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Norwegian expression of the day: Pølsevev

Norwegians share a national love for sausages - even if they know it's nonsense.

Norwegian expression of the day: Pølsevev
Photo: Jessica Loaiza on Unsplash

Why do I need to know pølsevev?

Because it’s a common expression that, when translated directly, it makes no sense.

What does it mean?

Pølsevev is put together by two words, pølse and vev. Pølse is Norwegian for ‘sausage’ and vev means ‘tissue' (not in the paper towel sense, but the tissue that's in skin).

It allegedly comes from the idea that sausages are made of those leftover pieces of meat that were too poor quality to use for anything else, and the pølse, by looking delicious, is something making out to be something it's not. 

Pølsevev is therefore an old school Norwegian way of saying that something is nonsense or to use harsher invective, 'BS'. 

For noe pølsevev! – What utter nonsense!

Other English equivalents would be 'gibberish', 'baloney', or 'rubbish'.


Sludder og vås – nonsense and nonsense (another common expression)

Snikk-snakk – chit chat

Tull – rubbish

Tøv – nonsense 

So do Norwegians hate sausages?

Not at all! 
You might be familiar with the Danish pølse, those thin, scarlet signatory hot dogs that the Danes love. The Norwegian pølse-craze is lesser known internationally, but it's not less true.
Eating pølse in Norway is an old ritual comparable to eating fish and chips in the UK.
Go to Norway during the May 17th National Independence Day celebrations and you will not be able to miss the many pølseboder (sausage vans) selling pølse i lompe (sausage in a traditional Norwegian wrap) or pølse i brød (regular hot dog) with ketsjup, sennep og sprøstekt løk – ketchup, mustard and fried onions – and, if you're lucky, potato salad (potetsalat).
The pølse is also a mandatory accessory to any ski trip. In winter, the slopes are filled with lycra-clad Norwegians devouring sausages during breaks.
Of course, Norwegian pølse-habits are changing. Even simple park barbecues now feature vegetarpølse and fancy bratwursts that make the basic grill or wiener seem slightly dull in comparison (grillpølse is the one you barbecue and wienerpølse is the one you cook in boiling water. If someone asks you, grill eller wiener? during a dinner party, this is code for what kind of sausage you'd prefer.)

Still, its simplicity has aways been a key feature of the pølse, and it might be a part of the explanation as to why so many Norwegians still are mad about it today.

Convenience stores sell pølse. Petrol stations too. Pølse is a legitimate road-trip snack. It's also one of the ultimate dishes to serve during a nachspiel (after party). It's cheap, easy to cook and extremely delicious (just beware of the ketchup spillers).
The sketch below mocks those who try to turn the pølse into something more complicated than it is, by ordering a string of different variants of the mustard, ketchup, bread and lompe (the wrap, remember).
Sophisticated pølse? Well, that's just pølsevev.




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Norwegian expression of the day: Flink pike

Why, to Norwegians, being a good girl is a mental health condition.

Norwegian expression of the day: Flink pike
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know flink pike?

Because it’s a huge thing in Norway. Today the expression itself is thrown around in everyday conversations, but it also has a deeper meaning that says a lot about Norway and how Norwegians perceive themselves.

What does it mean?

Flink is the Norwegian word for ‘good’ or ‘clever’ and pike is an old-fashioned word for ‘girl.’ (No one really says pike anymore except perhaps for some people above the age of 65.)

But a few years back flink pike went from being an outdated way of saying ‘good girl’ to become a label stuck on a mental health problem that seemingly had infested the whole nation.


A few years back, studies found that young Norwegians teens were saying they felt depressed now more than they had done in previous years.

As a rich country with low unemployment rates that prides itself of offering free education for everyone to give equal opportunities for all, Norway was puzzled to see that so many teens said they felt insecure, depressed and anxious about the future.

Why, Norwegians asked themselves, were so many young people – girls and boys, but mostly girls – feeling so miserable when they – compared to other teens in less fortunate countries – had so much?

What had gone wrong? Who was at fault? 

As the national debate raged the answer got a name: flink pike-syndromet (the 'good girl syndrome'), which today is known among psychologists as the certified mental health condition FSJ.

At fault was prestasjonssamfunnet (the 'performance society'), which had turned Norway into a nation of perfectionists.

Free from the burden of having to fight to to keep their democracy or job, in a society that was more socially liberal and gender equal than most, young Norwegians wanted to thrive academically and professionally, but also emotionally and through their looks – both physically and virtually.

As a result, Norwegians were excessively concerned about working out and eating well, as well as putting up glossy pictures that scored lots of likes on Instagram and Facebook.

Standing on the top of the Maslow pyramid, Norwegian teens were feeling unhappy because they were subject to a crushing, self-inflicted pressure to reach the very tip of self-realisation. (It's a slightly cruel generalisation, but you get the idea.)

After a nationwide self-reckoning with tons of people coming out as flinke piker (good girls) – not just young girls, middle-aged men too – after a documentary titled Flink Pike illustrated the tough life of a woman with chronic depression, after tons of articles slamming the term as pejorative against girls who performed well, the thing ebbed out (kind of).

The solution to the problem was anyway itself pretty depressing. To avoid flink pike-syndromet, all Norway had to do was chill out a bit. And in the world of perfect, who could afford to do that?”