Swedish: HELT okej

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Mars14, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. Mars14 New Member


    what does exactly mean "han/hon ser helt okej ut"?

    From what I have seen "han/hon ser okej" means he/she looks alright/fine/ok
    but what does it would generally mean the word "helt" in the context of that phrase? it´s an amplifier?

    tack sa mycket!
  2. dekkers New Member

    In many cases "helt" can be an emphasizer. In this context it is difficult to explain, because it adds a feeling more than anything. If you had said "han ser okej ut", it means "he looks okay, but nothing more". But if you say "han ser helt okej ut", it means "he looks good".

    It can also be used to show he looks better than you expected.

    You can use "helt okej" in all kinds of contexts. For instance, if someone asks you how you are feeling, you can answer "helt okej". Or if someone asks you how a movie was, or how the food was etc., you can answer "helt okej."

    I don't know if I'm explaining this well, maybe someone else will explain better... :)
  3. Mars14 New Member

    Hi Dekkers,
    thanks for your response, :)

    to add to the context, the sentence continues. It`s "han/hon ser helt okej ut, men......". After men it says something like she/he should cut her hair (I don`t recall the exact words in swedish)

    What do you mean when you say that it adds a feeling more tan anything?

  4. dekkers New Member

    I mean that it adds feeling more than it adds meaning. The "helt" doesn't make a big difference, like other emphasizers do, for instance "really" or "very". That is why I say it changes the feeling, more than anything.

    In this context, you add the "helt" to be more careful. Because you need to be careful when you talk about the way someone looks and say they need haircuts. Like I said before, "han ser helt okej ut" sounds like "he (actually) looks good". But "han ser okej ut" sounds like "he (only) looks okay".

    I hope I made it clearer. It's probably best if you do not think about it too much, instead listen to how other people are using it so you can also understand the feeling.
  5. Mars14 New Member

    yes I think it may be clearer. Perhaps like "han ser okej ut" it´s like "well...he looks ok" and "han ser helt okej" it´s more like "hey, in fact he looks good", sthg like that?

    but on the other hand why should you be more careful if the person who receives the judgement isn´t present and doesn´t know they are talking about him/her? it changes something?

    I have read in some dictionaries and they translate helt as wholly, perfectly, completely and sometimes also as quite. Are they correct?

    thanks again for your time
  6. dekkers New Member

    yes, you have understood! "in fact he looks good" has the correct feeling. But only if someone asked you before "what does he look like?", and you answer "han ser helt okej ut".

    In this case however, I think the "helt" is not there to say "in fact he looks good", but rather to make sure you don't sound mean or too criticizing. Because you are saying someone's hair is not nice. To me it doesn't change anything that the person isn't present, because I already assumed the person wasn't present. I don't know about other cultures, but if I would criticize someone's appearance in Sweden, it can sound like I think I look better than him. You might hear younger people say it that way, but to adults it's important to not sound like you think you are better than others.

    The word "helt" orignially means completely. It obviously comes from the word "hel"=whole." So those translations in the dictionary are correct. But in everyday speech, it is also used as a sort of weak emphasizer. You can for instance say "helt knäppt", "helt fantastiskt", "helt galet", "helt normalt". But the most common one I think is "helt okej".

    You can also keep in mind that really "swedish" swedish people avoid expressing thoughts or opinions in a straightforward way, at least with people they don't know well. So even if you ask them how they are feeling, many of them prefer not to say good or bad. Instead, if they want to say bad, they say "okay", or if they want to say good, they say "helt okej".
    Of course this differs alot between people, and some people are not at all like this, (I am not like this!). Still it is good to keep in mind. Not everything can be explained with a simple translation. Sometimes it is just a cultural thing that you learn through time. :)
  7. Mars14 New Member

    Hi Dekkers, :)
    I have to be honest, I never thought this little word could have so many interpretations or subtle meanings, so I didn´t disclose exactly all the sentence but I see it is necessary in order to get the meaning of this word. There´s a ut iaf (don´t know if the iaf changes sthg) and the criticism was about eyebrows, not haircut what maybe is a less harsh critic

    A asked if he/she was going to kiss him/her
    B response was: "jaja får se... han/hon ser helt ok ut iaf men borde noppa håren mellan ögonbrynen"

    Sorry for adding new things but never thought the context would be so important to understand what this word could mean

    thanks a lot:thumbsup:
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2013
  8. dekkers New Member

    In this context it only means "he looks good". The "a ut iaf" doesn't make any difference, except that it makes it sound like it's a teenage girl talking.

    I am sorry I complicated such a simple word, I am not very good at explaining it seems. This isn't actually an important word, it is just a very common word, used a little bit here and there.

    Sometimes it's used to say completely:
    "en helt annan situation"=a completely different situation
    Sometimes it means whole:
    "ett helt hus fullt av guld"= a whole house full of gold
    Sometimes it's used to make the neutral word "okej" sound a little better than just "okej". (doesn't matter if you're talking about someone's looks, a movie, food, someone's singing voice, a painting etc.)
    Sometimes it's just used idiomatically: "helt enkelt"=simply
    Sometimes it's used without any reason at all, maybe to just add rythm to the sentence. For instance, "det var helt fantastiskt" is pretty much the same as "det var fantastiskt".

    In all of these situations, you can still think of the word as adding the meaning completely or wholly or entirely.

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