Swedish: dig in the dancing queen

TimLA

Member Emeritus
English - US
Hej,

Over on the Italian-English forum (HERE), we've been having a nice discussion regarding the group Abba, and the phrase "dig in the dancing queen".

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to my ears, and researching it a bit,
it seems that it might be a literal translation from a Swedish phrase that might make sense.

Could anyone help us out?

Tack
:)
 
  • janne273

    New Member
    Sweden, swedish
    In Swedish there is a verb called "digga" which is probably coined from the English "dig" as in the meaning "like", but AFAIK there are no literal expressions in Swedish with the meaning of "dig in" that can be associated with the context of the song lyrics in Dancing Queen. The explanation that it should be "diggin'" instead of "dig in" sounds extremely plausible despite the fact that the official web site says it should be "dig in". "Dig in" makes no sense at all in that context. Even official web sites can be wrong you know.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    She sings

    ... digging the dancing queen ...

    she just pronounces it with a hardly audible "g" at the end, which is also quite common in various dialects of US English.

    Not that Agnetha speaks real American Englisch - like many Europeans rather mid-Atlantic-English.

    Makes more sense, right!
     

    TimLA

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    She sings

    ... digging the dancing queen ...

    she just pronounces it with a hardly audible "g" at the end, which is also quite common in various dialects of US English.

    Not that Agnetha speaks real American Englisch - like many Europeans rather mid-Atlantic-English.

    Makes more sense, right!

    It could make more sense, but on the official Abba website they say "dig in"...
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    It could make more sense, but on the official Abba website they say "dig in"...

    I never read the website nor the text particular inner sleeve (now we are getting REALLY old fashioned), you see a lot of BS written especially on websites, official or not, but also in the lyrics on the inner sleeves. I could give you a link to a website of a DTP- an Picture processing provider: In the part where they are praising their proof-readers there is a typing error.

    However, I don't know how old you are, but at the time when ABBA brought out that song I already had the impression that the word "dig" in this particular sense was a bit "old fasioned". It is really a word that you'd hear more often back in those days when hippies would say "hey man" and "groovy" and that sort of stuff (my childhood days). This is probably why the word did not make me think anything special about it, and even if I had read the lyrics I might not even have noticed the error.

    I know of other words from American slang that were more or less copied into the Swedish language and treated as Swedish words. But I'll leave that to the experts in this language.

    Most Europeans don't speak English with a distinctive Swedish accent like Ms Fältskog's! Many Suedes do, though.


    One can speak BE or AE and still have an accent can't they? Just like I let a German accent slip through in my typing:

    Englisch - should of course be English (a couple of threads up.)
     
    Last edited:

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    When I first heard the song as a teenager I never saw the lyrics, and I always assumed they were singing "dig it - the Dancing Queen" as a command, because it's preceded by other commands - see that girl, watch that scene...

    I am not overly impressed with their command of written English, nor their pronunciation - I've heard them speak! At the same time, in song lyrics even native writers will invariably take grammar or verbal shortcuts to get the lyrics to go with the music, and if your native language is not English, you can get some strange results.

    The other variant, "diggin' the Dancing Queen", would probably work, too, at least it doesn't violate our sense of grammar the way "dig in" would.

    The meaning of "dig", in any case, would be 'to like/appreciate' as described above, we imported the verb to Swedish but it was probably already out of fashion in America by that time (most American stuff was out of fashion by the time we got our hands on it in those days...) :)

    In conclusion, I wouldn't worry too much about that line, it's a linguistic mishap from a non-native writer and speaker. What is interesting is what the native English speakers think they're hearing if they listen without reading the lyrics. Whatever works reasonably well gramatically using the verb "dig", with that specific meaning, should be an acceptable answer.

    /Wilma
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    When I first heard the song as a teenager I never saw the lyrics, and I always assumed they were singing "dig it - the Dancing Queen" as a command, because it's preceded by other commands - see that girl, watch that scene...

    I am not overly impressed with their command of written English, nor their pronunciation - I've heard them speak! At the same time, in song lyrics even native writers will invariably take grammar or verbal shortcuts to get the lyrics to go with the music, and if your native language is not English, you can get some strange results.

    The other variant, "diggin' the Dancing Queen", would probably work, too, at least it doesn't violate our sense of grammar the way "dig in" would.

    The meaning of "dig", in any case, would be 'to like/appreciate' as described above, we imported the verb to Swedish but it was probably already out of fashion in America by that time (most American stuff was out of fashion by the time we got our hands on it in those days...) :)

    In conclusion, I wouldn't worry too much about that line, it's a linguistic mishap from a non-native writer and speaker. What is interesting is what the native English speakers think they're hearing if they listen without reading the lyrics. Whatever works reasonably well gramatically using the verb "dig", with that specific meaning, should be an acceptable answer.

    /Wilma

    Since we are here in the forum section for Nordic languages and not for English, how about giving us some of the other words that were more or less copied - or better slightly changed to fit into the Swedish language. I mean epecially youth slang from year x up till today, if you can think of any.
     

    Lemminkäinen

    Senior Member
    Norwegian (bokmål)
    Moderator note: Let's keep the discussion to what the first post asks about, i.e. the phrase in the ABBA song and whether it's a translation of a Swedish expression.
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    Moderator note: Let's keep the discussion to what the first post asks about, i.e. the phrase in the ABBA song and whether it's a translation of a Swedish expression.
    I agree, but I don't think it's a genuinely Swedish grammar mistake, and the way Swedes use the imported version of the verb (digga) is as a transitive verb with no prepositions, so it's not Swenglish either. Just bad English.

    /Wilma
     

    Chewshabadoo

    New Member
    English - UK
    I found this page searching for the exact lyrics. I had alway's heard it as diggin' - as in liking something. But if it was indeed meant as 'Dig in', there is another meaning to the phrase which is: "To hold on stubbornly, as to a position; entrench oneself. a. To begin to work intensively." thefreedictionary.com/dig+in

    In this context you could read this as meaning for the character to keep dancing.

    Personally I think diggin' is most plausible, but I could see how Abba, who are know for their non-standard use of English phrases, may have heard the phrase and used it in this way. Not meant as a diss, using langauage in a non-standard way is very poetic
     

    ben zine

    New Member
    Swedish
    I found this page searching for the exact lyrics. I had alway's heard it as diggin' - as in liking something. But if it was indeed meant as 'Dig in', there is another meaning to the phrase which is: "To hold on stubbornly, as to a position; entrench oneself. a. To begin to work intensively." thefreedictionary.com/dig+in

    In this context you could read this as meaning for the character to keep dancing.

    Personally I think diggin' is most plausible, but I could see how Abba, who are know for their non-standard use of English phrases, may have heard the phrase and used it in this way. Not meant as a diss, using langauage in a non-standard way is very poetic
    Hej,

    Over on the Italian-English forum (HERE), we've been having a nice discussion regarding the group Abba, and the phrase "dig in the dancing queen".
    I saw the lyrics on a note sheet which brought me to this discussion. The lyrics stated "diggin' the dancing queen" and I thought, being Swedish, that this had to be a mistake, of course it should be "dig in". Realizing now that this expression makes no sense to native English speakers, it makes total sense to me, it means "look at with appreciation". The lyricist (Stig I suppose) probably mixed up, or with a positive spin, combined brilliantly "check in" (which is English, right? "check in that girl"?) and "dig" (as in "like"). So all three phrases are about looking: "see that girl, watch that scene, dig in the dancing queen". But alas, to speak Shakespeare, Stig's renewal of the English language never caught on.

    I saw the lyrics on a note sheet which brought me to this discussion. The lyrics stated "diggin' the dancing queen" and I thought, being Swedish, that this had to be a mistake, of course it should be "dig in". Realizing now that this expression makes no sense to native English speakers, it makes total sense to me, it means "look at with appreciation". The lyricist (Stig I suppose) probably mixed up, or with a positive spin, combined brilliantly "check in" (which is English, right? "check in that girl"?) and "dig" (as in "like"). So all three phrases are about looking: "see that girl, watch that scene, dig in the dancing queen". But alas, to speak Shakespeare, Stig's renewal of the English language never caught on.
    And there is a Swedish expression which is probably the base for this, "kolla in" , which means "check out" as in looking. (Is it check out or check in? I'm confused, a bit like Stig maybe).
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    I saw the lyrics on a note sheet which brought me to this discussion. The lyrics stated "diggin' the dancing queen" and I thought, being Swedish, that this had to be a mistake, of course it should be "dig in". Realizing now that this expression makes no sense to native English speakers, it makes total sense to me, it means "look at with appreciation". The lyricist (Stig I suppose) probably mixed up, or with a positive spin, combined brilliantly "check in" (which is English, right? "check in that girl"?) and "dig" (as in "like"). So all three phrases are about looking: "see that girl, watch that scene, dig in the dancing queen". But alas, to speak Shakespeare, Stig's renewal of the English language never caught on.

    "kolla in" is closer to "check someone/something out", not 'in'.

    'Unfortunately' I find that a lot of Swedish people, at least from that generation, might indeed not pronounce the full "ng" at the end of "digging", so both "digging" and "dig in" could sound the same, especially when sung.
     

    ben zine

    New Member
    Swedish
    "kolla in" is closer to "check someone/something out", not 'in'.

    'Unfortunately' I find that a lot of Swedish people, at least from that generation, might indeed not pronounce the full "ng" at the end of "digging", so both "digging" and "dig in" could sound the same, especially when sung.
    Thank you Mattias, check out is correct. And you're right that droppin' the g is common. But I still think that the phrase "dig in" was meant to mean "look at with appreciation" (the sequence "see", "watch", "dig in" all reference to looking as I see it). I think it may be an advantage to not have complete fluency in English to interpret this intention. As someone else noted on this subject, the same lyricist is behind "money must be funny". Their level of English was quite good for being Swedes in the early 70's, but not one hundred percent.
     
    Top