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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: strul

The word "strul" has two very different meanings in Swedish, let's dive into them.

Swedish word of the day: strul
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

The basic meaning of the noun strul is “trouble” or “tangle”, and can be used in a number of different ways depending on the context.

One of these is as a suffix, used to describe some sort of issue you’re having.

You can simply attach it to the end of a word, depending on the issue. If you’re in the office and your laptop shuts down, or the internet doesn’t work, you’re experiencing teknikstrul. And if you’re planning on taking the bus at 1pm sharp on your way to work, but the bus is running late, you might be suffering from some buss-strul, or tågstrul, if you’re taking the train.

But if you’re talking about ett strul or the verb att strula, you’re talking about something completely different.

Att strula med någon means to temporarily hook up with someone in a casual way, for example if you make out with a random person on the dance floor, or have a one-night stand. The verb strula is mostly used by so-called fjortisar, a negative word for “immature teenagers”.

But watch out for the tricky part. When talking about teknikstrul, while your laptop shuts down, you could say min dator strular. That doesn’t mean that your laptop is having a casual fling with another laptop, it means that you laptop is not working correctly.

If you watch your friend making out with a random person at the dancefloor however, you could say min kompis strular med någon, which in this case, does refer to a casual hook-up.

Examples 

Jag strulade med någon på festen igårkväll

I casually hooked up with someone at the party last night

Min dator strulade hela dagen igår på jobbet 

My computer didn’t work correctly the entire day at work yesterday 

Det var lite tågstrul på vägen hem idag

There were some problems with the trains on the way home today

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it – or join The Local as a member and get your copy for free.

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: skärgård

You don't have to spend long in Sweden to hear the word skärgård, especially if you live in cities like Stockholm or Gothenburg where the population relocate to the nearby skärgård every summer. Where does the word come from?

Swedish word of the day: skärgård

Skärgård is, like many Swedish words, a compound word made up of the word skär, describing a small rocky outcrop and gård, which has a number of meanings such as “courtyard”, “farm” or “garden”.

Although skärgård is often translated to English as “archipelago” – a group of islands – the word officially refers to an archipelago made up primarily of small islands, close to the coast of a larger island or landmass, such as the rocky archipelagos near Stockholm and Gothenburg.

Other kinds of archipelago – such as those which are not close to other landmasses, or those made up of larger islands – can be referred to as an arkipelag or ögrupp. However, many Swedes will just use skärgård for any kind of archipelago.

Although the word skärgård doesn’t exist in English, a variant of skär has made its way into the language. The English term for this type of small rocky outcrop is “skerry”.

Skerry has an interesting etymology in English – it comes from the Old Norse term sker, which refers to a rock in the sea. This is related to the Swedish word skära, meaning “cut” – a skerry is a rock cut off from land.

Sker came into English via Scots, where it is spelled skerry or skerrie. Other languages also have this word, such as Norwegian skjær/skjer, Estonian skäär, Finnish kari and Russian шхеры (shkhery). It can also be found in Scottish Gaelic sgeir, Irish sceir and Welsh sgeri.

This also reflects the geographic area where skerries are found – there are skerries or skärgårdar along the northernmost part of the Swedish west coast near Bohuslän and Gothenburg, as well as on the east coast near Stockholm. The Norwegian coast also has a large number of skerries, and Skärgårdshavet or “the Archipelago Sea” lies off the southwestern coast of Finland.

In Russia, the Minina Skerries (Shkhery Minina) are one example of a skärgård, and in Scotland, Skerryvore and Dubh Artach in the Hebrides are also made up of skerries. Northern Ireland is home to The Skerries, off the Antrim coast, and Skerries is also the name of a coastal area of Dublin in the Republic of Ireland.

You may be wondering if the surname of the famous Swedish Skarsgård family of actors – Stellan, Gustaf, Bill, Valter and Alexander Skarsgård, among others – comes from the word skärgård. Although the spelling is similar, this name actually comes from the town of Skärlöv on the island of Öland, and means “Skar’s farm” (Skares gård, in Swedish).

Example sentences

Jag ser redan fram emot sommarsemestern – vi har hyrt en stuga ute i Stockholms skärgård.

I’m already looking forwards to summer – we’ve rented a cottage out in the Stockholm archipelago.

Sverige har många skärgårdar, fast Skärgårdshavet vid Finlands västkust är störst i världen med över 50 000 öar och skär.

Sweden has a lot of archipelagos, but the Archipelago Sea off Finland’s west coast is the biggest in the world has over 50,000 islands and skerries.

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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