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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
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

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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For members

SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

​​Swedish word of the day: sommarpratare

Today's word is from one of Sweden's most popular radio shows. 

​​Swedish word of the day: sommarpratare

Sommarpratare literally means ‘summer talker’, and the word comes from Sommar, a 90-minute show on Swedish radio channel P1, which is part of the public broadcaster Sveriges Radio. 

Sommar i P1 is one of the most popular shows in the country, and sommarpratare, that is the person that gets to host the show, are noteworthy Swedes, often people from culture, sports, or business. 

The idea of the format is such that the host tells their story, or a story of their choice, and then they choose some songs to go with it. Over the years this very free format has led to some really memorable shows, and to more than one scandal. 

When cancer-stricken musician and writer Kristian Gidlund went on 30 June 2013 he knew he would soon die, and that his sommarprat would be his last public appearance. The result was a deeply moving reflection on death. Three months later Gidlund passed away just a few days shy of his 30th birthday. 

Arguably one of the most controversial shows, with a record 70-plus reports to the Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority, was by poet Athena Farrokhzad which aired on 21 July 2014. The show dealt with racism, class issues and political violence from what many commentators described as an extreme leftist perspective. One moderate member of the Riksdag, Gunnar Axén, was so upset that he supposedly threw out his television to no longer have to pay the public service fee, a fee which at the time was how public service was financed – today the financing is done with a tax. 

Some other noteworthy scandals include Army of Lovers singer Alexander Bard promoting the use of the drug ecstasy, ending with the quote, “The chemical brotherhood will take over in the future”, author Lena Andersson calling Jesus an authoritarian, and even author and journalist Jan Guillou accusing the long-dead former Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson of having taken bribes. 

On a more positive note was the unexpected hit of chief physician Anders Hansen’s 2019 sommarprat about the brain, which had 2 million digital streams. Hansen broke with format by not telling a personal story but instead sharing his knowledge from the field of psychiatry, talking about the importance of exercising, socialising, putting away your mobile phone, and making sure to sleep well for mental well-being.

To be a sommarpratare is considered a great honour in Sweden. Most Swedes are very familiar with the show, and they often have favourite shows that they would love to tell you about. So it is a great topic for conversation.

Summer is nearly over, the last episode airs the day after tomorrow, but the episodes are still available online. Here is a link to this year’s list of sommarpratare

Example sentences:

Lyssnade du på sommarpratet igår?

Did you listen to the summer talk yesterday?

Har du sett listan på årets sommarpratare?

Have you seen the list of this year’s summer talkers? 

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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