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The Svenska way

Week 10, Episode 19

Swedish (or Svenska, for the natives) has already shown us pecularities of its nature and there are more on the way. In this language you can say "Yes" without opening your mouth and actually saying a word, but by making a certain sound. This is not some kind of rarity, so be prepared to hear it and use it if you're dealing with a Swede (especially from the north of Sweden).

The sound reminds me the one you make when trying to make a fast small sip of a very hot tea/coffee. But maybe it is better just to hear it once in this short (2 minutes) video instead of describing it?

The Swedish people rarely use the Future Tense to describe things they will do in the future. This is how the usage of a language shows mentality: if a Swede is after something, he or she is most likely to go and do it. 

That is why talking about future actions they use other ways than the Future Tense to put it in words: through the Present Tense, through a construction "att komma att göra något" (similar to "to be going to" in English) or with a verb "att tänka" (to think, to plan).

Personally, I adore people whose word you can rely on, that is something I value in myself and others. So it looks like in some ways I am already Swedish: I like candles as they do, I like salty snacks (but I am not sure about salty liquorice candies), I love fika (though in Russia we just don't call it anyhow) and I can pronounce the sound [ɕ] (tj, k) that we talked about while langventuring in German and I think even the sound [ɧ] (sj, stj, skj, and sk before front vowels) as well.

One of the most captivating and spot-on words also belongs to Swedish: Mångata (mo-an-gaa-tah). Literally translated as "moonstreet" it stands for that glimmering, roadlike reflection that the moon creates on water. It probably came from all those nights the Vikings spent on their boats going to fight and conquer, but to me it just sounds so romantic. And isn't it great to have a word for it?

There are more words like this one in Swedish. Ever felt resfeber-ish before a trip? Resfeber (race-fay-ber) literally means "travel fever" which well describes a "condition" of pre-travel jitters, the antsy feeling on the verge of excitement, fear, happiness and anxiety before a jorney begins. Now you know how to call it in a single word!

Need to de-stress and find your balance? Why don't to go to that special happy place of yours, or a-la-Svenska "the place of wild strawberries"? Smultronställe (smool-tron-stel-eh) —secret, hidden place free from stress and sadness, where one goes to relax and unwind. Dreamy translation of a harshly-sounding word. Still, sounds less "medical" than "happy place" option.

Fun fact: You know those meals, normally offered in hotels, served buffet-style with a variety of hot and cold dishes which you can choose from whatever your heart desires? Well, the Swedes would call it smörgåsbord (smer-gus-bod) from words smörgås (sandwich) and bord (table).But in the Japanese language the English word viking was adopted to name the same thing: バイキング (bai-kin-gu). The spirit of Sweden travels far!

The Vikings legacy was not just forgotten in modern Swedish—it is integrated into the designations of the days of the week. To me it feels as if just by saying these words you pay the tribute to those who laid the foundation of the Swedish culture. Centuries passed but the language saved what once had had a great value for the ancestors.

With this almost magical past, that I find enchanting, and odd but fascinating present which includes "places of wild strawberries" and mångatas, the Swedish language basically offers you another way to see the world. Learning it is like being in a parallel universe—it looks familiar but still different. And who doesn't want to experience the extortion of the spacetime continuum, risk-free and with no catastrophic consequences?

That's the Svenska way! Hej då! (Hey doh) See you!

"Like and share the Viking spirit!"

Discover more about Swedish and other languages at!

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