Some words are so unique for a language that they carry a meaning that cannot be translated. They are a culture. When a friend of mine from abroad hypothetically asked me what Swedish word I would like to export to every language of the world, the answer was simple. It´s fika. However, there are already several Swedish words that are used in other languages such as smorgasbord, lingonberry and ombudsman. On the other hand, the Swedish language is to a major extent built upon German and English words. But fika is so much more than just a word.
So what is fika?
Watch this clip and you will at least get a hint.
If “Johan” in the clip didn’t explain it clearly enough, then here is what fika is all about. The simplest translation of it is, a coffee break but fika can be both a verb, “to fika”, and a noun referring to the bun or most preferably seven kinds of cookies that are sometimes essential when having a fika. The fika in Sweden is since long considered a social institution and something that almost every workplace has twice a day and the average Swede several times a week. That is probably part of the reason why Sweden is among the top coffee consumers in the world. Even scientists praise the fika (or fee-kah as it is pronounced) after finding that it can make you healthier, slimmer and happier. Another great role for the fika in Sweden is the “non-date date” factor it plays when dating someone, by making it more informal by just calling it “having a fika” instead of “having a date”.
Another example of a word that cannot be translated directly, just as fika, is the Spanish word siesta, which has through its spread justified the afternoon nap in the whole world. So if you want fika to have a similar impact on the world you can join the Facebook group that promotes making “to fika” an international verb.
Or just get a happier, healthier and better life by having a fika!
What word would you like to export to other languages? And why is it such a good word?