those fishy owls and their boggy surroundings.


The owls are not what they seem. Photo: AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

5. Inte ha rent mjöl i påsen (not have clean flour in one's bag)

If you're anar ugglor i mossen, it may be because someone doesn't have clean flour in their bag. In Swedish, this means that someone is up to no good or that they are hiding something. What are they hiding? Could be anything. Perhaps they're trying to cover up the dirty flour in their bag.


We sure hope that flour is clean. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

6. Du har satt din sista potatis (you have planted your final potato)

If you have had it up to here with someone, this is a good threat to throw at them. This is it. This is your final potato. There will be no more potatoes planted after I'm done with you. We suspect it stems from a time when Swedes used to walk around planting potatoes everywhere they went... or something like that (give us a break, we're not historians).


Could one of these be your final potato? Photo: Fanni Olin Dahl/TT

7. Nu är det kokta fläsket stekt (now, the boiled pork is fried)

Who would want to eat fried pork if you had meant to boil it? Not the Swedes, anyway. If you'll forgive us for being crude, it basically means that you're in very deep shit. Things are bad. Things are really, really bad. The boiled pork is fried, I'm telling you. The expression comes from pork being expensive back in the days, and if you boiled it as well as fried it you wouldn't have a lot of pork left.


Just remember to boil it or fry it, not both. Photo: The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward

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