I returned home from Atlanta and BarkWorld Expo on Saturday night. As the plane landed I found myself exhaling with relief. Not because I'm afraid of flying - I'm not - but because it was good to be home. The conference only lasted for a couple of days and I had a good time, but I felt as if I'd been away for weeks.
I met many bloggers and brands, made new friends, and even have an idea for some sweet new author swag.
The most thought provoking experience for me was meeting another Swedish person. I don't meet many Swedes, and she is the first one from the pet industry. When getting together with someone from the same cultural background, the differences between here and there suddenly appear huge.
Some differences are easy to spot on the surface. Like, we don't do BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) in Sweden. We have fairly strict laws regarding animal welfare. There are cats in shelters, but dogs are almost unheard of. Few dogs are spayed or neutered, but we still don't have an overpopulation, because people take responsibility for their pets. (It's perfectly possible to have a girl and a boy dog without getting puppies, LOL.)
Things like these are just the visible top of the iceberg. Our attitude towards animals is deeply rooted in society and woven into our way of thinking, even our language.
I've given the differences in language a fair amount of thought, and was surprised to find that she did the same thing. I'm not the only one spending time on this!
In Sweden, if you're the mother of a human child you're "mamma" and if you're the father you are "pappa."
If you're the mother of a pet, you're "matte" and if you're the father of a pet you are "husse."
Say that you look after someone else's child during daytime, while they're at work. That makes you a dagmamma. If you instead look after someone else's pet, your a dagmatte.
I haven't found this in any other language. Last time I thought about it I asked a friend from Germany, but she couldn't think of an equivalent. My new Swedish friend had asked Danish friends, figuring Denmark and Sweden have larger similarities than differences. They don't do it either.
The more I think about it the more certain I become the Norwegians don't have special words for pet parents; my first steady boyfriend came from Norway and he thought the idea of Matte and Husse was mighty silly until he got used to it.
Maybe he was right. Maybe it is silly. I do however believe that this difference in language portrays a difference in thinking and feeling; a difference in how we choose to treat those around us. To me, the word "Matte" has a connotative meaning of love, responsibility, friendship, and other qualities difficult to put into words. It's a different normal.