All posts filed under: Faraway Places

In Faraway Places, I write about brief exchanges I’ve had with places I’ve never been to.

My Swedish friends discuss the English word “bitch”

  “hen”: Swedish gender-neutral third person pronoun My friends Mow, Gee, Lanka, Eva and Bohr and I were having a little party at my house. The Swedes would call it a förfest (pre-party). Now, Gee is a Turkish graduate student from Lund, in Korea for one term to study the Saemaeul movement, as well as make some money working for Samsung (duh!). As we were in the company of Swedes, he teased them about the sing-along drinking games the merry tall folk play. Then it began. Swedish social drinkers Mow, Eva, and Bohr suggested we play this game, in which we would call the “it” person “bitch”. The trio began to hesitate in Swedish. The talk was hushed, but intense, and serious. Lanka, Gee, and I asked. What’s going on? Is the game too complicated to explain? No. It was that we had to call the person “bitch”. What did they mean? The word “bitch” apparently has a more gender-neutral equivalent in Swedish, while keeping the sassy tone. “What about man-bitch then?” “No, because that puts the …