Don’t let that farthinder stop you!

Confusing but Fun

Swedish words in italics, English in bold

Body parts

  • Vrist in Swedish is one of the words for ankle. But it is pronounced very much like wrist. And wrist, BTW, translates into handlove. Mmmmm, interesting.
  • Chin translates to haka.  But the translation of cheek is kind, and this is pronounced chind (click to play on Google Translate).


  • Ginger translates to ingefära.
  • Inga fara, which when pronounced and heard by me…is a phrase you use to imply no danger as in, sorta excuse me when you accidently hit someone in the face on the  subway (done it).
  • Gift means married or poison. No distinction in pronunciation. And of course, gift in English has a very different meaning.


  • Slut means end.
  • Fart means many things related to speed
  • Farthinder is a speed bump 
  • Everywhere you see utfart signs, meaning exit.

Personal Blunders

Ice Cream

A vintage ice cream truck

A vintage ice cream truck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you might have seen in my last post, Stavsunds Gods, I live on a farm. Even in cold climes the ice cream truck operates all year round and tingalings its very loud, come hither familiar tune. One hot summer day I tore out of the house waving my wallet in the air, eager to get a sugar fix. Maybe I would treat myself to both a drumstick and an ice lolly? I pointed to a photo (my Swedish was limited) and was surprised to learn the cost—100 SEK ($15).  For one? No. of course not silly. You have to buy an entire box! And of course I did.

Postal boxes

Postal boxes (Photo credit: Let Ideas Compete)

Going Postal

I don’t often send letters or cards any more, but my parents expect it, especially for birthdays. I was so proud of myself when I bought the card and the stamp to send it for my mother’s birthday. It would arrive on time! I wrote her name and address on the front and in the upper left corner I wrote my name and address in smaller letters. Common practice in North America and England.

A few days later I was surprised to receive the card. There was no bill for additional postage and it had been marked with all the postal rubber stamps. I took it to the post office and was informed that…you are supposed to put the return address on the back flap otherwise they consider this the recipient address (Editor’s note: I am not so sure about this, I think it was just human error). And yes. It was sent on to Canada without extra charge, and yes, my mom got it on time, at least I think she did.


9 thoughts on “Don’t let that farthinder stop you!

  1. Hi Amanda,
    First I’d like to thank you for linking to my blog – I appreciate that.

    Second – I love this post! It made me laugh out loud in the office 🙂 It amazes me the crazy ways in which words translate from one language to another and in cases such as vrist, which as you mentioned means ankle, the differences are hilariously uncanny (don’t even get me started on the less-SFW translations you mentioned!). Thanks for the amazing post, I look forward to more like it 🙂

    • And I enjoyed yours! I am a technical writer, and although I am not a linguist (if I could return for another life, I would want to be a language expert) I always appreciate words and the links between them. I look forward to our mutual interests intersecting again.

  2. Pingback: There is Always Something Lost in Translation. | thebigwordblog

  3. My dad is a Britt who is married to a Swede – and although he has been visiting Sweden for the last 35+ years and has a house there…he still cracks up every time he sees the word utfart and infart! This post made me giggle! Thanks X

  4. This is cool! I speak German, and I see lots of parallels between the two languages. The things one learns by reading blogs.

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