A Swedish Family

The Bernadottes of Sweden (source: wikimedia commons)

I came a while ago across an interesting article in the Belgian newspaper “De Standaard“.
They run each day during the holiday season a series  of short articles ( “Elders is het beter”, literally translated “elsewhere it is better”) in which they describe what other countries do better then Belgium.

On Friday (July 29, 2011) the newspaper discussed the Swedish system of how family members are called.

In English you would for example mention your mothers mother as “my maternal grandmother”, which in Swedish would be only six (!) letters short: “mormor”. My paternal grandmother would be “farmor”, etc, my paternal grandfather would be farfar and so forth (the first syllable is for your parent and the second one is for your parent’s parent).
The similar system works for nieces, nephews, cousins etc. The nephew would be called systerson or brorson, the first one if for my sister’s son and the second one is for my brother’s son.

The Swedish system is saving far more words then the English one and it is really amazing!
(Dutch possibly is even less saving then in English. The word sibling is missing in Dutch. Besides English it does also exist in other languages like for example in German (“Geschwister”), in Swedish it is (“syskon”), etc.

Following one overview in a schematic format and one in table format:
The Schematic overview:

And here the table format:

brother bror
father far
father in law Svärfar
great-grandfather farfars far
great-grandmother mormors mor OR farfarsmor etc.
maternal grandfather morfar
mother mor
brother in law svåger
brother’s daughter brorsdotter
brother’s son brorson
sister in law svägerska
sister’s daughter systers dotter
sister’s son systerson
paternal grandfather farfar
siblings syskon
Sister syster
mother in Law Svärmor
sister in law svägerska
grandson sonson or dotterson
great grandson sonsons son etc.
granddaughter sondotter or dotterdotter

And the article as it originally appeared in the local newspaper:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Leave a Comment