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Under Tiden

Under Tiden (Swe) is translated as “in the meantime”.
The literal meaning = “under the time”.

Meantime – a combination of the words mean + time.
“Mean” refers in this case to “an average”, or “in the middle”.
The time in between two instances? This is not really what it means!

It is rather something that happens simultaneously as something else, but this is very important: it is happening during a time frame that is subordinate to, and directly determined by that other activity or event. It is so to speak UNDER the the influence of that time.

Example #1:
“Place the crust in the oven at 200°C for 15 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the filling.” (You can’t negotiate that time frame, when the 15 minutes are up, the crust has to be taken out of the oven.)
It is unwise to say:
“Prepare the filling. In the meantime, bake the crust in the oven at 200°C.” (The crust might get undercooked or burnt.)

Example #2:
“I’m going to do laundry. I’ll have a coffee with you in the meantime”. (Coffee-time is determined by the laundry-time.)
It is possible to switch it around, to make the intentions and priorities sound better:
“Let’s get a cup of coffee! I’ll do laundry in the meantime.” (However, this rhetoric is just a way to conceal the fact that time is still ruled by the laundromat.)

Example #3a:
“I have to stay near the phone, cause I’m waiting for an important phone call… I’ll read the newspaper in the meantime.” (probably internal and pre-cellphones conversation)

Here the time frame is still determined by the imminent phone call, but there’s no way of knowing exactly how long it will be, thus it’s matched with an activity that can be performed at any length of time.

Example #3b:
“I have to stay near the phone, cause I’m waiting for an important phone call. I’ll write a research dissertation in the meantime”. (Bad match)

Under tiden.
Under the time.
Almost as if you were an egg, kept under the boiling water until someone decides you are done, according to his or her taste.

What you do under the time is automatically governed by the time you are under. If you are a skilled time-undertaker you learn to pick an activity very similar in length. It makes you feel as if you have time under control. In theory, you don’t always have to stop doing that activity just because the time you’re under is up. You can keep drinking coffee with to your friend even after the laundry is done, but now the time can’t be called UNDER anymore. It’s just plain coffee time, with no guarantee of it ending at any time soon. It will completely lose its air of efficiency and time saving. Perhaps the activity wasn’t even that important to do on its own time (continue to read the rag mag even though the laundry machine has stopped?) The other way around is equally irritating, when you finish what you had planned to do under the time too soon (the filling took only 5 seconds to prepare in the power-blender, now what?)

To conclude:

“Under tiden”/ “under the time” seems like a better way to describe the hierarchy of different time frames.
“Meantime” seems like a more appropriate word when it comes to time frames of equal importance or equally undetermined in length.

Example #4:
“If you work on the design concept, I’ll work on the budget in the meantime.”


Idioms by Kids

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