Hej allihopa! Och välkommen tillbaka! I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year, and have entered 2013 feel refreshed, revitalised and (hopefully!) with a resolution to learn some more Swedish! To ease back into January I thought it could be interesting to look at some Swedish stereotypes and phrases associated with them, as it was not until I returned home for Christmas that I realised just how well some of these stereotypes really fit reality (although not always, of course!).
So, what springs to mind when we think about our stereotypes of Swedish people? Tall, blonde, beautiful? This for the most part does actually seem to be pretty true – but then, I barely scrape a height of 5´3 (159cm in Euro-measures), so everyone seems tall to me (although I do have a couple of friends who I am pretty sure are at least twice my height). One of my flatmates taught me the phrase “en Svensson familj”, meaning a really stereotypical Swedish family, generally used to describe the family with the blonde kids, nice house, probably a summer cabin out in the countryside, and a Volvo. In fact, much the same stereotype as we seem to imagine! And the wee blonde children, sitting in their dagis (preschool), they are referred to as lintottar (lit. “flax tufts” because of the way their blonde hair resembles the fields of flax one finds around the Swedish countryside).
Another great Swedish stalwart is, of course, IKEA. And, with my best friend newly arrived in Uppsala from Scotland, where better to pay a visit to on a biogas bus through the snow! After stocking up on ljus (here, “candles”; but also “light”; the noun and adjective), and full of köttbullar, potatismos och lingonsylt (meatballs, mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam), we could return home safe in the knowledge that Sweden really is just as “Swedish” as we felt it should be; cold (it was a balmy -2 today), environmentally-friendly, with IKEA furniture for all and impossibly tall people kindly helping me to reach things on high shelves, responding to my thanks with a shy, “ingen fara” (“no worries). Until next week,hej då!