v26: kändis

Swedish has three words for know: veta (to know facts), känna (to know people), and kunna (to know languages or other subjects). Their present tense forms are: vet, känner, and kan. My Swedish in Three Months by Peter Graves and Gunilla Blom (Hugo, 1992) has the following example, which I’ve abridged:

Jag vet att du känner Åke som kan franska.
I know that you know Åke, who knows French.

But it seems to be känna that has the most derivatives, in the sense both of knowing, but also of feeling. For example, someone who knows a lot is a kännare (expert), someone who is well-known is a kändis (celebrity), and someone feels a lot is känslig (sensitive). But by now you should know how to look up kän* in Norstedts…

Swedish has both long and short vowels, and long and short consonants, and it’s usual that a short vowel is followed by two (or more) consonants, and a long vowel by a single consonant, so:

brun (brown) = long u, short n
en brunn (a well) = short u, long n

There are exceptions, which may not become evident until additional endings are added to the word:

hem (home) = short e; becomes hemma (at home)
tam (tame) = long a; becomes tama (plural form)

Words with mm or nn lose the doubling when additional consonants are added, hence:

känna = short ä; becomes kändis

And in case you’re wondering, the opposite of a kändis is a doldis, an unperson or anonymous public figure, derived from dold, hidden and dölja, to hide. Otherwise, the -dis ending does not seem particularly productive, so maybe there’s another opening for you who’d like to invent new Swedish words?

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Published in: on July 14, 2010 at 15:33  Leave a Comment  
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