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October 25, 2004

Swedish idioms in painfully literal translation

Quine would have enjoyed this page. Here are just a few examples:

That was that that
Det var det det
That's it!

Here he got figs!
Där fick han fikon!
The outcome was disappointing/not quite what he expected. Synonymous of: "Han fick stå där med lång näsa", which would translate as "He had to stand there with a long nose".

Geneways are tendonways.
Genvägar är senvägar.
Shortcuts are much not always the best way.

The taste is like the bum - divided
Smaken är som baken - delad
Tastes differ

It shrieks to clear one self out of the road with the waist intact.
Det gäller att klara sig undan med livet i behåll
The important thing [here] is to get away alive.
Greger Wikstrand

Click for many, many more Swedish idioms


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That was that that
Det var det det
That's it!

This makes more sense if you add a comma to reflect the pause when people say it: "Det var det, det"--"That was that, that." Then the second that (det) is just an intensifier, something like what we find in Cajun English: "I ain't goin, me."

That one weirds me out much less, in fact, than what I hear all the time in English: "The reason is is because ..." Apparently in these speakers' minds "The reason is" has become a noun phrase, which then serves as the grammatical subject of "X is because ..."

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