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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: joråsåatte

Joråsåatte is not a word you’ll find in the dictionary.

Swedish word of the day: joråsåatte
This Swedish word will help you get out of awkward conversations. Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

You may, however, hear it in conversation with Swedes, or to be more accurate, you may hear it when the conversation stalls.

It is made up of several words, so let’s break it down.

First: jodå, which is often pronounced jorå. Jodå (literally “yes then”) is a more emphatic version of jo, which like ja means “yes” but is often used as a more insistent yes or when answering negated questions in the affirmative. We’ve explained the word jo in this article.

means “so”.

And finally, att means “that”. The e at the end of joråsåatte is a result of dragging out the word because you don’t know what to say next, much like “er” or “um”. Because joråsåatte is primarily used in spoken Swedish, you may see several spelling variations in writing.

It’s usually used as a filler word, a nonsense word you say when you’ve run out of all other words, when the silence is too much to bear, even for a non-talkative Swede. A similar word in English might be “anyway” or “so yeah”.

It’s handy when you’re trying to get out of a conversation. Throw in a joråsåatte just before you make your excuse to leave. Don’t forget to shuffle your feet awkwardly and pretend to look at your watch or phone like you suddenly remembered an important appointment.

Another way to use it is at the end of a vaguely entertaining or shocking story, just after the punchline or in place of the punchline when you realise the story was far more entertaining and shocking in your head compared to how it came out. Kind of like making a drum roll sound.

Examples:

Joråsåatte… jag borde nog gå och hämta barnen på förskolan nu

Anyway… I should probably go and pick up the children from preschool

… sa flickan. Joråsåatte…

… that’s what she said. Er, anyway.

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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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: liga

You may have this word in your native language or recognise it from football leagues such as the German Bundesliga or Spain's La Liga. Liga has a similar meaning in Swedish, too, with one crucial difference.

Swedish word of the day: liga

Liga originally comes from Latin ligāre (“to bind”). In most languages, liga means “league”, a group of individuals, organisations or nations who are united in some way.

Similar words exist in many European languages, such as Dutch, Spanish, Czech and Polish liga, Italian lega, French ligue and Romanian ligă.

A league is almost always something positive or neutral in other languages, but in Swedish a liga is something negative – a criminal gang, with the word ligist referring to a (usually young, male) gang member, thug or hooligan.

Political or diplomatic leagues are usually translated into Swedish as förbund (“union” or “association”) rather than liga: one example is the Swedish term for the League of Nations, Nationernas förbund.

The only exception to this rule is sport, where the popularity of international football leagues such as the Bundesliga and the Premier League has lessened the negative meaning somewhat in this context. Fans of hockey will be familiar with SHL, Svenska hockeyligan, and Sweden’s handball league is referred to as handbollsligan.

The history behind liga’negative meaning in Swedish can be traced back to the Thirty Years’ War, which took place largely within the Holy Roman Empire between 1618 and 1648.

Essentially, the Thirty Years’ War began as a fight between Protestant and Catholic states of the Holy Roman Empire, with Catholic states forming the Catholic League and Protestant states forming the Protestant Union.

Sweden was – and still is – Lutheran, meaning that, when they got involved in the war in 1630, their enemies were the Catholic League – or the katolska ligan in Swedish, with its members being referred to as ligister or “league-ists”.

King Gustav II Adolf eventually beat the Catholic League in 1631 at the Battle of Breitenfeld, ultimately leading to the formal dissolution of the league in 1635 in the Peace of Prague, which forbade alliances from forming within the Holy Roman Empire.

Although this may seem like ancient history, Swedes still don’t trust a liga – the word’s negative connotations have survived for almost 400 years.

Swedish vocabulary:

Jag är lite orolig för honom, han har börjat hänga med ett gäng ligister.

I’m a bit worried about him, he’s started hanging out with a group of thugs.

Manchester United har vunnit den engelska ligan flest gånger, men City är mästare just nu.

Manchester United have won the Premier League the most times, but City are the current champions.

De säger att det står en liga bakom det senaste inbrottsvågen.

They’re saying there’s a gang behind the recent spate of break-ins.

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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