Monthly Archives: March 2012

9 Swedish words that should be incorporated into English Pronto, Immediately, Now

This is an excerpt from the Expat Blog. Click here to read the whole post: 9 Swedish words that should be incorporated into English Pronto, Immediately, Now

The English language has a lot of words… maybe even the most words of all the languages in the whole wide world. I can’t be totally sure of that because I haven’t counted myself, and even if I had, I probably still wouldn’t trust my count. I’m the kind of person who gets a headache and has to lie down if I think too hard about how Daylight Savings Time works.

Nonetheless, that’s what reputable sources (ahem OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY cough) tell me, and I’m sticking to it, despite claims to the contrary from certain Swedish acquaintances of mine (cough MY HUSBAND I really have to get some cough drops) that the Swedish language actually has more words than English.

Apparently Fredrik Lindström (Notable Expert on the Swedish Language) told him that the English language’s claim to having the most words was a myth. Having not seen the clip myself, I’m going to just keep on saying that English has the largest vocabulary in the world until Fredrik Lindström or Horace Engdahl (another Notable Expert on the Swedish Language) personally consent to an arm-wrestling match or convince me otherwise.

All the same, the English language could always stand to add a few more words to the list.

In the time that I’ve lived in Sweden, I have encountered some words that are just so amazingly perfect I want to buy them coffee, ask them out on a date, and then somewhere down the line ask them to spend the rest of their lives with me. And if they agreed—oh, how happy I would be!!


Marry me, Swedish! MARRY ME?!?!

Here’s the catch, though: it’s likely that no one outside of Sweden would understand my Swenglified English. Then everyone would think that I’m a stark raving lunatic (as usual), poke my eyes out and cast me out of society. (It’s happened before.)

My solution is, therefore, to spread my favorite and most useful Swedish words to the rest of the world so that I can keep using them and everyone will understand what I mean.

Ideally, of course, all the words that make me laugh (here and here) would make it on the list, too, but I’ve actually narrowed down the list to only the words that cover some concept that we don’t have a word for in English.

Biggest vocabulary or not, there’s always room for a few more words in the English language.

Here’s the list of words up for incorporation in the English language!

Sambo. (pronounced SAM-boe)

Tjejkompis/killkompis. (pronounced SHAY-comb-piss, KILL-comb-piss)

Tjej. (pronounced “shay”)

Vabba (pronounced “vah-bah”)

Pålägg (pronounced POE-leg)

Mysa. (pronounced like MEE-sah)

Mysig (pronounced MEE-sig)

Fika (pronounced FEE-kah)

This is an excerpt from the Expat Blog. Click here to read the whole post: 9 Swedish words that should be incorporated into English Pronto, Immediately, Now

Midday walk in Slottsparken (The Castle Park) in Malmö

The obsessive documentation of Spring’s arrival continues.



Friday was warm and sunny, so my coworkers and I ate lunch on the double and used the rest of our break time to take an energetic walk around Slottsparken (The Castle Park) in Malmö. It was packed with other walkers who seemed to have had the same idea. Swedes are like moths, drawn to the light, and after a year and a half living here, I am just the same.

So obsessed with Spring right now

Today, sunlight filled the train cabin on my weekly trip to Landskrona, just as it has for the last few weeks. But today, unlike in past weeks, the sun was still shining while I was on my way home.

I got off at my stop at 5:28 pm and the first hill up to my neighborhood was illuminated with this magically soft, warm light that didn’t go away until after 6. It’s heavenly, observing the gradual but unmistakable approach of Spring.

And now I’m a political commentator, apparently

There are many nerdy things about me, but one of the most outstanding side notes in my long history of nerdiness (NERDINESS, spellcheck. It’s a word.) is the two years I spent as a member of my high school’s constitutional law debate team.

Ahhh, yes. One year as a participant, where my unit’s nuanced take on second amendment gun rights and the ongoing tension between state and federal powers won us first place at nationals, and one year as a coach, where I edited papers and ate cookies in equal amounts, thus transitioning into my freshman 15 a few months ahead of the curve, like you do.

At that point in my life, I wanted to be either a political speech writer or a Supreme Court Justice. No interest in being a lawyer or judge, by the way… Supremes or nothin’.

Then I went to college and became an English major, so that was the end of that.

UNTIL… dun dun dunnnnnn!

I got a call on Monday asking if I could be on Malmö Radio’s morning news show to talk about Super Tuesday. They couldn’t find anyone willing to do it who was available at he right time who could also speak Swedish. (Proof yet again that is ALWAYS worth learning the language. Or at least as long as you want to be on the radio, I guess.)

Totally terrifying but totally awesome! I’m up to date on my US politics, but I’m a far cry from being an expert. So I called my friend Steve, who’s a professor in political science, and got his update, then spent an hour or so reading Politico and NPR and translating my notes into Swedish. Then a too-short night of sleep, two cups of coffee and a train ride later, it was go time!


At P4 Malmöhus!

It was really fun. Being at the radio station is really exhilarating –there is so much work going on behind the scenes and the host has to think about 100 different things at the same time—the timing of each news item, transitioning back and forth to weather, queuing up music, talking to callers and visitors… It’s really amazing.

I have to admit as well that while I am pretty good at Swedish, it was really hard to talk about politics from that objective, teacher-ish point of view. There are so many nuances I wanted to add but didn’t know the words for!

Oh well. Something to work on for next time, I guess!

Here’s the link where you can listen if you want:

I hereby give you permission to laugh at me and my silly mistakes as well. Tips are welcome in the comments. :)


Bring on Spring!

Signs of the season: spring flowers, muddy sidewalks, balmy breezes and best of all—sun, glorious sun!

Two weeks ago, I was surprised to wake up one weekend morning because of sun shining into our bedroom, a first in this new apartment. Now the sun is up ahead of me even on weekdays, making it unnecessary for me to turn on the kitchen light as I groggily make my way towards the coffee pot in the morning.

And would you believe it, I’m finally down to wearing just one coat and one pair of socks instead of two of each.

Hello, my name is Kate. I’ve lived in Sweden for about a year and a half now, and I’m obsessed with the weather.  

Oh, and by the way. This March marks one year of writing this blog for the Swedish Institute. (You can read my first blog post, “Welcome to the neighborhood!” here.)

In that year, I’ve gone from a pretty clueless, under-employed expat with a tenuous grasp on Swedish to a fully-employed, halfway Swedified expat using Swedish every single day. Oh yeah, and then there was this little marriage thing…

All the changes that have happened in 12 short months—pretty awesome and totally unbelievable. Thank you so much for reading. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

This an excerpt from the Expat Blog at Click here to read the full post!