Monday 14 December 2009


Hyggelig. Isn't that a word that makes you smile? Even before you know what it means. I discovered it reading the 'This much I know' interview with Sandi Toksvig inThe Guardian.

In the article she says a hyggelig is an untranslatable Danish term for getting together with friends and family and sitting around in a cosy atmosphere with nice food and wine and candles. Not being Danish I can only take her word for it- I have googled definitions and the general consensus seems to be something like what she is saying.

I am newly in the love with this word and keep using it to describe the current evenings of mulled wine in our flathold. I can't help but drop it in to conversations about what I'm doing, will be doing or would like to be doing- not to sound terribly clever but just because it's a fun word to use.

I adore English and while accepting I will never come close to knowing even half the words available to me within it I continue to try and expand my vocabulary. Sadly I have never been terribly gifted with other languages but the discovery of beautiful little words like this makes me want to redouble my efforts not to be the lousy linguist of London that most continental people probably imagine as a stereotype.

Perhaps I could try and learn some Danish- on the strength of hyggelig it seems like a worthwhile language to try.


Top Bird @ Wee Birdy said...

I love hyggelig too - even more so that it's untranslatable. Shall be trying to recreate it in grey old London town this Christmas! xx

vicki archer said...

Fantastic if only I can remember how to spell it Rose...xv

Emily said...

Great word! Impossible to spell again though which makes it even better! I know some Swedish but to a minimal extent...I had some Gloegg over Lucia, which is an equally weird word to describe swedish mulled wine:) xxx LZ

Rose said...

Hi Top Bird- we've had a couple of hyggelig's already- you need them in this grey! Yep I love untranslatable words- and using them makes me feel a bit Stephen Fry

Hi Vicki- that is the problem. I keep having to check

Hi Emily- Gloegg is so good isn't it- the alchoholic and non (well the stuff I have had is from Ikea so is non but we bung it in with some real wine and make it merrier!).

Metropolitan Mum said...

I guess that's like gemuetlich in German or mysig in Swedish. Or lekker in Dutch (which also means yummy, isn't that a great word?). Enough language-showing off now.
We had Gloegg for Lucia (as Emily told you...). The proper Swedish stuff. And just as what you buy from IKEA, it traditionally comes without alcohol. That's mainly because in Sweden only 'systembolaget' is allowed to sell alcohol. So people have to turn it into something more heart warming at home. We did our with cognac. Now that's what I call lekker!

PS: And since when do I sound like a teacher?

Rose said...

Hi MM- I'm taking lekker and putting it in the vocabulary- it's totally brilliant- and it sounds like the feeling when something's yummy- mmm lekker.

Sounds like you had a wonderful Lucia- and brandy does sound good- when I've had it we've just added wine. I remember that about buying alchohol- it seemed like those shops weren't open very often either. I loved the supermarkets in the countryside (I don't think I went in any Stockholm) so many good sweets and things.

You sound like a good teacher though!