One of my favorite things is to speak to people who speak English as a second-language, there are many reasons for this, but ultimately I am just so completely enamored with the slight differences in phrasing non-native English speaker will use, whether they are translating a colloquialism, idiom, or common term directly from their language or just expressing themselves on the fly. I’ve been wanting, therefore, to share some of the Norwegian-isms I’ve either read about or encountered first hand that delight my non-Norwegian brain. Here’s my top 7 (so far):
1. Quite texas
Let’s start with an example that is embarrassing to my country of origin 😉
You may have noticed this article getting a fair amount of online attention lately. Apparently, in Norway it is common to use ‘texas’ as slang for ‘crazy’ — this is so much a part of the vernacular that popular pizza chain Dolly Dimples puts it in their advertising, characterizing their pizza deals as “helt texas”. (google translate “helt” as “quite” which gives a delightfully understated quality to the ‘insanity’: it’s “quite texas”). If you plan to adopt this term, know that, when used in true Norwegian fashion, it applies to situations not to people. So, calling that oddball professor ‘texas’… not cool.
2. Melkesyre i lårene
Melkesyre i lårene (“Thighs have gone sour”) seems an appropriate phrase to know when you’re living and hiking like the Norwegian natives. You are hiking aren’t you? You have to!
And, when you do hike, you may get that familiar sore feeling as lactic acid builds up in your muscles. As another American blogger in Bergen points out, melkesyre (milk-acid) is the Norsk word for lactic acid, therefore”thighs have gone sour” is an apt description when “milk-acid” is flooding them.
Koselig (cosy) in Norwegian extends beyond English’s focus on atmospheric comfort. Describing something as koselig denotes a more heartwarming and extreme cosiness (I like this idea… “extreme cosy!”) that extends to conversations, people, events, virtually anything enjoyed with friendly camaraderie. I think this article explains it well.
A solveggen (sun wall) is kind of like a sun patch for a cat, except outside and for Norwegians… or for anyone who appreciates some sun after a long dark winter. “Å sitte i solveggen” is sitting outside against a wall in the sun. I like to image the sun creating the wall, so to speak: wherever it casts its beams a Norwegian can pull up a chair and sit “on the sunwall” (or in the sunbeam).
Utepils (outside-beer), a beer consumed outdoors, is relished any time of the year, but the first utepils after a long winter of innpils – or maybe innepils (in-beer or inside-beer), I don’t know (I assume I’m making this up, maybe a Norwegian can comment below and let me know if there is actually a legitimate term for beers consumed indoors) is prized. This first utepils of the new year may happen near or on the Easter Holiday. What’s that? You’re thirsty to learn about how Easter is celebrated here? Read more about Norwegian Easter here.
5. The year the mountains were so steep
One of my few, but very precious, Norwegian friends told me about this Norwegian expression, one that he heard regularly during his time in the army, “Ah, yes, it was that year when the mountains were so steep.” I adore this phrase, it feels like the ultimate version of an old saying my Dad often used, “In my day, I walked to school up hill both ways” (in the snow, of course). I aspire to use this phrase in my daily life, but it an opportunity has not yet presented itself.
According to this article, Forelsket refers to the intoxicating euphoria associated with falling in love. I once read somewhere that this is associated with increased serotonin when you are around the object of your affections and decreased serotonin associated with, well… everything else. This leads to an increased desire to spend time (pair bonding) with that person, as well as increased time spent thinking and talking about said person. In the book I read (I wish I could remember the title), I believe they referred to it as ‘serotonin inflexibility’, so that’s how I like to refer to it (what a romantic!) – how much nicer to have a single-word term that probably doesn’t elicit strange looks from friends and family when you use it.
Jeg elsker deg (I love you). Image: found here
7. Takk for maten
Takk for maten, or “Thanks for the food,” is both the Norwegian equivalent of “Thanks for having us”, a thank you to the host for their efforts in a meal and for their hospitality and a phrase commonly used in the context of shared meals in general. When it comes to being a guest, I find the directness and specificity of this phrase more charming than the generality and potential innuendo of “Thanks for having us”, although that can have it’s own charm in the right circumstances. But most of all, I think the practice of saying “takk for maten” after shared meals (especially dinner) is so sweet, a moment of gratitude and an expression of appreciation for a meal and those who worked to make it happen. My coworker informs me that the entire family says it before leaving the dinner table, and even a couple having their Monday dinner would use the phrase.
Do you have any favorite Norwegianisms? Please share them below!