At the end of each year, the Swedish language council conducts a list of words that have been invented or increased in use during the year. A glance through the words and their explanations is always a nice way of recapping the year that has passed and all of its events. For a Swede, the recognizing factor makes this an entertaining read and for a foreigner it shows what goes on in Sweden and what our take on international events is. So, what’s in 2011’s list, you might ask. Well, just sit back and I’ll share my favorite new Swedish words from 2011 with you!
First off is the verb “appa” which means to play around with the apps on your cellphone. This word is funny because it’s one of those that all the Swedish parents probably will start adopting at the end of this year, which will then “force” all the kids to call it something else.
We also had translations of the terms for the totally viral social media phenomenons: owling and planking (“uggling” and “plankning” in Swedish). For those of you who didn’t know, they refer to the practice of squatting like an owl respectively lie down like a plank on hard-to-reach places, taking a picture of it and then posting it on Facebook. Just for fun I compared the 2011 list with its predecessor from 2002 and I can say that some 2002 people’s eyes would pop out at the mention of these phenomenons. I mean, they had their share of peculiar expressions back then, like the mad potato chips disease (galna chipssjukan) and to make a whole poodle (att göra en hel pudel) but nothing quite as odd as these.
While on the technical terms, I should also mention the verb “padda”. It refers to the usage of an iPad but it also means toad.
Flipperförälder is also a word that increased in use during 2011. It translates into pinball parent and is the opposite of the previous word curling parent (curlingförälder). While curling parents look after their kids like hawks and at some point carefully let them face the real world, like letting go of a curling stone, the pinball parents just shoot their children away into the unknown like a pinball (i.e. let them be independent).
Tjejsamla is a word that has caused some commotion in Sweden. It translates into “to girlcollect” but it’s not as bad as it sounds. It means to collect like a girl, inclining that girls (women) don’t collect things (DVDs, video games, cards) as devotedly as boys (men) do. This has lead to the suggestion that the word “Killstäda” should also be introduced, which means to clean like a man.
Finally, my favorite word of 2011 is “retronym”. A retronym is a new word for something old that is replaced by something new. Confusing, I know. An example is that TVs now are generally referred to as “tjock-TVs” meaning fat-TVs, due to the introduction of flat-screen TVs.
That was my list!. The complete New Swedish Words List 2011 can be seen on the Swedish language council’s homepage.