Monday, March 16, 2009


My daughter has started adding the Swedish word "liksom" to her vocabulary when speaking Swedish (one of those words that really makes no difference to the sentence, is just an extra "add-on"). I really thought she, livng far from Sweden would miss this phase of using unnecessary words - but apparently not. 

I know I'm a sinner when it comes to "liksom" - I was a major "liksom" abuser when I was a kid and there is an occasional "liksom" slipping through when I'm talking, but not as many for the Daughter to pick it up. She is using "liksom" exactly as Swedish kids would use it. Interesting. 

I wonder what the English equivalence to "liksom" is? According to the dictionary it's "like" - but is it? Native English readers might clarify this to me?  


Anonymous said...

Being raised in a Swedish family, but having an English mother...English & Swedish are both native languages for me.

"Like" is used in English very similarly to "liksom". "Like" in this context is a "add-on" that doesn't really add much of anything. An example is "Well, I went to the beach and like tried surfing but couldn't get up on the board"
-Göran Gustafsson

SweFlo said...

Jag skulle gissa på att en bra amerikansk motsvarighet vore "you now". Speciellt tonåringar använder detta "fyllningsord" mycket. Men som todogare kommentar sa, "Like" är även det ett sådant ord.

Ally said...

Yep, it's "like".
We also have the "han ba och jag ba" thing that teenagers do too. "I was all and he was all". Another one I noticed people say a lot was "typ".
I HATE the "you know" thing that seemed to have taken off while I was in Sweden. I remember my mom telling me that I had to get the "like" and the "I was all" under control otherwise I would never get a job sounding like an airhead. :-)

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha kanske D.N är orsaken..?:)
Vi får ta en fika när era förkylningar är över och min rygg bättre...när nu det blir.

Indie said...

From the linguistic point of view, in conversation analysis, "you know" and "like" are fillers, words used to stall while thinking.

But "like" often functions as a hint that the speaker is about to get multi-media, perhaps to act something out or use another means (volume or tone) to dramatize something.

And "you know" often serves to maintain the connection between speaker and listener, making sure they understand one another.

Young people tend to use "you know" out of social insecurity, especially girls.

And "like" to heighten the drama, again often girls.

Anonymous said...

How about "sort of" or "kind of"
or "more or less?"

Katarina said...

Hittade din blog medans jag kollade runt för att få lite ideer. Har vidarebefodrat länken till min kompis som bor uppe i Washington State.
Ha det!


JaCal said...

Göran - interesting! It's going to be very curious to see how my bilingual kids handle these aspects of language. I was surprised that it came so early - I thought "liksom" was something that came way later.

Sweflo - ja, dessa fyllningsord tycks finnas i alla språk. Intressant...

Ally - haha - well, hopefully they grow out of it eventually. Right now it's still pretty funny and not yet annoying... we'll see if I take out the "airhead" threat further on...

Veronika - haha - nej, det tror jag inte - det började nog innan (och säger hon "liksom"? det har jag inte tänkt på). Ja - jag har inte varit på Borders på sååå länge!

Indie oh, how interesting! My Daughter is all for heighten the drama... it's going to be an interesting ride... I haven't heard any of the "fillers" in her English - but I think she still is a tad more fluent in Swedish than English, even though the English is a close runner up.

Margoth - yes, maybe. I guess you could use all these words in exchange for "liksom" - since it doesn't really make sense anyway.

Katarina - hoppas du hittade dina idéer! ;-)

Ally said...

Well plenty of us managed to not get the airhead stigma, so I'm sure yours will be no different. ;-)

Dave said...

Things like this are really, really, helpful in picking up languages; I tried to listen to people chatting in cafés and on the bus or train, and it was only once I was told about "ba" and "liksom", that I started to make out what was being said.

I found this to be true elsewhere -- such as in Naples, instead of saying "non lo so", for "I don't know", they would say "Bo". there are loads of examples in every language where slang is the key to understanding.

In Scotland (apart from Glasgow), people say "ken" and "ye ken" which is, "you know" and means "liksom", "Ba" has an equivalent in "eh".

I found Scottish very close to Swedish, things like "Braw" for "Good" (similar to Brå), Myket similar to Muckle (Big) -- must be those Vikings!