Norwegian expression of the day: Du skal ikke skue hunden på hårene

There’s a lot more to a dog than its fur, or so Norwegians say. 

You shouldn't judge a dog by its fur.
As you'll be aware, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Caption Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash / Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

What does it mean? 

Directly translated, it means ‘You shouldn’t judge a dog on its hairs’. Almost everyone will have heard of its closely related English colloquialism ‘you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover’. 

Essentially the two mean the same thing, meaning you shouldn’t jump to assumptions about how someone or something looks on the outside and that it’s what’s inside that counts. 

Why do I need to know this? 

This saying is a classic example of how languages will often share idioms with very similar meanings, but will have slightly different wordings. 

Another example would be ‘storm i et vannglass’ (storm in a glass of water), which is an exaggeration or escalation of something not very important- similar to a storm in a teacup. 

Å grave ned stridsøksen (to bury the battle-axe) would be another example, being a close cousin of burying the hatchet. 

However, it isn’t clear whether the teacup is added to the English saying and the battle-axe added to the Norwegian one is done to add some regional flavour to the expressions. 

Use it like this: 

Min nye kollega ser ut som han ikke tar jobben sin seriøst for han kommer på morgenmøtet med joggebukser.

(It seems like my new colleague doesn’t take his job seriously. He always shows up to the morning meeting in sweatpants.) 

Det kan hende du tar feil. du må ikke skue hunden på hårene

(You might be wrong. Don’t judge a book by its cover) 

Although in this case, the person taking exception to their colleague’s dress sense may be onto something. 

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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Syd is a more traditional and outdated way of saying south in Norwegian.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”)