There might be only one country where the natives prefer you to speak English rather than the native language. And that’s Sweden. It’s virtually impossible to learn Swedish by talking to Swedes. All because they’re so dang keen to show how great at English they are. Sigh.
But fear not! As a half-Swede I can teach you how to say hello in Swedish, and some other useful Swedish phrases that’ll make your time in Sweden all the more enjoyable. And maybe even help you understand those umlaut decorated walls in IKEA.
But that’s not all. I’m going to give you the low down on some essential Swedish phrases and other useful information to help you fit in. I hope you’re ready, operation disguise-yourself-as-Swedish has commenced!
Okay, so they can be translated. But what I really mean is, these are words that aren’t yet in the English language, and their literal translations don’t actually tell you what they mean. Just as a treat, here are some weird and wonderful Swedish words we need in English.Revirpinne: You know the divider that goes on the conveyor belt at the grocery store to separate your goods from someone else’s? Well Swedes call that a revirpinne, or literally translated, territory-stick.
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Smunka: Ever told your friends you couldn’t hit the bars and given a lame excuse, just so you could stay home with your girlfriend or boyfriend? Swedes call that excuse a “smunka”Bygga en nalle: For Americans, Build-a-Bear is a store where little kids’ dreams come true. To build a bear or, bygga en nalle, in Swedish isn’t quite as adorable. It means ‘to go for a poop’.Hemmablind: You know that phrase about not being able to see the forest through all the trees? Well Swedes use just one word for that, and it’s hemmablind (home blind).
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Snuskhummer: Weirdos who haunt bars and clubs, insisting on trying to hit on people in a gross manner have many names in English. Swedes would call one such weirdo a “snuskhummer”, “a dirty lobster”.
Now you know 20 Swedish phrases, including how to say hello in Swedish, to make your next conversation with a Swede all the more free-flowing. We barely scratched the surface here, so let us know in the comments below what you want to learn about Swedish! And as for fellow Swedish speakers, help me share regional slang in the comments (I’m no expert on Göteborgska).