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Norwegian expression of the day: Deilig å være norsk i Danmark

Norwegian expression of the day: Deilig å være norsk i Danmark
Photo: Tobias Tullius on Unsplash
Why Norwegians love being in Denmark.

Why do I need to know deilig å være norsk i Danmark?

Because it’s a common expression that says a lot about how Norwegians perceive their southern neighbours – and themselves.

What does it mean?

Deilig å være norsk i Danmark, which can be translated as ‘lovely to be Norwegian in Denmark’, has been a well-known slogan in Norway since the late 1980s.

It originated in 1989 when Danish travel bureau Dinamo launched it as a campaign slogan aimed at drawing Norwegian tourists to Denmark.

Norwegian deilig and Danish dejlig have slightly different meanings. Whereas Danes use dejlig to say ‘lovely’, Norwegians will rather say fint (nice) or hyggelig (pleasant).

Deilig in Norwegian traditionally indicates physical pleasure. A massage is deilig, the feeling after an intense skiing trip is deilig (the trip itself, not so much). A meal can be deilig too.

In a few years, deilig å være norsk i Danmark became part of Norwegian everyday-speech. Norwegian media frequently use it, for example if Norway has beaten Denmark in some kind of sports game.

Why the success?

One of the reasons deilig å være norsk i Danmark had such a success is that it’s true.

Norwegians do have a lot of fun in Denmark. It’s smaller neighbour and ex-coloniser is cheaper and less rigid about smoking and drinking (at least so the stereotype goes), and generally more free-spirited.
 
The stereotypical Dane is, to us, fun, jovial and full of life.
 
We have skiing and oil, they have rød pølse (red sausages) and Tivoli (the Copenhagen funfair).
 
So when Norwegians go to Denmark, we try to be fun too. Danskebåten (the Danish boat), the boat that crosses between Oslo and Copenhagen, is a place where Norwegians are known to go wild. Throwing their inhibitions overboard, they sing karaoke, empty the all-you-can-eat buffets and drink endless units of alcohol.

The 2010 VisitDenmark commercial below perfectly captures the stereotype. A Norwegian couple on holiday opens their door to what they believe are their angry Danish neighbours coming complain about the Norwegian’s party the evening before. 

In reality, the Danish neighbours just wanted to find out which one of them had won the bet on the record that was played. Bottom line: Danish neighbours don’t fret over late night music (like Norwegian neighbours would, so det er deilig å være norsk i Danmark.
 
 


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