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Norwegian expression of the day: Å snakke rett fra leveren 

What does it really mean when Norwegians speak from the liver? 

Today's word of the day.
If Norwegians speak from the liver, they probably still filtering their words anyway. Caption Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash / Nicolas Raymond/FlickR.

What does it mean? 

The most direct translation of å snakke rett fra leveren means ‘to speak directly from the liver’.

It’s an expression used to describe speaking truthfully without sugar-coating anything. In English, a similar saying would be to “speak from the heart,” although this typically applies to more emotive oration rather than frankness. 

So why did Norwegians choose the liver? Well, it’s due to a dodgy understanding of biology. Way back when, people believed that the liver was the root of thoughts and emotion, according to the Norwegian Language Council

Another similar expression is: Nå skal jeg snakke rett fra leveren! – I’m going to say it as it is!

Why do I need to know this?

Norwegians sometimes find it hard to find the words when something uncomfortable needs to be said to someone. 

I have a personal anecdote that might help illustrate this. On the way to the airport once I was defecated on by a bird, without realising. I managed to travel from central Oslo to the airport on public transport, check in, go through security, and get through duty-free before anybody said anything to me. 

Out of all those thousands of people, I passed, and the several I would have come into closer contact with at check-in and going through security, only one person plucked the courage to tell me I had something on my jumper. 

This means that if a Norwegian says they are speaking from the liver, they either feel like the situation is forcing them to, or they will, in fact, choose their words delicately still to avoid an awkward situation, confrontation, or hurting someone’s feelings.

However, some parts of the country are known for being more straight-talking than others. For example, many Norwegians will often say that their compatriots in the north prefer to tell it how it is and set the record straight, even if it means they come across as a bit blunt. 

Use it like this: 

Beate snakker rett fra levra!

(Beate is very direct!)

Nordlendinger sier det som det er. De snakker rett fra levra!

People from North Norway say it like it is. They speak straight from the liver!

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Norwegian word of the day: Yr 

Given how often the weather changes in Norway, this is a useful one to know.

Norwegian word of the day: Yr 

What does it mean? 

Yr is the word used to describe a light drizzle in Norway. Yr is also the name of the country’s most popular weather app, which is run by public broadcaster NRK and the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. 

Drizzle is precipitation with a drop size of less than 0.5 mm and is a transition between rain and clouds. Given you’ll unlikely to be measuring rain drops as they fall, you’ll typically be able to tell drizzle from feel. 

Most Norwegians are undeterred by the presence of drizzle unless they are expecting heavier rain to follow. 

The reason for this is that I am sure you will have had a Norwegian tell you at some point now when you’ve complained about being cold or wet- det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær (there is no such thing as poor weather, just inappropriate clothes”). 

However, yr shouldn’t be disregarded every time you come across it or if it’s on the forecast, especially up in the mountains, as a little bit of drizzle can soon become a rain shower. 

Use it like this: 

Det er meldt yr i morgen tidlig, kanskje vi bør utsette teltturen vår?

(It’s meant to be drizzling tomorrow morning, maybe we should postpone our camping trip?)