Swedish Language Blog

A new trend has infiltrated the Swedish language. Posted by on Dec 12, 2009 in Swedish Language

Of course we know that a lot of languages borrow words from each other and adapt them to their own. Most people are fine with that, something a little bit annoying, new, different or just plain strange is a new trend amongst Swedish speakers right now. English verbs like to dress, to sprint or to push are extremely common examples. People have made them Swedish by putting an “a” at the end of e.g. dress which makes it “dressa”. An ad that was shown not too long ago used the sentence “Dressa dig djurvänligt!” which means “dress in an animal-friendly way”. This way of speaking is of course much more common in an environment full of young people, though teachers in schools working with 13-16 year olds are starting to express themselves in this way too.

This might be something positive or negative depending on the way you choose to look at it. On one hand, understanding the language might be a little bit easier for someone who is trying to learn it. And native Swedes might have an easier time understanding English. Though on the other hand Swedish might be starting to slowly disappear…

Has anybody heard any other words like “dressa”? If so, please post them, they can be quite funny to read. Keep your ears open if you happen to be in a Swedish speaking environment. It always brings on a smile!

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  1. solnos:

    Yes, a young person I know, used the word «dissa». This happened quite a few years ago and I, as a native speaker of Swedish, didn’t understand it. Turned out it must have meant «disregard» even though this young person didn’t know English for beans… This isn’t exactly the same thing as ‘dressa’, but still a little odd..

    I have also learnt that they refer to Facebook as ‘Fejjan’ :o|

  2. Minty:

    I was chatting with the family here in Sweden a few days ago about the terribly unimaginative names for things that are native to sweden…like the black-white fly catcher (svartvit flygsnapper) compared to things that have been named by white people, such as dog\hound (has nothing to do with how it looks) or giraffe… or even penguin or seal. None of those names are as simple as what the animal looks like or what it does. Just thought it was funny.

    Now the swedish language I’ve noticed steals an awful lot of animal names…. Hund, katt, giraff, söl, emu….the list goes on.

    So thats my contribution 😛

  3. katja:

    Hey Solnos, Yeah dissa is one of the MOST common ones you will hear. In the beginning I reacted with a wrinkled nose, now I even catch myself saying it to people.

    Minty, You are quite right, I’m a little sad that each language is losing it unique aspect in a way. Then again I have started learning languages from all different parts of the world so I get variety. Thinking of starting to learn Polish since it is a slavic language….

    Both of you Thanks for your contribution! You guys (and others who post) really make the blog have more than one side of an article!

  4. knott:

    what about sms:a??

  5. Michael:

    The first century Roman poet Horace said:

    “It has been, and ever will be, allowable to coin a word marked with the stamp in present request. As leaves in the woods are changed with the fleeting years; the earliest fall off first: in this manner words perish with old age, and those lately invented nourish and thrive, like men in the time of youth. . . . Mortal works must perish: much less can the honor and elegance of language be long-lived. Many words shall revive, which now have fallen off; and many which are now in esteem shall fall off, if it be the will of custom, in whose power is the decision and right and standard of language.”

    I guess custom and usage will determine the character of our languages as they grow and change.

  6. katja:

    Sorry Knott, I don’t know about sms:a. I think it is a abbreviation of Snabb medelande something…. (Snabb = fast medelande = messaging) Please don’t think that I believe you guys to be idiots when I write the translation, I just don’t know how much you already know, how much you want to know and if it is even a good way to learn.

    But even here the “a” makes it a verb.

  7. katja:

    Hey Michael, That was a GREAT quote. I love it, very wise words and as true as they are written. Please continue to educate us!

  8. stefan:

    jens lapidus´book “aldrig fucka upp” comes to mind.

  9. katja:

    a book of quotes?

  10. BM:

    I like “fajtas”, since it’s in the reciprocal by analogy.

  11. Carla:

    I think I’ve seen “missa” for the verb “to miss”

  12. Kenia:

    @Carla, i think you don’t say “missa” whenever you’d say “miss”, like for example in “i miss you”, you say “jag saknar dig” and not “jag missar dig”, Katja can you please correct me if I’m wrong?

  13. Rokas:

    Jag har sett “sms:a” när jag bodde i Lund [on a public ad stand].

    Dissa kommer från engelskt “diss” (t ex Stop dissing me) men diss är slang av “disregard”.

    Därför att både svenska och engelska är germaniska språk de är ganska likadana. Det blir ganska enkelt att orden utvandrar mellan de två språken.

    Jag vet att t ex engelskt “rules” finns i ungdomars språk i ryska. De säger рулит (“roolit”) och det betyder precist samma sak som på engelska.

    I litauiska finns det också några engelska ord fraser som “oh come on”, “ok”, osv. Men här skapar man hellre nya egna ord istället för att bara ta engelska ord.

    Det är ganska svårt att skriva på svenska om sådana komplicerade ämnen och jag är säker att jag har gjort många fel. Men man kan aldrig lära sig någonting om man inte försöker …

  14. Katja:

    Hey Kenia, Yepp your completely right! You would say “jag missade bussen” ie. I missed the buss. But you wouldn’t say “jag kommer att missa dig” the correct way of saying that would be just as you wrote. “Jag kommer att sakna dig”

    I’m impressed, have you studied Swedish for a longer period of time?

  15. Katja:

    Rokas! Jag är jätte imponerad av det du har skrivit. Du skulle verkligen kunna passera som en svensk (i detta fall) skrivare. Du verkar ha många erfarenheter inom språk, hur länge har du läst svenska? Om du behöver hjälp med något som jag skrivit, tveka inte att fråga! Om du fortsätter att skriva kommer du att bli bättre och bättre.

    Det är väldigt sant att både engelska är lika, med engelsk gramatik är mycket svårare säger dom flesta. Svenska är dock inte lika konservativt som “Lithuanian” (for want of the right Swedish word)

    Fortsätt lägga upp inlägg!

  16. Katja:

    To all of you who have posted words, THANK YOU! You’ve come up with some great ones though there are still many more. I think you get the idea of the post, and as somebody said, this type of procedure will happen in all ages and times. Lets just sit back and relax, not work against the whole idea. We can laugh at the silliness of some of the words, which I intend to do! Have a good day/evening! ^^

  17. David:

    “Missa” is not really an English loanword, but a native word inherited from Old Norse. But the current usage is borrowed from English – but even that’s not terribly new, Svenska Akademiens Ordbok (the Swedish equivalent of the OED, freely available online) informs us that the word has been used like this for almost a century.

    As for “sms:a” (which also nicely illustrates the rule that abbreviations are separated from following morphemes by a colon), it’s typically abbreviated to “messa”. (One needs to keep in mind that this is apparently an independent Swedish development: the short English verb would of course be “to text”. “I’ll mess you later” risks being misunderstood…)

    A word I thought of the other day was “fresh” which is used by younger speakers in a generally positive sense. It’s the fourth different word from the same root, to be placed alongside “frisk”, “färsk” and “fräsch”…

    “Softa”, in the meaning “taking it easy” is apparently an independent development, but the same can’t be said for “chilla” (from “chill out”). “Det är chill” is also possible to hear. And “nice” is also well-established, as well as the interjection “shit!” which to my ears is a quite mild and polite curse.

    If you want to look out for Anglicisms, listen to Stockholm-based hiphop acts like Petter or Lorentz & M.Sakarias. You’ll hear them on every other line in some cases.

  18. Kenia:

    @David, that was a great explanation! you sound like an expert on the subject =)

    @Katja, i’ve been studying Swedish on my own for a while, i don’t follow any serious method, but I read a lot and ask, besides, languages are my passion and I know how stupid you may sound if you don’t use these tricky words correctly.

  19. katja:

    Kenia, What other languages do you know/study? Great attitude to learning!

    David, Thanks for going deeper into this subject. It made it more in-depth, and interesting! Keep it up ^^

  20. Kenia:

    My native language is Spanish and i speak English since I was a kid. Currently I’m finishing my third year of French and like i said before, I study Swedish on my own. I always wanted to learn another germanic language but it was German what i had in mind, never Swedish =). However life holds surprises and having a swedish boyfriend left me no other choice. But you know what? I never imagined Swedish could be such a beautiful language! the more I learn the more I want to keep reading and learning

  21. Katja:

    Kenia, I’d really like to learn spanish too, I want to go to South America and I want be able to speak to the locals in Spanish. I’m glad you like Swedish, do you speak Swedish with your boyfriend?

  22. Kenia:

    Mm.. not much, really. We speak mostly English, but when i finally move to Sweden, Swedish will be the language we’ll speak, that’s the best way to learn it.
    Oh i think Spanish is an important language to learn, mostly if you plan to travel to South America, but also to understand the sticky salsa songs! =)

  23. katja:

    Great! Do you have definitive plans to move to Sweden? If so where? For how long? A good way to learn is to have your boyfriend speak Swedish to you and you answer back in English. A lot of people get into the habit of one languages and have a hard time getting out of it…. Those sticky salsa songs sound quick good, yet another reason to learn Spanish! Have a good day! ^^

  24. Kenia:

    Hej Katja! yes, i plan to move to Sweden next year, to Karlstad where my boyfriend lives. It will be for two years, but eventually it might be for good, let’s see if i can survive the winters! haha
    You too have a nice day!

  25. cristofer:

    A word i hear my in laws use a lot now is “chillar”.
    Taken from the English to chill or relax.
    They say “Jag chiller nu”