Wandering prattlers

It has been brought to my attention that in Swedish the most common way to say ‘speak’, at least in Stockholm, is pratar, and that few people use talar anymore.

Är detta sant? Is this true?

The Duolingo course I’m studying Swedish with uses talar, – pratar has not come up yet.

According to Witionary, Pratar is the present tense form of the verb prata (to talk, speak), and comes from the Low German praten (to talk), from the Proto-Germanic *prattuz (idle or boastful talk, deceit), from the Proto-Indo-European *brodno- (to wander, rove). The English word prattle (to speak incessantly and in a childish manner; to babble) comes from the same root.

Talar is the present tense form of the verb tala (to speak; to utter words; to tell; to talk; to make a speech) from the Old Norse tala, from the Proto-Germanic *talō (calculation, number), from the Proto-Indo-European *del- (to reckon, count).

Other Swedish words related to speech and language include:

– tal = speech
– språk = language
– språka = to speak
– snacka = to talk, speak (coll.); to boast emptily (slang); to reveal secrets
– säga = to say, to tell; to utter words
– pladdra = to prattle
– skrika = to scream, to yell, to shout
– viska = to whisper

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, Language, Old Norse, Proto-Indo-European, Swedish, Words and phrases.

4 Responses to Wandering prattlers

  1. David Marjanović says:

    snacka = to talk

    That, too, is Low German.

  2. Stephen C. Carlson says:

    Not a Swede, but I lived there for two years recently (in Uppsala). Pratar is definitely more common than talar. I’ve never heard the verb ‘språka’ before; it’s probably obsolescent. (NB: “to speak a language” is idiomatically ‘kunna språket’: “Kan du svenska/engelska?” = “Do you speak Swedish/English?”).

  3. Laurits says:

    Ja, det är sant. And it’s not limited to Stockholm. I think most Swedish speakers find the word talar a bit old-fashioned. Even here in Finland where we tend to preserve that kind of vocabulary.
    Språka isn’t part of my active vocabulary but from my understanding it means to converse rather than to speak.
    You can add ‘ropa = to shout’ to the list if you want.

  4. Karin Larsson says:

    “Tala” is used a great deal, especially in writing. If you want to “tala” with someone, it is more likely be a serious talk. “Prata” is more chatting.

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