v32: jätte

In Norse mythology, giants feature at both creation (the frost giant Ymir was the first living creature), and at the end of the world, Ragnarök, which features a great battle between the gods and the giants. In Swedish, giant = jätte (old Norse jotunn), and the word is thought to be cognate with äta, to eat, thus meaning a being who eats a lot.

The usual translation of very in Swedish is mycket:

mycket bra = very good

This word is regarded in both English and Swedish as an adverb, in this case an adverb modifying an adjective, rather than a verb (or even a whole sentence, as I described earlier). But the word jätte is also commonly used as an intensifier, in which case, unlike mycket, it is prefixed onto the word it modifies:

jättebra/jättefin = very good, terrific
jätterolig = very funny
jätteglad = very happy
jättesnygg = gorgeous

I’m sure you’ve noticed the posts have been slowing down a little, sometimes both in frequency and size, but I’m hoping to persist for at least a little longer. To all of you who’ve read thus far:

Tack så jättemycket!

Published in: on September 13, 2010 at 17:14  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have been following your blog for quite some time now. Thank you so much for these very interesting and educational posts. Knowing the history of these words has helped improve my Swedish.

  2. Oh I hope you don’t stop! You’re so helpful and I learn so much!

  3. I stumbled across jätte- some months ago and have enjoyed tacking it onto various words ever since. (: It is one of my favorites.

    I do hope you continue with your blog. I just found it today and read through most of the entries. It’s very interesting and helpful! I’ll definitely be following it.

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