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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: god fortsättning

Here's a word you can use to greet friends, neighbours and colleagues around this time of year.

Swedish word of the day: god fortsättning
God fortsättning to all our readers. Image: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

You may already know the Swedish holiday greetings god jul! (Merry Christmas!) and gott nytt år! (Happy New Year!), but there’s a third seasonal saying that comes in particularly handy during the mellandagar and onwards.

God fortsättning literally means “Happy continuation”, and can generally be used from Boxing Day to early January. Used between Boxing Day and December 31st, it means “have a good rest of the holiday season!”, which is a bit of a mouthful in English, and from January 1st onwards it is used to mean “have a good rest of the year!”. On December 30th and 31st, you can also use gott slut! (Happy end of the year!)

Whereas English speakers tend to say “Happy new year” to friends they see in the first days of January, if it’s their first meeting since before New Year’s Eve, Swedish gott nytt år is usually used only until immediately after the clock strikes midnight on January 31st, so god fortsättning is the more common early January greeting.

It’s a useful little phrase, but how long can you keep saying it before it sounds a bit strange? This is a question that confuses even native Swedish speakers.

In general, you’re safe wishing friends a god fortsättning at least up until Epiphany (January 6th), and can probably carry on using it until the 20th day of Swedish Christmas, tjugondag knut, on January 13th, when the seasonal decorations are generally taken down. After that, it’s time to revert to the usual greetings such as trevlig helg (have a good weekend), god morgon/god kväll (good morning/good evening).

Examples

God fortsättning på det nya året

Happy continuation of the new year (a longer form of the greeting)

God fortsättning till dig och din familj

Happy rest of the year to you and your family

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it – or join The Local as a member and get your copy for free.

It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: liga

You may have this word in your native language or recognise it from football leagues such as the German Bundesliga or Spain's La Liga. Liga has a similar meaning in Swedish, too, with one crucial difference.

Swedish word of the day: liga

Liga originally comes from Latin ligāre (“to bind”). In most languages, liga means “league”, a group of individuals, organisations or nations who are united in some way.

Similar words exist in many European languages, such as Dutch, Spanish, Czech and Polish liga, Italian lega, French ligue and Romanian ligă.

A league is almost always something positive or neutral in other languages, but in Swedish a liga is something negative – a criminal gang, with the word ligist referring to a (usually young, male) gang member, thug or hooligan.

Political or diplomatic leagues are usually translated into Swedish as förbund (“union” or “association”) rather than liga: one example is the Swedish term for the League of Nations, Nationernas förbund.

The only exception to this rule is sport, where the popularity of international football leagues such as the Bundesliga and the Premier League has lessened the negative meaning somewhat in this context. Fans of hockey will be familiar with SHL, Svenska hockeyligan, and Sweden’s handball league is referred to as handbollsligan.

The history behind liga’negative meaning in Swedish can be traced back to the Thirty Years’ War, which took place largely within the Holy Roman Empire between 1618 and 1648.

Essentially, the Thirty Years’ War began as a fight between Protestant and Catholic states of the Holy Roman Empire, with Catholic states forming the Catholic League and Protestant states forming the Protestant Union.

Sweden was – and still is – Lutheran, meaning that, when they got involved in the war in 1630, their enemies were the Catholic League – or the katolska ligan in Swedish, with its members being referred to as ligister or “league-ists”.

King Gustav II Adolf eventually beat the Catholic League in 1631 at the Battle of Breitenfeld, ultimately leading to the formal dissolution of the league in 1635 in the Peace of Prague, which forbade alliances from forming within the Holy Roman Empire.

Although this may seem like ancient history, Swedes still don’t trust a liga – the word’s negative connotations have survived for almost 400 years.

Swedish vocabulary:

Jag är lite orolig för honom, han har börjat hänga med ett gäng ligister.

I’m a bit worried about him, he’s started hanging out with a group of thugs.

Manchester United har vunnit den engelska ligan flest gånger, men City är mästare just nu.

Manchester United have won the Premier League the most times, but City are the current champions.

De säger att det står en liga bakom det senaste inbrottsvågen.

They’re saying there’s a gang behind the recent spate of break-ins.

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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