v17: sista

Last Friday was sista april, the last (day of) April, or Valborg (Walpurgis Night), when Uppsala becomes the party capital of Sweden.

Regarding the use of last and latest in English, style guides say that latest is used when there is an expectation of more to come, but last means there will be no more. However, I believe everyday English usage is a bit more forgiving, for example, knowing that Ian Rankin is alive and writing, the following seems quite reasonable to me:

Ian Rankin’s last book was really good.

But in Swedish, sista (last) can’t be used in place of senaste (latest):

Ian Rankins senaste bok var riktigt bra.

Senaste is the superlative form of the adjective sen (sen, senare, senaste = late, later, latest), and the opposite of tidig (early).

But a couple of exceptions: Norstedts gives both sista modet and sista skriket as translations of the latest fashion. However, Google finds more than ten times as many hits for “senaste modet” than for “sista modet”. “Sista skriket” (skrika = to scream) is both a punk band from Gothenburg and a 1993 Ingemar Bergman play, which kind of messes up the searches.

I’ll leave you with these words from the 18th century Chinese poet, Yuan Mei, found while googling:

Klädd efter sista modet

Rocklängden och hattvidden
ha nu under trettio års tid oupphörligt förändrats
men lyckligtvis har jag hållit fast vid den gamla stilen.
Utan att ha behövt följa med i den vansinniga galoppen
är jag nu klädd efter sista modet.

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Published in: on May 5, 2010 at 14:44  Leave a Comment  
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