Svengelska bloggen

Svengelska bloggen

Om bloggen/About the Blog

I aim to use this blog to keep up my English and maybe give others some insights in Swedish language. It's not a diary - well not quite...


Däggdjur/MammalsPosted by Gunvor 2012-02-03 23:22:10

Lo, lodjur is lynx. Lo comes from Germanic *luha-, from the Indoeuropean root
*luk- from which also comes Latin lynx via Greek. *luk means ‘to shine’, and from that comes Swedish ljus and English light as well as Latin lux and luna and Greek leukos 'white'. The lynx got its name so long ago so we can only guess why, perhaps because of the colour of the fur or eyes gleaming in the dark.

This track was found on our road a week ago before the last snows came. A couple of years before we saw a lynx strolling across the field in about the same direction. I do worry about the safety of our domestic cats when this happens so close to the house, but this big cat makes me happy - I feel awe, as if an angel walks by. (When I see a wolf I feel the exact opposite – anger.)

Update February 05: A neighbour tells me he saw the tracks of a lynx yesterday (probably the same), who caught an hare and ate every scrap of it; then a deer came by and he jumped after it, but the deer got away.


Däggdjur/MammalsPosted by Gunvor 2012-01-29 22:17:16

Hare, English hare, German Hase is a common Germanic word *hazán- from an Indoeuropean root *kaz- ‘gray’. This is a fälthare, Lepus europaeus, a (common) European hare, easily seen on the snow. (The hare that turns white in winter is skogshare, Lepus timidus, alpine (mountain) hare).

This is a smart hare, he lives in a nice bush in a small park below my balcony in town. No dogs off the leash or men with guns here.

Tax, dachsbracken

Däggdjur/MammalsPosted by Gunvor 2012-01-02 21:00:32

Tax is ‘dachshund’, a Swedish short version of German Dachshund, which has been borrowed whole into English. Literally it means ‘badger dog’, Dachs is ‘badger’. Perhaps the badgers got that name because of their skill in making their setts: Dachs comes from Germanic *þaksu-, ‘builder’ from the Indoeuropean root *tecs ‘shape, ‘build’. Relatives are Greek techno- ‘art’,’skill’,’ craft’, ‘method’, ‘system’ and probably Latin texere ‘to weave’. Also Swedish täxla ‘small axe’.

The origin of English badger is unclear, perhaps it is called so because of its ‘badge’, the white blaze on the forhead.

Swedish grävling is simpler: from Low German grevel, Germanic grabila- combined with Danish græving, of course from a Germanic root *grab ‘to dig’ from Indoeuropean *ghrebh- ‘to dig’, ‘to scratch’, ‘to scrape’.

When I checked about the dachshund a word came up in my mind that I haven’t heard since childhood: Dachsbracken. Now I know from Wikipedia: “The Westphalian Dachsbracke is a small, short legged scenthound, a breed of dog originating in Westphalia, a region of Germany. The Westphalian Dachsbracke was used in Sweden to develop the Drever.”

In Wikipedia the word Bracke is explained as something to do with brackish water and coastal marches, but that does not sound reliable. Much more credible is the English Online Etymology Dictionary where there is an archaic English word, brach, ‘bitch hound’, originally 'hound that hunts by scent', from Old French. brache, brachet, of West Germanic origin, and also an Old High German word braccho ‘hound’, ‘setter’, from Indoeuropean *bhrag- ‘to smell’ from which comes Latin fragrare.

This little fellow was dancing around, euphoric about his booty.


Däggdjur/MammalsPosted by Gunvor 2011-12-11 17:10:42

Varg is ’wolf’. There is a layer of snow on the ground now and we can see tracks. It could be wolves that have trotted up the path close by the house. Probably early this morning, because the cats ran around the house from window to window then. But there is a human track too, so I sincerely hope it was our neighbour with her two large dogs! Wolves have been seen recently in the neighbourhood; it would be tragic if they were to establish a pack here on Kroppefjäll again, only half a year after we got rid of the old alfa couple.

Varg is a Scandinavian word that originallt meant ‘killer’, or ‘criminal’. In Swedish that sense is only left in the old saying varg i veum– ‘a killer in the temple’. The word goes back to a Germanic root meaning ‘strangle’ from Indoeuropean *wergh- ‘to turn’; the current English relative is worry – to harass (as a wolf harrying sheep), annoy, bother.

Varg meaning wolf started out a so-called noa word (from Hawaiian noa = ‘free’), a word people use when they don’t dare to say the real word out loud, often because of a superstitious feeling that the phenomenon named will hear and come to haunt them. But as time went by fear of wolves made this word taboo too, and many new noa words have been created, such as gråben and kuse.

The original Swedish word for wolf is ulv. Ulv goes all the way back to *wlqwos, one of the classic examples of Indoeuropean words still live in the same sense in most if not all related languages: Ulv, Icelandic ulfr, like English and German wolf, Wolf, come from Germanic *wulfaz. From Latin lupus come among others French loup and Spanish lobo. There is Sanskrit vrkah, Albanian ulk, Greek lykos, Lithauanian viłkas and more. *wlqwos is a male noun created from the root *wel- ‘to tear (into pieces).

Many Swedish men are named Ulf, which is ulv with an oldfashioned spelling. I wonder how often they think of what it means. The feminine variety is Ylva.

« PreviousNext »