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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Swedish word of the day: sommarstängt

This Swedish word is often met with sighs of frustration from those who stay in the country's bigger cities throughout summer.

Swedish word of the day: sommarstängt
Image: nito103/Depositphotos

Sommarstängt is a compound word made up of sommar (summer) + stängt (closed). So it means 'closed for summer', and you'll see it on signs in restaurants, cafes, shops, libraries, and other businesses throughout July and sometimes beyond.

It's used an adjective so it needs to agree with the noun, ending in -d for 'en' words and -t for 'ett' words. For example: skolan är sommarstängd, but biblioteket är sommarstängt

Sweden's long summer holidays are written into law: most employers are legally obliged to allow their workers to take four consecutive weeks off in the summer, and naturally the majority of employees jump at the chance.

READ ALSO: Why do the Swedes take such long summer holidays?

What's more, many parents might choose to combine those four weeks of vacation with their parental leave allowance so they have time off during their children's long summer holidays. Some large Swedish companies halt operations altogether over summer, and small business owners often decide to do the same.

This all adds up to a strange feeling of emptiness in the bigger cities over the summer, as those who haven't gone abroad will often head to their rural summer houses. And the summer closures can be frustrating to those who aren't used to the system, especially since they coincide with the tourist season.

All the same, it's good to be aware of the custom so you don't get caught out when that restaurant or shop you really wanted to visit is closed for the rest of the month.

Example

Vi har sommarstängt v27-31. Välkommen åter i augusti!

We have closed for the summer between weeks 27-31. Welcome back in August!

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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