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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Swedish word of the day: uteservering

This word is key for those long Nordic evenings.

Swedish word of the day: uteservering
Image: nito103/Depositphotos
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At a certain point in the spring, you'll see bars, cafes and restaurants setting up chairs and tables out on the pavement: this is the uteservering, which you could translate as 'outdoor terrace' or 'pavement cafe'. You can find a list of 12 of The Local's Stockholm favourites here.

You can break the word down into ute (outdoors) and servering (which means both 'restaurant/eatery' and 'the act of serving'). It covers everything from rooftop bars to cafe courtyards to kiosks in parks with tables and chairs, and they usually open from around early April to September: regulations usually define the uteservering season as between April 1st and October 15th, so outside those dates it may not be allowed.

Even on chilly days probably best spent inside, you'll see locals stubbornly wrapped in a blanket (provided by the restaurant) and eating their meal under an outdoor heater rather than waste a moment of daylight.

These days, sipping a cocktail or cold beer at one of these spots is an integral part of Swedish summertime, which fits into the Scandinavian mentality of making the most of those long summer days and nights. 

But it wasn't always the case.

The very first uteservering in Sweden is said to have been opened in Gothenburg in the mid-19th century. But over the following century, strict laws around alcohol meant a lot of restrictions on restaurants with alcohol permits. Far fewer restaurants were allowed to serve beer, wine and spirits, and even in those, they had to be drunk indoors.

It wasn't until the 1980s that the trend started up again, perhaps influenced by increasing travel overseas and Swedes experiencing cafe terrace culture in places like France and Italy.

In the early 1990s both Gothenburg and Malmö introduced permits at a municipal level for uteserveringar. When smoking was banned inside restaurants about ten years later, new permits were introduced allowing year-round outdoor areas.

So next time you're enjoying an afterwork drink at your favourite uteservering, you'll know the history of this relatively new Swedish tradition.

MORE SWEDISH SUMMER WORDS:

Examples

Det är så mysig att ta en öl på en uteservering i solskenet

It's so nice to have a beer on an outdoor terrace in the sunshine

De flesta uteserveringar öppnar den 1e april

Most outdoor terraces open on April 1st

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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For members

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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