Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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swedish word of the month: lagom

This word has no direct translation to English.

Lagom. Pronounced lah-gohm it’s a somewhat difficult word to adequately describe.

Where do I begin? The closest translation is “enough”, “the right amount”, or “what Goldilocks is desperately seeking – the middle ground, the just right”. I’ve personally had difficulties smoothly incorporating “what Goldilocks is seeking” into casual conversation, so I gotta say lagom is a good alternative.

Sweden is the land of lagom. I know I’ve said Sweden is the land of IKEA…and the land of fika, but REALLY Sweden is the land of lagom. Because you should decorate your home with just the right amount of IKEA, and enjoy enough fika (not too much – that would be craziness). Here in Swedeland lagom is the golden rule…alright, the golden rule is still the golden rule…making lagom the platinum rule.

Lagom applies to everything. Food, drink, exercise, time spent with family and friends, you name it – the Swedes want it in just the right amount.

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swedish word of the month: latmask

This was actually one of the first wlatmaskords I learned in Swedish, after hello and hippopotamus (priorities). I learned latmask because my dear wife lovingly adorns me with the title, often. Latmask is pronounced laht-mahsk. Directly translated latmask means lazy worm, so Evelina clearly thinks I’m an up-and-go kind of person.

The old adage goes, the early bird gets the worm. So logically the lazy worm doesn’t get eaten. I’m choosing to see the bright side of things – Evelina is essentially saying I’m a clever survivor.

If you Google lazy worm, you get a bunch of amusing pictures, like the one shown here. I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s Swedish word of the month. Just think, now you can start calling everyone you know a latmask!

signatureUntil next time.

 


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book of february: all the light we cannot see

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My Mum recommended I read this book, and I’m so glad she did. To be honest I started reading it this summer. Don’t take my somewhat extended reading time to mean that the book isn’t captivating – oh it is! The real truth (in stark contrast to the fake truth) is that I borrowed the book from the library to my tablet, didn’t realize it had been automatically downloaded, and then only had a few days left to read a 500+ page book. Which evidently was not enough time. Also the hold line for the book is a constant 100+ people.

Finally in February I once again got my mitts on a copy of this somewhat elusive book and finished it off. It is wonderful. I’m not at all surprised it’s won a Pulitzer Prize. Anthony Doerr’s story telling is something worth experiencing. Plus you get to ingest such lovely words as “extirpation” and phrases like “amphitheater of noise”. (Don’t worry, that doesn’t give anything away.)

A story revolving around the second world war and set in France and Germany where the two main characters lives are wonderfully detailed by Doerr. Read this book. Even if it takes you half a year to get your act together enough to finish it. Worth it.

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swedish word of the month: smörgåsbord

For the second Swedish word of the month I thought I’d present one of the few words that are also English words. The key difference here is the Ö and Å. The Swedish alphabet has 29 letters, the first 26 are the same as the English alphabet, plus å, ä och ö.

The Swedish word smörgåsbord is defined as an open-faced sandwich, served cold, with butter, pickled herring and cold cuts. The smörgåsbord is served as an appetizer. (As according to the Swedish Academy’s dictionary) The English definition is similar, a luncheon or dinner buffet offering a variety of foods and dishes (such as hour d’oeuvres, hot and cold meats, smoked and pickled fish, cheeses, salads and relishes). (As according to Miriam Webster’s dictionary).

To be perfectly honest the English definition aligns almost perfectly with my experiences. The Swedish definition seems less specific…though the specificity of the English definition is likely implied within the Swedish definition. Convenient how that happens time to time in Swedish. Little is expicitly said, much is implied – we’re all on the same page after all, aren’t we?

Before moving to Sweden I had heard of a smorgasbord, though I had never eaten pickled herring in my life. The home made kind (as pictured above) are definitely the best). Pickled herring is quite tasty, definitely give it a try! (N.B. DO NOT confuse sill (pickled herring) with the Icelandic shark dish hákarl).

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swedish word of the month: fika

2018 is officially underway and I’m excited to start something new for the year here at ENK. Every month I’ll post a new Swedish word for your enjoyment. In this way you too, dear reader, can learn some important, interesting and/or usefully vocabulary for your next visit to the land of IKEA.

For my first word I have chosen fika. Those who know me, read this blog, or have ever been to Sweden know the importance of this holy-to-a-godless-people ritual. I’ve written quite a bit on the subject of fika here on ENK. The first mention was in March 4th, 2012 where I list seven important things to know about Sweden. This was the first of two posts featuring a short list of important things Swedish – both of which mention the all mighty fika ritual.

I’ve tagged the word “fika” in 13 (now 14) posts, so you know it’s a hot topic here. The most encompassing fika post however is what is fika?

Pronounced fee-kah (realizing now I’ve never explained this), the daily tradition of taking some time to sit down for some coffee and a tasty treat to eat is observed in many settings. At work you get a fikapaus (break for fika). Many a Sunday afternoon is spent having fika with friends, family, or strangers at a local coffee shop. Don’t worry, you don’t have to limit yourself to coffee if you’re not a coffee drinker *gasp*. Tea, hot chocolate, juice, milk…yes, your beverage of choice may be consumed at this midday meeting of minds. The highlight of any good fika is, often, the company you’re with. Good conversation may be the true highlight of any fika. Conversation and the coffee. Coffee is really quite a highlight for me. Coffee:

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Fika is for anyone and everyone. Come one, come all! Sweden isn’t just the land of IKEA but also the land of fika.

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book of august: othello

This summer I read many a book. 90% of them were children’s books under 20 pages long, so in my spare time it was great to sit down to a slightly more intellectual book. Othello is one of the classics, though I was never assigned to read it in school. Part of me is sad about this because I’ve missed out on class discussions and a teacher’s interpretations of the work. Yet, the more realistic part of me isn’t disappointed because I probably wouldn’t have read it then anyways.


If you haven’t read Othello, do. The plot is enjoyably dramatic, even if you already know the gist of it – it’s worth a full read through. Plus you get to experience what I assume to be one of the earliest uses of the word “holla” as well as the wonderful expression “light of brain”. Every part of me is excited to use that figure of speach as much as possible. I have absolutely no idea why “light of brain” has fallen out of use, as I personally have daily use for it. 

Enjoy fair readers!


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four(teen)th of july


I love the Fourth of July. I’m willing to say it’s my favorite holiday. As an expat that makes for a hard time. This year we celebrated in Sweden. That is sans four day weekend. I mean I’m off, but the rest of the country isn’t. (Petition to the King still pending). 


We made a great day of it. Grilling, American flag decorations galore, and lots of red white and blue clothing. I hope our little one will enjoy the Fourth of July as much as I do. As often as we can, I hope we celebrate it in the States. It does make all the difference.


Here’s hoping your Fourth was full of fantastic fireworks, good company and tasty food.