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Swedish word of the day: deltagande

Today’s word is about participation, partaking, and sorrow.

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

Deltagande is either one or more participants in an activity, or an expression of participation in someone’s mourning, in other words, condolences. 

Originally from delta (not to be confused with the Greek letter), which is made up of the words del, meaning ‘part’, and ta, meaning ‘to take – to partake, or take part. 

It is said that Swedes love lists, and that Swedes like to be nice. En deltagare is ‘a participant’, a partaker, if you will, and so one of the many types of lists that you will often encounter is a deltagarlista, a list of participants. As for the niceness, if you are in a race in Sweden, like a half marathon for instance, you will notice that often everyone gets a medal just for participating. Alla deltagande får en medalj, ‘All participants get a medal.’ 

You can also ta del av något, as in ‘to partake in something’, which usually refers to information. Har du tagit del av pm:et som skickades ut? ‘Have you read the memo that was sent out?’. You will notice that the way to express this is with the same word broken up into parts. Delta… ta del.

Regretfully choice for the word of the day was not arbitrary or for some funny insight into Swedish culture, but because it is a day of sorrow for many. Today many around the world mourn the passing of their monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. 

In Swedish a formal way of expressing your condolences would be att visa sitt deltagande, literally ‘to show one’s participation’, which really means ‘to show one’s participation in the mourning’. Here is a tweet by the Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Sweden. 

As you can see, Ambassador Gough uses deltagande in thanking Sweden for the condolences offered. Jag vill varmt tacka för deltagandet som Sverige uttryckt. Literally ‘I want to give warm thanks for the participation that Sweden has expressed’, of course meaning she wants to give thanks for the condolences offered by the Swedish people and their representatives. 

In closing, I offer my own condolences to the Queen’s family and her subjects as one would in a more formal Swedish. Tillåt mig att framföra mina kondoleanser till er med anledning av er drottnings bortgång. ‘Allow me to convey my condolences for the passing of your Queen.’

May she rest in peace.

Example sentences:

Med djupt deltagande i er stora sorg.

My deepest sympathies for your great sorrow.

Hur många deltagande har ni i nuläget?

How many participants do you have so far?  

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to 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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For members


​​Swedish word of the day: möte

The word of the day is perhaps Sweden’s second favourite pastime, after 'fika', and they often go hand in hand.

​​Swedish word of the day: möte

In 2017 Swedish television published an article with the headline, Möteskulturen frodas i Sverige, “The Meeting Culture is Thriving in Sweden”. For a non-Swede that might seem like an interesting and perhaps bizarre headline, but to the initiated it is all too familiar. 

A möte is simply a meeting, but for Swedes möten are something you do at every opportunity. Need to decide anything at all? Let’s have a möte. This can seem like an awful waste of time to a non-Swede, but Swedes are all about consensus. The idea is that after you have consensus you can move forward more efficiently. And Swedish society seems to do that really well. And it does not hurt that a möte is the perfect time for fika, or more precisely mötesfika.

As a bit of history, the English ‘meeting’ and Swedish möte are related, and they are also related to ‘moot’ as in ‘moot court’ or a ‘moot point’, “an issue that is subject to, or open for discussion or debate; originally, one to be definitively determined by an assembly of the people.” That assembly of people was originally an old Germanic type of town hall, a ting, where people met to discuss communal matters and settle disputes.

Today we can find the word ting in the names of the Icelandic parliament, the Althing, the Danish parliament, the Folketing, and the Norwegian parliament, the Storting. In Sweden you still find it in the name of the lower courts, Tingsrätten

The point is, there is a very old tradition of möten in Scandinavian culture. The Icelandic parliament, for instance, claims to be the oldest in the world. Whether the Icelanders can beat the Swedes at the time spent in möten at work is unsure, no statistics seem to be readily available for a comparison. 

Malin Åkerström, the researcher who was interviewed in the piece by Swedish television, claims that the public sector are the primary champions of möten, but it is also very common in the private sector. And möten are on the rise in many workplaces. 

Here it might help to know that in Sweden a möte can also be between you and just one other co-worker to discuss almost anything, so the term is quite broad. Then there are so called arbetsplatsträffar, more commonly referred to as APT, a type of longer, more serious möte that many workplaces hold regularly (there you can almost always count on fika). 

As you can see, Swedes love their möten – so why not find an excuse to stämma tid för ett möte with one of your Swedish friends or maybe a coworker? You might just make their day.

Example sentences:

Bettan, kan vi stämma tid för ett möte?

Bettan, can we decide on a time for a meeting?

Jag blir galen med alla dessa konstanta möten, va fan är det för fel på svenskar?

I’m going insane with all these constant meetings, what the hell is wrong with these Swedes?

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.