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It’s a well known fact that Swedish is influenced by English. Unfortunately, this relationship does not work both ways. Apart from smorgasbord and ombudsman, there’s not much Swedish influences in general English (apart from in Scottish, but that’s a whole different post). But Swedish is full of great words that pretty much speak for themselves and words that I actually miss in my vocabulary now when living in England. So, please feel free to drop suggestions if anything that could broaden my vocabulary pops into your head.
Lagom: I guess we are all familiar with “lagom” by now, the word that apparentely only exist in Swedish (possibly Finish as well) and means not too much, not too little, moderate. This appraisal of modesty and humbleness applies very well to the Swedish society and it might not be a coincidence that only exist in Swedish. But, it is also a very good and useful word.” How much spagetti would you like?” “I would like lagom.” “Is the water too hot?” “No, it’s lagom.” Moderate does not work here.
Bakfylleångest: Imagine waking up the morning after the big Christmas party with your colleagues. Your head is pounding and your mind is…blank. What on earth did you say to the boss? And the karaoke… And the… Gah! Makes you cringe, right? In Swedish, you have got severe bakfylleångest, hangover (bakfylla) anxiety (ångest). An awful state but a useful word that pretty much speaks for itself.
Söndagsångest: You know the feeling that can sneak upon you on a Sunday afternoon, when you have had a perfect weekend and you do not want to go back to work/school tomorrow? That is best described in Swedish as söndagsångest, Sunday (söndag) anxiety (ångest) and I think we all can relate to that great word in one way or another.
Träningsvärk: Okay, so after two hours in the gym when your body is tired and your muscles are sore, you have got…? Well, what have you got? In Swedish, you have got träningsvärk, work out (träning) ache (värk). A useful – and very simple – word that also speaks for itself.
Kramsnö: When the snow is hard and compact and can be squeezed into snowballs, it’s kramsnö, squeeze (krama) snow (snö). Maybe not the most useful word on the list, but sometime in the future you might end up planning a snowball fight and you might feel the need to ask the question “Is it kramsnö outside?”.
OBS! “Krama” is also the word for “to hug” in Swedish.
Ovän/ovänner: When you have an argument with your partner/friend/workmate, he or she might end up being your ovän until you have called truth. This is a tricky one to translate, but rougly it means the opposite of being friends. In Swedish, “o” is often used to create a word meaning the opposite, like the English “un” (attraktiv/oattraktiv, attractive/unattractive). The same goes for ovän, unfriend. But beware, this is not the same as the adjective unfriendly (ovänlig), the word ovän is a noun. “Enemy” is alright, but not close enough.
Farmor/farfar and mormor/morfar: My farmor is my father’s mother and my farfar is my father’s father. My mormor is my mother’s mother and my morfar is my mother’s father. Easy as pie! You might argue that it’s easier to just call all four of them grandmother or grandfather, but this can potentially cause confusion, I tell you.
Kissnödig: When you really really need to pee, you are…? In need of a wee? This state has got its own great word in Swedish, you are kissnödig, pee (kiss) necassary (nödig/nödvändig).
Genius, isn’t it?