Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

Archive for September, 2009

Do you ding or pling? Cultural clash [avoidance?]

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Onomatopoeia is fancy word meaning the sound of the name imitates its definition (or something along those lines –you’d think the word would want to incorporate its own definition.) The words boom or bang are explosive examples. But as we know from a previous discussion even animals speak differently in Swedish and English.

Which brings us to the sound a bicycle bell would make. I’d say ding, the Swedish husband would say pling. In truth it’s rather unimportant since thanks to onomatopoeia (hearing the desired sound regardless) even if you had to yell it out (say you don’t have a bell on your bike) the message would get through.

Or would it? What in fact is the message?

Here’s another cultural clash…well, designed ultimately to avoid a clash or a crash ( that’s onomatopoetic, isn’t it?)  For me, the use of a ding is to get people out of the way the same way you’d beep (onomatopoeia at work again) your car’s horn.

bike bell

But Swedes will also pling to give a courteous warning that they’re passing you on their bikes. I guess it’s to avoid startling you as they wiz quietly by on silent un-motorized wheels.  Accordingly, it seems the Swedish pedestrian is expecting that pling.

I rarely polite pling. I just can’t get the outtamyway honk  sound out of my ears. Instead, I try to kindly give a wide berth or slow down while passing and that ought to serve the same purpose.

And so now I’m back at odds with my dilemma: To ding or not to ding. Or perhaps I should be struggling over whether or not to pling.

So. Do you pling or ding? And what is your message?

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Bad sport motion: When words say more than pictures.

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Sometimes the a few words caught in a picture are worth more than a thousand words. (Not sure how a picture stacks up in the valuing system on this one, sorry.) My local swimming pool complex recently reminded me of this worn-down-though-never-quite-worn-out giggle over Swedish words and signs which read funny for English-language eyes.

  • Fart hinder–speed bump

Gotta wonder why they use boobie images to reduce speed.

Gotta wonder why they use boobie images to reduce speed.

  • Infart and Exfart–entrance and exit

The sign is cautionary. Yes, we should warn people about them.

The sign is cautionary. Yes, we should warn people about them.


  • Slut–the end. So plastered over retail windows is Slut Rea or final sale.

     Sluts for sale?...nah, just final clearance

    Sluts for sale?...nah, just final clearance

Personally, my favorite Swedish sign has no funny words

Seems car diving is allowed though you should take care

Seems car diving is allowed though you should take care

And so the trigger for this review of funny words and signs in English belongs to the place I just spent Friday afternoon into the evening :

Not the most appealing signs to get new members signed up

Not the most appealing signs to get new members signed up

It just seems to counter the effort to attract members to come and work out or get fit.  But then again, instead of advertising, perhaps they’re reminding me, the passer-by, of my own condition.

Dunno. But I signed up for a 3-month training pass. I wonder if I am diligent if they’re update the sign to “Good Sport Motion”.

I’d be happy with Good Sport.

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Anna Anka: Stirring debate? What debate?

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

It seems Paul Anka exploits illegal immigrant labor. He might be well advised to inform his wife, Sweden’s neo-numero-uno woman-most-loved-to-be-hated, Anna Anka, that she should probably keep that under wraps.

kajsa anka

I had actually tried to not blog about Mrs. Duck (Anka means duck in Swedish and Donald Duck’s name in Sweden is Kalle Anka and Daisy Duck is Kajsa Anka.)

But with all the attention she’s getting from her outspoken views published in an article on Newsmill (in Swedish only sorry) and her role on the reality TV show Swedish Hollywood Wives (also only in Swedish) there’s too much talk on the town to ignore her totally.

So what’s the hype? Yeah, that’s my question too. Here’s a few of her controversial statements:

“[In the US] it’s the illegal Mexicans who do the work. They do the dishes, clean the house, take care of the garden. I have an enormous garden and four gardeners.”

“Swedish dads are tragic with all their nappy-changing and equality. A real American man panics if he is alone with a child for more than 20 minutes. American dads do not prepare dinner and do not iron, they work and provide for their families.”

“Sexually it is the woman’s responsibility to ensure that the man is satisfied, if she does not then she only has herself to blame if he is unfaithful,”

“[In the US] mothers don’t nag their daughters about education and going to college, but instead that [the daughters] should find an athlete or a celebrity. Isn’t that wonderful?”

I can’t fathom how people can take any of that seriously. This is entertainment and comedy, but not debate.

And amazingly, for some inexplicable reason, it’s somehow become part of a political debate here in Sweden. But I am still wondering…HOW? What is the debate to debate?

There was a talk segment on the radio yesterday (My lovely SAAB suffers from that all-too-common malady of a busted digital display so I have no clue which station it was) about Anna Anka and the “Debate around her” and I had to agree with 2 of the 3 guests that there ISN’T anything to debate here.

And so the debate (whatever there is to debate, and I love a good debate so please tell me what to debate) goes on.

I wonder if anyone is checking on her employees for their papers now?  Imagine, they might just have to pay minimum wage soon.

Which is 8 bucks per hour in California. I hope they can afford it.illegal mexican

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Skydiving. Autumn jumping weekend.

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Because it’s the most exhilarating adrenaline rush and narcotic-free high you will ever survive. That’s the answer to questions about why to jump out of a perfectly good airplane at 4000m (12,500ft). Yes, I’m talking about skydiving.


For you whuffos (skydiver speak derived from, “Jump out of a perfectly good airplane, what for”) no literally master could describe the multifaceted thrill and experience of a skydive. In all honestly, it took several jumps for me to understand what seasoned skydivers were trying to describe to me about what “Flying your body” meant.  So, yes, it’s much more than falling.

We’re headed up to our DZ (that’s skydiver speak drop zone or where we have our club). That’s in Gryttjom near Tierp (about an hour north of Stockholm.) is our club’s website (We’re Stockholm’s Skydiving Club ) If you ever thought of trying it out, come up and jump a tandem jump.  If you’re really serious, send me a message and I can work you a 200kr discount.

And if you’re super serious…sign up for a course and let’s jump together.

Blue skies. I’m there now (literally as I hit publish)

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Highway robbery by the Transport Agency. All legal.

Friday, September 18th, 2009

They want 500kr for a 5-day late bill for 25kr. Oh, and they want another 500kr for an equally late 120kr bill –for two separate cars and their congestion fees for June. Highway robbery. Literally.


The people from the  Swedish Transport Agency (Transport Styrelsen) are just following the law so I guess I can’t really blame them (though I’m going to direct my anger, indignation and irritation in their direction anyway –it’s their cross to bear.)

For you sticklers and bessevisers (Swedish word for know-it-all-wise-ass), yes it was late. But isn’t there some requirement to send a reminder BEFORE a late fee is applied? Other reasonable companies might stick you with a 50 to 150 kr late fee, but 5 days later and they’re issuing a 500kr late fee? (If the exchange rate is about 7kr to the USD you do the math and realize how insane that level is.)

In my defense, we weren’t physically in Sweden to receive the bill until after it was due (and consequently pay it) but somehow I doubt I am going to get any sympathy.  If I do, you’ll be the first to know.

I’m doubting this post will ever receive a follow up.

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The smell of Moonshine is in the air: Literally.

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

There’s a scent of moonshine wafting in the autumn air this morning. Unceremoniously, it’s not from a band of bootleggers, but the wind blowing southwesterly from the yeast factory, Jästbolaget where they produces all of Sweden’s  yeast.


The reference makes for colorful morning small talk since the act of illegal alcohol distilling (aka moonshine, better known as hembränt in Sweden) falls into that limbo land of civil disobedience and culture heritage preservation.

Popular misinformation scares people into thinking that moonshine can make you blind or otherwise harm you. While it might give you a hangover to  compete with the mother of all hangovers, the worst moonshine can only impair your vision while under its spell –a phenomenon better known as beer-goggles.

And while in reality there isn’t any hembränt being brewed in the neighborhood (well, that I know of) I am pretty sure we’d find a number of stills still in the basements of the local folk.

With the yeast production reminder still in the air, I’m thinking today could be a baking day.

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Donating blood: Turned away since I needed it more than they did.

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Seems I need my blood more than Sweden does. Well,  for now anyway. Proud and eager for my first blood donation I got sent home without a badge of bleeding.

Unlike many eager-to-bleed,  non-Swedes I’m already approved to be a blood donor by the Swedish powers that be (in the blood business that is). I guess my Swedish is up to snuff to be admitted to the club which is apparently rather exclusive. Exclusive in that it excludes many non-Swedes based on Swedish language proficiency (or lack thereof –this is where I would get to taunt those poor souls with the chant “My Swedish is better than yours is, nah nah-nah nah, nah-nah.” )

Joking aside (though maybe still in a taunting jest) there are so many irate non-Swedes indignant about being denied the opportunity to donate blood (And having been sent home untapped I can understand a bit where they’re coming from.)

Cheery imgages to get you to bleed

Cheery imgages to get you to bleed

But I can also see where the blood donation organization is coming from. There is a real need to be able to communicate with donors to check on their medical condition. Most certainly 98% of the staff can do that in English, but then any misunderstandings would be on the part of the blood donation staff.

I’m disappointed I couldn’t ask more about the unwanted eager donors whose Swedish language skills are perhaps not first rate yet bleed the same red as any Viking-descended Swede. I was kind of hoping for something juicy to blog about (pun definitely intended.)

The actual reason I was turned away this time was because I have back pain. I never knew that I need my own blood to overcome and compensate for that shortcoming. They welcome me back the next time the blood bus is taking on passengers –for the ride of giving life –provided I am fitter than the fiddle I am today.

At least I got to keep my Triss Lotto. I didn’t win anything, but imagine my taunting dance had I won it big on that one.

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