Swedish: vanlig = common

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Stoggler, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. Stoggler

    Stoggler Senior Member

    Sussex, GBR
    UK English

    Vanlig means "common", but does it have the same connotation in Swedish as the word "common" does in English, that is being used when referring to someone who is unrefined, coarse, lacking in manners or style?

  2. JohanIII

    JohanIII Senior Member

    One possible translation of vanlig is common, and if we keep to the very unambiguos question a straightforward answer is: no. Not in any way.
  3. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    That pejorative semantic shift is unique to English in and has its roots in the 13th-14th century. When you have such differing uses it's usually intuitive to not assume that vastly different semantic shades of meaning carry over if you take a translation equivalent of only one of those meanings into another language. An example is something like 'Bank' in English which can mean a side of a river or a financial institution. There would be no reason to assume if you take a translation equivalent of the 'financial institution' meaning, that it naturally follows that that word in the target language also uses that word in the 'river' way. It can do, i.e. with shared history/cognate or through linguistic borrowing. It's quite a remarkable case when that actually does happen.

    If you can assume a prototypical and a peripheral meaning to a given word, it's generally advisable to always work under the assumption that when you look for a translation, if the meanings are quite distinctive, they don't both translate over.
  4. Stoggler

    Stoggler Senior Member

    Sussex, GBR
    UK English
    You can assume as much as you like but you'll never know for sure unless you ask someone who knows - hence the reason for the original question.

    Assumption only gets you so far (and has the uncanny habit of being the mother of all f***-ups)
  5. Mr.TechComm

    Mr.TechComm Senior Member

    Malmö, Sweden
    Spanish (Spain)
    Not that unique! :) We also have this in Spanish: ordinario means "common" and it can be used in a derogatory way.
    Example: esa mujer es una ordinaria (= maleducada), meaning " a woman who is uneducated, rude..."
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2013

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