Wednesday, 17 March 2010
The longest Swedish word
A Swedish word you often hear this time of year is 'vintervår' or 'vårvinter'. You hear it on the tv and the radio, read it in the newspapers, hear it on the underground.
Literally translated, it means 'winterspring' or 'springwinter'. It is used to describe this time of the year, when winter slowly but surely crawls exhausted over into spring. It's a word that boulsters the self-confidence of Swedes because it means that spring is on the way. It also acts as a way for Swedes to deceive themselves that spring is already here even though it still might be snowing.
This is also a great example of Swedish language structure. Putting two separate words together, in this case 'spring' and 'winter' to form a new word which has a new meaning. This is one of the reasons why Swedish words ofter seem inscrutable to the foreign eye. It also means that Swedish words can sometimes get very long.
According to the Guiness Book of Records, the longest Swedish word is:
It translates as something like "Coast artillery flight searching simulator area material maintaining follow-up system discussion preparation tasks of the Northern Baltic Sea".
Still doesn't really make sense, but then I'm not a translator.
By the way, did you know that the fear of long words is called 'hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia'?
Now that's just cruel isn't it?