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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v12: häst

This week, some words about horses. As usual, all translations courtesy of Norstedts. Do you think this is an insult or a compliment?:

Han har minne som en häst.
He has the memory of a horse.

Actually, compliment: hästminne = phenomenal memory. Which may come in handy if you want to be a plugghäst (swot, crammer, ‘consh’).

There was a rather gruesome find in Fyrisån (the local river) lately (a dead body), but if ever a horse is found there, it’s unlikely to be a flodhäst [literally, river horse], since this is a hippopotamus.

The girl who is crazy about horses may seem like a good title for a Steig Larsson book, but this would be a hästtjej. There appears to be no male equivalent.

I pointed out to some colleagues the laughs generated in Australia by Tiger Woods’ comment about getting back to his old roots. Another term to be careful with in Australia is hästhov = horse’s hoof. The specific expression ‘horse’s hoof’ in Australian English is an example of rhyming slang (you can guess or look it up yourself!); when talking about an actual horse’s hoof, ‘hoof’ alone would generally suffice.

Finally, the most famous Swedish horse is surely the dalahäst, Dala or Dalecarlian horse, the traditional painted wooden horse which originated in the province of Dalarna in central Sweden.

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 22:29  Comments (2)  
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