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​​Swedish word of the day: kränkt

Today's word of the day is one born out of a medieval code of honour.

Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

The word kränkt describes when someone considers themselves to have had their personal honour attacked in words or action. 

Kränka, the verb form, can also mean ‘to violate’, as in a violation of someone’s rights. De kränkte mina rättigheter means ‘they violated my rights’. 

The word has been used as an adjective since at least 1756, but is much older in the verb form. Kränka goes back as far as 1420–50, when the Old Swedish kränkia, meant ‘to weaken, disgrace, or transgress’. The verb is taken from the Low German krenken, ‘to weaken’.

But the history of kränkt does not end there.

The word has gained new life and meaning in the modern Swedish debate on gender and race. There it has become an epithet aimed at someone who feels disparaged for supposedly no legitimate reason. 

The primary target is white men, as in the expression vita kränkta män (‘white, affronted men’), which gained traction thanks to a Facebook page of the same name.

Kränkt, then, no longer describes simply a person who has actually been dishonoured, but anyone whose opponents wish to mock for being upset about something. 

For example, feminists and anti-racists might mock white men for feeling affronted by having to share power with women and people of colour, even though their targets might not agree that having to share power is what they are upset about. 

On the other side, feminists and antiracists get mocked for being kränkta over the wrong use of certain words, which their opponents perceive to be completely harmless, or for calling everything sexist or racist.

Again, the feminists and antiracists would neither agree that the words are harmless or that they call everything sexist or racist.

Whether you feel kränkt, or have in fact been kränkt, or are yrkeskränkt (an uncommon but interesting usage describing those who make a living off of feeling affronted, usually by writing about it), it is not a nice word to use about someone else. 

Try not to kränka anyone, but do alert the proper authorities if you feel that someone has kränkt your rights.

And if you feel upset about something someone has said or written or is trying to do, make sure you are certain about how you feel. That way you will not care about anyone mocking you by calling you kränkt for feeling indignation at something you know to be wrong. 

Example sentences:

Asså, hur kan man va så kränkt?

I mean come on, how can you be that easily slighted!

De kränkte mina rättigheter!

They violated my rights!

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: sommartid

The clocks are springing ahead this weekend, marking the beginning of daylight saving time and the end of Sweden's dark winter period. Aptly described in Swedish as 'sommartid', here is the history of how the practice came about.

Swedish word of the day: sommartid

The phrase will come in handy this weekend if you want to lament a lost hour of sleep in the morning or celebrate the extra hour of daylight in the evening. 

Sommartid translates literally to “summertime” and refers to daylight saving time, which begins this weekend in many European countries, including Sweden. At 2:00 am on Sunday, the clocks will spring one hour ahead.

In the UK, this period is known as “British Summer Time” – one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time – while in North America, daylight saving time is used more commonly.

The first time sommartid was officially trialled on a national basis was in 1916, when the German Empire along with other countries such as Austria-Hungary, the UK and Sweden introduced the practice in order to conserve fuel during World War I, with the idea being that the extra daylight would reduce the use of artificial lighting, allowing the surplus fuel to be put towards the war efforts.

In the following years, the practice spread to Australia, Russia, and the US, too.

After the war, daylight saving grew unpopular in Europe, especially among farmers, whose schedules were – and still are – dictated by nature and sunlight rather than the clock.

It wasn’t used on a large scale again until World War II, when Germany again popularised the practice. But a few years after the war ended, it fell out of favour for the second time. It only picked up again when France reintroduced it in 1976, in response to an energy crisis sparked by the oil embargo in 1973.

By 1996, the EU standardised daylight savings, which now runs from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. 

But the future of daylight saving time looks uncertain once again. In 2019, the European Parliament voted to abolish the practice, however efforts to actually implement this measure have stalled. So at least for this year, sommartid will continue.  

Example sentences: 

När börjar sommartid? 

When does daylight saving time start?

Kom ihåg att sommartid börjar på söndag, så man behöver stå upp en timme tidigare.

Remember that summer time starts on Sunday, so you need to get up an hour earlier.

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