Swedish Language Blog

More Swedish odd expressions Posted by on Mar 29, 2010 in Culture, Swedish Language

It’s Monday morning and today it’s even harder than usual to get out of bed, since the American inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin decided that we should save some daylight back in 1784 and came up with the brilliant idea of clocks going back and forward. In other words, the clocks went forward one hour on Sunday and an hour of our lives are gone until October, when we turn the clocks back again. I guess the good news are that the winter officially is over and the evenings are lighter. Bad news are a dark Monday morning and one hour less sleep. But let’s perk things up with some brilliant Swedish expressions:

Lägg på en rem
Meaning: Hurry up
Literally meaning: Something like “Add a strap”. This expression derives from back in the days, when the old factory machines where run by straps. When you wanted to speed things up, you added a strap. If anyone has a better explanation or translation for rem/strap – please help me out!
Example: Lägg på en rem, bussen går om fem minuter! (Hurry up, the bus leaves in five minutes!)

På något vänster
Meaning: In one way or another
Literally meaning: Something like “On something left”, left as in the direction and it doesn’t make any sense at all, I know.
Example: På något vänster ska vi lyckas (In one way or another, we’ll succeed)

Rund under fötterna
Meaning: To be drunk
Literally meaning: To be round under your feet, no need to explain that one any further, is it?
Example: Kalle var verkligen rund under fötterna i Lördags! (Kalle was really drunk last Saturday!)

Meaning: Something or someone who is very Swedish, but in a slightly looked down-upon way.
Literally meaning: Swede-banana. A “svenne” is a Swede who is considered average, boring and safe. Where the banana comes from is a mystery, I guess it just sounds fun. Anyone who knows?
Example: I will let the Swedish rapper Promoe explain this one. Last summer, everyone in Sweden was singing along to the his massive hit “Svennebanan”. The video shows a typical Swedish bachelor party, taking place on a booze-cruise to Finland – something considered extremely svennebanan!


Great suggestion from reader Ethan:

Klart som korvspad
Meaning: When something  is really obvious, no doubt what so ever
Literally meaning: As clear as the left over water you get when boil sausages.
Example: Klart som korvspad att jag ska gå på festen! (Of course I’ll go to the party!)

And this week’s “most difficult to explain”-expression, thank you very much for that one, Sophie!

Jag är inte den som är den
Meaning: An expression you use when you can consider rethinking, if you for example are having an argument with someone and you decide to let the other person win.
Literally meaning: Something like “I am not that person who is that person”. Don’t ask me who all these persons are, I have no clue and it seems like noone else has either. Or do you?
Example: Okej, jag är inte den som är den. Du vinner. (Okay, I can rethink. You win.)

Klart som korvspad, isn’t it?

Don’t forget, two days left! Drop by on Wednesday and I’ll announce the winner!

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  1. Sophie la Girafe:

    Ahah! “Jag är inte den som är den” is a tough one… I myslef experienced some predicaments, misusing this expression!

  2. Letícia:

    “Jag är inte den som är den” – I think I get it! We have an expression in Portuguese that literally says “the person who said that is no longer here” (“não está mais aqui quem falou”), meaning you no longer stand for what you just said, letting the person you’re arguing with win, either because you think their point makes more sense than your own, or because you just can’t be bothered with keeping the argument going.
    So, maybe that expression in Swedish means the same? Like, “I’m not the person who said that anymore”…

  3. Xavier O:

    Thanks Jennie, these expressions are more cute than odd, and I am just curious how clear the sausage gravy is. lol

  4. Cecile Pham:

    I love these! keep them coming. 🙂 Though Jag ar inte den som ar den is confusing to me. Perhaps cuz i don’t normally like to concede.

  5. David:

    Svennebanan: the expression is indeed mysterious. Some people have suggested that a typical Swede is like a banana: tall and yellow (ie. blond). That sounds a bit far-fetched, though.

    To me, “jag är inte den som är den” can also be used in a somewhat different meaning. If someone asks you: “Ska du inte ha en öl till?” (Don’t you want one more beer?) you can pit your hesitation aside and answer: “Ja vafan, jag är inte den som är den!” (Oh what the hell, I’m not the one to say no!)

  6. Luke (Sydney):

    Any chance to have these in a Byki list? Tack.

  7. LC in Seattle:

    Does “korvspad” really mean “sausage gravy”? I thought that “spad” was the water that something is cooked in. The water that sausage is cooked in remains relatively clear, compared to the water that other meats are cooked in.

  8. jennie:

    @ Sophie: It’s a very tricky one! And as David kindly pointed out, people can use it in this was aswell:

    “To me, “jag är inte den som är den” can also be used in a somewhat different meaning. If someone asks you: “Ska du inte ha en öl till?” (Don’t you want one more beer?) you can pit your hesitation aside and answer: “Ja vafan, jag är inte den som är den!” (Oh what the hell, I’m not the one to say no!)”

    Cheers for that, David!

    @Leticia: Yeay, good job! It sounds similar indeed, but once again I reffer to David’s comment above. It can be used in that context aswell.

    @Xavier O and Cecile:
    Thanks guys, I will!

    @David: Ha, that was probably the best explanation of the banana-bit I’ve heard. It kind of make sense… or not! But thanks for clearifying!

    @Luke: Fair comment and sbsolutely, I’ll sort it out!

    @LC: Ah, you are right! Allthough where I’m from, the left over water is called gravy, but after living in the UK for two years I should know that gravy for most people is acctually the nice thing people put on mash… I will clearify this immediately and thank you for your comment. Klart som korvspad.

  9. Vance:

    I don’t know these Swedes, but they appear to know how to enjoy themselves. Good on ya.

  10. Aiden Jönsson:

    I have an explanation for ‘klart som korvspad’. Klart is not only ‘clear’, but it means ‘done/finished’ and ‘obvious/obligatory/required’ or a ‘given’. So, to say something is ‘klart’ does not only mean that it is clear, but it can mean, well, it’s obvious. So perhaps it means that it is obvious that the water that is left over will be there when you finish boiling your korv. 🙂

  11. Linda:

    As a swede I have to say; well done 🙂

  12. Annika:

    I’d say ‘klart som korvspad’ translates to: ‘clear as mud’ which I hear Australians say all the time…