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  5. "Hans barn äter bara pasta oc…

"Hans barn äter bara pasta och köttbullar."

Translation:His children only eat pasta and meatballs.

March 7, 2015



Had a time of "bara pasta och köttbullar" in my exchange in Lund :)


Why not "His children only eat pasta and köttbullar."? Thanks to IKEA, we say "köttbullar" in German to refer to the Swedish kind of meatballs (German meatballs are quiet different)... For me it is also a proper name like "surströmming".


This is a Swedish to English exercise though, not Swedish to German. Personally I've never seen an English-speaker call it "köttbullar", just "Swedish meatballs" (and the "Swedish" part is kind of implied already since it's translated from a Swedish sentence). I'm open for corrections though if any native English-speaker does call it by its Swedish name.


For what it's worth, I've never heard anyone call them anything but "Swedish meatballs." (Midwestern United States)


I've heard it on rare occasion, but only from people who speak both Swedish and English, or people like me who are really picky about being very specific about stuff like this.


Note that 'hans barn' could be 'his child' (sing) as well as "his children" (plural).


Interesting. When the noun sing and pl are the same, some languages will give you a clue from the verb endings. For example, 'the deer is in the road' vs. 'the deer are in the road'. But with Swedish, you can eat a whole meal of pasta and meatballs without figuring out how many children he has ...


That's what makes swedish so simple


It is an unfortunate case with some words like hans. Usually Swedish handles it very well.


Right. In Swedish, the adjective endings typically signal singular or plural, but not in the case of an adjective like 'hans'. Cf. 'mitt barn' vs. 'mina barn'.


Note that it could also be "Hans' child...", since Hans is a Swedish name :).


Not only "Hans' child" but also "Han's child", assuming "Han" is a visitor from China ...

Helen, good to hear from you . I have read so many helpful posts from you in this forum!


True :), I didn't think of the Chinese visitor.


Yeah, it's weird, normally you can tell from the article or adjective in cases like this but none of those exist here. Is there anyway you can specify plural or singular here or only from context?


Just context here.


I guess if it was singular, they would rather use the word “son“ or “dotter”, wouldn't they? In French, this is the most common way we speak.


It would undoubtedly be more common, but I don't think anyone would react to hearing barn used in the singular like this either.


Hehe. In trying to answer the question without looking at hints, I wondered what a meat bun would be. :)


Meat buns are common in chinese bakeries, i eat them and automatically thought it was a thing


Does this mean that there’s only one dish they’ll eat, “pasta and meatballs”, or that “pasta” and “meatballs” are the two dishes they eat? Or could it be either?


Could be either.


That's basically what I am doing as an exchange student in Stockholm xD


Seems strange to translate "köttbullar".. when I was a kid my mum used to make them very often and we always called them "köttbullar" (or "cheute-beular" while speaking french). I wonder if we'll have to translate "knäckebröd" aswell :)


You mean crispbread? :p


On my shoppinglist it just says 'Wasa' :-)


I guess spaghetti and meatballs isn't accepted, huh. At least where I am from, a pasta dish with meatballs is almost always spaghetti.


Spaghetti or macaroni would be the most common options in Sweden, but neither is a good translation of "pasta". That's like saying you should be able to translate "vegetables" into "broccoli" because that's the vegetable you're used to eating.


I was thinking that too. But now I'm wondering if the kind of meatballs in "spaghetti and meatballs" would be called "italienska köttbullar" and that "köttbullar" without an adjective would usually mean what I call "Swedish meatballs".


We'd probably just say köttbullar about those as well, unless we wanted to make it sound a bit exotic. And, to be honest, Italian food isn't very exotic - more like a staple of western cuisine. :)


Maybe, but usually when we eat meatballs with pasta in Sweden it's not the traditional large Italian ones in marinara sauce, but just the standard, slightly below golf-ball sized, Swedish meatballs fried in a pan, with the only sauce being ketchup. That's not too say that Italian meatballs don't exist in Sweden, but that if you're a working parent (as the vast majority of Swedish parents are) of small, picky children, as this task implies, then you'll be much more likely to put on some 3-minute macaroni and fry some pre-formed meatballs than anything more fancy.


Three times so far this month for my picky three-year-old... :p



My youngest son used to make a serious face and say, "I don't like this" every time we sat down to dinner. We would make him try it, and he ALWAYS liked what we were having. I decided to put a stop to it and one evening after we said grace I dished up food for his two older siblings, took some myself, and my husband put some on his own plate....and after a couple of minutes our youngest asked in a forlorn voice, "Can I have some?" Of course we gave him some, and he ate his dinner without a complaint. That was the end of the "I don't like this" nonsense. But oh my gosh, I almost cried doing that to him. I felt like such a mean mommy!

But of course he wasn't actually a picky eater. He always liked the stuff, no matter what it was. He just didn't like the way it looked, evidently. Or he wanted a little control over his world.

I imagine it is quite a different situation when your child really is a picky eater who won't eat certain things. Maybe your meatballs are just too delicious!


Is there a way to tell if it's "his child" or "his children" in this particular sentence?


Nope, not without context.


is it wrong to say "pasta med köttbullar"?


As a translation of "pasta with meatballs", that works.


What's wrong with "His child only eats pasta and meatballs?"


Nothing, I think. Report it.


Note the two possible placements of "only":
1. He eats only pasta.
2. He only eats pasta.

Sentence 2 is probably what most English speakers would say most of the time. However, Sentence 1 is a bit more elegant because it is not ambiguous.

Sentence 2 is open to various other interpretations. He only eats pasta -- he does not do anything else at all. Or he only eats pasta, he does not build with it, etc.

I believe the Swedish here could only be interpreted like sentence 1 -- it's all the children eat but they do have other interests.


So I still don't understand: how do we know whether it is his child or his children?


You don't, so "his child" and "his children" are both accepted.


I still don't understand: how do we know whether it is his child or his children?


Roger, consider the following English sentence:
"I saw the deer on the lawn."

We don't know whether one deer or more than one, Only context will tell.


You don't, so "his child" and "his children" are both accepted.


And worse still they just eat those pasta with ketchup!

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