old words

Ever since I wrote my blog post «new words» back in December, it has lingered in the back of my mind. If you can find the time, please, follow the link …it will open in a new tab. The comments are also very interesting.

After I wrote it

I’ve given a great deal of thought to all the Swedish words that were imported long time ago. Nobody has any problems with them! The Swedish language is a melting pot, and it’s surprising [at least to me it was] to see how many words were borrowed from French. It’s a historical thing.

In my previous post, I made light of their habit of taking the English word and spelling it the way it’s pronounced in Swedish … i.e. like = lajk. However … I have no problems whatsoever with the words fåtölj or möbler. They look perfectly alright to me, just because they were already there when I was born. Fåtölj is an armchair [in French ‘fauteuil’], and ‘möbler’ is furniture [French: meubles].

CherriesOne day, my husband and I were sitting here talking about cherries. He reminisced a certain kind of cherry he’d had at some time, but couldn’t remember what they were called. ‘I have no clue about different cherries’, I told him, ‘but I remember my mum sometimes referring to them as bigarråer?!’ ‘Bigarråer!!! he exclaimed … that was it!!!’

I think the reason so many people are upset about the English influx on Swedish, is because it happens so fast now! Those few words that I mentioned here above, have taken a long time and they’ve been around for hundreds of years. If we [Swedish people] were to sit down and analyze words, we’d only be left with havre and vete [oats and wheat] LOL.

All kidding aside, what I’m trying to say here, is that the kids being born today, probably won’t see anything wrong with writing LAJK or MEJL for like and mail. Just as we don’t see anything wrong with fåtölj or möbler.

The worst example, though, was given by Cardinal Guzman … a fellow blogger in Norway. He told me that ‘streaming’ was referred to as ‘strömming’. That’s plain WRONG on several levels … most of all because ‘strömming’ is a fish [herring]. Thankfully, I still haven’t seen “Aj-fån” written anywhere! [iPhone]

46 Replies to “old words”

  1. This is a very interesting post. I never thought about the mixture of our words with another language. However, I do know that some of our old words are archaic now because no one even knows what they mean just as my mother and father, if alive, would have no clue what an iPhone or an iPad would be.

    1. Almost not one day go by, that I don’t have to look up a word … but I have my trusty Websters sitting here in my browser! 😉 So many things they would be clueless about!

  2. I had no idea about different cherries either. I just know that they come in two types: sweet or sour. I’m not sure if I’ve ever tasted Bigarråer, but I should definitely try some because I love cherries!
    The borrowing of words also go the other way: it was the vikings that introduced the word law in the English language. Lately there’s also the word ombudsman – a typical Scandinavian word that’s been adopted.

  3. Imported this to this post as well… “You know, I missed the reference to car parts the first time, but now I’ve got an answer… There was a General Motors plant in St. Thérèse prior to Free Trade and the language of assembly was imported with the vehicles, naturally, from the United States.” To me at least, words left in their original state are “a natural” (au natural, LOL!) and to spell them phonetically when “translated” into another language seems, although sometimes quite ugly in appearance, to be quite a normal state of affairs – regardless of the language(s) involved (or how many centuries ago they made the transition; )
    For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by words in the English language (now there’s a dog’s breakfast; ) and, if I didn’t understand a word simply from context, driven to figure out where they came from and what they meant originally. Language is FUN and I, for one, LOVE it!
    (Now if I could only figure out the little symbols that go with the Norse/Scandinavian languages, now that would be SO helpful; )

    1. The the Swedish alphabet, there are three more letters; Å, Ä and Ö. Å is pronounced close to the a in ‘All’. Ö, close to the first sound in ‘Earn’. Ä is sort of a mixture of A and E. Här would be hair LOL

    2. To me, as an English AND Swedish speaker, they don’t look natural, written as pronounced, but to the next generation they will look perfectly alright. I don’t have any problems with fåtölj and portfölj, and I don’t speak a word of French.

        1. Let me re-phrase that: I can’t put a sentence together in French, in spite of the fact that I know many useful words — mainly nouns, such as déneigement.

          The ones you gave, I know them all .. I think touque is some kind of cap, but I don’t know ‘au jus’.

  4. Language is so fascinating! Great post. Speaking strictly of our American version of English, it has been slowly morphing over the years into a hash of what it should be. So full of slang. True English is spoken by the British. I don’t like our American version…

      1. LOL, have you guys ever heard EastEnders or Cockney Speak? For every language that has ever existed, there are different levels of “sophistication” and complexity… (But you’re also right, Proper British English does have a Sterling reputation; )

        1. Oh yes, I’ve heard. They seem to remove the H in the beginning of words, whereas other dialects or whatever ADD and H as soon as the word begins with a vowel. It’s all very fascinating.

          There’s some dialect here in N.B that’s a total mix-up of French and English … it has a name even,. Chiac, it sounds funny when you’re not used to it.

  5. You are so right, its the speed new words ( American) swim into our languages, and there are so many reasons for that. We have lots of American programs and films in Danish TV, many adverts are even not translated, we have Sale, not udsalg and so on, there is a great deal of snobbery in it. We have Copenhagen business School- yes its called that ! and at the universities they use English in many classes ( to a certain degree because of foreign students).
    Our language is like Swedish a mix of this and that, mainly German ( or big neighbourgh at South) but definitely also French and other European languages – and from other parts of the World, even Persian.
    But we cant do much about it. I hope that the Scandinavian languages don’t disappear.
    And the Vikings brought many words to England- many places and small towns have “Viking” names, And these words: what, when, where comes from hvad, hvornår, hvor. Remark how the v and h has changed place. In the English pronunciation you dont hear the h, like you dont hear the h in the Danish words- except in some Jyske dialects where they pronounce the h.

    1. I know … I took a great deal of pictures, last Summer, the few hours I spent in Stockholm. When you look around, you could just as well be in North America … especially in the malls. I don’t know why it would be considered ‘finer’ when in a different language … [French when it comes to food]. There’s a great deal of snobbism in all this, that’s for sure. Language could even be a way of putting other people in their place, so to speak … show them how well educated you are. Sad.

    2. Thank you Annette! What, where, when and why were on my big list of “Why is that spelled this way?”!

  6. Languages and Words, new and old are interesting. You know that I work with kids from different countries. Sometimes the “invent” new Words from their language. The only language that try hard to stay “Clean” is icelandic.

    1. Yeah, Icelandic and the Finns have been pretty good at it too. Don’t know how it is now, though…

      When I worked with the refugees, I always found it so ‘sweet’ somehow, when I heard people from different countries, speaking broken Swedish with one another 🙂

    1. Paraply comes from Para ( mod/against) pluie ( regn/rain). Easy peasy japanesy
      Parasol comes from Para and sol (sol/sun)

        1. And because I should brag about my knowledge (lol) I didnt do it correct.
          Parasol – Para and solei ( sun/sol).

  7. I guess all languages influence one another. What I dislike about todays language in English is the social media words that are creeping into the dictionary. Example: Selphy

    1. Agree! Especially that they took in LOL, which isn’t even a word but rather an abbreviation. Who would say ‘he lolled himself all the way to the bank’, anyway?! All these words are trendy right now, but they won’t last..

  8. Love this! I read your ‘new words’ post too and completely agree, linguistic changes are fascinating, but people so often resist them. I know in Iceland there’s a big movement against anglicising Icelandic words, but like you say, most languages have lots of words that originated from different places.

    1. Quite often people say and write what they want no matter what ‘they’ decide 😉 Iceland has such a unique position, as they’ve been able to keep their language the way it is for such a long time… Would love to visit, not only their airport 🙂

  9. Fun post. As I deal with language in my profession (and studied Icelandic at university once) I find linguistics very much my thing. Iceland can brag and be proud over their still being able to read texts from the 12th century – they will never lose their bonds with history. In Sweden, where I live, we are losing our history fast. My students complain heavily about the texts we read from the 19th century. And, even from our own time…

    I think with IT Iceland has accepted some “new” words, but I love their way of giving new meanings to old words and they also put together two old words to make a new one. For example” tölva” is made up of the word for counting and the word “völva” which is their very wise female “creator” of the world. So the meaning will be “a wise, female who can count”. Tölva is their word for computer!

    1. That’s a wonderful word … and kind of cute too!
      I have an old hymnal, from my Grandma, and I admit it’s difficult to read … not only because of the fractured font, but the spelling of the old words. It definitely takes longer than reading ordinary text. My husband worked all his life as a linguist/anthropologist at a uni. in Quebec, so he takes a great interest in all this stuff.

      1. It’s so interesting how we all share and lend and borrow all over the world. In Sweden and Europe right now there is much talk about the Romani people. They are thrown out of some countries but maltreated everywhere. We use so many their words without knowing it! Travelling people and trade is important. Now in the age of IT it’s mostly English words of course. For good and for bad. Hopefully our different languages will last in the future as well.

              1. What gives me the chills is that about 1/3 of my students only can see advantages in leaving Swedish and totally embracing English all over…

                1. THAT is something I’ve thought about a LOT. And that, I think, has nothing to do with language as such … it’s a sad part of our mentality. It is as if there’s no pride of our own country — it’s so much cooler to speak English.

                  1. Exactly. The being cool takes over, and they also honestly think that contact and understanding will improve. I think this is UTOPIA. It has got very little to do with language, really…But language sits with culture, and if we leave our mother tongue we will also leave the understanding of our old tradition and our culture. Those words simply do not exist in other languages and if they do, they may not have the same connotations! So, well, if we leave our language behind we will also leave our understanding of the old ways. This is what dictators have tried/done over the centuries…it’s a way of controlling conquered people – forbidding them their old language and implementing the new. That will kill resistance…

                    Language is important! How do we make the young understand?

                    1. So true, and well worded — we didn’t even need a dictator. It’s going downhill fast. We have so much to be proud of, but as long as they almost are «ashamed» of being Swedish … I don’t know. It is as if they all want to be Americans… I remember, several years before I left, I was waiting at the delicatessen counter, and a young man asked the girl, working there: «Är det garlic i korven?» She didn’t even raise an eyebrow, and replied «Nää, inte i den här!»

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s