A Wild World of Words: Lagom

lagom

In case you’re wondering whether or not lagom is an English word, it’s not. It might be Monday, but you’re not going crazy in regards to your language.

Lagom is a Swedish word that has no precise English translation or equivalent. It roughly means “just right” or “in moderation,” but it has neither a positive or negative connotation. It’s more of a feeling and a cultural idea. It’s also a Norwegian and Finnish word, but in those languages the word has different connotations.

I saw it on Twitter this morning and really liked it. Even though I still subscribe to the idea that meaning is constructed by language, I think it’s cool that particular words of a language either influence or are the products of the cultural identity of the people who speak it. It especially reminds me of Aristotle’s golden mean, which was a significant aspect of discussion in my literary theory class last fall. And when I look at the word, it’s a perfectly symmetrical one phonetically and orthographically. Two syllables, a beautiful “g” in the middle.

What’s your word of the week?

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