v51: älskogskrank

The cold time of year in Sweden is also a common time for people to become ill. Perhaps with the common cold: common cold = förkylning, where kyla = both the noun cold and the verb to cool, whereas the adjective cold = kall. In Swedish, sick = sjuk, and if you’re very sick you may end up in a sjukhus = hospital.

ambulansUnfortunately, you may travel there in an ambulans = ambulance. I say unfortunately because ambulance derives ultimately from the Latin ambulare, to walk (seemingly referring to movable hospitals following the troops on the battlefront, for example during the Crimean War in the 1850s), whereas other languages have much more imaginative words for ambulance, such as German Krankenwagen (sick car), Icelandic sjúkrabíll (sick car), and Hungarian mentőautó (rescue car).

This Swedish tongue-twister may make you feel sjuk:

Sju skönsjungande sjuksköterskor skötte sjuttiosju sjösjuka sjömän på skeppet “Shanghai”.

Seven singing nurses took care of seventy-seven seasick seamen on the ship ‘Shanghai’.

However, there are more interesting ways to be sick in Sweden.

Vinterkräksjuka (literally, winter vomiting sickness) is a viral gastroenteritis caused by viruses of the Caliciviridae family (notably Norovirus, or the Norwalk agent). These are responsible for most cases of epidemic gastroenteritis in adults, so why don’t we have a word for it in English?

Älskogskrank = lovesick, from älska = to love + håg = mind, inclination + krank = sick. Sjuk may be the more common word, but krank seems the more poetic. SAOB offers four ways to experience krank:

avundskrank = sick with envy
bröstkrank = chest sick = consumptive
kärlekskrank = lovesick
älskogskrank = lovesick

Maybe that’s why Swedish employers offer sjukpenning (sickness benefit) rather than *krankpenning?

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Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 18:32  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wow, love your blog! Couldnt find a way to contact you, wanted to request a break down of Skatteverket. From the way I understand it, its kinda funny 🙂

  2. Great blog, it isn’t just Sweden where the winter weather takes its toll on the old and vulnerable, all over the world the cold takes makes it’s mark.


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