On my quest for cinnamon buns in Sweden, I came across a lot of wienerbröd (literally “Viennese bread” or otherwise known as a plain old Danish pastry). The popular variety in Sweden have a custard-like filling, with icing on top.
I was about to tuck into one of these, when I was informed of the name of the custard-like filling.
“We call it momors hosta – “Granny’s cough”.”
Not easily put off, I tucked in. I felt cold, wet, phlegmatic custard slide down my throat. “Granny’s cough” – what an appropriate name. Needless to say, I couldn’t eat any more.
However, this experience got me thinking – what other words or descriptions are there in Swedish that we simply don’t have in English? I don’t speak Swedish but through spending some time in Sweden, I’ve made a short list:
- Knullruffs – After-Sex Hair
Well, the Swedes do have a bit of a reputation for whiling away the long, dark winter hours between the sheets (don’t blame me – I’m just reporting the stereotype!). They even have their own special strain of chlamydia. Knullruffs is undoubtedly a very useful word.
- Kåseri – Storytelling
This refers to a practice of telling stories on a topic, often anecdotal, often entertaining, but with a serious undertone. This is common on the radio and it sounds like a lot of fun. I want to institutionalise this in the UK!
- Langett städa – Cleaning round the edges
My absolute favourite phrase. You know when you have guests coming over but you’re in a hurry? You might look at the state of your house with a sense of despair, then grab the hoover and vacuum only the visible dirt. This is langett städa – only cleaning the surface and visible stuff. It definitely does not involve cleaning under the rug 🙂