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Top Swedish Survival Phrases

Let's be honest. Every native English speaker is cursed with a certain laziness because we know that English is spoken around the world. In every corner both known and unknown, English has infiltrated other languages in various ways like those weeds that mess up many a person’s driveway. We’re sorry about that. Still. There really is no need for us to be so lazy when it comes to learning a little language when we go on holiday. There simply is no excuse anymore, not with the variety of ways to learn languages that are currently available to us all. Please do not rely purely on Google Translate. It will let you down.


Photo_1 (47)Photo via Wikimedia / Wikimedia

Swedish is a North Germanic language and can, for the most part, be understood by both Norwegian and Danish speakers. The earliest version of Swedish can be dated back to around the 8th century in the form of Old East Norse. Swedish has the usual 26 letters of the Roman alphabet plus the three additional vowels of å, ä and ö. So that’s the linguistic bit.

If you’ve ever had fun trying to pronounce the titles of things in Ikea (come on…. you know you have), you are probably aware of the somewhat ‘clipped’ tone of Swedish. Swedish might not be as lyrical to the ear as, say, the traditionally beautiful Italian, but it has enough uniqueness about its sound to make it an interesting language to learn.

So here’s for some basic basics


And of course:


Some of our other favourites include fika (coffee break) for when you're in need of a pick-me-up, kanelbulle (cinnamon roll) for when you get hungry, ursäkta (sorry) for the inopportune moments when you collide into someone, and --the most essential word-- Skål! (cheers!) for when you play THAT drinking game. You know the one. If you’re lost (Jag är vilse) and getting a little irate, a friendly Swede might say tagga ned which literally means ‘tag down’ but is the Swedish version of ‘chill’. Your waiter may say to you Smaklig måltid! (bon appetit), to which you should respond once it’s finished with, det smakade utmärkt (it’s delicious). Assuming that it is delicious. Which, of course, it will be. Finally, var finns apotek? (where is the pharmacy) might be useful after a heavy night out, or, if that’s too much, you can just opt for jag har en baksmälla (I have a hangover) and roll back over to sleep until you recover. Many a Swede will sympathise with your bakfylleångest (hangover anxiety), so you will be met with understanding. They might even offer you the Swedish hangover ‘cure’ of beef rydberg if you’re lucky.

Photo_3 (37)Beef Rydberg via Pixabay /Pixabay

We’ve piqued your interest now, haven’t we? You don’t want to be that lazy ‘Brit abroad’ who relies solely on hand gestures and English translations, now do you? Of course you don’t! Sweden is an alluring place to visit and we hope that you decide to pack a little language in your suitcase when you eventually decide to travel there. We can help you prepare: how about you contact us to see what courses we can offer you?

Photo_4 (4)Skål! via Wikimedia / Wikimedia