Norwegian: Når man er frisk, har man mange ønsker...

serbianfan

Senior Member
British English
Well, to make sure that the next post on this forum isn't when we wish each other a Good Easter, here's a nice saying for these Omicron times: "Når man er frisk har man mange ønsker, men når man er syk har man bare ett ønske". Even though I heard and said this several times when I lived in Norway, there are practically no Google hits for the expression. Do people say it in Danish and Swedish? I don't think they do in English, so maybe if you said it in the UK, people would think it was your very own expression. What about other Scandinavian phrases which have a meaning that isn't found in any English phrase or expression? "Nissen følger med på lasset" springs to mind. "Det er aldri så galt at det ikke er godt for noe" doesn't count, because English has the expression "Every cloud has a silver lining", which means the same.
 
  • Swedish Anna

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Sweden
    We have the same saying in Swedish: Den friske har många önskningar, den sjuke har bara en.
    Here is another Swedish saying:
    Finns det hjärterum, så finns det stjärterum.
    "
    If someone has a room in your heart, you will have room for their bottom."
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    In the last 5 years or so I've started hearing "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes" in English - but this must be an inadequate translation of "Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær", rather than something truly equivalent
     

    PoulBA

    Senior Member
    Danish
    Når man er rask, ... / Den raske har ... It resonates, but whether it's an established saying, I'm not sure.
    Hvor der er hjerterum, er der husrum.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    I heard the one about "Når man er frisk" much more often than the one about "dårlige klær" when I lived in Norway. I would be surprised if "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes" was a saying borrowed from Norwegian if you've heard it from people with no connection to Norway. But of course it might also be said in a major language, e.g. German, which has far more speakers than Norwegian, and come into English that way.

    Hvor der er hjerterum, er der husrum.
    Yes, in Norwegian too: Hvor det er hjerterom, er det husrom. But is there an equivalent in English??
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I would be surprised if "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes" was a saying borrowed from Norwegian if you've heard it from people with no connection to Norway.
    It only takes one person to bring it into the English speaking world, and then have it leak through to someone in the media for it to spread. I distinctly remember the first person I heard saying it - Carol Kirkwood in one of her BBC weather forecasts.

    It is by no means as common as it is in Norway, but you do hear it occasionally. It wouldn't surprise me if it slowly dies out, as it is not nearly as snappy and memorable as the Norwegian version.

    Besides, I think it expresses a very un-British sentiment. Much more than Norwegians, we tend to wear the same clothes all year, and then complain about it being so hot/cold/wet. It would take all the fun out of complaining to wear appropriate clothes.
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    What about other Scandinavian phrases which have a meaning that isn't found in any English phrase or expression?
    What a great topic!

    My mother (Danish) is a walking encyclopedia of Danish idioms, expressions and sayings...it seems she has one for essentially every occasion. I have heard her say, Den raske har mange ønsker, den syge har kun et. This sounds very much like the Swedish version given by Anna above. I Googled it and only found this, Den, der er sund og rask, savner mange ting, den syge savner kun én ting ...same sentiment but wordier. Gode ordsprog - Her er 24 gode ordsprog

    I haven´t come across these two sayings in English (there are literal translations on line where the idioms are discussed.)

    Kært barn har mange navne.
    At gå over åen efter vand.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    It seems that the saying about the weather exists in German too: Es gibt kein schlechtes Wetter, es gibt nur schlechte/falsche Kleidung. Actually "falsch" (the wrong clothes) is more suitable than "bad clothes" but the saying sounds better if you have "bad" in both parts.

    Of course, it would be interesting to know if what may appear to be typical Scandinavian sayings occur in other European languages (or even Japanese!) but then you would have to be multilingual and spend a lot of time on the research.

    Kært barn har mange navne.
    At gå over åen efter vand.
    These two, which are also quite common in Norwegian, may be limited to Scandinavia, who knows? Perhaps an even better candidate would be one based on folk tales or folk songs, such as "nissen følger med". I know this one is used in Danish as well as Norwegian, but in Denmark sometimes the "nisse" is a monkey instead. :) For those who don't know this saying, I quote from NAOB:
    "nissen følger med på (flytte)lasset (etter eventyret og sangen om mannen som ville flytte fra nissen): vanskelighetene følger med en; det er umulig å reise fra uløste problemer". Of course you can say things like "you can't run away from your problems" in other languages, but then you would lose the colourful Norwegian "nisse", who definitely doesn't own any reindeer or give presents to all the good children.
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    "nissen følger med". I know this one is used in Danish as well as Norwegian,
    Yes, definitely. And this is an excellent example of the way that folklore and the specific traditions of a region have given rise to certain idioms which may be difficult to translate and/or understand out of that particular context.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    In traditional Irish folklore, the leprechauns (also known as the 'little people') could cause mischief. So let's say there's an Irishman who wants to move to the countryside to get away from his mental health/alcohol problems, and someone says "Ah, but the leprechaun(s) will go with you". I think the person might understand what was meant, even though it's not a familiar saying in English.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    On the other hand, people would find it very strange if you said in English "A dear child has many names" in reply to "Some people call it X, and others call it Y". Maybe "kjært barn har mange navn" and the equivalents in Danish and Swedish are uniquely Scandinavian, because Scandinavians often have more than one name for their (especially young) children, while this seems to be much less common in other countries. It's probably very old, and originated when somebody said (as people still do today) something like "Ja, hun heter Anne-Marie, men vi sier Tulla til daglig". Today, it's not necessarily used about something that is dear to you - I found an example on the Internet referring to the terms ADHD and ADD (in general, not about a particular child).

    Finally, I found on StackExchange someone asking whether "Kärt barn har många namn" has an equivalent in English. There were various irrelevant and not very helpful answers, but the best answer was: "The short answer is 'No'".
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    I notice there's a recent book called "Rige børn leger bedst. Et portræt af det danske klassesamfund", which reminded me of the fact that, even though there maybe an equivalent saying in English ("lige børn leger bedst" = "birds of a feather flock together"), the connotations may be quite different. So it may often be possible to have plays on words in the Scandinavian language which are impossible in English. It's not easy to give a good translation of the first part of the title of that book! :(
     

    PoulBA

    Senior Member
    Danish
    "Birds of a feather ..." might be better rendered as "Krage søger mage" - A crow will seek a mate ( or: an equal, or: a spose)
    Interestingly, another idiom with a similar, though somewhat admonitory, meaning uses the same image:
    "Cobbler, stick to your last" - "Skomager, bliv ved din læst" - "Schuster, bleib bei deinem Leisten"
     
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