Since I am stuck in bed with a nasty bug today, I will ruthlessly steal this brilliant list from the always equally brilliant page The Local. 10 Swedish words that you won’t find in English (click here for the full story). I have written about this topic before, missing simple words like bakfylleångest (hangover anxiety), kissnödig (in need of a wee) and träningsvärk (achy muscles after a work out) -words that pretty much speak for themselves. This list is slighty different, but boy do we use most of these words in the Swedish daily language. In other words, get a paper and a pen and take notes, friends!
This verb is a tremendously common word in the Swedish language meaning “to have the energy.
Ex: Jag orkar att gå uppför trapporna (I have the energy to walk up the stairs)
It’s used to describe that little coughing noise one makes, often before giving a speech or dislodging cinnamon bun pieces from their throat.
Ex: Jag måste harkla mig! (I must dislodge something from my throat!)
This is an enormously common verb in Swedish, meaning “to find the time” or “to be on time”.
Ex: Hoppas att jag hinner till tåget! (Hopefully I will make it to the train in time!)
To close your eyes, or to turn a blind eye.
Ex: Blunda så ska du få en överrraskning! (Close your eyes and you will get a surprise!)
We almost have this in English with the word snuggle, but if you’re gonna be mysering in Swedish, you can do it with someone, alone, or even in a café – perhaps “to cosy up” fits the bill.
Ex: Ikväll ska jag mysa framför tv:n! (Tonight, I will cosy up in front of the telly!)
This is becoming increasingly popular in Sweden, and is short for Vård Av Barn (meaning “to be at home because the children need taking care of, but you get paid for it from the government”). In fact, Swedes have even taken to calling February “Vabruary” due to such common child sicknesses.
Anyone who has learnt Swedish will have heard this one by encouraging Swedes. It means “good at it”, or “talented at it”.
Ex: Du är så duktig på att prata svenska! (You are really good at speaking Swedish!)
In terms of common words, you can’t spend a day in Sweden without coming across this word. It can mean troublesome or trying, annoying or difficult, about people, things, events – almost anything. It’s a real all-encompassing word.
Ex: Matte är så himla jobbigt! (Maths is so very difficult!)
Here is a two-for-one package meaning “old man/old lady” and rather endearingly – that is, if you’re saying them in an affectionate voice. In fact, they can be coupled with “lilla gubben” to mean “little guy” for a boy, or “lilla gumman” for a girl.
Ex: Hon är en söt liten gumma (She is a cute little old lady)
As well as being a tongue twister for the rookie Swedish learner, this combination is a brilliant selection of words we desperately need in English. These are the words for your grandparents – (Mothermother, fathermother, motherfather, fatherfather).
Gingerbread gubbe and gumma!