No multilingual wordplay blog would be complete without some mention of särskrivning, a sometimes amusing, sometimes irritating phenomenon in written Swedish. Särsrkrivning, literally writing apart (though the word’s components are arranged in the opposite order), is the tendency to split words that should be combined according to Swedish grammatical rules. For example, when one uses a noun as an adjective, the adjective noun is attached to the front of the noun being modified, as in grammatikmästare rather than grammatik mästare for grammatical master.

Though särksrivning is not a new phenomenon, it has become more common in recent decades, largely thanks to the influence of English (which, of course, does not build compound words to nearly the same degree as virtually every other Germanic language) and typographers, who think ending a line in a book title or product name with a hyphen is ugly. In and of itself, this need not be a bad thing. After all, English, with its relative lack of compound words, is one of the most widely spoken languages on the planet. However, särskrivning in Swedish can result in hilarious double-meanings and misunderstandings. There are multiple websites devoted to cataloging these, among them Sverige mot särskrivning and Skyltat, but I wanted to share one of my personal favorites, from a classified newspaper advertisement:



One thought on “Särskrivning

  1. Pingback: Mail-order brides, anyone? | Linguistic Parlor Tricks

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