One cushion, two cushions, three cushions, four

Yes! Adding cushions is a recent, popular trend in Sweden. It is driving me bananas. Because while people – interior design magazine journalists – believe they are suggesting just that, adding cushions to make your sofa or home look so much lovelier; what they are really saying is that you add them up. One two three…

Adding isn’t the only thing Swedes do now. Sometimes they express how they feel uncomfortable. You can have an uncomfortable sofa – with or without those added cushions – but the only way you as a human being can be uncomfortable is if someone sits on you. It’s not about how you feel mentally. It’s the sitter who’s uncomfortable.

On the basis that a language changes constantly, I dare say these new pet hates of mine are fully signed up members of the Swedish language by now. I just don’t like them. I know, it’s a sign of being ancient and a stick-in-the-mud. Intolerant, even.

For years Swedes have gone round saying ‘yes’ instead of ‘ja.’ It’s got so I actually say yes as well. A bit ironic.

Yes!

This Swenglish is interesting. The uncomfortable addings puzzle me. Have people heard English native speakers say this, and simply adopted the phrases? Or did they suddenly think ‘OMG, I’ve been saying it wrong all my life!’ and changed?

Linguistically I don’t have a particularly high opinion of interior design magazines. But this half-Swedish half-English language also turns up in real books. I think it depends on how old you are. Christoffer Carlsson used some interesting hybrid words in his crime novels, and in his speech. He talked of ‘kidsen’ which is borrowing the word kids and giving it the Swedish suffix meaning ‘the.’ Or ‘low-lifesen’ which is plural low-life with another suffix.

All this indicates the international way we live, borrowing freely and imitating others we consider to be cooler. Non-native speakers of English also get US and British English mixed up, and that goes for really proficient speakers as well.

Every month Vi magazine asks a well-known person what books they have on their bedside table, and thankfully most have books, and usually several, and often books that make me green with envy. Because they are so intellectual. But they are rarely not in Swedish.

And that makes me wonder. Why all this borrowing and everyday spoken Swenglish, and then not read books in English? It would make the readers so much more proficient in this admired language. And they’d stand a chance of discovering why adding cushions works in English, but not in their own homes.

Or would that completely subtract our Swedish?

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