We’ve now reached a critical moment in Pardon My Norwegian’s history and possibly the only NSFW post ever: Learning about cursewords. Also referred to as banneord in norsk.
I can’t really think of any modern language that doesn’t have them. And there’s no use denying that you’ve probably blurted out a couple after, per se, a frustrating phone call with customer service, stumping your toe against a table or to express exclamation when no other words seem to fit at that precise moment in time. Cursing, in this regard, is just another instance that is simply human and another aspect of language learning.
But anyway … how do Norwegians curse? Transparent’s Norwegian blog published an interesting post on the subject a couple of years ago and noted that a lot of Norwegian bad words come from old Norwegian, but are also linked to religious words, particularly those related to the devil, satan or hell. There are also some that are specific to a certain dialect. On the flip side, I’ve also noticed that Norwegian sometimes spices in some English swearwords and it is quite common to hear them uncensored in the media (especially on the radio).
I asked folks and scouted for common Norwegian swearwords and phrases, so along adding several I’ve already heard before, I’ve compiled a list (please note that the following is really NSFW!):
Dritt - shit/shitty (usually used with other words, e.g., drittbil, “shitty car”)
Fæn - Comes from fanden, which means “the devil.” Translates as “fuck”
Jævla - Devlish, but means “fucking” (e.g., Din jævla idiot! “You fucking idiot!”)
Helvete - Hell
Drittsekk - Dirtbag
Rasshøl - asshole
Dust - jerk
Dritthode - shithead
Satan - Satan, the devil
Pule/Knulle - To fuck
Pokker - Literally means the devil, but translates as hell or damn
Herregud - My God/Lord God. Not really a swearword, but some use it with caution.
Fy fæn! - Holy fuck! / Fucking hell! / Damnit!
Dra til helvete! - Go to hell!
Dritt og dra! - Fuck off!
Kyss mæ i ræva! - Kiss my ass!
Fuck deg! - Fuck you!
Hva pokker driver du med? - What the hell are you doing?
Se til helvete å pell deg vekk! - Get your ass out of here!
Whew, where’s the soap? There were a couple of others that I left off the list that referred to that were just too sexual in nature or were directed at specific groups of people, which I would not recommend using at all. Actually, if you’re not an expert, I would avoid using this type of language entirely because you’ll come across as rather foolish. I am far from a master at being knowledgeable about these (and probably never will be), so if there are any corrections or even others words that can be added (that aren’t too obscene or offensive), let me know.
On an humorous note, my friend Norwegian Rune sent me a video of how Norwegian cursing should be properly done. A man has problems installing a washing machine and vents to his wife — which was recorded and is colored with Norwegian bad words. It’s hilarious and also in dialect, so feel free to take a look at the bokmål translation if you’re really curious about what he’s saying.
Photo obtained by Josh Janssen. Used under a Creative Commons license.