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Norwegian expression of the day: Gå rundt grøten

Norwegian expression of the day: Gå rundt grøten
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
If a Norwegian accuses you of 'walking around the porridge', it could be time to spit it out.

What does it mean?

Gå rundt grøten literally translates to ‘walk around the porridge’.

It’s an expression Norwegians use to say that someone is ‘beating around the bush’. People who går rundt grøten (walk around the porridge) are tiptoeing around the truth rather than saying what they really mean.

Why ‘porridge’?

Norwegians have eaten porridge for years. Long before trendy Instagrammers and bloggers turned oatmeal into a health hype, we had soggy, thick oats for breakfast, covering its tastelessness with layers of cinnamon and sugar.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Emilie Nereng (@emilienutrition) on Oct 1, 2019 at 2:14am PDT

For Christmas, Norwegians treat themselves to white, unhealthy porridge topped with a large dollop of butter.

The expression, which comes from Danish, is as long as this tradition. Originally the full saying goes å gå som katten rundt den varme grøten – to walk like a cat around hot porridge.

The idea is that the cat, smelling the delicious porridge, circles around the boiling kettle, longing for a taste, but afraid to get burnt. 

Just like the cat knows it would get scolded if it were to jump into the kettle, Norwegians fear the consequences from speaking frankly about a sensitive topic. Rather than risk getting burnt, we dodge the topic all together, smile politely and try and talk about something else (the weather for example, we love talking about the weather).

Use it like this

Slutt å rundt grøten, si det du skal si. – Stop walking around the porridge, say what you mean.

Jeg orker ikke gå rundt grøten, jeg bare er ærlig. – I can’t be bothered to beat about the bush, I’ll just be honest.

Han går alltid rundt grøten, han tør ikke si hva han mener. – He always beats around the bush, he doesn’t dare to say what he means.

Ways to be frank in Norwegian:

Kalle en spade for en spade – calling a spade a spade (means saying something as it is).

Snakke rett fra leveren – talking directly from the liver (being frank).


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