There were some obvious contrasts between L.A.Con and the 1995 Worldcon, Scotland's
Intersection, not the least of which was the climate! However, in spite of the
great distance between the two locations, both were truly Worldcons, with large
delegations from many countries in Europe and Australasia. Although fandom
originated in the English-speaking world, there are now many prominent fans whose
first language is not English, including the Fan Guests of L.A.Con and the writer
of the following article.
Reflecting back over twenty years of involvement in fandom, I think that the thing that first of all got me caught in fandom was the fan-slang, or its fannish language. It's a remarkable language in many respects, but not a respectable language in some remarks, to quasi-quote Walt Willis. The first fanzine I ever received, in the spring of 1976, was No. 78 of Fanac (the Swedish version of Fanac, which lived much longer than its American counterpart). Just receiving something called 'fanac', or speaking of 'fanzines' will make you intrigued and confused -- and hooked in about a second!
Basically, Swedish fandom uses the same fan-slang as American and British fandom, but there is a smorgasbord of local variations and inventions. If a fannish word exists in English, it is perfectly acceptable to use it at once and expect everyone to know it. (If they don't they will have to learn -- and your ego-boo increases since you managed to puzzle your fellow fan.) We will certainly understand mimeo, LoC, beanie, hoax, oneshot, mimeo, gafia, fiawol, fijagh, DNQ, RSN (short for Riktigt Snart Nu, but it means the same), con (the longer word is kongress), and so on.
English words usually work fine in Swedish, since both languages are Germanic and related. Not to mention that Swedish since the 19th century has borrowed many English words, due to the industrial revolution, the British Empire, American music and film, and later the computer industry. Swedish has borrowed words from Latin, German and French too, which English has also done. English has even borrowed from Scandinavian languages. When the Vikings occupied most of England, English got words like 'gate' and 'window'. (But 'gate' or gata in present day Swedish means 'street' not 'entrance', and 'window' means 'an eye towards the wind' in Danish and Norwegian.) Present day Swedish has also exported a few words into English, like 'ombudsman', 'smorgasbord' and 'moped'.
Of course, we'd often put Swedish endings and spelling conventions into English fan words. Consonants are often doubled in Swedish and an ending 'a' indicates a verb, so 'pub' (or publish) became pubba and 'sub' (or subscribe) became subba. 'To LoC' could sometimes becomes 'LoCca'. To make a Swedish verb out of 'to trade' becomes more difficult -- tradea just doesn't look right. There is sometimes a variation in pronounciation. Swedish tend to put the stress on the second syllable, or have equal stress (which for foreigners make the language sound like the Swedish Chef in The Muppet Show). Thus some Swedish fans will say 'fanzi-ne' instead of 'fan-zine'. Fannish spelling is also important. An extra 'h' here and there shows the rhight shpirit. An 'f' in front of words is fanother fhing, with fariations.
Swedish fanzines in my early days sometimes had lists of hundreds of fan-slang terms, which were immediately consumed and put into use without the slightest hesitation. If there wasn't a word for a central concept, one would immediately be invented, and if something funny happened a new word or phrase or concept emerged. This is the basis of local variations.
Two early sources of inspiration were Elst Weinstein's The Fillostrated Fan Dictionary, which I ordered from the States (I found every every second word in it to be an abbreviation of some sf society, but still...) and Ingvar Svensson's Skandifandom. Svensson did two thick 'yearbooks' of Scandinavian fandom in the mid 60s, which did things like listing the short stories in all fanzines, exploring all possible variations of abbreviating 'science fiction' ('sf', 's-f', 'SF', 'Sf', 'Sci-fict', 'sci-fi', etc.), and listing fan-slang.
In the 50s Sweden had its local version of Ackermanese, 'Appeltofftese' (or appeltofftska), named after Alvar Appeltofft, an enthusiastic but somewhat eccentric Swedish fan from that decade. Appeltofftese was a mixture of general slang, English, other languages, fan-slang and totally invented words. A simulation of Appeltofftese would sound like: "Amigo, I dig dein fanzine. Jeez, it's cool & ql! Fillot på side zwei is tooooo much! But beware of the marsianerna som will invadera. Jag have mein Luger ready." 'Ql' reached widespread use, an abbreviation of kul, which means 'funny'. The incomprehensible 'Henrylinderese' and the witty 'Adlerberthese' are later variations of importance. The latter, by book reviewer Roland Adlerberth, always notes that the heroes klarar hyskan å det förtjänstfullaste ("fixes up the mess real good"), making a book en hörnsten i varje sann sf-fans bokhylla ("a cornerstone in the bookshelf of every true sf-fan" -- of course, you'll need a bookshelf shaped like a polygon).
In late 1978, I and a (then) friend started a newszine, Vheckans Ävfentyr ("The Wheeks Advfenture," which I have mentioned in earlier articles in Mimosa) that did a lot of fan-slang-slinging, constantly distorting words and inventing new ones. For instance, the then half-known semi-pro Steve Sem-Sandberg was renamed 'Steve Slime-Sandberg' since we didn't like him. (Now he is the highly paid cultural editor of Sweden's second morning paper, and I'd better shut up.) Things we didn't like were 'highly puerile' (högeligen puerilt) or 'unreasonably humoristic' (orimligt lustifierande). We were in constant feuding with the local Tolkien Society Forodrim, or Fårodrim ('Sheepodrim') as we said, covering the adventures of the typical member, Burkalf ('Tinalf' or 'Jaralf'). Letters to Tolkienists should, we argued, be ended with Ringaktningsfullt ('Disrespectfully', note the 'ring'). The fantasy fans have a wide variety of words, by the way. I won't go into that, but I could mention that the imcompetent translation of LOTR into Swedish by Äke Ohlmarks is the cause of ohlmarxism.
There were sometimes mini-feuds ('feud' is fejd in Swedish) around the usage of fannish words. Some wanted 'fanzine' to be spelled fansin (since we say 'magasin' instead of 'magazine'). Others pointed out that fanzines weren't a fannish sin and the 'fansin' side eventually lost. Some comics fans have adopted 'fansin' but that's OK since comics is a fannish sin.
Roscoe, the third fannish Ghod, was an important import into Swedish fandom. The concept of fannish Ghods was too powerful to bypass. Available information on Roscoe was a bit meagre, but it was easy to fill in details. Every issue of the newszine quoted the Roscoenian motto "The Reality of Fanac, the Hope of Ego-boo, and the Promise of Bheer". (The newszine was also called The Jack Wiedenbeck Magazine; Harry Warner, Jr., once wrote that "Jack Wiedenbeck was the first fake-fan.") From 1981 on I have arranged Fourth of July parties to the honor of Roscoe, when Stockholm fans gather to drink enormous amounts of bheer after which we will see Roscoe's shimmering rocket in the sky, to remind us that the beaver Ghod on the last day of the 200th Fandom will descend from the sky to revive all acti-fans and bring them to the Perfect Fandom.
There were some attempts to use competing Ghods (Ghu had a brief popularity), even Swedish ones like Birger, a hedgehog who flies over the sky in his red UFO. (A rip-off of Roscoe? Beaver = hedgehog, rocket = UFO?) 'Birger' was invented by Mika Tenhovaara and Tony Eriksson, who also made a long complete list of new Swedish fanslang, that had some humorous points but never caught on. For instance, they suggested NKVD instead of 'SMOF' ('NKVD' is the old name for the Soviet KGB). They also called the mimeo vevmys (approximate translation: 'crank-cosy'). Eriksson also found The Best Place in the World (Världens bästa plats) in a sand-pit outside the city of Eskilstuna.
Another concept of fan-religious implications is 'the fannish raw-force' or den fanniska rå-kraften, which is the high energy extra-force a fan may utilize when he for instance goes into the twentieth straight hour of typing stencils. Just rå- ('raw-') became a popular, genral prefix from this.
Stockholm fandom (or StF, or The Squares of StF, from Irish Fandom or The Wheels of IF) wasn't the only ones to invent new words and concepts. In Sala fandom they found out that any question could be answered with Det finns mycket ("There is much"), a phrase that spread rapidly, and that an sf hero always could get out of trouble by gnägga sin käcka rokokorumpa i morgongröten ("rubbing your dashing rococo ass in the morning porridge").
When it comes to food, jordnötter (peanuts) is important, being the food of the early Stockholm club meetings in Lars-Olov Strandberg's apartment and later the object of The Great Peanut Race. In Gothenburg, spritskransar (a sort of cookies) became popular. (I think it started with someone saying: "Anything may become fan-slang. Take spritskransar, for instance." And he proved right!) In Linköping the fans eat some sort of small candy, shaped like flying saucers. A mythical dessert is 'Fanana Split' (ice cream with bananas shaped like rockets).
Witter, from the name of the fangroup Witterhetssällskapet Din Ven Fandom, became a central concept in Stockholm fandom. It is a variation of the word 'vitter', which means 'knowledgable', but came to be used for anything witty, fannish or funny. Local inventions in Stockholm fandom included ärkeneo ('arch-neo') and KG or Kul Grej, 'cool [or funny] thing'). The arch-neo Ture Storm is a Swedish variation of Joe Fann. The concept of dumska, an ungrammatical variation of stupid (approx. 'stupidness'), became popular from the absurd comic strip "Blixt-Grodon" by the fan Lars "Lon" Olsson. The term 'recenzine' is sometimes used for a review-fanzine. 'Blast corflu' (sprängkorrekturlack) was used by fannish secret agents to get into high security board rooms. Maybe you could get the help of a FATT-fan? ("Fandom's Answer to a Twelve-ton Truck," a big and strong fan.)
An important invention, for good or more likely worse, was the fanzine blockade (fanzineblockad; Swedish often use compound words, like German), invented by Marvyn De Vil in 1978. If you are in a feud with someone you may put him in fanzine blockade, i.e., you won't send him your fanzine and you may possibly persuade your friends to do the same. The theory is that your resolute action will force your foe to gafiate, ha ha! (But in practice it seldom works.)
For many years the concept of a fanvecka ('fan-week') was important -- if you have the house for yourself, announce a fanweek and invite all fans. A 'fannish weekend' is just for a couple of days. To attend these events, you we're often tempted with ett koppel brudar ('a leash-ful of broads'), which is quite essential to engage in göka spånken ('to fuck the booze') resulting in en massa skakande gående på ('a lot of shaking going on'). If you can only meet in a group phone call, over a switchboard, you have a telefangathering.
Swedish fandom adopted the name Sverifandom (from 'Sverige' = 'Sweden' in Swedish) and Scandinavian fandom was Skandifandom (local spelling is 'k', not 'c'). If you like something, you may say "it'Sveri ghood." Bheer, of course, became öhl ('öl' is related to the English 'ale', but don't order a big 'öl' in Germany unless you are a robot and fancy a can of oil) and we did sometimes try to build that bheer can tower to the moon. The Danish and Norwegians are similar to the Swedes in fan-slang use, but maybe not so extreme.
An import from Danish and Norwegian is bytteabbo, which means trading subscriptions to fanzines. The Sala fans in the late 70s, by the way, had the habit of explaining all typoes as "Norwegian fan-slang." The Danish fans call their country 'Fanmark', but if you're in evil spirits you may say Mundanemark. A Norwegian breakthrough in printing technology was the Rory Rull, basically mimeographing without a mimeo. If you're really desperate you can use with pottography, invented by Denis Lindbohm in the 50s, using special paper developed in ammonia that smells like piss. Anyway, it is better than proffset. You might want to do a tape-fanzine on a cassette instead, a kazzine.
Two words (possibly) inspired by German fandom, that has had some use here, are Vurguzz and voldes-fan. The first is a fannish drink, some sort of blog, said to be popular among German fans. 'Voldes-fan' is a fan who is "violent and destructive," like throwing water-bombs from the top floor; the term had some use after the incident when a couple of fans attracted the police after firing blanks outside the SFSF clubhouse. Speaking of blog, one might mention my own home-brew wine, Chateau Roscoe; I've called my homebrewed Fannenbräu, and I've sometimes tried to brew cider, TryckCider (= 'printed pages'). If you drink enough of this weird stuff you become a brungangol, an ancient Nordic word meaning 'he who often goes to the well'. By the way, Yngve, as in the similar "Yngvi is a louse," is also old Nordic.
Some have tried to replace the term 'science fiction' itself in Swedish. Suggestions include vetsaga, teknovision and faktasi. The latter was in fact Swedish Galaxy's winner in their great contest to find a replacement-word, around 1960. The only impact it had was to rename the publishing firm of Sam J Lundwall (Lord Theo of Chandra), Fantasi & Fakta, to Faktasi & Fanta. The latter is a popular drink, 'ståss ('of course').
Finally, a number of quotations have intrigued and amused Swedish fans over the years. The motto of Borås fandom used to be "How, but where?" (Hur, men vart?), unless they simply shouted Boråååås! or commented Så sött då! ("How sweet, eh!"). Gothenburg fandom correctly observed that "Fandom is something much bigger than ourselves" (Fandom är något mycket större än oss själva). Anything may be "scratchy and so" (raspigt och dant) or "such shit!" (sån't skit!). If you really want to see Swedish fans roll on the floor you may claim, "My name is Nisse Ear" (Jag heter Nisse Öra). But is hard to beat the interview with the fan Wolf von Witting (also known as Wull Vör-Wirring, 'total confusion') in a national newspaper in 1979. When asked why he liked science fiction and space, he answered: "Just imagine, white dots in a black darkness!" (Tänk, vita prickar i ett svart mörker!). That was years before Carl Sagan (when he wasn't busy stealing my Ansibles) found out about the blue dots. And if you have to finish a letter or an article fast you might write, "I have to finish now, because Lars von Laserbeam just entered the room."
Jag måste sluta nu, för Lars von Laserstråle kom just in genom dörren.
All illustrations by Charlie Williams
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