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NORWEGIAN WORD OF THE DAY

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
Norwegian word of the day: Syden. Caption Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash / Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

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Syd is a more traditional and outdated way of saying south in Norwegian.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

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NORWEGIAN WORD OF THE DAY

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 finn.no. Siden det ikke fungerer, kjøpte jeg katta i sekken.

(I bought a phone on finn.no. Since it doesn’t work, I bought a cat in the bag). 

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