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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Swedish word of the day: fredagsmys

Today we take a look at a compound noun that is something of a national tradition here in Sweden.

Swedish word of the day: fredagsmys
This has to be one of the happiest words in the Swedish language. Image: nito103/Depositphotos

Fredagsmys literally means 'Friday cosiness'; think TGIF, but fewer cocktails and more blankets and snacks. 

Mys is related to the adjective mysig (cosy) and the verb att mysa, which can mean 'to cuddle/snuggle' but usually just means 'to have a pleasant, relaxing, chilled out time'. You'll also occasionally hear things (a film or recipe) described as fredagsmysig or hear people use the verb fredagsmysa (to have a cosy Friday night in).

There are plenty of different varieties of mys: höstmys, julmys, tacomys, kvällsmys, strandmys and so on.

But fredagsmys is one of the most commonly used forms. It was most likely coined in the 1990s to describe an evening spent relaxing at the end of the five-day working week, first appearing in Swedish media in 1994 and entering the Swedish Academy's dictionary 12 years later. There are equivalents in Norway (fredagskos) and Denmark (fredagshygge).

Order and routine are a big part of Swedish culture: pea soup is traditionally eaten on Thursdays, and sweets traditionally eaten on Saturdays (known as lördagsgodis or 'Saturday sweets' – this one actually has a scientific background, as studies showed that eating one large portion of sugar each week was less damaging to teeth than a small amount eaten more regularly). So it's only natural that their weekly downtime be given a designated day too; and it highlights the value given to a healthy work-life balance.

Fredagsmys usually means getting cosy on the sofa with some easily-prepared food (often tacos or pizza, fizzy drinks, crisps and sweets) and watching TV. There's usually another person involved: you can mysa with a partner, family, friends, or pets. 

There's even a fredagsmys anthem, a song created for an advert for crisp company OLW, which stresses that this is an activity for people of all ages and professions. Perhaps expats will relate to the English-speaker who says 'since I moved here, all I do is mys'.

Examples

Nu är det slut på veckan, det är dags för fredagsmys

Now it's the end of the week, it's time for a cosy Friday night

Jag älskar att fredagsmysa

I love having a cosy Friday night in

Do you have a favourite Swedish word you'd like to nominate for our word of the day series? Get in touch by email.

 

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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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