Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Swedish/English idioms

A frozen Lake Mälaren

As I've mentioned before, I'm half-Swedish but have always lived in England. (A matter of significant regret right now, as I've got no chance of qualifying for a Swedish passport.)

Anyway, the upshot is that I'm apt to regard English culture as a bit mundane and, on the contrary, to idealize Swedish culture because it reminds me of childhood memories and holidays. It's therefore been a salutary experience, now that I'm making a daily effort to read the news in Swedish, to discover that the two languages share many of the same idioms and clichés.

A Swedish politician is as likely to slip on a "bananskal" as an English one on a banana-skin.

The pithy phrase "slowly but surely" is in Swedish the equally pithy "sakta men säkert".

Words used in the same figurative way in both languages:

Hörnsten: cornerstone
Målat in sig i ett hörn: painted her/himself into a corner
Grönt ljus: green light
Gör sig hemmastadda: make her/himself at home
Ett steg längre: one step further
Lämna stafettpinnan vidare: hand on the baton
Klämtade klockan: the bell tolled
Tappa mark: lose ground
Banérförare: flag-bearer, standard-bearer
Tummen ner: the thumbs down

And finally, it isn't just British politicians who say this:

Det är helt oacceptabelt att resenärer drabbas så fort det blir lite vinterväder.
It's completely unacceptable that travel is disrupted as soon as there's a bit of winter weather....

What classes as "a bit of winter weather" might vary between the two countries, but the sentiment remains the same!



At 5:52 am, Anonymous Freya said...

Hi Michael,
It's a pretty interesting.
I run a website of English idioms dictionary - and after reading your this post I've got an idea of having a separate section of Swedish idioms too.

I am really thankful of you for being my inspiration.

Thank you!

At 8:13 am, Blogger Michael Peverett said...

Thanks Freya, I am impressed by and I wish you much luck with it! It would be great if you added Swedish idioms too!


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