Norwegian Language Blog

What’s Norwegian for Twerking? Posted by on Oct 11, 2013 in Language, Norway and the world, Traditions

idémyldringIt’s no secret that people in Norway and other western countries are fascinated by USA [oo es AH] (they might be complaining about American politics but still watch the soaps). Miley Cyrus makes some daring bevegelser (moves), and the next moment people from Oslo to Australia are talking about twerking. Or are they? It depends, of course, on the language you’re using.

In countries like Denmark or Germany, people like to take new expressions directly from American English and give them a free space in their everyday language – perhaps with the addition of a native suffix and a bit of accent. Most Norwegians, on the other hand, love their language too much to be ”lazy” like that. In Norway there is an urge to make ”pure” Norwegian alternatives to all the American English buzzwords. Official bodies like Norsk språkråd – the Norwegian language council – brainstorm for Norwegian ways of saying things like ”brainstorm”. Ordinary Norwegians generally support this attempt to keep the language clear and transparent. A few times, though, there are conflicts between the grass roots and the top. While Norwegian television adamantly insists on using the Norwegian translation snøbrett, most onlookers and practitioners of the sport say snowboard.

Here are a few Norwegianisations that I find really nice:

data [DAhtah]. Much easier than saying ”computer”. It’s short for datamaskin [dahtahmahSHEEN] – data machine.

tenåring [TENaw-ring] means teenager. The ”ten” part has been taken from the ”teen numbers”, just like in English: tretten, fjorten, femten, seksten, sytten, atten, nitten

idémyldring [eeDEHmeeldring] means brainstorm. Literally it means ”idea swarming”.

minnepinne [MINNehpinneh]. Memory stick.

nettbrett [NETbret]. This is what your iPad is called in Norwegian. The name means ”Internet board”.

• rullebrett (rolling board) – is quite another kind of slate, namely a skateboard.

hurtigmat [HOORteemaht]. Fast food.

potetgull [pohTEHTgooll]. A more Norwegian alternative to potetchips (potato chips/crisps). It literally means potato gold

What are your favourite Norwegianisations of English words?

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


  1. Freddie:

    Those H’s y’all have in all the “translations” are no good. They are just misleading.

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Freddie @Freddie
      Thanks for the feedback!
      Do you mean the brackets? [ ]
      Some people want to see the pronunciation (in English letters). Would ( ) be better?

      Kind regards,

  2. Dmitry:

    I didn’t understand until your post, where it came from 🙂 thanks!