This semester, my goal was to give readers some insight on the difference between Sweden and America, especially when it comes to food, weather and unwritten laws. Now, I’d like to take a moment to point out the biggest difference of them all: language.
For Swedes, most of these words are normal, but if you translate it or try to explain them, they sound pretty weird. You might find that some words are spelled the same way but mean totally different things in Swedish and English. Some phrases convey a similar message, but in a totally different context when it comes to Swedes and Americans.
In Sweden, we say “smaken är som baken, delad.” Literal translation: “The taste is like the butt, divided” which is supposed to be similar to “there’s two sides to every story.”
When you say “Take a hike,” we tend to be a little more aggressive and say “Släng dig i väggen” which means that you should “throw yourself at the wall.” Like I mentioned before, we are not nice people, sorry about that.
But when you say “Go to hell” we tend to be a little nicer and just make the person “Dra dit pepparn växer” or “Dra åt skogen” He or she should “Go to where the pepper grows” or “Go to the forest.”
If you wanna win, you will fight “to the finish” but we will fight “ända in i kaklet” that translates to “All the way in the tile.” I don’t really know why we want to go all the way into the tiles, but that’s the way we do it, all or nothing you know.
When you say “She looks like the last train just left the station and she wasn’t on it,” we say that he or she “har sålt smöret och tappat pengarna,” meaning he/she “Sold the butter but lost the money.”
I’m sure you can relate to that, you sold your precious butter to make some money and then you just lost your money so now you have nothing. Zero. Nada.
A fun pickup line that I think people used a long time ago was “Tjena kexet, står du här och smular?” Well it actually sounds better in Swedish because it simply translates to “Hello biscuit, are you standing here crumbling?”
When someone’s stupid we have quite a few sayings:
“The elevator isn’t going all the way up” or “The wheel is spinning, but the hamster is dead.”
“Do you shark?” is a direct translate from “Hajjar du?” meaning “Get it?”
You know when you have a Thursday off before the weekend? Well, the Friday after is called “Klämdag” translating to “Squeeze Day.”
Sometimes when there’s not much room but people always make you feel welcome anyway, you say “Finns det hjärterum, finns det stjärterum” basically means “If there’s room for the heart, there’s room for the butt.”
When someone has an easy life, they don’t do much … they probably “gled in på en räkmacka” (“slide in on a shrimp sandwich”)
When people don’t know what they are saying, they are “ute och cyklar” (Out riding a bike)
If something’s going bad/good and people ask you that you can say “Det är bara förnamnet” (It’s only the firstname) meaning it’s more than that!
Sometimes when you want to go, we say “Nä, här blir inga barn gjorda” translated to “No, here’s no children being made”
What’s he up to? Or as we Swedes say “Vad har han i kikaren?” (What does he have in his binoculars?)
We also have tongue twisters like your “Woodchuck.”
Får får inte får, får får lamm (Sheep don’t get sheeps, sheep gets lamb.)
Sex laxar i en laxask (Six salmons in a salmon box)
Packa pappas kappsäck (Pack daddy’s suitcase)
But it doesn’t matter how many words you use or translate, if you don’t learn “Lagom.”
That word means, not too little, not too much, just enough. And that word can refer to everything, and I mean EVERYTHING.
How much do you want to drink? Lagom. How much food do you want? Lagom. How much clothes do I need to pack? Lagom.
And also, Sweden is called landet lagom (The land of lagom.) If you use this word, you can’t go wrong.
I’ve taught you the basics, what you should and shouldn’t say to Swedes, what kind of weather you can be ready for, what you have to eat and now you’ve learned some words and sayings. I think you are ready to go to Sweden.