Swedish: Sen somnar bäda tva bums i kanalen!


New Member
English U.S. Spanish El Salvador
Sen somnar bäda tva bums i kanalen! (I want to know if it is an idiom and what it means. Literally: Then both immediately slept in the canal
  • raumar

    Senior Member
    "bäda" should be "båda", and "tva" should be "två". Your translation is not quite right, "somnar" means "falls asleep", not "slept".

    Do you have any context for this sentence? It is difficult to make sense of this without any context, but I would suggest something like "Later both of them fall asleep, straight into the canal!"

    You should wait for a Swede to confirm this, and tell us whether this is an idiom.


    Senior Member
    Icelandic & Swedish
    As Raumar points out, the correct spelling is Sen somnar båda två bums i kanalen!

    The phrase as a whole is not an idiom, but the part bums i kanalen is. Bums is a colloquial word, first attested in the 18th century and said to be of Low German origin. Nowadays it is only used in the meaning ‘at once’, but in the 19th century it often meant ‘straight (in a particular direction)’. The expression bums i kanalen is (was) therefore a humorous way of saying ‘straight into the canal’.

    As the story goes, during festivities to celebrate the opening of Göta Canal in 1832 many people got drunk, and some of them ended up in the canal. This is said to be the origin of bums i kanalen. In actual fact, these three words together appeared on print at least as early as the previous year, but the canal incident may have popularised the expression.

    Bums i kanalen is rarely used nowadays and largely appears to have lost its literal meaning. People tend to use it to mean simply ‘immediately’ or even just to say ‘Hurry!’ To me, the quoted sentence means ‘Then they both fall [or fell] asleep straight away’. (The choice of present or past tense depends on the context.)