Monday, February 27, 2012

Gösta min morbror

My uncle Gösta as I like to remember him. He died on Saturday morning aged 88 (I think) after a period of undeserved suffering, despite the best medical care. He was a kind man. A phrase I don’t often use, but may he rest in peace. I used to tease Gösta about the small vocabulary Swedish has compared to English, such as the old standbys of pig/pork, sheep/mutton etc. He in turn delighted to cite cases where the opposite is true. For instance, I said just now he was my uncle. But that doesn’t actually tell you all you want to know. In Swedish I would say he is my morbro. From this you would gather not merely that he's my uncle but also that he's my mother’s brother. As another instance, he liked to call attention to the inelegant expression “Swedish has a small vocabulary”. In Swedish you can say Svenska är ordfattig: literally Swedish is word poor. Far preferable. And tends to belie the very point being made. Is there a word for that I wonder. Just the sort of puzzle that would send us scurrying for the dictionaries … 

I took the photo in 1978 at Luleå as Gösta boarded the night train to Stockholm after Hilda’s funeral (his mother, my grandmother, or as the Swedes say, min mormor).