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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Swedish word of the day: tupplur

Today's Swedish word is especially useful if you've got young children or are feeling a little bit sleepy.

Swedish word of the day: tupplur
Some days require a tupplur. Image: nito103/Depositphotos

Tupplur means 'nap', or a short period of sleep, usually taken during daytime, and you'll usually hear it used in the phrase ta en tupplur (to take/have a nap). It's a compound noun, made up of two different words: tupp + lur

Lur on its own can be used to mean 'nap' or 'doze', although it also has several other meanings. It can mean 'bell' or 'horn', while the set phrase på lur means something like 'on the lookout' or 'in wait'.

The strange part of tupplur is tupp, which means 'cock' – in the sense of a male chicken.

According to the word experts at the Swedish Language Council, the term comes from the fact that chickens tend to sleep in short periods, often while standing. An earlier Swedish word for nap, in fact, was hönssömn, literally meaning 'chicken sleep', and similar nouns are found in Norwegian (høneblund), Danish (hønsesøvn) and Icelandic (hænublundur).

Tupplur is believed to date back to at least the early 1800s, and is a common word in Swedish. It's not that surprising if you consider that the Nordic nations were agricultural economies for much longer than many other European countries. In English, meanwhile, the usual animal-inspired term for a short sleep is 'cat nap', based on the fact that cats often doze for just a few minutes at a time, although in total they sleep far more than chickens.

If you're looking for more poultry-themed idioms, the Swedish language has a plentiful supply: early-risers might say they're uppe med tuppen (up with the cockerel), and one way of describing someone with a big ego is to say they're stolt som en tupp (proud as a rooster).

In Swedish, you'll also hear the direct English loan word powernap (all one word) used to refer to especially short snoozes, and the direct translation kraftlur is also sometimes used in spoken or online Swedish. By the way, 'snooze' has also been borrowed into Swedish as the verb snooza, but it refers specifically to pressing the 'snooze' button on an alarm clock.

Examples 

Jag är jättetrött, jag måste ta en tupplur och sen en kopp kaffe

I'm really tired, I need to take a nap and then have a cup of coffee

Är det ok att ta en tupplur på jobbet?

Is it OK to take a nap at work?

Do you have a favourite Swedish word you would like to nominate for our word of the day series? Get in touch by email or if you are a Member of The Local, log in to comment below.

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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

​​Swedish word of the day: konsensuskultur

Some would say today’s word describes the most quintessentially Swedish thing there is.

​​Swedish word of the day: konsensuskultur

Last week we covered the word möte, where we mentioned how Swedes are all about consensus. How so, you might ask. Well, some say that the obsession Swedes have with möten (‘meetings’) is emblematic of something called konsensuskultur, the ‘culture of consensus’, a phenomenon they claim might be the very spine of the Swedish spirit, if there is such a thing. 

According to these columnists, you can see it everywhere in Swedish society: in people wearing similar clothes on the streets (H&M etc), the constant möten at work, why the public debate on immigration has pushed voters toward the Sweden Democrats, why integration is failing, the leadership style of Swedish managers, the very idea of ‘lagom’, in every major shift in Swedish political history. Or in other words, basically in all the history and culture of Sweden.

Whether or not konsensuskultur truely has such massive reach, consensus is definitely sought after in Sweden (although one might argue that this is true of every healthy society). 

The idea of konsensuskultur also creates certain paradoxes. In 2015, at the height of the Syrian migration crisis, the Rabbi and author Dan Korn wrote that konsensuskultur was both the reason why Swedes were so refugee-friendly and simultaneously the reason why integration into Swedish society was such a failure.

Dan Korn argued this was not in fact a paradox, but instead the result of consensus on two different issues: one over welcoming refugees, and another over how to behave or not behave in Swedish society.

For immigrants living in Sweden, konsenskultur is not a word you will hear that often, but is is a phenomenon to keep in mind: 

When moving forward with group activities involving Swedes, it is often best to first have a discussion to reach some sort of consensus. 

Similarly, when analysing the twists and turns of the Swedish political landscape, it is always worth keeping an eye open for those moments when Sweden undergoes a paradigm shift, or in other words, finds a new consensus

A good way of using the word konsensuskultur, which might also start up an interesting conversation, is to ask a Swedish friend if they see Swedes as having a strong konsensuskultur

Example sentences:

Sverige sägs vara ett land med en stark konsensuskultur.

Sweden is said to be a country with a strong consensus culture.

Sara, tycker du att Sverige är ett land präglat av en stark konsensuskultur?

Sara, do you think Sweden is a country marked by a strong consensus culture?

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 US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.

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