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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Swedish word of the day: utedass

Summer is upon us (yes, despite the rain in recent days across much of Sweden!) and we're taking a look at some seasonally appropriate Swedish vocabulary.

Swedish word of the day: utedass
Swedes are fond of going back to basics. Image: nito103/Depositphotos

Utedass means 'outdoor toilet', from ute (outside) and dass (an informal term for 'toilet') and it is a common feature of the Swedish summer, even today. You might also hear it called a torrdass, literally a 'dry toilet', or someone might direct you to the lilla huset (literally the 'little building').

An utedass looks like a small shed, and you'll find them in Swedish nature reserves and along hiking trails to allow walkers to answer the call of nature. 

But that's not all: many Swedes own or have access to a summer house (sommarstuga), which is often quite a simple cottage, and it's not at all unusual for the utedass to be the only available toilet, since many of the more basic stugor don't have plumbing.

What might surprise you is that an utedass is often seen as a bonus rather than a downside; some families are really proud of them and will make them feel homey with decor.

Sweden may well be one of the world's most technologically advanced countries, but as a nation that's largely covered in forest, and which underwent industrialization relatively late, many people who live there are fond of going back to basics and connecting with nature.

This is summed up in the Scandinavian term friluftsliv (literally 'outdoor life') and is clear from the popularity of isolated summer houses and hiking.

But if it's not your thing, rest assured that plenty of Swedish stugor these days come equipped with modern luxuries including flushing toilets.

Examples

På tomten finns en liten stuga med utedass

On the plot of land there is a small cabin and an outdoor toilet

Att använda utedass är en del av friluftslivet

Using an outdoor toilet is part of outdoor life

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: ockerhyra

A word of the day which makes strange use of usury.

​​Swedish word of the day: ockerhyra

Ocker is the Swedish word for usury, and not the Australian for someone who “speaks and acts in a rough and uncultivated manner, using Strine, a broad Australian accent” for the Aussies out there who might recognise the term. 

Usury, of course, is when a lender makes monetary loans which unfairly enrich them. The term is used either in a moral sense, then as a condemnation of taking advantage of others’ misfortune, or in a strictly legal sense, where ocker refers to the crime of charging a higher interest rate for a loan than that which is allowed by the law. You might know an individual who does that not as a usurer, but a loan shark

But ockerhyra has nothing to do with loans or loansharks, at least not directly. The shark, however, might still be there, as you will see.

Hyra simply means ‘rent’ – in this case the rent you pay for an apartment or any other rental property. So ockerhyra means ‘usury rent’, but how can a rent be usurious? Well, it cannot since it is not a loan. What instead is meant here, is at least part of the moral sense of the word ‘usury’, whereby someone is taking advantage of another’s situation. 

Someone setting an andrahandshyra, a second hand rent, which is unreasonably high, would be setting an ockerhyra. This is a topic which The Local has previously dealt with, and there are instances to get help with that. The main reason people can get away with this is because many are desperate to find a place in the city, often Stockholm, and therefore will not alert the authorities. But also, owing to the fact that it is not a punishable crime, all that might happen is that the person subletting their place for more than is reasonable might be forced to pay some money back.

Furthermore, the word ockerhyra does not necessarily imply this type of scenario, it can also be used to generally complain about rents being too high. And many do complain about this.

Do you feel a bit upset about the sometimes absurd rents in Stockholm or in another city? Why not make use of the word ockerhyror in a conversation on the topic?

Just remember that the word is quite strong, so try not to accuse a friend of charging an ockerhyra – might be safer to just question whether they are charging a bit much. Good luck!

Example sentences:

Alltså, det är verkligen ockerhyror på nybyggnationer! Jag är sååå trött på den här skiten.

I mean come on, the rents on new builds are outrageous! I’m sick and tired of this shit.

Duncan, varför tar du ockerhyra på stället du hyr ut i andrahand?

Duncan, why are you charging an exaggerated rent on the place you’re subletting?

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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