Ten new Swedish words you need to learn right now

Ten of the new words that became popular in Sweden in 2016.

Ten new Swedish words you need to learn right now
A man playing scrabble. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The 'new words list' is presented every year by the Swedish Language Council and language magazine Språktidningen. It is not an official dictionary, but shows what words made it into everyday conversations in Sweden in the past year, even if they were used for the first time many years ago.

We have picked ten of the words on the list that help explain what concepts were new, popular or topical in Sweden in 2016. There are in total 43 words on the list and you can find a link to them in Swedish here.

READ MORE HERE: Sweden adds 43 new words to its language

1. Dylanman (Dylan man)

A man who admires Bob Dylan and claims to understand him better than most. Probably considers Dylan being awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature as humanity's finest hour.

First usage: 2006

2. Frågestrejka (question striking)

Refraining from asking questions in order to break a perceived pattern in which women ask men more questions about them than the men ask questions about the women.

First usage: 2016

3. Ghosta (ghosting)

Breaking up with someone by simply not replying to their messages. An English word turned into a Swedish word by adding the Swedish verb ending -a.

First usage: 2016

4. Korsspråkande (translanguaging)

A process in which a bilingual (or a language learner) person's two languages are not seen as two parallel systems, but part of their common underlying language proficiency. It was coined in Welsh (trawsieithu) and first made an appearance as a Swedish word, 'korsspråkande' last year. We imagine many of The Local's multilingual readers will be familiar with at least the concept, if not its name.

First usage: 2015

5. Pappafeminist (dad feminist)

A man who only warms to feminist ideals after having a daughter.

First usage: 2016

6. Pokenad

A composition of 'Pokémon' and the Swedish word for going for a walk or a stroll, 'promenad'. “The sun is out, fancy a pokenad?” “Sure, let me just grab my smartphone and let's go hunt some Squirtles.”

First usage: 2016

7. Läslov (reading break)

The Swedish government decided to rename the current autumn school break 'reading break' in 2016 in a belief that a name change just might convince pupils to ditch their pokenads and pick up a book instead. 

8. Blippbetalning (bleep payment) 


A contactless paying system where an embedded chip lets shoppers wave their card or smartphone over a reader instead of typing in their pin, making a sound that goes a bit like 'blipp!' In a country where people love tech and new ways of paying without cash, it is no surprise that they also needed a new vocabulary for this. It can also be used as a verb, in which case it is 'blippa' or 'blippbetala'.

First usage: 2015

9. Förstärkt verklighet (augmented reality)

This concept has been around for years, but according to the Swedish Language Council it only recently became widely talked about among the general public. As opposed to Virtual Reality, which replaces the real world with a simulated one, Augmented Reality uses both to complement each other.

First usage: 2004

10. Skamma (shaming)

Sweden's translation of 'to shame' someone ('skamma'). In 2016 it centred mainly around female norms and argued that women tend to get 'skammade' for, for example, their bodies or the way they dress.

First usage: 2011

READ ALSO: Eight horrible Swedish words that get on my nerves

Source: Språkrådet


Ten essential Sámi words that you might not have heard before

There are about ten Sámi languages alive today, spoken across the northern parts of Scandinavia and eastern Russia. But they are among the many Indigenous languages around the world that are at risk of disappearing. 

Ten essential Sámi words that you might not have heard before

You might have heard that there are over 200 words for snow in Sámi languages, which is unsurprising, given the climate of the Sámi homeland in Northern Europe. But there’s a lot more to the languages than snow. 

The Swedish Sámi parliament website says that “language is the bearer of cultural heritage and reflects our people’s common view of life and values. Language transfers knowledge about nature and the world.”

But Sámi language fluency has been declining rapidly for decades. Pite Sámi is critically endangered, with fewer than 50 living speakers, all in Sweden. Today, Northern Sámi is the most widely spoken. 

Due to assimilation policies in all the countries the Sámi found themselves in, older generations of Sámi people were not allowed to speak their own language in school, meaning some languages have already been lost. 

The Local spoke to speakers and researchers of the languages to find out some of the most unique and beautiful words still in use.

1. Sápmi  

Sápmi is the Northern Sámi word for the traditional dwelling place of the Sámi people, which encompasses the northern parts of Scandinavia and the Kola peninsula of Russia. Since the 20th century, national borders and state policies have divided Sápmi and the people who call it home. 

Location of Sápmi in Europe

A map of where Sápmi in northern Europe. Map: Wikipedia

Elle Rávdná Näkkäläjärvi is part of the Sámiskeveivisere, Sámi Pathfinders, a group of young Sámi people who visit high schools and teach students about Sámi culture. She says Sápmi itself is one of her favourite words. 

“The word means a Sápmi without borders, it means relatives, sisters and brothers, and community,” she says. 

2. Eadni 

Eadni means ‘mother’ in Northern Sámi.

“It’s one of the first words that children learn,” says Berit Anne Bals Baal, a lecturer of linguistics at the National Centre for Sámi Language in Education at the Sámi University College, who chose it as her favourite word.

It has a complex phonology (sound system), and is similar to the Northern Sámi word for Earth, which is eanan

3. Guohtun  

Guohtun is a Northern Sámi word that describes the ideal conditions for reindeer to find lichen to graze under a covering of snow. But it’s more complicated than that. It’s one of those words that resists simple translation.

Lars Miguel Utsi, the Vice President of the Sámi parliament of Sweden, says, “Guohtun is a very complex word. It encompasses geography, plants, lichens, snow, and reindeer. It exemplifies the language and its connection to land and water.”

“It’s a very soothing word because it means that there is food and the reindeer can reach it,” he said. 

4. Giitu  

Giitu means ‘thank you’ in Northern Sámi.

Anyone who knows some Finnish might notice that it sounds quite similar to the Finnish word for ‘thank you’, kiitos. That’s because Sámi languages have more in common with Finnish than with Swedish, Danish or Norwegian, coming from the same language family: Finno-Uralic. 

You can respond to giitu with leage buorre which means ‘you’re welcome.’

5. Čáiddas 

This means snowball. We couldn’t have a list of Sámi words without having something specific to snow, could we? 

6. Vuovdi 

This means forest in Northern Sámi. Vast swathes of Sápmi is covered in forest. Sámi reindeer herders rely on old-growth forests to let their reindeer graze; they eat the kind of lichen that only grows in older forests. 

7. Boazu

Reindeer husbandry is a vital part of Sámi life. Photo: Image Bank Sweden

In all Sámi languages, there are two different words for reindeer. In Northern Sámi there is goddi and boazu.

Boazu means a reindeer who has been tamed and can be milked. Goddi is the word for wilder reindeer.  

Reindeer herding is an important aspect of Sámi culture and a vital source of income for many Sámi people. The Sámi parliament estimates that about 2,500 people are dependent on income from reindeer husbandry. 

8. Bures

An easy one! This is how you say “hello” to another person in Northern Sámi. 

9. Goahte  

Goahte is a type of hut in Lule Sámi. It’s a traditional Sámi home that can be built in several different ways, depending on what material is available, like with wooden panels or a construction of wooden poles covered with peat or cloth.

10. Sámediggi 

This is the Northern Sámi word for the Sámi Parliament. There’s a Sámi parliament in each country that divides Sápmi.

In the Scandinavian countries, it’s essentially a government agency with the aim of representing the Sámi people and increasing opportunities to participate in public debate.