Jul 17, 2005

Studying Swedish in Spanish


One of the many pleasant diversions of life in San Pedro is the cool people from all over the world we've been meeting. We've found it difficult to get a 100% Guatemalan experience because there is too much of a World experience to ignore. For example, in the midst of our intensive Spanish studies Kristina, the Swede above, started teaching me some great words that we simply don't have in English (nor Spanish).

One such word is Lagom (prounounced Laa-gum) which kind of means 'the right amount, not too much nor too little.' So when someone asks you how much food you want, you say Lagom, which means you want a bit but that you want there to be enough for everyone. Not only do we not have that word in American English, but in the land of super-sized jumbo burgers we don't even have that concept.

Or Fika (prounounced fee-ka) which is the social act of going to eat or drink something small without specifying what. More like 'Lets go eat or drink as an excuse to talk.' This must be enormously handy when inviting a cute stranger on a first date. I know I've been accidentally rebuffed when inviting someone out for a coffee or beer and they say they don't drink either (at least, I think it was an accident. It's not real rejection without a restraining order).

Care for a Fika?

Only the Swedish could make up this splendid word for 'Not Squeaky.' For example, this desk is Pokvanligt* (pronounced perk-van-likt). This comes from the root Poka (Sex), and Vanlig (friendly). So, instead of saying: 'this desk is well built, sturdy and doesn't squeak' you simply say that it's solid enough to have sex on. Any culture that describes everyday objects by their erotic possibilities will forever have my undying respect.

*In Swedish this word has all sorts of accents that I don't know how to recreate here nor even pronounce fully. But what can you expect from a people that can say "Yes," or "Agreed" with nothing but a sharp intake of breath?

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