Trying to explain the super tricky Swedish word "ju" for Americans. It's been such a hard word because it can be offensive or presumtive if you use it or if you leave it out.

Here's my attempt: "ju" in an assertive sentence means "of course" or "after all" while "ju" in a hesitating sentence means "… right?" or "…isn't it?"

Ultimately, it's always a hedge.

"Det låter bra" — "That sounds good"
"Det låter ju bra" — "That does sound good"

"Ju" is a way to sync up to a consensus from a position of not-sure ("1 + 1 är ju 2" — "I'm pretty sure 1 + 1 is 2 but I'm just making sure I got it right, math is hard and you know better than me"), or from a position of laying down the law. ("1 + 1 är ju 2" — "Every last damn fool knows that 1 + 1 is 2! Or do you doubt even that in your foolishness?")

It's a good and polite hedge when saying something obvious but a rude steamroller when trying to treat something non-obvious as if it were obvious.

@Sandra See, that's also part of where the 🇺🇸 calibration is different from the 🇸🇪 calibration: I think that a US approach might be to see "you marked the obvious thing, are you saying I can't see what's obvious?" as the offensive one, and "you marked what's not obvious, maybe we need to come to some understanding here" as not offensive.

(Not sure of that, of course, but I suspect it!)

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@wlonk Right, the American word for what you'e describing is "duh". The anti-"ju" in many ways.

@Sandra @wlonk i got anxiety just reading the "ju" post and thinking about how i'll never speak anything besides english, and then i thought about trying to explain the nuances of "duh" to anyone who didn't grow up with it and damn.


Don't get anxious!* We'll help you learn it step by step. You pick up these concepts like "duh" in a few weeks I'd say.

*: Not to invalidate your emotional experience

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