v30: igelkott

What do a leech and a hedgehog have in common? Both prick/stab/stick into you, apparently. One Swedish word for this is igel, so leech = igel (or blodigel); hedgehog = igelkott. Igel is an unusual term; the only other related words Norstedts has are hästigel (horse leech), igelknopp (burr-reed), and igelkottsunge (young hedgehog). The usual verb to use for prick/stab/stick into is sticka.  The -kott in igelkott is also an unusual usage: it derives from kotte, which now means (pine)cone, but originally meant little clump.

The actual prickly bit of a hedgehog is a tagg, also found in taggtråd (barbed wire, literally spike thread).

Other prickly animals are the piggsvin (porcupine, literally quill pig) and the myrpiggsvin (echidna, literally ant quill pig).

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Published in: on August 31, 2010 at 12:51  Comments (1)  
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v29: sjöodjur

I’ve heard a number of times that Swedish is a difficult language because of the sje-sound (/ɧ/). I find this a little unfair: I think it’s relatively straightforward to learn how to pronounce the sje-sound, whereas I can’t imagine learning other coarticulations such as those of Igbo (which don’t have nice IPA symbols).

Nevertheless, /ɧ/ features in Swedish tongue-twisters, and in this word I only recently found: sjöodjur (sea-monster). Apart from the difficulty in pronounciation, the morphology caught me. Sjö=sea, and djur=animal, but in this case -o- doesn’t mean opposite of, but abnormal instance of. So two distinct but related meanings for o-. SAOB tells you all about it. As well as odjur = abnormal animal = monster, another good example is ogräs = abnormal grass = weed.

Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 19:11  Leave a Comment  
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