Swedish: gunlig -- a word? [Mankell]

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Pauline Meryle, Nov 18, 2014.

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  1. Pauline Meryle

    Pauline Meryle Senior Member

    Central France
    English UK
    I'm still trying to transcribe the intro to Henning Mankell's "Den orolige mannen" in which he talks about changes in Swedish society, and notably the scourge of crime and drugs in recent decades.

    One of the changes in the world as a whole which he mentions observing after returning to Sweden from Africa was that "det stod klart att det sudafrikanska apartheidsystemet var allvarligt och slutligt gunligt".
    My attempt to translate: "It was clear that the South African Apartheid system was seriously and finally [gunlig (???)]

    I don't understand what "gunlig" means, if indeed it is a word and I've heard it correctly. Something to suggest "a failure", I suppose, or perhaps "on its last legs".
    Norsteds and SAOL are no help.

    Many thanks for any suggestions.

    Moderators : I can't see how to insert "Swedish" before the title of this thread.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  2. MattiasNYC Senior Member

    New York
    Swedish
    Did you copy that sentence correctly? Can you check the spelling of the word?
     
  3. Pauline Meryle

    Pauline Meryle Senior Member

    Central France
    English UK
    MattiasNYC,

    I didn't copy the sentence. It's part of the intro to an e-book I'm transcribing, which is why I'm unsure what is being said or how it's spelt. The initial consonant may be something else. I've tried googling to no avail.
     
  4. MattiasNYC Senior Member

    New York
    Swedish
    I doesn't make much sense to me. I don't recognize the word and the sentence seems odd. Unfortunately I can't find the excerpt anywhere so I can't help you.

    I actually watched the film the other day by the way.
     
  5. Pauline Meryle

    Pauline Meryle Senior Member

    Central France
    English UK
    Thanks for getting back to me anyway. I've read the book and knowing the story doesn't help at all. The intro is available only as a "bonus" with the e-book. It's an explanation of how Mankell thought Sweden had changed in the years (he doesn't say how many) he'd been away.
     
  6. DerFrosch

    DerFrosch Senior Member

    This is kind of a longshot, but is it possible that he actually says "i gungning"? That would make some kind of sense in the context (provided that he talks about some point in time before the end of apartheid).
     
  7. Pauline Meryle

    Pauline Meryle Senior Member

    Central France
    English UK
    Thank you, DerFrosch. I didn't know the expression but one dictionary says "being rocked to its foundations". That makes perfect sense, given that Mankell seems to be talking about the end of apartheid as a process rather than the day it was finally abolished.
    If I had to translate "i gungning" (which luckily I don't), I might say "in its death throes".
     
  8. MattiasNYC Senior Member

    New York
    Swedish
    I thought of that too, but then what about "slutligt" and the rest of the sentence? "var i allvarlig och slutlig gungning."?
     
  9. Pauline Meryle

    Pauline Meryle Senior Member

    Central France
    English UK
    var allvarligt och slutligt i gungning ??

    But I may have misheard.
     
  10. DerFrosch

    DerFrosch Senior Member

    I think it's possible that Mankell said it like that, although it's not a very common phrasing. Mattias's suggestion does sound a bit better.

    Regarding the translation of the expression, I think "in its death throes" could be quite fitting in this particular case, but this is only because the expression is here in connection with "slutligt". Note that "i gungning" isn't that final; that which is "i gungning" isn't doomed, it might still recover from the difficulties it's in.

    Since this is a figurative expression, an example of a literal use of the phrase might be helpful:

    Vågorna satte den lilla båten i gungning. A literal translation of this would be "The waves set the little boat rocking" - there's certainly a more idiomatic way of expressing it, but the point is that the rocking might lead to the boat tipping over, but if the boat is stable enough, it could also withstand the rocking (although the people in the boat will nevertheless be worried and unsettled.)
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2014
  11. Pauline Meryle

    Pauline Meryle Senior Member

    Central France
    English UK
    Thank you again, DerFrosch. I now have a much better understanding of the expression, though in the case of Apartheid there was of course no going back.
     

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