It is fun to compare two languages. There are lots of expressions that make no sense and sound weird or just silly in another language. It may seem like there’s no serious reason why anyone would do it. Except for the sake of some laughs. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Funny Swedish expressions
Actually, that’s not true. There IS a serious reason behind making fun of other languages. This may sound weird. However, comparing languages for the sake of fun helps to learn a new language. While literal translations may crack everyone up, native speakers use them seriously. So, the next time you remember this funny joke, you actually remember an idiom you can use while speaking.
Let’s learn some Swedish, then!
#1: Brun som en pepparkaka
Literally: Brown as a gingerbread cookie
The idea behind this expression is that tanned skin looks like a cookie. And that’s a good thing. However, I don’t think it’s a popular expression, considering the amount of sunlight Sweden gets.
#2: Lätt som en plätt
Literally: Light as a pancake
This phrase sounds really well and it’s easy to learn. As easy as a pancake. That’s what it means! That something is easy to achieve, an easy task. English speakers would say “No sweat”! It really makes sense when you think about it. Pancakes don’t weigh much and it’s easy to eat lots of them.
Talking about food…
#3: Den är paj
Literally: This is pie.
Here it is. Don’t you see it? A pie. Of all the funny Swedish expressions, this one is probably the simplest and weirdest one at the same time. It means that something is broken and doesn’t work the way it should. Your car broke down? Then it’s a pie, not a car. Your smartphone crashed? What a pie.
I’ve no idea what Swedes have against pies, but there must have been some kind of an accident with them. In any case, Swedes still love their pies. And they’re good at making them. I’ve never heard them say “den är paj” when talking about pies. Good for them.
#4: Släng dig i väggen
Literally: Throw yourself into the wall
This isn’t a nice thing to say. However, it’s good to know what it means. Just in case somebody says it to you. If a Swede asks you to do this weird task, it means they don’t like your opinion or performance. However, if a person has manners, you’ll never hear anything like that from them. There are much nicer ways to say it.
Alternatively, is someone suggests you to “släng dig i backen” (throw yourself into the hill), they want you to get lost.
#5: Åsnan mellan två hötappar
Literally: A donkey between two stacks of hay
This phrase describes someone who can’t make a decision. Or someone who changes their opinion all the time.
#6: Fart hinder
No ‘funny Swedish expressions’ list will be complete without this, even though it’s not a real expression. This has nothing to do with cleaning the air or anything. It merely means ‘speed bumps’!
#7: Något som katten släpat in
Literally: Something that the cat dragged in
This phrase expresses that somebody has brought home something worthless. Especially if they think they made a good effort. Swedes often use this idiom to describe frustration over the fact that they didn’t think of a better option.
Talking about cats, another popular idiom is “det vete katten“. It means “cat knows” and is very similar to “Devil knows”. Swedes used to think that cats are the animals of the devil, hence this phrase.
Are you learning Swedish? Or, maybe, you’re a native speaker? Know any more funny Swedish expressions? Let us know in the comments!