Publication details [#1800]

Alm-Arvius, Christina. 2008. Interaction of culture specific idiomatic uses in English and Swedish usage of both these languages.


In this talk I will focus on how people with Swedish as their native tongue may understand, or misunderstand, idiomatic metaphorical uses in standard English(es), including idioms - both when these occur in their canonical form and more incidental variations of them - and, in addition, how Swedish users of English sometimes borrow such uses as loan translations into Swedish. Moreover, I will consider instances when Swedes transfer culture specific Swedish idiomatic uses into English. There are examples of such uses for instance on the web. The uses looked at will contain established metaphorical meanings of words or expressions describing people, but whose literal senses denote animals, such as 'fox' or 'dog', or mythological creatures. An example of the latter is the idiom speak/talk of the devil, corresponding to the Swedish set phrase 'när man talar om trollen (då står de i farstun)', which in a word-for-word translation into English becomes 'when you speak of the trolls (then they stand in the entrance hall)'. In short, cultural conceptions in the native language, Swedish, may well colour or even confuse the understandings of English idiomatic uses. In addition, tempting nonce loan translations of Swedish idiomatic expressions into English will hardly be able to bring across the rich range of culturally dependent associations that are shared within the Swedish speech community, even if they may have an exotic or creative character in English. (Christina Alm-Arvius)