Monday, April 21, 2014

R ~ Rum Bar Cafe #atozchallenge


All Aboard! "It's Very Swedish..." a train on a cultural journey through Sweden, exploring the differences big and small between American and Swedish culture.

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As I've been writing this series, I've had a lot of time to contemplate the differences in Swedish and English, as languages. OK, not true.  I haven't HAD time.  I've USED time...Swedish is much more precise, as in there are more words to choose from when trying to express an idea, and therefore one has a better chance of being understood completely.

I'm dividing the "missing in English" words into two categories. One is words we don't need because those "things" don't exist in the US.

Lutefisk is one of those words.  




Well, it's debatable whether lutefisk is really needed anywhere...

There's also filmjölk (a kefir like dairy product that tastes more like buttermilk), smörgåstårta (sandwich cake, you saw one in D ~ Dill), rutkaka:




(a special cake that I've never seen anywhere in the US, it's not a pie at all).

Jantelagen, (don't think more highly of yourself than you ought), allemansrätten, (the right to go anywhere you want in Sweden), are other words which apply to Swedish but not American culture.

Then there are the words in Swedish that can't be translated into English because we don't have a word for that concept -but words that we sure could use, like lagom, which means "just about right". There's also annandags jul, which the Brits call Boxing Day, but Americans don't celebrate it.

Of course there are many more examples, but I've been told my posts are too long...

Then there are the dangerous words.  The "false friends."  I think a story is called for here:

When I was born, lo these many (48) years ago, my Amazing Aunt Risky (see nickname tab above for info about her) traveled to Sweden for the first time to help her big sister with her first baby.  She was 16.

Out for a drive, she noticed a windmill with a sign. "Rum Bar Cafe".  She probably said something along the lines of, "Oh how cool, they have a rum-bar in an old windmill!"  Of course, that's not what it meant.

Rum, pronounced with "um" from photo albUM, instead of "um" from dumb. The word means ROOM, not rum, the alcoholic beverage.  So instead of there being a bar which specialized in rum, it was a bed and breakfast where you could get a room, go to the (completely regular) bar and/or the restaurant. Cafe means casual restaurant just like it does in English, but pronounced slightly differently, however, you only have to endure one pronunciation lesson today.

So my Amazing Aunt Risky didn't get her rum, but she did pick up a few Swedish phrases while she was there that she still uses today.  "Tack för maten" - thanks for the food. "Du är så duktig!" - you're so clever/good at.  Note that it took me three English words to convey the meaning of "duktig".

How is your language structured?  Do you have a lot of specific words?  Are any of your words part of English?

~Tina, the word-nerd


©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: Lukefisk 
Photo credit: rutkaka

22 comments:

Claudia said...

that's cool... we too have some german words for that an english word doesn't exist - on the other hand there seem to be much more english words in general than german words - so a bigger variety to choose from - languages are interesting to study and the misunderstandings that come with them as well...haha... had just one with my south african group - but cannot tell here - too embarrassing... smiles

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tina .. there's many a word that's fascinating to find its root - yet language changes all the time ...

I enjoyed the story re the Rum - I too thought oh ok rum for breakfast .. sounds interesting .. but thank you I'm up and for now I'll wait before I retire to bed once again!!

I to enjoy different words in different languages .. they do make for an interesting life ..

Lutefisk - was, I presume, an essential for sailors, shore workers and presumably all inhabitants as a food source for the winter months or when they travelled ... it can be delicious ...

Cheers and hope you're feeling better .. Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hundreds of new words - and I still probably couldn't come up with the right one...
I bet people here in the South use words you've never heard of.
And good for your aunt that was just a bed and breakfast, as I could see it going in a completely different direction...

Brian Miller said...

ha. alex, people in the south just say them so that all words run together in a drawl...lol...and that makes it intersting trying to communicate

CA Heaven said...

Lutefisk is very good I think, but the sides is half if it, at least, you need bacon, peastew, goat cheese, ...

Another Swedish favorite expression of mine is "nu jävlar". That's what they say when the are gonna do someting great, such as beating USA and Canada in ice hockey >:)

Cold As Heaven

Jo said...

The origins of language is a fascinating subject. I remember learning Greek and was fascinated by a scene, two people agreeing to meet at a specific time, they finished by saying "symphony" which in English means an agreement of sounds in music. Lots more examples of course. In French they usually take several words to say what we convey in one.

DAVID WALSTON said...

Living in San Antonio I have picked up on a lot of spanish words that I can not share here!

JoJo said...

But dumb and album rhyme, at least the way I say them. And I think the American version of allemansratten is 'Manifest Destiny'. lol

A Beer For The Shower said...

I once had a friend that went to a placed called Fireside Barbecue because they thought it was a barbecue restaurant. They walked inside and it was a store that sold barbecue grills.

As for language, I went to Thailand 5 years ago to train Muay Thai and picked up a lot of the language. On the complete opposite spectrum, it's incredibly basic. Compared to how we say things, they almost speak like cavemen. For example, I might say something like, "Look at that guy. He's driving his car on the wrong side of the road." In Thai, you would basically say the equivalent of "Look boy. Boy drive car wrong road."

Tina said...

JoJo - maybe my pronunciation is a CO thing, or a Swedish chick with English as a second language...sigh.

~Tina

Julie Jordan Scott said...

We definitely need a word for "just about right" or how about a word for different levels of "fine" - You know, "How are you?" I'm fine... when you really aren't fine like snazzy you are more fine like so-so. Ahhh, English. Too constricting for writers sometimes... no wonder William Shakespeare made up so many words!!!

I would love to stay in a bed and breakfast that was built inside a windmill. Lovely!

Julie Jordan Scott
The Bold Writer from A to Z

bemuzin.com said...

I think we DO need Jantelagen here in the U.S. But not the L-fish!

Darla Sue Dollman said...

Your posts are not too long. I could chat with you all day. Fun times. :-)

Kathe W. said...

well now- my husband speaks a different type of American English. Which I never really realized until we had a young college student from Martinique live with us for one summer. Her understanding of English was not too good at first and Russell uses a lot of colloquialisms in his everyday conversations. He would say for example " He went bananas" and she would turn to me with a quizzical look and I would say "Nouveau mot" and would explain as best I could in French what he had just said. It got to be a joke! She even began to use some expressions such as "Buzz off" with great delight. It was fun teaching her "Russell's English".

Bonnie Gwyn said...

Very informative! Thanks for the glimpse of Sweden. :) Someday, I'm going to physically go to these places! But for now, dreaming in enough. :) Thanks for stopping by my blog! <3 I followed you. Lots of love, in both the worlds of blogging and faith in God. :)
Where Legends Begin

Andrew Leon said...

I think English is often more versatile in expressing things because it's so eclectic. We may not have a word for something, but we can explain it, and, sometimes, in other languages, you can't even explain the ideas.

cleemckenzie said...

My language is Indo-Eurpean in origin and depends on putting those words in the right order if you want to get your "correct" meaning across.

The man bit the dog. Seems to be a bit different that The dog bit the man.

Lutefisk doesn't sound tasty,but since I love buttermilk in just about anything, filmjo(with two dots)lk is right up my tastebud alley.

Spacer Guy said...

My indulgences are rum raison oatmeal cookies.

Lisa said...

Wow, Swedish is so foriegn to me. I always thought English had a very good stock of words for describing things, and I guess compared to French it does! I didn't know Swedish was so descriptive a language. Thanks for the Swedish lesson!

Lisa said...

Wow, Swedish is so foriegn to me. I always thought English had a very good stock of words for describing things, and I guess compared to French it does! I didn't know Swedish was so descriptive a language. Thanks for the Swedish lesson!

karen einsel said...

Hi Tina
Loved your post. I love to learn new things and I learned a lot today,not that I'll remember them, but...My ancestors are from Sweden, but when my great grandparents immigrated to the US, right around 1900, they spoke English in public and only spoke Swedish in the home. My dad told me he wishes he would have continued speaking both languages, but got into the habit of only speaking English and has forgotten the Swedish language. :-)I also wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog. I replied to your comment. :-)

Annalisa Crawford said...

Because I wasn't an A-Zer, I'm going through all the blogs I follow and choosing one post to comment on - how could I not click one that says "Rum Bar Cafe" - good post, but shame about the rum ;-)