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Top 5 untranslatable Norwegian terms

Every country has expressions you simply cannot translate easily into any other language. Often they express an essential part of a country's culture. We asked  tutor Anitra Irrera for her top 5 untranslatable Norwegian terms and their meaning. 

1. Koselig

"Koselig" is a word that's used a lot in Norway. It's been translated to "cozy" and "nice" but these only describe parts of what "kos" and "koselig" is. Sitting next to a fire with a cup of tea and a good book is "koselig". So is having a nice chat with a friend. Even working late at night can be "koselig" if you have a warm blanket or a hot cup of chocolate in your hand. It's a word you'll certainly hear in Norway.

2. Glad i deg

This is an expression I really miss. It directly translates to "glad in you", which doesn't make much sense. A better translation would be "fond of you". We use it when "jeg elsker deg" (I love you) is too big of a statement. In English the word "love" is used for everything. You love tea, your brother, your lover. In Norwegian there are more words used to express this sentiment. "Jeg er glad i deg" would for example be said to a friend or even your spouse. We save the "elsker deg" (I love you) for those very special occasions. So to sum it up: "Elsker" either indicates romantic feelings or the kind of love a parent has for their child.

3. Takk for sist

This directly translated means "thanks for last" and we use it when we see someone again whom we've spent an occasion with, whether it was a dinner party, a coffee date, a day out with the kids. It doesn't matter what you've done together but it's polite and very common to say "takk for sist" ("thanks for last"). If it's said emphatically, you really enjoyed their company. If said in a neutral tone, it could simple be said out of politeness.

4. Pålegg

Norwegians eat a lot of bread. Traditionally bread is eaten for breakfast, lunch and a late night snack ("kveldsmat"). With all this bread you need a lot of "pålegg" to put on it. Since we have open, single sliced sandwiches, there is a wider variety of "stuff" you can put on your "skive" (slice of bread). There is no English word for "pålegg". Pålegg can be cheese, salmon, jam, eggs, tomatoes. In other words; "whatever you put on your slice of bread".

 5) Takk for maten

Norwegians don't say "please" a lot but they do say "thank you" a lot.

Whether you're at home or at a dinner party, it is polite and very common to say "takk for maten" after eating. It simply means "thanks for the food". Children are made to say this from an early age and won't be allowed to leave the table before doing so.





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