We‘ve all dreamed of visiting Sweden, that country way up north where everything seems friendlier, freer, more relaxed. Maybe it seems that way because of the Law of Jante, which defines a manner of interacting with one’s fellow people that keeps everyone equal in each other’s eyes. According to this “law”, one should never think they are better or smarter than anyone else. Or maybe it comes down to fika, a daily coffee break consisting of cake and, more importantly, a chat with friends or family. All these cultural touchstones give Swedes the chance to slow down and enjoy life.
Sweden is also known for its film stars, such as Max von Sydow, Greta Garbo, and Ingrid Berman. Or for filmmakers like Ingmar Bergman, playwrights like August Strindberg, and the children’s books authors such as Astrid Lindgren and Sven Nordqvist. And when we remember Sweden is the homeland of the pop bands ABBA and Ace of Base, it’s no wonder so many people travel to Sweden … and not just on holiday, but to live there.
The Swedish language is closely related to Danish and Norwegian. It is spoken as an official language in Sweden and Finland and has 10 million native speakers spread across Sweden’s mainland, the many Swedish islands, and the Finish-Swedish minority in Finland. But Modern Swedish is a relatively young language, having first emerged in the 19th century as a mix of the various dialects of Central Sweden. The language has many ways of describing different attitudes towards life that are sometimes difficult to translate literally. Fika is one of these words, along with lagom, which refers to something that is just right. Neither too big nor too small, not too much or too little. Just lagom. Only a native speaker can really grasp and recreate these nuances in Swedish.