Hej Kära Peter! Posted by Transparent Language on Oct 19, 2008 in Culture, Vocabulary
Peter’s comment on the post below made me think. I don’t write that many letters in Swedish. In fact, I don’t write that many letters in whatever language – I’m probably the world’s worst correspondent, as my friends no doubt can tell you.
So, in order to properly answer Peter’s question I had to dig deep into my memory banks.
Of course, the most common way of starting a letter is simply by writing “hej!” but that does get old after a while. Though it hasn’t stopped my friend Karin from writing “Hej Anna!” for the past two years.
I get letters from my local clinic (vårdcentral) that start with “Hej!” and my bank also sends me stuff beginning with “Hej!” How very boring…
A different, more personal way of starting a letter would be by using “Kära + name” which is the equivalent of “Dear whoever” when writing to close friends or relatives. So, if I want to write to my sister – Maria, I’d open with “Kära Maria” – does it make sense? Some people would go an extra step and write “Hej kära Maria.”
But wait, there is also another way of beginning a letter. You can use the combination of “Bäste + name.” Technically, it also means “Dear whoever” but with a slightly different feel. For example, my local BMW dealership always sends me stuff with “Bäste Anna” trying to entice me use their services. So does my insurance company.
And how do we end a letter? Of course everybody knows the standard “Med vänliga hälsningar” (sometimes abbreviated by lazy people to “mvh”) which means either “Best/kind Regards” or “Sincerely Yours.” Personally, I can’t stand getting letters signed with just “mvh” – it always makes me think of Miami Valley Hospital for some reason.
If you’re writing to somebody who’s a family member or a friend, you can finish off by saying “kramar” – hugs, or “puss och kram” – literally “kiss and hug” but normally translated as “love and kisses,” or at least that’s how I’ve seen it in a couple of books in English translated from Swedish.
Of course, if you are writing Christmas wishes, you can say that “I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” right? So, how do you write that in Swedish?
Jag vill önska Er alla en God Jul och ett Gott Nytt År!
Remember here your “en” and “ett” words – “Jul” (Christmas) is an “en” word, and “år” (year) is an “ett” word. That’s why the adjective “ny” (new) became “nytt” because it accompanies an “ett” noun.
“Er” – plural “you” (“you” as an objective pronoun) is customarily capitalized to show respect. The same also happens with “Ni.” And if you want to be super polite, you would use “Ni/Er” even when talking just to a singular person. But really, I don’t think you’ll see it much these days outside of dull, official correspondence, and maybe in letters from your grandmother.
So, kära Peter, happy writing! Let me know how it went!
Image from Inspiratosa Blog
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