It’s almost Christmas! How did it go this fast? In the last days before the holiday itself, everyone seems to be running around in a hurry to get everything ready. With that in mind, I have an appropriate word for you today:
Julstök is a bit difficult to translate. If you search on google, it’ll tell you the English translation is “Christmas preperations”, but I don’t feel like that catches the nuance of it. As we have seen before jul means Christmas. Stök, however, is the trickier bit. As an adjective, stökig means messy, disorganized. As a verb, att stöka means to clean, to tidy up but in terms of connotation, it’s not as plain as that. It more conjures up the meaning of to bustle around tidying things up, if you ask me.
So julstök refers to the hustle and bustle that happens before Christmas: cleaning, tidying, decorating, baking and cooking primarily. It’s got a connotation of both hurry/urgent activity and also in a weird way, homeliness and freshly baked gingerbread cookies. Bit of duality there.
Anyway, I hope you all aren’t stressing out too much before the holidays. I’m trying to take things slow, myself.
Today I had my last day at the office for a few weeks. I had some vacation days to use. I’ll have to keep an eye on my work email during that time, but I won’t really be working. I also won’t be studying. It’ll be the first time in years I go through the holiday season without a looming deadline, and it really feels like I’m now on jullov, which is my word for you today:
So, jullov means Christmas hols or Christmas leave, really. Jul means Christmas and lov means a break from school. I’m not sure of the etymology of this word, but if I had to guess I’d say it was related to the expression att ha/få lov (to have/get permission or leave). It’s really only used with regard to school breaks, in compounds like höstlov (fall break), sommarlov (summer break), påsklov (Easter break) and sportlov (sport break, a one-week break in eary spring). When used by an adult it’s either ironically or, like in my case above, with child-like glee.
I look forward to spending the next few weeks reading, and writing. Hope you all have a lovely, relaxing holiday season too.
Advent Calendar Day 8 and 9 – Christmas Parties and Snapsvisor
Hi guys! Last night I decided to forgoe my blogging on the basis that I came home past midnight and had had quite a bit of wine. We had our office Christmas party, which was why. Or well, more of a Christmas dinner because apart from drinking, we don’t really do much partying during them. It’s very common here for workplaces to have a Christmas dinner or party in the weeks before Christmas. I have to admit I quite like getting to have Christmas food twice, though unfortunately the place we went to this year didn’t have the best food.
That brings us to today’s Word Pantry word:
A snapsvisa is a short, often funny song that is sung when you drink snaps, Swedish hard liquor drunken in small glasses. In my mind, there are two kinds of snapsvisor (plural of snapsvisa). What I consider to be “regular” snapsvisor are usually humorous and often seasonal, but can still be pretty well-written lyrics. There are also snapsvisor which are parody versions of well-known melodies, with lyrics usually centered on heavy drinking and possibly the tragic consequences of this. I prefer the first variety, myself. I think the other kind are just… well, not that funny to be honest. I do love snaps though!
Today, after a period of silence, I come to you with a word that I often see on those “beautiful words from foreign languages” lists. Namely:
Beautiful, right? I need to find a reason to put this in a book one day.
The amusing thing with those lists is that they often write out the word as mangata instead of mångata. Which makes the meaning manstreet or manestreet rather than moonstreet. Not quite as poetic, I think.
Music Monday – Ingen Vill Veta Var Du Köpt Din Tröja by Raymond & Maria
I’ve been thinking for a while that one of the things that I want to do with this blog is post about some Swedish songs I like, and maybe even provide some translations of lyrics so that my non-Swedish speaking readers can enjoy the meaning of the songs as well as the sound. I know when I listen to music in a language I don’t know I always like having some idea about what the lyrics are about.
Today, for the first Music Monday, I’d like to play Ingen vill veta var du köpt din tröja by Raymond & Maria for you guys. I had planned to translate the lyrics and post them too, but I discovered that the song has already been translated into English by the original musicians so I thought I’d save myself the trouble. Admittedly, I disagree a little with a couple of the translation choices but not enough to take the time to reinvent the wheel, as it were. Here is the song in the original Swedish:
I remember that when this song came out a lot of people made fun of it. There was a lot of “how silly to care whether someone wants to know where your shirt was bought!” going around. For me, that’s part of why I like the song. Because it is silly. Because it sings angst over “luxury problems”. It speaks to a very specific kind of existential crisis that I sometimes experience. The fear of being plain. Unmemorable. Unnoticable. A wallflower, a beige blur, someone whose name gets forgotten. Someone who’s entire self gets forgotten. The fear of being mellanmjölk (literaly middle milk, milk with 1.5% fat. An expression roughly equivalent to the English white bread). And I have to admit… as fears, at least realistic fears, go, this might be my biggest fear. Some day, nothing makes you feel more real than someone noticing you’ve done your nails.
So what did you think of the song? I will not be doing Music Monday every week, but just once in a while when the desire to share a particular song with the world strikes me. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
One of the things I wanted to do on this blog is to teach you guys some Swedish words. And, suitably, I’m starting with the word ordförråd, which is the Swedish word meaning vocabulary (usually in the sense of the range of words a particular person knows, rather than the wider sense of the lexicon of a language). Ord means word and förråd means storage or inventory, like for example a basement storage unit. I’m not sure exactly why, but I tend to associate the term with the concept of a pantry (even though that’s actually called skafferi in Swedish). It’s just a nice image. A little door in your head, behind which all the words you know live on little shelves covered in gingham paper.
So, for this reason these vocabulary posts will be called The Word Pantry. Hopefully you’ll find lots of tasty morsels in it.