Monday, September 10, 2012

Words in Swedish

Yes yes I know I know I've been fairly silent the past couple of weeks.  I attribute that to being quite busy working and being busy socially and so forth on the weekends.  A little over a week ago I was in Skövde for my friend M's birthday party and spent the night over at her and her husband's place.  J didn't tag along as he was sick.  This past weekend was filled with shopping and visiting J's sister for her birthday (Happy Birthday today, C!).  This coming weekend I have a good friend from Skövde coming to visit, W.  So she'll be hanging with us this weekend.  Then next weekend and the following week I will be completely busy, but that is yet a secret to be revealed as to why!

I get to work all this week and all next week.  It was lovely to find that out on Friday.  With my current job I usually get to find out the day before if they need me to work.  So it's nice to know what I'm up to for 2 weeks!  Another fun fact - I just got a call from J's company (I'm still listed on their roster as an hourly paid employee, so they give me odds and ends here and there).  Apparently they want me to help out/look into recruiting employees from the US again (remember, I did that back in the first half of 2011 for them).  So thaaat will be interesting, he was wanting to book a meeting but as you can see, I'm pretty fully packed.  We'll see what happens.  That's a quick nutshell of what's been going on!

I actually wanted a theme with my next post, but thought I'd start off catching up on what's been consuming my life lately.  I have, however, been compiling a little list of Swedish words that I think express certain concepts much better than in English.  Some of the words, actually, simply do not exist in English.  I find myself popping Swedish words into my conversations with J (although we do speak Swedish much more often now, if it's just what comes naturally.  Sometimes I'm so stuck into Swedish mode it's easier for me to just prattle along in it rather than switching modes to English).  But what I'm getting at here is sometimes I want to express something, and I actually find that a Swedish word covers it much better than any English equivalent.  So here's my list:

1.  Hinner (conjugated verb), att hinna (infinite form) - loosely translated it would mean "to manage in time".  You would say "Vi hinner inte" or "We don't have enough time" or "We won't manage" (in regards to time).  I think it's such a succinct way of saying something that we have to put into several words.

2. Orkar , att orka - my loose translation is "to muster", but who ever says "I can't muster the energy for this".  No one really uses that word in English anymore, not in daily use.  But "orka" is used all the time in Swedish.  I find myself using it quite often when English feels lacking. "Jag orkar inte!"  meaning "I can't muster the energy!".  They also use it when talking about being pretty full.  If you think you can't cram down that last piece of cake, then you "orkar inte".

3. Duger, att duga - to be good enough.  I think it's just nice that they have a single verb for something we need to create a phrase for.  "Det duger att du har fått ett G för att fortsätta på den nästa nivån".  "It's good enough that you get Pass in order to continue to the next level".

4. Kvittar, att kvitta - loosely translated it basically means "makes no difference".  If something "kvittar", then it makes no difference, or doesn't matter.  "Det kvittar vem som vinner" "It makes no difference who wins".  Again I find it efficient to have a single verb for an entire phrase in my own langauge.

5. Gäller, att gälla - to apply to something, when something applies, pertaining to, concerning.  This one is a bit tough, but yet again a single word for something more complicated in English.  On parking signs, for example, there may be times where you have to pay a fee to park there, and the sign will say "Gäller vardagar" or "Applies weekdays".  That seems simple and directly translatable.  But the verb is also used in other situations, such as "När det gäller barn, så måste man vara tålmodig" or "Concerning children, you need to be patient".  Or "Det gäller livet" "It's a matter of life and death".  It's a word I rather like in the Swedish language.

6.  Trivs, att trivas - directly translated it means "to thrive".  But no one says that either, not in the way that Swedes use it.  "Trivs du på ditt nya jobb?"  Directly translated "Do you thrive at your new job?"  But what they really mean is if you're happy and you really enjoy and feel at home in your new job.  People asked me many times when I first moved to Sweden "Trivs du här i Sverige?" or "Do you thrive here in Sweden?"  meaning that they wondered if I like it here and am doing well.

I suppose the words that I find in Swedish as "better done" would all be verbs.  It's succinctly putting into one word a whole meaning that we, in English, need to use entire phrases for.  Another word I find interesting is the verb "brukar" which in English is translated as "usually".  In Swedish, brukar is a verb, or a help verb.  We say in English "I usually wash the dishes after dinner".  In Swedish it's exactly the same, except it's a verb and not an adverb.  My dorky language-loving self finds that fascinating.

One last thing regarding my opinion of Swedes being more efficient at saying what they mean in less words, would be a commercial I heard on the radio the other day.  Some really loud, annoying sound was the beginning of the commercial, and then they say "Förlåt, vi ville inte skrika sönder din radio"  which translated would be "Sorry, we didn't want to break your radio by screaming" or at least that is the best translation I can do.  If I translated the words directly, it would be "Sorry, we did not want to scream broken your radio".  I think their way of putting the words together more efficiently gets the meaning across that they didn't mean to break your radio by screaming so loudly.

Maybe it's just me that finds the differences between languages so fascinating, but this is a blog about living in Sweden after all, and I thought I would put a bit of Swedish theme back into it!


Fredrik Andersson said...

Hi again,
I'm a huge language nerd so I loved this post.
What you wrote about Swedish using less words to get a message across reminded me of the first series of Svenska dialektmysterier that was on Svt a couple of years ago. The second episode (covering Norrland) adressed this as well and thankfully the whole series is available as one long youtube clip.
Check it out, speficially around 45 minutes in.

Jessica said...

Thanks Fredrik! Glad someone enjoyed the post. Sometimes I think I get too excited with my ponderings about language!