Hon hade blivit kissnödig

Sometimes I read a book for an odd reason. In this blog a reader expressed surprise that `pee’ was being used as a noun to indicate the act of peeing, as in “She needed a pee”. This piqued my interest not because of the issue of noun versus verb but because I wanted to know what was in the Swedish original, `Solstorm’ by Åsa Larsson.

The original sentence was “Hon hade blivit kissnödig”. I found it difficult to come up with a faithful translation that is as compact as the original. Both “She needed to pee” and “She needed a pee” come close but they do not convey the exact meaning. A too-literal translation runs as follows: “She had become piss-necessary”; the `necessary’ chafes here. The term `piss-pressed’ might be better, but I could not come up with one word that describes the state of having the need to micturate.

The Swedish `att kissa’ means `to piss’ and it is an obvious candidate for a false friend between that language and English. It turns out that Google Translate has problems with the sentence too. When I had it translate “Hon hade blivit kissnödig” I got

  • English: She had become kissed
  • Dutch: Ze was gekust
  • Norwegian: Hun ble blitt kysset

Be careful what you ask for in Sweden.

Be Sociable, Share!

1 comment

We have the word “pissa” in Swedish too, but it’s considered a bit vulgar, so by changing the first consonant we have made a “nicer” word. Google doesn’t translate directly between languages other than English, but via English, so if the translation to English goes wrong, the translation to all other languages will be wrong too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2011 TU Delft