Monday, May 17, 2010

Sweden, You Taunt Me So

Sweden has given the world IKEA and Astrid Lindgren and Meatballs.  All things that are somehow so elemental, so simple and smart you can't help but slap yourself on the head and say, "Now why didn't I think of that?!?"

Yes, Sweden is, to my mind anyway, the gateway to the collective unconscious.

It's also an absolutely absurd language which seems to at once make sense to the native-English speaker and also make total nonsense.

Exhibit A:

From the Swedish Website Barnvanligt  (If you want to see the English website, click on the British flag at the top left of the page).

Simple.  Iconic.  Functional.  Swedish.  They call it a Nyckering.  Well of course they do!  Not sure what the heck it really means (probably key ring holder, I suspect) but Nyckering really satisfies, doesn't it?

Just like all the names of products at IKEA: Malm and Halsa and Barnslig Randig.  All those umlauts dancing atop vowels like the bouncing ball in a child's sing-along video.

I guess it also doesn't hurt that Swedish maintains more than a passing resemblance to Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky.  To wit:

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

Okay, perhaps I should have rather said, "Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky maintains more than a passing resemblance to Swedish".  Still, there's truth to it.  

So yes, Sweden.  You are home to my linguistic and design unconscious.  And I deign to say, your meatballs are irresistible.


Anke said...

Ah, Sweden. This probably won't help but it really is as beautiful as one imagines. An Astrid Lindgren book come to life. Whenever I'm in Sweden I have the feeling that nothing bad can happen there.

A friend of ours has a little summer house there, it was his grandma's

I try to learn a at least a little of the language whenever we visit another country, but so far I only manage a decent "Hej!" in Swedish...

(And I think I read somewhere that Ikea names the large furniture after Swedish cities, while the small things are named after what they "do".)

The Shiksa in the Kitchen said...

Now that is one cute key ring holder. My ancestors are Swedish on my mom's side; I'm feeling very proud (and a little verklempt) they came up with this awesome and useful device! ;)