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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Swedish word of the day: svinvarmt

Today's Swedish word of the day is brought to you courtesy of the heatwave currently sweeping the country.

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

Svinvarmt literally translates as 'pig hot', and it's used to mean 'very hot' in reference to temperature. 

It's similar to the expressions mycket varmt or jättevarmt (both meaning 'very hot'), but svin- is a much more colloquial or informal prefix than jätte-, so you could also translate it as English 'bloody'.

Beginner Swedish language learners might be confused because varm looks like the English word 'warm'. They share linguistic roots, but in English 'warm' is less intense. For example, compare hot chocolate and varm choklad, whereas 'warm chocolate' in English sounds more like a chocolate bar that's started to melt in the sun.

We've written svinvarmt ending in 't', because you'll most likely hear it in a sentence like 'oj det är svinvarmt idag!' (wow, it's boiling hot today!), in which case svinvarmt ends in a 't' to agree with det. Like most other Swedish adjectives, and like the adjective varm itself, svinvarm is used with a final 't' when it describes an 'ett' word, and without it when describing an 'en' word. For example: duschen var svinvarm (the shower was boiling hot), but vattnet var svinvarmt (the water was boiling hot).

So what have pigs got to do with it?

I'm delighted you asked.

An English-speaker might make a link between the colloquial phrase 'sweating like a pig', but the svin here doesn't really have anything to do with pigs as such.

Svin is simply being used an intensifier, like jätte- (which literally means 'giant' but usually means 'very'), to emphasize the adjective it's combined with. 

Svin can be used as an intensifier on lots of different adjectives. As well as svinvarmt, another common one is svinkallt (very cold), and you might also hear words like svinbra (very/bloody good), svinintressant (really interesting) or svintråkig, for example. 

When used on its own to talk about another person, the word svin is an insult, most often used about men: han är en svin means 'he is a swine'. But when combined with an adjective, the prefix svin- doesn't necessarily have any negative connotation at all.

Examples

Det var svinvarmt i går så vi tog ett dopp

It was roasting hot yesterday so we went for a dip

Vi satt i ett svinvarmt rum

We sat in a boiling hot room

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.

Member comments

  1. I love the grammar lesson included in the word of the day! It helps to reinforce my online Swedish lessons!

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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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