blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Swedish vocabulary, first impressions

Before coming to Sweden on this trip, I've never made any attempt to learn Swedish, although I have appreciated a few Swedish films and picked up one or two words that way. On the way here I read a small guide book about Stockholm and found a few words worth noting:

norr, söd, öst, väst

gamla stan, old town
gatan, street
gränd, lane
torg, square
museet, teater, gården, station, kyrka, slottet (castle), strand (shore)
konst, art
blomor, flowers
holmen, islands
malm, rock
sten, stone
lilla, little
bron, bridge

Since we got here, I've added a few more to the list:
tåg, train (e.g. tåg till Uppsala), billjete, utgang, ingang. For the next stop they say näste. At cafe entrances they write, Välkommen in, unless you have to board a ship and climb stairs, in which case it's Välkommen upp!

I have deduced that "not" is inte, "and" is och. "Good" is usually either bra or god.

The food vocabulary is fun, easy to remember: mjolk, smör (butter), bröd, våfflor (waffles), ost (cheese), ägg, kyckling (chicken), lax, sallad, blåbär (blueberries), soppa (soup), svamp (mushrooms), pannkakor (pancakes) ... med sirop, fisk (fish), kaffe, te.

Strange to discover, öl is not oil (olja) but beer! and the Red Cross is known in Sweden as Röda Korset.

Wild strawberries, made famous by Ingmar Bergman, are smultron, and there are places where you may sample mjod (mead). The Vikings used to drink it from their horns, hornen.

So it seems that Swedish is fairly straightforward, although the pronunciation of their language poses some initial challenges. Kärlek, meaning love, is pronounced something like syärlek. The lady sitting next to me on the flight to Stockholm told me that "Sorry!" is förlåt, only I wrote it down wrongly as verlort, which just goes to show.

While in Stockholm with Chris' colleagues, one of them (Kevin, who has made many visits to Sweden) told me that the word lagom is worth knowing, as in the phrase lagom är bäst, which means there's virtue in moderation, or less is more. Lagom may be of Viking origin, from the ancient command Laget om! meaning: take just the right amount of mead to drink when they pass the horn around. These days it stands for the modern Swedish ideal, living a sustainable lifestyle that's not too extravagant. IKEA, it seems, is playing this card for all it's worth!

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