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Swedish language gets a touch of video game monsters

Published tisdag 27 december 2016 kl 15.23
"The words give an idea of the times we're living in"
(1:35 min)
New words
Two participants going for a 'pokenad' at a Pokémon Go event in Stockholm in July 2016. Credit: Christine Olsson/TT

The 2016 list of new Swedish words was released on Tuesday, containing one word inspired by a popular smartphone game.

The list is compiled annually by the Language Council of Sweden, which scans newspapers and radio for commonly used phrases. One such word is pokenad, a compound of Pokémon and promenad, meaning to go for a walk searching for Pokémon.

Another new addition this year is the verb ghosta, a Swedish version of ‘ghosting,’ meaning to break up with somebody by ending all communication.

“It perhaps becomes even more obvious today, when you're often so easily reached through your mobile phone or via social media,” Anders Svensson, editor of the list at the Language Council, told Swedish Radio. 

Another two words on the list of English-language origins were influerare, from 'influencer,' and fomo, which is short for 'fear of missing out.'

The words give us an idea of the times we are living in, Svensson said. New words come into use around the same time as the phenomena they describe, for instance ‘tomato ketchup’ and ‘fish fingers’ that came in the 1950s. 

One such new word this year is filterbubbla, or ‘filter bubble’ in English.

“There’s the word filterbubbla, which is about how we get a tailored, personal existence online where you don’t always come across opinions or views that differ from your own,” he said.

Other words on the list include:

  • Dylanman Dylan man: a man who admires Bob Dylan and who considers himself to understand Dylan particularly well.
  • Förpackningsfri Free of packaging.
  • Grindsamhälle Gated community.
  • Kroppsaktivism Body activism. Ideological movement aiming to counteract narrow beauty standards and create equality for people with differing body types.
  • Trumpifiering Trumpification: a change to the political debate towards a rhetorical style where things are said to grab attention without consideration for consequences or facts.
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