In most languages, there are prefixes or suffixes to make things smaller, and by that, cuter and more loved. In old Swedish, the suffix -ling or -ing was used, and we still see traces of this in words referring to baby animals, such as killing [kid] and gässling [gosling].

 

This construction is increasingly archaic, and we are more used to begin words with lill- or små-, in words such as småbarn [toddler] and lillördag [little Saturday] meaning Wednesday.

 

In more colloquial speech, you also find the suffix -is. This is not standard speech, which makes it much richer, funnier and more imaginative. Most of you are probably familiar with words such as godis, dagis, kompis, loppis, grattis, pingis; and if you are unlucky, also bakis. But did you know the real words they originate from?

 

godis - godsaker [good things] are, in most cases, sweet.

kompis - kompanjon and what is a better friend than a true [companion]?

loppis - loppmarknad, and you should be delighted that this is a direct translation of [flea market]

grattis - gratulationer or gratulerar

pingis - [pingpong] of course

bakis - bakfull [the behind of being drunk] I love the poetry of this.

 

As Swedish is a language where prosody plays an important role, please pay attention to the fact that the -is is always unstressed, meaning, in Swedish, short in time. The stress is on another syllable, or to more specific, on one vowel or consonant (underscored).

 

Not all words ending with -is are belonging to this group:

These can be recognised from their etymology as well as how stressed is distributed. In contrast to the list above, there are a few words including a stressed -is, with a long, very long, i:

 

markis [awning]

bevis [proof]

repris [repeat]

polis [police]

Paris (the city)

 

There are also examples of words ending with -iss, that is, a stressed last syllable staring a short i and a long sssss:

 

kompromiss (a favourite term in Sweden)

remiss [referral]

kuliss [backdrop]

 

Then, of course, we have types of ice, also ending with a stressed -is, BUT including another stressed syllable, which is a symptom of conjoined nouns (please excuse my translations):

 

drivis - drifting ice

havsis - ocean ice

sjöis - lake ice

inlandsis - inland ice

nyis - new ice

packis - pack ice

 

Coming back to the poetry of -is derivations, enjoy this list:

lantis - from landet [countryside] being a somewhat awkward figure not knowing how to behave in metropolitan contexts.

fjortis - fjorton [fourteen] another awkward character, being newly turned teenager, aggressive towards authorities at the same time ridiculous.

fegis - feg [coward] someone who will not dare much

kändis - känd [known] a celebrity

poppis - populär [popular] or not

doldis - dold [hidden] as opposed to kändis, this famous person will try to avoid celebrity status

avis - avundsjuk [envious]

sotis - svartsjuk [jealous] directly translated as black sick, which, in turn, leads to [soot].

hemlis - hemlighet [secret] often sealed with a …

tummis - tumme [thumb]