SwedesswedesRecently I went to the supermarket with a Swedish friend. In the fresh produce section, she was surprised to find a vegetable called a ‘swede’. I was equally surprised to find she didn’t know it as a swede!

This led to us pointing out different produce and comparing names. An ‘aubergine’ to me was an ‘eggplant’ to her; ‘courgette’ a ‘zucchini’ (I like both exotic sounding names for this cucumber-esque fruit).

This duality of names is not limited to vegetables – in English (as, I’m sure, in many other languages), we name a lot of things twice, if not more. ‘Mummy’, ‘Mum’, ‘Mama’, and ‘Ma’ are all common alternatives for one person – your mother (‘Mother’ is also a common, if somewhat more formal term).

So, how do you decide which term to use? It really depends on who you’re talking to. The main point of language is to be understood, so a person with American English will understand ‘zucchini’ but not ‘courgette’, and vice versa for someone who speaks British English. As for a Swede? Who knows…