One of my favorite web comics is Anders Loves Maria by Renee Engström. The comic follows the story of Anders and Maria, two artists living in Stockholm. I love the complexity of the storyline—it jumps between past and present—and Engström’s beautiful and detailed drawings. The Swedish cast makes for some interesting linguistic quandaries sometimes, like today’s word of the day: “sharking” or “to shark.”

In the final cell of last week’s comic, Anders tells Maria, “I think you may be sharking me.” Like many of the readers I was left a little confused by the word. In the comments section, loyal readers duked out the definition, several of which I’ll highlight.

  1. If she means the British English slang term, it may mean “hunting the opposite sex.”
  2. I think in this context it means something along the lines of someone not being as clueless or innocent as they present themselves. Like loan sharks or card sharks.
  3. He’s using the phrase “sharking” as if it means something – poking fun at the whole issue of using words in a context that Maria doesn’t understand.
  4. Hm, the Swedish slang phrase for ‘getting’ (as in understanding) someone is, literally translated, ’sharking’…
  5. “Sharking” is a translation of the Swedish word “hajar” (understand).

So does “sharking” mean 1. hunting the opposite sex or 2. getting/understanding? Given that the comic is Swedish in origin but written in English Engström definitely left it ambiguous. Either way, both meanings work in the context of the comic strip. I’m definitely impressed that one little comic strip brought forth such a great linguistic discussion.

Other Resources

Written Translation Services

Written Translation Services ALTA offers written translation services in over 100 different languages. Our team understands how important it is that your documents are translated accurately, and we work with subject matter experts to ensure that industry-specific documents are translated...

Learn More

SDS and MSDS Translation

If you run a company that keeps hazardous chemicals on site, it is essential to obtain an SDS, or Safety Data Sheet, for each product kept. SDSs contain potentially life-saving information, and therefore it is incredibly important for employers of...

Learn More

HR Compliance Translation Services

Understanding HR Compliance Translation Services In our increasingly interconnected world, employees with diverse language skills and backgrounds add unprecedented value to employers. In 21st-century organizations, human resources materials may need to be translated. Safety instructions and employee manuals should be...

Learn More

Contact Us

Get Started Today

Interested in our language services? Complete the form or call us during business hours (9 AM to 6:00 PM ET) at 800.895.8210.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Preparing for your test?

View our test prep materials or FAQ’s for common questions about taking a test.