It’s Valborg on Monday!

Happy Valborg!

Valborg is the name of the 30th of April in Sweden. In Sweden, this is celebrated by lighting bonfires (majbrasor) all around the country in the evening, and people gather to watch the bonfires. Some places have fireworks (fyrverkerier). Once the bonfire is lit, it is traditional for a men’s choir (manskör) to sing traditional songs about the spring, and for someone to hold a speech.

Valborg

Valborg, Stockholm (Hammarby skidbacke) 2012

Valborg got its name from an Anglo-Saxon missionary, who lived during the 700th century BC. According to legend, she was an English princess who were called to Germany to help evangelise the pagan Germans. She was made a saint year 870, and during medieval times, a cult developed in her memory. This cult believed in protecting themselves from witchcraft, and in order to protect themselves from witches, people started to light bonfires in Germany.

In Sweden, people thought that the night between 30th of April and 1st of May was a magical night, when witches and other magical beings appeared to meet the Devil. Therefore, they lit bonfires and made noises to try and scare the beings away.

It also happens to be the birthday of the Swedish King – Carl XVI Gustaf! Grattis kungen!

Carl XVI Gustaf

Grattis på födelsedagen!

Valborg is one of the main days of festivities at universities and colleges, as this is the time when the students put on their traditional student caps (which marks the end of the final exam periods and the beginning of celebrations). In university cities, especially Uppsala and Lund, the whole day is packed with activities and celebrations and begin already in the morning with champagne breakfast in nearby parks.

studentmössa på Valborg

Pic from http://www.lexiophiles.com/svenska/studentmossor-och-skumpa

The most traditional song is “Vintern rasat” (it’s actually called “Längtan till landet” but it most known by its first two words: Vintern rasat). Herman Sätherberg (1812-1897) wrote the lyrics and the music was written by Otto Lindblad (1809-1864).

Vintern rasat

Swedish and English lyrics (translation from semiswede) – and here you can listen to a performance of the song.

Vintern rasat ut bland våra fjällar,
Winter stormed out among our mountains,
drivans blommor smälta ned och dö.
snow drifts melt down and die.
Himlen ler i vårens ljusa kvällar,
The sky smiles in spring’s bright evenings
solen kysser liv i skog och sjö.
The sun kisses life into the forest and lake.

Snart är sommarn här i purpurvågor,
Soon summer is here in purple waves,
guldbelagda, azurskiftande
gold-coated, azure-shifting
ligga ängarne i dagens lågor,
lie meadows in daylit flames (strong sunlight on a spring day),
och i lunden dansa källorne.
and in the grove dance källorne (the light streams and dances). 

Ja, jag kommer! Hälsen, glada vindar,
Yes, I’m coming! Greetings, cheerful winds,
ut till landet, ut till fåglarne,
out to the country, out to the birds,
att jag älskar dem, till björk och lindar,
that I love, to birch and linden trees,
sjö och berg, jag vill dem återse,
lake and mountain, I want them see again,

se dem än som i min barndoms stunder
see them like in my childhood memories
följa bäckens dans till klarnad sjö,
follow the dancing creek to the clear lake,
trastens sång i furuskogens lunder,
the thrush’s song in the pine forest groves,
vattenfågelns lek kring fjärd och ö.
waterfowl play around the bay and island.

Glad Valborg! / Anneli

Lessons, prices and online booking system here.

Verb comes second – Swedish word order

Verb comes second – Swedish word order

One of the major issues with learning Swedish, especially for English speakers, is word order in sentences. People nearly fluent still sometimes make word order mistakes in Swedish, and for beginners this is really difficult to get your head around. These kinds of mistakes sound pretty ugly to Swedes: no native Swede would do this, so it is a very obvious clue that someone is not Swedish.

Compare these two sentences in English:

1. I eat breakfast at 8 o’clock.

2. At 8 o’clock I eat breakfast.

In number 1, the time (at 8 o’clock) is placed in the end. In number 2, the time is placed in the beginning. Regardless of if you place it in the beginning or the end, the “core sentence” (I eat breakfast / subject-verb-object) remains the same in terms of word order.

Now look at the same sentence in Swedish:

1. Jag äter frukost klockan 8.

2. Klockan 8 äter jag frukost.

From an English perspective, this looks odd. In number 1, the time is placed in the end, just like in the English version. But in number 2, something happens when the time is placed in the beginning. The word order of the “core sentence” has changed (äter jag frukost / verb-subject-object).

Instead of trying to remember to speak the core sentence backwards, many find it easier to think about the positioning of the verb: the verb comes second. Look at these sentences again:

1. Jag äter frukost klockan 8. (subject-verb-object-time)

2. Klockan 8 äter jag frukost. (time-verb-subject-object)

In both sentences, the verb comes in the second position. And when I say second position, I do not mean that the verb is the second word. Time expressions, like klockan 8 in the example above, can be short one-word expressions (först, sedan, nu, ibland), two word combinations (på kvällen, i går, nästa vecka) or even longer (klockan fem i halv nio på måndag morgon). However long or short they are, they are all time expressions. And if you start a sentence with them, then the verb must come in second position after the time expression.

The same also happens with place expressions. They can be short (här, där, hemma), longer (i Sverige, hemma hos oss, på jobbet) or really long (på soffan i vardagsrummet hemma hos oss i Nottingham). Regardless, if you start a sentence with a place expression, verb must come in second position, just like with time expressions.

A good way to practice this, is to actually alter the rhythm in which you speak. I have noticed that many English speakers have a natural rhythm when they speak these kind of sentences in English. It goes something like this:

“Yesterday I………. stayed up late.”

“This weekend we……..’re going away.”

“Tomorrow I…………. finish work early.”

The time/place and subject are said in one breath, followed by a natural pause while finding the verb, and then the sentence continues. If you apply the same rhythm while speaking Swedish, you end up in trouble. And once you’ve got to the verb, the damage has already been done – the word order is incorrect.

Instead, practice making the pause immediately after the time or place expression, and look for the verb. Then add the subject, and then continue. Like this:

“I morgon……(look for the verb)……….. jobbar jag… hela dagen.”

“I helgen……..(look for the verb)………. ska vi… åka till London.”

“I köket……….(look for the verb)………. finns det… en extra stol.”

If you practice this slightly different flow and rhythm in your speaking, you’ll get into a new way of constructing your sentences, and it will become easier to do it correctly.

Lycka till! /Anneli

verb comes second

 

Who let the cows out? Kosläpp season starts now

Kosläpp

In Sweden, we do appreciate signs of spring (vårtecken). It could be spotting the first tussilago, listening to the dripping sound of melting snow, or visiting art galleries when they open for the season. Another fun and enjoyable vårtecken is that of kosläpp.

Throughout April and May in Sweden, there will be kosläpp on many farms in Sweden. This is a rather lovely event, where the farms let the cows out for the summer. Not surprisingly, the cows are very happy about it – and they show it too. They turn into playful little puppies! Apart from the sheer joy of being able to be outside and eat fresh grass (grönbete), the cows also work out their hierarchies in the herd.

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Many farms open up to visitors, so they can come and enjoy the spectacle. The events have become real tourist attractions, and many farms are already fully booked in terms of audience capacity. It’s a fun and enjoyable way to celebrate the arrival of spring, visitors bring picknick and spend a bit of time looking around the farms. And the interest for these events is apparently increasing year by year. In 2005, only a few thousand people came to the farms of the producer Arla, whereas around 150,000 people came in 2014. Some believe the interest is growing as there is a larger divide between city and country today. Only a few decades ago, it wasn’t uncommon for someone to have a grandparent who ran a farm, whereas today it is not quite as common. Perhaps many people feel an urge to get closer to nature and animals.

There is also an idiomatic expression that stems from this occasion: glad som en kalv på grönbete.

Here are some of the Arla farms schedules for this year’s kosläpp.

 

Tycka, tänka, tro and how to use them

Hej!

Daniel here! Today, I’ll be discussing something many Swedish learners find difficult.

The English word think corresponds to three Swedish verbs: tycka, tänka, and tro, something that likely causes confusion for non-native speakers. It can be tricky because the translation of the verbs can sometimes overlap each other. However, it’s not as complex as it might sound, but takes time and practice to get used to. In this post, I will clarify when and how to use these words.

Tycka (inf.):

Use this verb when you want to express your personal opinion about something.

Example: Jag tycker choklad smakar gott.  I think chocolate tastes good. (Your opinion is that chocolate tastes good.)

Example 2: Jag tycker du ska komma hem.  I think you should come home. (Your opinion is that the person should come home.)

If the preposition om is added, the word then simply refers to the state of liking something.

Example: Jag tycker om choklad. I like chocolate.

 

Tänka (inf.):

Use this verb when you want to express that you are thinking, or a specific action you intend to take.

Example: Tyst! Jag försöker tänka. Quiet! I’m trying to think.

Example 2: Jag tänker åka utomlands.  I intend to go abroad.

Example 3: Jag tänker ta en dush nu.  I’m going to take a shower now.

Similar to tycka, adding a preposition changes the expression. I’ve used the preposition om here, which then gives tänka a meaning similar to the English word “imagine”.

Example: Tänk om vi vinner på lotto. Imagine if we win the lottery.

Another preposition you can use is . In this case it means to think about someone or something.

Example: Jag tänker på dig. I’m thinking about you.

 

Tro (inf.):

Tro is related to the English believe, suppose, presume, and guess, depending on context. A hint of opinion is involved, but it’s mainly a belief or a guess in regards to something you are not sure about. Imagine a scenario in which you are going to the cinema with a friend. You have read reviews, watched the trailers, but you can’t have an opinion about the film until you have watched it.

Example: Jag tror filmen är bra.  I think the film is good.

Once you’ve watched the film, you will have an opinion and therefore use the verb tycker instead.

Swedes love to talk about the weather, so you could also think of this verb as the “weather word”, as it’s always used to predict the weather in a conversation.

Example 2: Jag tror det blir vackert väder i morgon. I think (believe) the weather will be beautiful tomorrow.

Once the next day arrives, you will have an opinion on the weather when you look out the window, and therefore use tycker.

The most common preposition to use with tro is , and is always followed by the object you believe in.

Example: Jag tror på dig.  I believe in you.

I hope this has clarified some confusions about how to use these words. But remember to not get too frustrated with them, it takes a little bit of time to get used to the distinction between them.

If you would like to book a lesson with me, head over to our booking system.

Ha det gött! 

Daniel