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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: torsk

You may already know this word's most common translation, but have you heard of the more obscure meanings of the word?

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

The first and most common meaning of the word torsk in Swedish is “cod”, a white fish popular for eating. You may see dishes such as stekt torsk med potatis (fried cod with potatoes) or ugnsbakad torsk (baked cod) on a lunch menu, or come across it in your local supermarket.

Other popular fish in Sweden include rödspätta (plaice), lax (salmon) and abborre (perch).

However, torsk does have a few other meanings in Swedish.

One of these is, bizarrely, the word for a man who buys sex from a prostitute. This may have evolved from an outdated meaning of the word torsk as an insult for someone stupid or easy to trick, similar to calling someone a “loser” in English. Att torska can also be used to describe the act of buying sex.

Att torska can also mean you have lost in a particularly embarrassing way, so it’s important to be clear about context if using this verb, although usually it would be followed by the word för (by) or mot (against), unlike in the previous example.

Examples of this meaning include att torska mot bottenlaget (“to lose against the team at the bottom of the league”) or att torska för snuten (“to be caught by the cops”).

Torsk can also mean an addiction or obsession for something, such as in the phrase torsk på något (literally: “cod on something”). Being torsk på spel would mean being addicted to gambling, or torsk på ABBA would mean an obsession for ABBA.

Finally, torsk or muntorsk (“mouth torsk”) is also the Swedish name for oral candida or oral thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth which often affects infants.

Example sentences:

Britterna gillar panerad torsk med pommes.

Brits like battered cod with chips.

Det är olagligt att torska i Sverige.

It’s illegal to buy sex in Sweden.

Spelberoende kallas också för att vara speltorsk.

Being addicted to gambling can also be referred to as being a speltorsk (literally: “gambling cod”).

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: förståsigpåare

Today’s word is like a know-it-all who actually knows something.

Swedish word of the day: förståsigpåare

According to svenska.se, a förståsigpåare is ‘a person who is well versed in something and likes to let others know this’ or ‘a person who knows something (whatever it is at the moment), connoisseur,; expert, professional, expert; also: person who imagines that this knowledge applies to understanding everything.’

Förståsigpåare has been traced back to 1798 in writing, but could be older. The word is actually three words turned into a noun. Normally turning a verb or an adjective into a noun is what is called a ‘nominalization’. In this case it is three words förstå (‘to understand’), sig (‘reflexive pronoun’), and (‘on’): a verb, a reflexive pronoun, and a preposition. 

The original phrase, still in use today, is att förstå sig på något. Just like Förståsigpåare, this is a common way of saying that someone knows how something works or to have knowledge of something. 

Förståsigpåare is often used ironically, in which case it applies to people who are know-it-alls, and in this sense, there’s also a noun for the phenomenon itself: förståsigpåeri. One can then deplore the widespread phenomenon of förståsigpåeri, where people pretend to know a whole lot about things of which they really do not know much at all. 

But the word is not always used ironically or in a derogatory sense, it can also simply mean a pundit, or an expert. So you can often see a förståsigpåare on television explaining a certain something, like the American electoral college or the delicacies of the Balkans, or just explaining the tactics of a football game. In other words anyone sharing knowledge of a particular something, or who can explain something, can be a förståsigpåare.

Example sentences:

Den där, han är en riktig förståsigpåare.

That one, he’s a real know-it-all.

För att förklara hur elektorskollegiet fungerar så har vi amerikanske förståsigpåaren Marcus Smith. 

To explain how the electoral college works we have the American pundit Marcus Smith. 

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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