Currently there’s a lot of election campaigning going on in Sweden. In a couple of weeks, Swedes will decide who they would like to have in their government. It’s a bit of a nail-biter as the established parties are waning in popularity and the far-right populist party is gaining ground. Time will tell how the public votes. But in the meantime, let’s have a little lesson in Swedish election language. The Swedish word for election is ‘val’, which also means choice and also means whale. The word ‘val’ appears in front of lots of words in election times. Here are a selection of my personal favourites that I’ve spotted in the media:
- Valbråk – ‘election fight’ – some kind of conflict that arises in association with an election. It can be connected to posters or pamphlets or anything that gets people agitated, often by making populistic ‘vallöfte’
- Valfläsk – ‘election pork’ – a weird one, describing the hyperbole, the bullshit and the exaggerated claims made at the time of elections
- Valfusk – ‘election cheating’ – used to describe corruption in relation to an election
- Vallöfte – ‘election promise’ – what the party promises, and more often than not fails to deliver
- Valstuga – ‘election cottage’ – small wooden houses on a public square where representatives from each party stand and represent their policies
- Valspurt – ‘election spurt’ – nothing saucy, but rather a word to describe the escalating final run up to voting day
- Valchock – ‘election shock’ – an unexpected result, rather like Brexit or Trump and perhaps what we are heading for in Sweden in a couple of weeks’ time.
Do you have any other any other election words that particularly amuse you?
In a restaurant in Stockholm last night, I happened to use the word ‘klutt’ to describe a small dollop of food. My dinner companions did a double take and asked me to repeat what I said. ‘En klutt’ I said. They looked at each other and burst into laughter. You see, a ‘klutt’ does describe a small dollop. But not food. It’s a small dollop of poo. Sometimes, speaking a foreign language just ends up going so wrong!
This led to a conversation on the different Swedish words for poo. I made a mental note of them, so I could share them with you. I also googled some other words. Here they are. Enjoy!
- Bajs – poo
- Bajskorv – poo sausage (a turd)
- Klutt – a small dollop of poo
- Skit – shit
- Blaffa – a huge mound of poo
- Lort – piece of poo, sometimes dried out
- Avföring – defecation
- Exkrement – excrement
- Mocka – big pile of poo, often from cattle
- Rövgröt – poo with the consistency of porridge
- Lös avföring – diarrhea
- Racerbajs – diarrhea that requires running to the toilet
- Sprutlack – explosive poo that covers a large surface
Any other words I’m missing that just have to be on this list?
Probably ‘antiestablishmentarianism’ is one of the most notorious long English words that exist. However, in general we don’t have so many long words in the English language. This is because we use the space bar to separate words. Unlike Swedish.
In the Swedish language, grammar rules allow many words that would be separated in English to be arbitrarily conjoined, making it one veeeerrry long word. This can be mind boggling for the new language learner trying to get a grip on the linguistic acrobatics of the Swedish language.
Here are some of the longest co-joined words in Swedish. Take a breath. And speak Swedish…
1) nagellacksborttagningmedel – nail polish remover
2) diskrimineringsombudsmannen – ombudsman for discrimination
3) realisationsvinstbeskattning – capital gains tax
4) hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliofobi – fear of long words!
5) blodsockerprovtagningsmaskin- blood sampling equipment
6) användervänlighetsundersökning – enquiry into user-friendliness
7) trafikavspärrningsarbetsupgifter – traffic barrier tasks
8) eurovisionsschlagerfestivalsfinalsdeltagare – eurovision finalist
9) korttidsanställdasommarlovspraktikanter – summer job workers with short term contracts
10) mindervärdighetskomplex – inferiority complex (what one gets trying to pronounce these words!)
And finally… try this one out. According to the Guiness Book of Records the longest Swedish word is nordvästersjökustartilleriflygspaningssimulatoranläggningsmaterielunderhållsuppföljningssystemdiskussionsinläggsförberedelsearbeten.
I’ve spent over 20 years struggling with the Swedish language. Grammar is always a challenge for me – but it is pronunciation that still continues to drag me down.
That said, there are a few Swedish words that I just love to say. They have to be the most fun words in the Swedish language. Here, in no particular order, are my top 10.
- Mumsfilibaba – a hysterically satisfying way to say that something is really delicious
- Sjuksköterska – the Swedish word for nurse – try saying it after a couple of beers – it’s really fun
- Kackerlacka – the Swedish word for cockroach is somewhat onomatopoeic – the perfect way to describe these disgusting little bugs
- Sura uppstötningar – horrible to experience acid reflux but really fun to say the word
- Smidig – a useful word that’s fun to say and that means everything from easy and adaptable to flexible and pliable and even loose-limbed.
- Yxskaft – the handle of an axe – ok not a word that you say very often, but enromously satisfying when you get the chance
- Grönsaksbuljongtärning – a long word for a vegetable stock cube. Sometimes I go inte a supermarket and ask a shop assistant where to find them just so I get a chance to say it.
- Toppen – an uplifting way to say that all is good
- Hjärnsläpp – the Swedish word for drawing a blank. But it doesn’t matter if you can’t remember what you were going to say – because then you get to say ‘hjärnsläpp’ instead.
- Bajskorv – childish I know, but the Swedish word for ‘poo sausage’ is just hysterical.
Other Swedish words I love are ‘ångestframkallande‘, ‘slickepott’, ‘snöslask’, ‘oroväckande‘, ‘knäckebröd‘, ‘mångata’ and ‘underrättelsetjänsten‘.
What are some of your most satisfying Swedish Words to pronounce?
Let me know in the comments below….