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Photo: Terje Rakke/Nordic Life

7 un-translatable Norwegian words you should memorise this summer

In Norwegian, we have a word for the act of enjoying a beer outdoors on a sunny day. If you visit Norway this summer, you’ll want to know it.

Don’t worry: You’ll manage just fine in Norway without learning the language. Most Norwegians speak at least passable English.

Then again, we have some pretty neat words that don’t really exist in English at all – or any other language, for that matter.

Make no mistake, these are important words: Like “utepils” (the act of enjoying a beer outdoors on a sunny day) or “pålegg” (anything and everything that you’d put on a sandwich or piece of bread).

Here’s a list of the words you might consider memorising before visiting Norway this summer.

A large chunk of Norway lies north of the Arctic Circle, where the sun never sets for parts of the summer. It doesn’t make much sense to talk about day and night, so we have a word for the time between one midnight and the next. That word is “døgn”. It can also be used for any 24-hour time period.

The first “utepils” is a highlight for many Norwegians each spring, when it’s finally warm enough to enjoy a beer in the sun on a sidewalk café. That’s literally what it means – to drink beer outdoors.

“Marka” is the finite form of “mark”, stemming from old Norse, meaning woodland or forest. Today it refers to the hills and forests that border on cities and settlements – especially Oslo. Indeed, the capital is surrounded by more than 1000 square miles of untouched nature, in walking distance from the city, and accessible by public transportation.

Actually, there are two words you should know that relate to bread and sandwiches. “Pålegg”, as already noted, refers to anything that you could reasonably contemplate putting on a piece of bread, such as jam, chocolate spreads, ham and cheese. The other word is “matpakke”, (meaning “food pack”, or packed lunch). Whether at school, work or out hiking in nature, many Norwegians usually carry one.

This one’s a classic. Far from meaning simply “cosy”, it’s the appropriate adjective for pretty much any nice, pleasant, likeable and/or friendly person or situation. Add the intensifier “skikkelig” (as in “skikkelig koselig”), and you’ll pass for a true Norwegian.

Literally, it means “dearest”. What makes it beautiful, though, is that this is the (non gender specific) Norwegian word for boyfriend or girlfriend.

Glad i deg
Speaking of dear ones: “Glad i deg” is what you say to someone you hold dear, but who isn’t necessarily a “kjæreste” (to whom you’d say “Jeg elsker deg”, meaning “I love you”). Literally it means “happy in you”, and you can say it to friends and family to express that you care about them.

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