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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: skål

A word that will help you socialise in Sweden? We'll drink to that.

Swedish word of the day: skål
Cheers to learning Swedish! Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Skål means two different things in Swedish, and they're both quite common words. Firstly, en skål is 'a bowl'. Hear how to pronounce it in the clip below:

More excitingly, skål is how you say 'cheers!' – the exclamation when you clink glasses with friends and drink, often in celebration of something. Except in Sweden, you shouldn't actually let your glasses touch. 

Sweden has some fairly complex etiquette when it comes to toasting. At formal occasions, there's a set order in which you should toast the people you're with, and you should raise your glass to the third button on your shirt.

But in general, unless you're keeping very fancy company, all you need to remember to avoid offence is to make eye contact and nod at your cheers-ing partner.

The usual preposition you use with skål is för, for example skål för vänskap (cheers to friendship) or skål för Mathias (cheers to Mathias), but you can also say skål på dig (cheers to you).

Swedish doesn't have a separate word for 'toast' like English does, so skål! means 'cheers!' and en skål is 'a toast'.

You can turn skål into a verb too, skåla (to toast, or to drink to), as in: ska vi skåla för det? (Shall we drink to that?)

As for where the word comes from, it's slightly related to skål's other meaning of 'bowl'. Skål meaning 'cheers' comes from the word skal meaning 'shell' or 'outer covering'. In older forms of Swedish, this word was used to refer to drinking vessels.

Examples

Jag vill utbringa en skål för det lyckliga paret

I'd like to propose a toast to the happy couple

Skål för det!

Cheers to that!

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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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