Tag Archives: language

Today’s important Italian phrase


Always useful when traveling.Screenshot 2020-04-06 at 09.06.12.png

Learning the important things

I’ve been practicing Italian on an online language service for our upcoming trip to Italy. I’m glad this service teaches me the important phrases I’m definitely going to be using when talking to people on our trip.Screenshot 2019-05-13 at 07.51.35.png

#16 – When Stairs Become Slides

On the podcast this week I talk to Ola, from Poland, about dubbing shows in other languages, the difference in Polish names and how to avoid ending up on crutches during the winter. Also, when practicing Swedish, a good tip is to talk to 2 year olds. They don’t judge.


Also available on Spotify, iTunes, Podbean, Google podcasts….or anywhere you get your podcasts! Just type in “Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow”



Every time I read a job ad that includes any mention of “stakeholders,” I just think of an angry mob chasing Dracula and then I forget what the job was about.

Just because I SOUND like a caveman…

This past weekend, I took a shortcut past a brand new tram stop that had not yet opened. A very confused looking woman asked me in Swedish when the next tram was coming. I explained to her, also in Swedish, that the stop would not open until the next day, as it was a new stop for the new line. 

From her confused look, I deduced that I had once again messed up my Swedish grammar in some way. However, I’m fairly certain I got all the key words correct. “New station” “Opens tomorrow” I’m not THAT terrible at Swedish. 

It seems the problem may have been that this woman was not familiar with Stockholm and it’s transportation system. She kept insisting that she arrived at this stop a few hours ago and was trying to go back. Figuring she most likely was not a time traveler from the future, I tried to tell her that there was a different train (not tram) stop about 400 meters up the road just behind a large building. Perhaps that was where she arrived?

But because of what I can only assume must have been bad grammar ( “Different train, you go other side of building, different station.”), she did not trust my local knowledge. In a move I’ve experienced a few times before, she stared at me for a beat, then proceeded to approach another person to ask the exact same question. 

It’s so frustrating to take time to help people when they totally ignore everything you say, even if it is in a caveman-like accent. Just because I’m missing a few adjectives doesn’t mean I can’t answer your question! 

I need to find out the Swedish equivalent of “But that’s what I said!” and “I told you so!”  Otherwise, I might just practice a standard phrase in perfect Swedish and use that for any question from now on. Example: “You only need to wait here 5 minutes. Have a lovely day.”

This will be my response for all future questions, whether they are “How long until the next train?” or “Where can I find something to eat?”. People will trust my confident, perfectly-spoken answer and wait for something that will never come unless they dare to trust information from someone with an accent. 

Cavemen have feelings too!

Unrealistic language courses

I do a few lessons each day on the Rosetta Stone program in Italian. Today, my problem is not necessarily with the language, but with this situation:

  1. A man comes in to buy a new TV.
  2. The salesman asks why he needs a new TV. This is the first indication that something is wrong. A salesman would never ask WHY you need a new TV. He would ask WHICH KIND you want.
  3. The man says he needs a new TV because his old one is broken. Where do I start? Do I start with the fact that this guy is holding a TV with 2 knobs made in the 1980s, while there are obviously flat screens behind him, which would mean he has been using this 1980s TV for about 30 years? Also, I don’t even think those type of TVs have worked for several years now that everything is digital.
    But what troubles me most of all is….. WHO BRINGS THEIR BROKEN TV TO THE STORE TO BUY A NEW TV?! Why would you bring that in the store??!!!

I’m very much hoping that as I get further along in the program, this story will continue. Is he a time traveler? Did he escape from a mental institution? Does the salesman call security? Guess I’ll have to keep learning Italian to get the whole story.


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Conversations in Italian

I like to travel with my family to Italy twice a year, so I study at least two lessons a day on my Italian Rosetta Stone program. It’s a great program, but sometimes I get too involved in the attitudes and lives of the people in the pictures.

Example in the pictures below:

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These people greet each other (they look like they’re on a date), then the girl asks the guy how he’s doing.

He says he’s fine and asks her how she’s doing.

She says she’s COLD!

Then they go to the performance and then say goodnight. She has no extra jacket on.

So in my eyes, this guy is a jerk and didn’t even respond when she complained that she was cold. Where’s the panel where he offers a jacket or rushes her inside to the warmth? It’s like he just ignores her and then dumps her at the end of the performance back on the cold street.

I’m waiting for more advanced lessons when there will be more panels that teach me how to say, “You’re a jerk.” “Why aren’t you listening?” “Give me my money back!” “This show is terrible!”

But that’s probably more around level 15. For now, I’m stuck on bad Italian dates.


What’s your problem with “Z?”

I work as a freelance translator from Swedish to English and sometimes companies want me to translate to British English, which brings me to the question asked by many: “What’s your problem with using the letter Z?”

Moisturiser, organise, realise, supervise, etc.

Loosen up, Brits! The letter “Z” is where it’s at! Add some spice into your life! Z is cool, Z is hip!

This blog post brought to you by the letter Z.


Monsieur T

Ever wonder what the A-Team theme sounds like in French? Wonder no more!

Will the language mistakes never end?

Once again this weekend I told a kid he was going to die. Actually, the last time, I told a kid that his friend died, so this time it was different.

The Swedes seem to use the phrase “gått bort,” which I interpret as ‘gone/go away’ to describe someone who has passed away. Honestly, I can’t keep up with this stuff.

The kids are on a break from school so I asked my son’s friend if he was going anywhere for the break, but instead I asked him if he was going to die during the break. I realized my mistake when the kid got very shocked and quiet and I quickly said in Swedish “resa! (vacation!).”

I won’t be surprised if that kid doesn’t want to come visit anymore.


Sure, I’ll join your club!

A letter came yesterday from the pharmacy. There was a letter congratulating me on joining the pharmacy club plus 2 coupons. My husband asked, “When and why did you join the pharmacy club?” I replied, “I didn’t.”

But after thinking about it, I realized what had happened. It was yet another case of language failure.

A week ago I wasn’t feeling well and went to the pharmacy to pick up some medicine. I wasn’t really concentrating and I heard the pharmacist say something about “discount” in Swedish. Since I was only half-listening, I assumed she said my medicine was on discount so I just smiled and nodded – the practice that always seems to get me in trouble when faking that I understood someone.

This time it ended up in a subscription to the pharmacy club. Luckily it doesn’t cost anything. They just send coupons and as my husband says, “lots of spam.”

On the bright side, I’m using my 20% coupon for some vitamin D today.


Italian for crazies

I’m trying to learn Italian at home with the Rosetta Stone program. Rosetta Stone is a great program for learning languages because it covers listening, writing, reading and speaking, though the speaking part isn’t really so great.

The trouble with speaking on Rosetta Stone (at least on my computer) is that the microphone and tone sounds are very tricky so I often have to repeat myself several times before the program accepts that I’ve said the phrase correctly. So this is how it generally goes:

Loro hanno un cavallo.  (They have a horse.)
*incorrect sound

Loro hanno un cavallo.
*incorrect sound

*incorrect sound




*incorrect sound

Please note that when the weather is warm here, I have the balcony door open as do the neighbors. I’m pretty sure they’re wondering about the Italian woman in the apartment who is always screaming about horses or apples.


Great parenting

Get out there and roll on the grass! That’s what we did when we were kids and we liked it! No, I’m not charging your gameboy. Now git!


More language mistakes

Why do Swedes have to make the word “to hear” (höra) and “whore” (hora) so similar?

This is really bad when I’m writing about something that happened.

“You should hear about…”   (Du bör höra om….)

Yes, I think you see where I’m going with this.

But if I just take away those dots – “Du bor hora om” turns into “You should whore about.”

Sure, it comes in handy when I actually don’t like the person and want to pretend I made a mistake, but it’s pretty tough when you’re on vacation without a Swedish keyboard and you’re writing a friend.  Especially when they’ve been complaining to you about fining a job.


Idiots on a plane

A very loud and annoying Swedish woman was sitting in my aisle on the AIR FRANCE plane back to Stockholm.

(Safety announcements given in Swedish, English and then a recording in Swedish….)

Lady: Why can’t they have an actual person giving the instructions in Swedish? They should have a real person speaking Swedish and not a recording!

(We are on an Air FRANCE flight. You’re lucky they even bothered with the recording.)

Lady speaking to friend: You know I found this international book site where you can buy books a lot cheaper than in Sweden, but they mainly had English books! (outraged look)  I don’t want to read books in English, I want to read them in Swedish!

(Umm… then maybe buy them in Sweden?)

Then to top it off, when the food card came around, the woman speaks perfect English to order her meal.


A magical word


That is the word I had to translate the other day (I work part-time translating documents from Swedish to English).

As you see, it can have vastly different meanings.  I suppose I was supposed to see which one fit in the sentence, though none of them really did.

Here’s my sentence:

There are ______ instructions.

There are wizard instructions?

There are topping instructions?

There are swell instructions?

I guess the last one makes the most sense – if I’m dealing with a document from a kid writing in the 1950s.

Sometimes Swedish can be hard.

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Your friend died. Go play some Xbox.

I may be getting better at Swedish, but I still make mistakes.

Our kids each had a friend over this week.  One of the friends went home early and the other didn’t see him leave.  When he asked where the friend went, I meant to tell him that he left (went away) and I said in Swedish, “Han har gått bort.”

The kid just stared at me but luckily my husband was close by and rushed in to tell him that the friend was fine. Apparently in Swedish, that translates to, “He has passed away.”

My husband can laugh all he wants, but when we first got married and my grandmother hurt her hand, he told her she should get a casket (meaning “cast” but not knowing the right word.)


Scottish Italians

I decided to start listening to an Italian language podcast called “My Daily Phrase.” Why Italian you ask? Because we need a third language when we want to talk about people.

Anyway, I just started up this podcast to realize it’s being hosted by a Scottish man.
Really? They couldn’t find one Italian for their 4 minute a day podcast?
So now if I learn Italian, it’s going to be with a harsh Scottish accent. I’d switch to the other podcast I found but that one is hosted by a Norwegian.
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Let’s make party

We are soon staying in an apartment on vacation through AirBnB – a website where people can rent out their apartments.  I was just checking the one we chose to learn more about the area.  The host writes:

“You have awesome possibilities to have a nice dinner, or drink something in a bar or make party. ”

Yes.  We shall make party.

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I’m gonna have to slap her

I’ve been studying important Italian phrases on the Rosetta Stone language program.  Today’s lesson irritated me a bit.  Let me translate:

“I need a new umbrella.

WHY do you need a new umbrella?

Because my umbrella is broken.”

Oh, I don’t think I need to learn that last line.  If I’m standing out in the rain getting soaked asking someone for an umbrella and they ask me WHY, my response is going to be a slap to the face.

Also, this would never happen in Italy.  I was approached 12 times in one hour by people trying to sell me umbrellas in Florence when there was a slight drizzle.

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