"Seventeen lakes"

Translation:Sjutton sjöar

March 11, 2015

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That sounds like the beginning of a tongue twister.


There is a tongue-twister on this sound: sjuttiosju sjösjuka sjömän sköttes av sju skönsjungande sjuksköterskor i Shanghai.


I think I broke Google Translate's speech playback, trying to see how that would sound.


My head hurts! What does this translate to? 77 'seasick'? 'sailors'? ____ in Shanghai.


Seventy-seven seasick sailors were treated by seven beautifully-singing nurses in Shanghai.


Shanghai alliterates with sj- words in Swedish? That's weird/cool!


Yes, somehow we exchanged the sh-sound for our own sk-sound. :)


Is this also a swear word?


The number seventeen is used in a manner similar to cursing in a number of regions throughout Scandinavia, not just in Sweden. The usual phrase in Swedish, I believe, is ‘sjutton till’.

I don’t know the full history, but the short version as I understand it is that the number eighteen was historically closely associated with the Norse god Odin, and it was considered blasphemous among devout worshipers of Odin to refer to the number. Blaspheming as a means of expressing extreme displeasure is a relatively common thing no matter what the religion, but in most cases it involves some shift of the phrasing so that you’re not technically blaspheming, but still getting the point across (because obviously an omniscient deity wouldn’t ever be able to understand what you truly meant just like their other followers do, would they?). In this case, the shift was to use of the number seventeen instead of eighteen, and it’s kind of stuck despite traditional Norse mythology having largely died out as a religion (modern Nordic neopaganism notwithstanding).

The English phrases ‘Oh my gosh!’ and ‘Darn it!’ actually originated similarly (being variations of ‘Oh my God!’ and ‘Damn it!’) from Christianity, and while I cannot think of them off the top of my head I know similar cases exist for Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Shinto, Daoism, and a whole slew of other religions as well.


My Swedish teacher called it the "blowing out the candles" sound. Perhaps with a little bit more tongue forward than actually blowing out candles. I actually learned to whistle when I learned how to make this sound. So that may help as well.

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