Thursday, July 19, 2007

Another Swedish word in English?

Today's word at

Word of the Day: Fartlek (noun)

Pronunciation: ['fah(r)t-lek]

Definition: An athletic training technique developed in Sweden in the 1930s by the Swedish national coach, Gosta Holmer, comprising alternating periods of intense exercise with periods of less strenuous effort or any workout based on this technique.

Usage: An good example of a fartlek is the saltin fartlek, which includes (1) a 10-minute warm-up jog, followed by (2) a 3 minute hard stride followed by a 1-minute jog repeated 6 times, and then finished with (3) a 10 minute warm-down jog. Because it is a borrowed word that appears rather un-English, it has developed no family thus far.

Suggested Usage: Although fartleks are workout routines well-suited for any sport, they are most closely associated with running: "Bruce likes to run through 3-4 fartleks every day in preparation for a marathon." However, the alternation of vigorous activity with slower sets the stage for metaphoric manipulation: "Buzzy, you can't study in fartleks; you have to work constantly and continuously on your studies if you are to succeed in school."

Etymology: Today's word is actually the Swedish word for "speed play" based on fart "running, speed" + lek "play." "Fart" is the noun from Swedish fara "go, move," akin to German fahren "travel, journey" and English "fare" as in "fare thee well" or simply "farewell," from Old English faran "to journey, travel." Another derivate of the same root is "ferry" from earlier "ferian." In Greek, the original root emerged as poros "journey," seen lurking in "emporium" from Greek emporion "merchant," someone who did quite a bit of journeying in the days of ancient Greeks. In Latin it emerged in portare "to carry" which we see everywhere in English borrowings: "porter," "portfolio," "import," "deport," "important," and many, many more.

—Dr. Language,

I remember in school gym how we had to stop, walk, run, stop, walk, run, over and over, but I didn't know that was called fartlek. I had no idea this word was used in English either. Of course smorgasbord and ombudsman are used, but otherwise Swedish words are rare in English. Have any of you ever heard fartlek in an English sentence? What we really need is the word LAGOM to enter the English language.


O.K. said...

Fartlek isn't really used in swedish as far as I know, the method is more known as "intervallträning" (interval training).
Lets register, it is (still) available. ;)

Veckans svengelska:
"Det är inte farten som dödar, det är smällen"/"It's not the fart that kills, it's the smell"

LS said...

HAHA - it is not the fart.... That is so funny! For you English-speaking, the Swedish sentence says in Swedish - it is not the speed that kills, it is the impact.

Reminds me of the Swede that was in Portugal and asked "Do you have what we in Swedish call a korkskruv?" (=cork screw, pronounced the same way)

And also, driving along the highways in Sweden: INFART, UTFART, AVFART, PAFART, etc.