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Norwegian word of the day: Gåsunger 

One of the first signs of spring in Norway is gåsunger, but what are they, and what do "goose kids" have to do with the warmer weather? 

Norwegian word of the day: Gåsunger
Today's word actually has nothing to do with geese or their offspring. Pictured is a chalk board with "goose children" on it. Caption Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash / Nicolas Raymond/FlickR.

What does it mean? 

The word comes from gås, meaning goose, and unger, which is a casual or informal way of saying children- similar to using kids in English. Gåsunger is plural due to the presence of an “r” on the end of the word.  

Combined, the word is translated directly to “goose kids”, but more accurately translated it can mean gosling, the proper name for young geese. 

Gåsunger are a small, plump, almost-fur like collection of very small flowers found on willows and other plants. In English, the flowers are called catkins. 

The flowers are protected by a shell covered with fine hairs, which makes the gåsunger feel like fur or down, hence the name. 

Gåsunger is the most common name for the flowers, but they are also called katte labber (cat’s paws) or seljepuser (seal pups) by some. 

Why do I need to know this? 

Gåsunger bloom early, so are considered one of the first signs of spring in Norway. The changing of the seasons brings in warmer weather and longer days. It is for this reason that the goslings are met with such joy each year. They are also popular with kids who will play with them due to their softness.

You can also buy the goslings from florists and supermarkets to have in your home. 

There is also a much more practical reason as to why you need to know this word beyond the whims that spring brings. 

Gåsunger also signals the beginning of the pollen season in Norway, meaning if you suffer from allergies, it may be time to stock up on antihistamines.  

Use it like this

Våren er her, det er gåsunger på trærne. 

(Spring is here, there are goslings on the trees)

Gåsunger er et vårteng. 

(Goslings are a sign of spring)

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Norwegian expression of the day: Katta i sekken 

If you've bought something online that's completely different to what was advertised, this Norwegian saying should help sum things up. 

Norwegian expression of the day: Katta i sekken 

What does it mean?  

Katta i sekken means “cat in the bag”, unlike the English expression where having something in the bag is great, you don’t want to find a cat in your sack, metaphorically speaking. 

The expression describes a scenario or situation where you’ve bought something that is different to advertised, underwhelming, or if you’ve been ripped off and paid way more than the item is worth. 

It’s used as a verb, for example, Å kjøpe katta i sekken, (To buy a cat in the bag). Also, note that it’s typically the slang katta that’s used rather katt, or katten. 

The term dates back to the middle ages, and a possible origin of the phrase is the story of Till Eulenspiegel, where a cat is sewn into a rabbit skin and sold as a hare. 

Several languages use the term or have their own version of the expression. However, some languages will refer to a pig in the sack, like Swedish, while others use cats as metaphors for the unwanted item. In English, the closest expression is “A pig in a poke.” 

What about ‘letting the cat out of the bag’? 

This term can get confusing in its similarity to “letting the cat out of the bag, ” which means revealing a secret. In Norwegian this is: katta er ute av sekken. 

You may hear someone say something like Fikk du med deg det Vilde sa? Jeg antar katta er ute av sekken. This means: Did you hear what Vilde said? I guess the cat’s out of the bag.

Therefore, if you hear someone talking about cats in bags, it’s best to pay close attention to ensure you’ve listened to the expression correctly. 

Use it like this: 

Jeg kjøpte en telefon på Siden det ikke fungerer, kjøpte jeg katta i sekken.

(I bought a phone on Since it doesn’t work, I bought a cat in the bag).