Turns out it's a Scandinavian thing to use numbers instead of swear words. The background is that 18 was a dangerous number since it was the number of the main Nordic god Oden, (aka Odin in English), and then 17 was a little less dangerous.
Edit: the first link no longer works. Go to this page and search for the word 'sjutton', I can't seem to find a way to link to the search result. (The text is in Swedish).
Wow. Thanks for that - fascinating. BTW really enjoying Swedish - you guys did a great job. I'm able to look at Swedish websites and pick out words and get about 15-20% of the picture. So it's working!
Thank you! Swedish shouldn't be that hard for someone who knows English already, I think, although some things may be a little tricky.
I know English and bad German, so I'm finding it pretty enlightening :)
I don't know if I will ever be able to speak it, but its crazy fun seeing how much they are like three lost cousins...
Try Dutch next, then! (Even the name seems Deutsch).
Once I heard people speaking Dutch, and I was like....that's English....no, that's German....no, no, it's English.......wait....
Another very close group is the Romance Languages: Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and French. Once you learn two of them, the others are just connections.
The most interesting part is how much German seems to match Italian and Portuguese, sometimes more than English (in constructions and rules, mainly).
Learning all that language pack is like seeing them all together coming from the same origin.
Good topic! One of the most interesting things I read about modern German is that it came together as a sort of umbrella dialect created to be as understandable as possible to various german states. The details are lost in the porridge that is my brain, but I think the idea is fascinating given how close some modern language families are...
Working my way through Harry Potter 1 in Swedish. Getting a lot and having a great time!
In Italy some people consider 17 an unlucky number. I wonder if it trickled down form Odin as well.
That actually comes from the Romans. It is considered unlucky because written in Latin numerals it's XVII, which is the anagram of "VIXI", i.e. "i died" (literally "I have lived"). :) That is kind of similar to what happens to number 4 in chinese, japanese and korean, because it has the same pronunciation as "death".
There is a number pun my grandson told me. "Why is six afraid? Because seven eight (ate) nine."
Wow, that is interesting. Not something I would have ever thought of googling... so thanks!
In China, the buildings have their floors numbered this way: 1,2,3, (skip 4) 5,...,10,11,12, (skip 13 and 14)15...
Also, people in China will to pay more to have a phone number with 8 in it, because it sounds like "prosper", and thus it is believed to be a lucky number.
The link no longer works but I would like to read about this, do you know if there is somewhere else I can go to do so? My google search gave way to no results unfortunately.
I found this about someone who has studied it in depth: http://www.svt.se/nyheter/inrikes/fy-sjutton-vilka-konstiga-svordomar
I didn't look at the hovertext, so I just put in 'seventeen also!' (and wondered what the heck kind of a sentence that was). Imagine my surprise when it was correct, but: Another correct solution: Darn it!
There are several mild swears in Swedish that might surprise English speakers. But I probably won't start that discussion here. :)
And several not-so-mild English swear words used in casual conversation. Can be a shock to a Brit to hear words used on the radio in the middle of the day that would constitute a firing offence back home! I guess words lose a lot of their cultural context when they are adopted by other languages, swear words included.
good to hear, the Dutch do this too (kinda) so I've taken to saying "fornication under something of the king" and "rude word for feaces" (does duolingo censor?) quite often. (fixed :P)
One thing I have wondered about ... is that, in English, we say "shoot" (at least here in the southeastern USA) to avoid saying the four letter word beginning with s that I shall not mention here ... and I have often wondered if maybe also "sjutton" is used as a similar alternative word for the similarly spelled Swedish swear word.
Damn it, not Darn it! trodde jag, men engelska är inte mitt modersmål. Kan någon berätta för mig vad som är skillnaden mellan dem?
"Damn", literally to curse or condemn. "Darn", literally to mend or repair, with yarn (as in socks, see the pun above in Beanybadgers post). However, in some versions of English "darn" is used to avoid saying "damn" ("Goshdarn it", instead of "God damn it") so in that sense "darn"(not-quite "damn") is a perfect equivalent to "sjutton". I have also seen "Dang" used in this way.
Tack för svaret. Du har rätt, "sjutton också" är en mindre stark förbannelse. Jag kände inte ordet "darn", så du lärde mig något! Tack för förklaringen och berättelsen. O, ik zie dat je goed bent in Nederlands, dus we hadden ook in het Nederlands kunnen converseren!
Any arrangement of gosh/goll - dag/dang/darn - it.
I think there are dozens, lol.
Not a lot perhaps, but it's not uncommon either. Like Lundgren8 mentioned above, it's very mild though.
Zmrzlina: Jag håller med! Själv använder jag aldrig dessa ord när jag behöver en förbannelse!
En svordom. "Förbannelse" means a curse in the sense of cursing someone with magic.
Ja, du har rätt, jag har fel. Svordom är det rätt ordet jag menade, inte förbannelse. Svenska är mitt modersmål, men jag har bott i Nederländerna i många år sedan jag var ett barn och jag använder detta språk inte den nog. Att inte glömma min Svenska övar jag det med Duolingo.