Swedish swear words Posted by Katja on Jan 27, 2012 in Culture, Living in Sweden, Swedish Language
The first words many foreigners learn in a new language are usually swear words. I don’t think this is uncommon for anybody, no matter where you come from or what language you want to learn.
The point of this post is not to encourage swearing but to explain the degree of different swear words in Swedish vs. English.
In Swedish there are four “real” swear words. Jävlar, Satan, Fan and Helvete. All of these are religiously related words. Jävel (Jävlar), Satan and Fan are all synonyms for the devil. Helvete is the Swedish word for hell. All these have become down-toned over the years but can still not be used by politicians in public for example.
“Damn table devil” To be roughly translated. Probably something you might say when having trouble with a table.
Excrement bases words are also common. For example; skit (shit) can be used not only as a swear word but as an emphasis like “very”. Skit-snygg (very good looking) or skit-ful (very ugly).
Then there are sex based swear words, which are the foulest of the used swear words in Sweden. Very many foreigners learn and over-use these without really understanding to what extent they insult somebody. These and words relating to ethnic background.
In Sweden however, F*** You is not at all as severe as in other, English-speaking countries, and even the Swedish equivalents are used a lot among younger people. This can be quite a shock for especially English speakers, when they hear young people, even kids, using the phrase without concern.
There are therefor many other, much less offending, words that you can learn instead. Honestly, who doesn’t need a couple of words to express the pain after stubbing your toe or something like that?!
The milder and mostly harmless (even among the grandparents) swear words are:
Swedish word / English literal translation (or as close you can get, feel free to give better translations if you know of any)
Fanken – darn
Fasiken – darn
Järnspikars också – iron nails
Söte göte – dear göte
göta petter – göta petter (Just a name)
Jösses – dear me
jäklar – darn
förgrymmat också – damn it
förbaskat (också) – darn it
tusan – shoot
förbövelen (this is yet another religious word but not as severe) – literally it means executioner
Sjutton också – sjutton means seventeen but religiously the number meant more than it does today
järnvägar – railroads
attans – darn
attans bananer – darn bananas
sjutusan – seven thousand
det var som sjutton – that was like seventeen (this is a pure literal translation since there are no English equivalents)
fy katten – darn cat
nedrans – darn
rackarns – shoot
hujeda mig – dear me
fy bubblan – my gosh
milda matilda – gracious Mathilda
Bomber och granater – bombs and grenades
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