Learning a language is about more than just learning the grammar. Language is a big part of the culture and therefore you can learn a lot about the culture by learning about the language. Here will explain some expressions and words in Swedish, which might help you understand the Swedes a bit more.
We will skip "lagom" here, but we will explain some other words that you might hear Swedes say. You will both learn how to say the words and what they mean.
Nämen! – “Neh-men”. A common “say what?!”-expression. Can be used in various ways, like when you see something unexpected or when something works out that you didn’t think would work. Simply, an expression of surprise.
Panta – ”Pahn-ta”. This is a word for the act of recycling bottles and cans. When you “pantar” you get the “pant” back, which is an amount of money that works similarly to store credit. If you look at the label on bottles and cans bought in Sweden you can see how much “pant” you would get back if you recycle.
“Swedes are forest crazy!”
Blåsväder – ”Blohs-vey-der”. This directly translates into "windy weather" or "stormy weather". While it can refer to the weather, it is commonly used to describe when someone is in trouble in the media over something they’ve done or said.
Blåögd – “Bloh-eagd”. When someone is “blåögd” they are naïve or innocent. However, the word literally means that someone has blue eyes (blå – blue, öga – eye), which can be confusing.
Skogstokig – “Skohgs-toh-kig”. This directly translates into "forest crazy", but it means that you have gone crazy or mad. We are crazy about forests here, and we have loads of it, so maybe that's where the expression comes from.
Every language has its share of more or less translatable expressions, Swedish is no exception. We cannot go through them all, but we have chosen a few expressions to explain to you.
När man talar om trollen… – The Swedish version of ”speaking of the devil.” And basically, the only thing that differs is that instead of speaking of the devil, Swedes speak of the trolls. Trolls are quite a fundamental part of Scandinavian folklore, which could be the origin of this expression.
(“Nair man tahl-ar ohm troh-len…”)
Ingen fara på taket – This means that there is no danger or no problem, and the direct translation is “there is no danger on the roof.” Another expression that has a similar meaning is “det är ingen ko på isen”, which translates to “there is no cow on the ice.”
(“Ing-en fah-ra poh taah-ket.”) (“Det air ing-en ko poh is-en.”)
“Are you just sliding on a shrimp sandwich?”
Glida på en räkmacka – ”Sliding on a shrimp sandwich”. No, it has nothing to do with sliding into someone's DMs. When you slide on a shrimp sandwich you meet little or no resistance in life and things work themselves out well, with little effort from your side. People who slide on shrimp sandwiches are also known for complaining over tiny obstacles in their way.
(“Gli-dah poh en raik-mak-ka.”)
Låtsas som att det regnar – means that you do not react to something, you simply ignore it. It directly translates to “pretending that it is raining”. Though in Gothenburg you don't always have to pretend that it's raining...
(“Loht-sas som att det reng-nar.”)
Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder – This expression has no hidden meaning, it simply translates to ”there is no bad weather, just bad clothes.” So don't come here and complain about the weather, because we do not have bad weather, you just haven't dressed accordingly.
(“Det fins ing-et doh-ligt vaid-er, ba-ra doh-li-ga klaid-er.”).
Now that you know some Swedish sounds and some phrases, words, and expressions in Swedish, it is time to focus more on Gothenburg. The next lesson you’ll learn some words and phrases in the Gothenburg dialect.
Note: these articles are supposed to be entertaining and give you a sense of the Swedish culture through our language. If you are serious about learning Swedish you should turn to educational institutions which provide classes in Swedish.