An eye for an eye maybe, but not a word for a word

People often assume that, because there is a word in Swedish, there must be word in English. The chances of that are pretty high given that the languages are Germanic and similar. But it is not always the case

  • some words are cultural and have no equivalent. Trivs, mys, lagom, fika are examples of these.
  • other words exist but are not used as often. For example we have obligatory but most often use mandatory or compulsory.

If you wonder why we only use the word mushroom when you name all the different kinds of mushroom…think of how most countries just say beer and we talk about draught, lager, ale.

Words can even be weather-related. African countries do not talk about ‘the snowball effect’, most countries don’t have words like solfattig, vintertrött, vårtrött, hosttrött, vinterdeppig, att mörka om, mörkertal, mörklägger  or even kramsnö, pudersnö, blött snö, snöblandat regn…

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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