The Scandinavian Connection
A chance remark by a Swedish friend about English loan words in Swedish set me on the trail of borrowings of Swedish origin that have entered the English language. There are a few common ones:
- angstrom – a unit of length named after a Swedish scientist
- flounder – a type of flat fish
- gauntlet is believed to originate from gatlopp. The expression run the gauntlet refers to a military punishment where someone would run between two rows of soldiers who would strike at hime
- gravlax – smoked salmon
- lingonberry – from lingon
- orienteering – the sport that combines navigation with racing originates from Sweden
- smorgasbord – a buffet with certain types of food; has a more general meaning in English
- tungsten – chemical element; the name means heavy stone.
There are also several words of Norwegian origin in English, including:
- aquavit – a very alcoholic drink; the name derives from the Latin for ‘water of life’
- fjord – a geographical formation
- floe – an ice formation
- lemming – a type of rodent
- quisling – a traitor, named after Vidkun Quisling
- ski – the equipment used for skiing
- slalom – a downhill skiing technique featuring twists and turns
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