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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Swedish word of the day: folkkär

This Swedish word is one to help you talk about the things and people you love the most.

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

Folkkär is a pretty word with a positive meaning. It refers to a person (usually) or a thing which is well-known and loved by people.

You could translate it as 'widely loved' 'beloved by the people', or 'a popular household name', and it can easily be broken down into two parts: folk ('people' or 'population') and kär ('in love' or 'dear').

It's an adjective, so you might say 'efter att han vann Melodifestivalen blev han riktigt folkkär' (after he won Melodifestivalen he became a popular household name) or 'den folkkäre journalisten kommer att skriva en ny bok' (the widely loved journalist will write a new book).

As you might have gathered, it's different from the more neutral word kändis ('celebrity') which simply refers to someone who is widely known, no matter what public opinion of them might be.

And the use of folk is interesting too. Swedish has several other words for 'popular', including populär or the abbreviation poppis, and omtyckt

As word nerds might already know, the words 'popular' and populär come from the Latin term populus (people) and literally mean 'liked by the general public'. Folk generally refers to 'people' in the sense of a national population, so a folkkär singer, athlete or author would generally be one who is considered a national treasure. They're not just popular, but they mean something to the country and its culture. So while a populär or omtyckt person might be well-liked by their immediate community, friends or colleagues, someone who is folkkär is known and loved across the country.

In Sweden, you're more likely to hear folkkär used to talk about homegrown talent or figures who are particularly highly esteemed within Sweden, rather than international celebrities.

And because of the personal tone of the word kär, it generally refers to those celebs who you feel like you know and would be down-to-earth if you ever met, rather than those who are all too aware of their fame and talent (for this reason, it's debatable whether household name and footballer Zlatan could be described as folkkär).

Good examples would include Tilde de Paula Eby, a TV presenter who has fronted TV shows from news programmes to Swedish Bake-off and Let's Dance, or the late artist Lill Babs whose six-decade career included singing and acting.

By default, folkkär tends to refer to people who are popular in Sweden specifically, but you can also say things like 'artisten är väldigt folkkär i Tyskland' (the artist is widely beloved in Germany) or 'hon är en av Storbrittaniens folkkäraste författare' (she is one of the UK's best loved authors).

Examples

Sara Danius var doldisen som blev folkkär

Sara Danius was the nobody who became a beloved household name (Expressen

Hans inspirerande filmer har gjört honom folkkär

His inspiring films have made him widely popular

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: foppatofflor

Love them or hate them, foppatofflor are unexpectedly coming back in to fashion. But what are they, and how did they get their Swedish name?

Swedish word of the day: foppatofflor

Foppatoffla – foppatofflor in plural – is the Swedish term for Crocs – plastic sandals or clogs which first became popular in the early 2000s.

The word foppatoffla is made up of two words. The first is foppa, which is the nickname of one of Sweden’s most successful ice hockey players, Peter Forsberg. The second half of the word is toffla, the Swedish word for “sandal”.

Foppatofflor, the Swedish term for Crocs. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/Scanpix/TT

So, what does a famous Swedish ice hockey player have to do with plastic clogs?

The story begins in the early 2000s, when Forsberg was recovering from a foot injury sustained playing professional ice hockey. When looking for a shoe comfortable enough for him to wear without exacerbating his injury, he came across Crocs, which were designed to be comfortable and ergonomic.

Recognising the shoes’ potential, Forsberg became an early investor, securing the sole rights to distribute Crocs in Sweden through his company Forspro. But Forsberg didn’t just invest in the shoes, he also appeared in adverts for them, leading Swedes to start referring to the shoes as foppatofflor.

By 2010, sales of foppatofflor were dwindling, so Forsberg shut down Forspro to focus on other investments – but not before the name had stuck.

Peter “Foppa” Forsberg. The man you can thank (or despise) for introducing Crocs to Sweden. Photo: Erik Simander/TT

The shoes are still popular as ergonomic and hygienic work shoes, particularly in the healthcare sector, although they were briefly banned in some Swedish hospitals on suspicion of causing a build-up of static electricity which disrupted hospital machinery.

They may also be coming back into fashion, gracing the Oscars red carpet and the Instagram feeds of musicians such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Pharell Williams in the last few years.

So, love them or hate them, foppatofflor seem to be here to stay. Now you know what word to use if you decide to pick up a pair for yourself this summer.

Example sentences:

Jag har precis köpt nya foppatofflor till barnen – de är ju så praktiska!

I’ve just bought new Crocs for the kids – they’re so practical!

Gud, är foppatofflor verkligen trendiga nu? Bra att jag har kvar mina från 00-talet!

God, are Crocs really trendy now? Good job I kept mine from the noughties!

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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