In Swedish, this is a common phrase used to describe a situation where somebody has bought something without first fully examining it. And it proves to be a costly mistake. It’s also used to describe situations where somebody says yes to something without really knowing what it is – to their detriment. The expression ‘köpa grisen i säcken’ is the equivalent of the little-used English phrase ‘to buy a pig in a poke.’
But where does the expression come from?
Well, it dates back to the late Middle Ages when livestock was sold in the market places. Small animals were transported in sacks so as to make it easy to carry them. When you bought an animal, if you didn’t look in the sack, you might be in for a big surprise when you got home. You thought you bought a piglet, for example, but on opening the sack you realize it contains a rat or a cat.
It’s a bit like voting for a person or a party without fully understanding their politics and then being shocked afterwards. You really shouldn’t have bought that pig in the sack.
I read in the paper yesterday that Sweden has taken over from the USA in terms of cash free payments. Plastic prevails in this country as does the mobile payment technology called ‘Swish’. With a simple transfer, Swedes can send money to each other via their phones. All that’s needed is a bank account, a bank ID and, of course, a mobile.
Shop after shop is putting up signs saying ‘we do not accept cash – only card and Swish’. I have to wonder if this is legal, as coins and notes are still actually legal means of payment. Do they have the right to refuse?
Sweden’s cash free society really hit home with me this morning. Sitting on the tube on the way into work, a beggar got into my carriage.
He stood in the middle of the aisle and presented a plea for the money he needed to buy food. Nobody looked at him, everybody looked at their cell phones.
In response to this, the beggar said, ‘if you prefer not to give me cash, I take Swish!’
Ok, I know that English has quite a lot of funny names such as Dick and Willy, but Sweden also has its fair share.
Here come the top 10 hysterical and odd names that people in Sweden actually have.
1. Gun. A popular name of over 18000 women in Sweden. Not bad for a pacifist country
2. Jerker. Seriously. A man’s name, and also the name of a piece of furniture at IKEA.
3. Saga. Ugly when pronounced in English, this name for a woman actually means ‘fairy tale’.
4. Odd. An odd one this. A name owned currently by 735 men in Sweden.
5. Even. Interestingly, the name Even also exists. Odd and Even would make a well-balanced coupled wouldn’t they?
6. Love. It’s true. You could fall in love with a Swedish boy called Love.
7. Ninni. A name of a Swedish woman. Although it means ‘an idiot’ in English, I assume all Ninnis in Sweden are not stupid.
8. Knut. An unfortunate name that, at best, gets pronounced as nut, and at worst gets the letters mixed up to mean something altogether more rude
9. Tintin. Yeah, it’s true. There are many people in Sweden, both male and female, who have this name. Over 500 to be more precise.
10. Titti. This has to be the queen of all unfortunate Swedish names. 1024 women in Sweden currently bear this name with pride.