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Norwegian expression of the day: Fortelle hvor skapet skal stå

If you feel that others are stepping all over you and it's time to stand up for yourself, you'll need to 'tell the closet where to stand'. 

Norwegian word of the day.
If you need to take charge of everything, then you'll need to tell the closet where to stand. Caption Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash / Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

What does it mean? 

Directly translated, it means “to tell the closet where to stand”. Norway hasn’t invented self-moving furniture to upstage its neighbour Sweden- known for its flatpack furniture. Instead, it’s simply a metaphor for putting things in their proper place. 

This could refer to someone telling you that you should be more assertive and stand up for yourself. 

Why do I need to know this? 

If you hear a Norwegian say this, you may think you’ve misheard them when they come up with a quip about moving the furniture around seemingly out of context. 

Telling the cupboard where to stand refers to taking charge or standing up for yourself. A person who knows where the closet stands can be seen as opinionated and determined. 

By directing the metaphorical furniture around you are seen as taking control of the situation. 

Use it like this: 

Du må fortelle Jonas hvor skapet skal stå. Det er på tide.

You have to tell Jonas where the closet should stand. It’s about time.

 Du skulle hørt Lise på møtet vårt i går, hun fortalte virkelig Mads hvor skapet skal stå. 

You should have heard Lise in our meeting yesterday. She really told Mads where the closet should stand (she really put Mads in his place).

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Norwegian word of the day: Syden  

It’s the time of year when Norwegians will start chatting about going to the “the south” more and more. 

Norwegian word of the day: Syden  

What does it mean? 

Syd is a more traditional and outdated way of saying south in Norwegian. These days sør is the most common and widely used way of saying south and is the form used when giving directions. 

By adding “en” to the word, it becomes “the south”. 

The word is an informal way of describing a holiday. However, it doesn’t just describe any holiday, it means a getaway to another country further south than Norway. 

But, not just any country further south than Norway, because otherwise, that’s most of the world. For example, spending your holidays in the Shetland islands wouldn’t qualify as heading south. 

The saying refers to warmer climates, more or less exclusively. Furthermore, it’s commonly used for “typical” Norwegian holiday destinations such as the Canary Islands, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. 

If you find it slightly confusing, then don’t worry, plenty of children without a solid grasp of geography do too. For example, if told by their parents that they are going to “syden” for a holiday, some children will assume this is a country, rather than an expression. 

There isn’t really an equivalent English saying. The closest is used to describe the migration of birds seeking warmer weather in “heading south for the winter”. 

Use it like this

Jeg gleder meg kjempe masse til sommerferien, for da skal jeg til Syden. 

 (I am really looking forward to the summer holidays because then I am headed to “the South”. )

Anna: Hva skal du i sommer Karen?

(Anna: What are your plans for summer, Karen?)

Karen: Jeg skal til Syden!

 (Karen: I am going to “the South”)