Norwegian: Han steller seg ved vasken

dukaine

Senior Member
English - American
This phrase is from a simple story about a guy washing his hands. It is translated, "He sets himself by the sink", but when I look the phrase up, all the contexts are about grooming or taking care of something/someone. Here is the phrase in its entirety:

Han steller seg ved vasken og setter på vannet.

The meaning of grooming here doesn't make any sense, but I also couldn't even find the word "steller" in any dictionary I used. Is this an idiom or colloquialism of some kind?

Thanks!
 
  • raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    "Stelle" is an ordinary Norwegian word, which you should find in every dictionary. (You don't find "steller", because that is a conjugated form). "Stelle" has different meanings and can be used in many contexts, but "stelle seg" can usually be translated as "get ready", "tidy oneself up" (for example, before going to a party). When a man "steller seg" by the sink, he probably washes his hands and face. He may also shave, and comb his hair, for example.

    It is translated, "He sets himself by the sink",
    This translation does not make sense in standard Norwegian. If you translate it back to Norwegian, you get "Han stiller seg ved vasken". "Stiller" is pronounced "steller" in some dialects, so it only makes sense if this is written in dialect.

    The meaning of grooming here doesn't make any sense,
    Without any context, "Han steller seg ved vasken og setter på vannet" is a completely normal sentence, meaning something like "He tidies himself up at the sink and puts the kettle on".

    So if it does not make sense to you, you have to tell us more about the context: why doesn't it make sense? Who is the author? Is it written in dialect? You can quote up to four sentences from the text, or post the link if the text is on a website.
     

    dukaine

    Senior Member
    English - American
    "Stelle" is an ordinary Norwegian word, which you should find in every dictionary. (You don't find "steller", because that is a conjugated form). "Stelle" has different meanings and can be used in many contexts, but "stelle seg" can usually be translated as "get ready", "tidy oneself up" (for example, before going to a party). When a man "steller seg" by the sink, he probably washes his hands and face. He may also shave, and comb his hair, for example.


    This translation does not make sense in standard Norwegian. If you translate it back to Norwegian, you get "Han stiller seg ved vasken". "Stiller" is pronounced "steller" in some dialects, so it only makes sense if this is written in dialect.


    Without any context, "Han steller seg ved vasken og setter på vannet" is a completely normal sentence, meaning something like "He tidies himself up at the sink and puts the kettle on".

    So if it does not make sense to you, you have to tell us more about the context: why doesn't it make sense? Who is the author? Is it written in dialect? You can quote up to four sentences from the text, or post the link if the text is on a website.
    I did look up "stelle" and it wasn't there. One dictionary I use will take any form you give it, and it wasn't found.

    The title of the story is "Jørger vasker hender". The whole thing is only about washing hands. The English given for the sentence is "He puts himself by the sink and turns on the water." This comes after he comes home from work and his hands are dirty, so he goes into the bathroom to wash his hands.
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    I did look up "stelle" and it wasn't there. One dictionary I use will take any form you give it, and it wasn't found.
    That's strange - it's a bad dictionary if it doesn't include such an ordinary word. You find it in Bokmålsordboka:
    Bokmålsordboka | Nynorskordboka

    The title of the story is "Jørger vasker hender". The whole thing is only about washing hands. The English given for the sentence is "He puts himself by the sink and turns on the water." This comes after he comes home from work and his hands are dirty, so he goes into the bathroom to wash his hands.
    I see. I found the story here:
    Norwegian Simple Daily Stories - Jørgen vasker hender

    There are actually two strange things about this sentence. First, the author doesn't know the difference between the verbs "stelle" and "stille". That could have been OK if it was written in dialect, but this text isn't. It is supposed to be standard written Bokmål.

    Second, "setter på vannet" is used to mean "turns on the water". This looks strange or childish to me. "Turns on the water" should be "skrur på vannet". For me, "setter på vannet" means "puts the kettle on".

    In other words, the sentence should have been "Han stiller seg ved vasken og skrur på vannet". I wouldn't really trust this website.
     
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