Inspirational Proverbs in Norwegian

May 15th, 2013

Norwegian has produced some amazingly wise and inspirational proverbs in its long history – here are a few to inspire you today.

Norwegian Inspiration

The inspirational proverbs of Norway are curiously blunt, and sometimes sound a bit cold to American ears – or at least my ears. When I hear them I always picture some old crusty Norwegian grandparent giving gruff but affectionate advice. For example, a common saying is barnesorg er snart sløkt, which means a child's grief is soon put out. It’s comforting in the sense that you can always expect children to rebound quickly from tragedy, but it’s also kind of blunt, don’t you think?

Or consider alt lyt øydast som er etla til det, which means everything must be destroyed that is meant to be so. Grim! And yet, inspirational in its way, because it means that sometimes we cannot avoid tragedy, that sometimes things are meant to happen no matter what we do. If you are feeling responsible for some tragedy, hearing that it was unavoidable could be the most inspirational thing in the world.

Norway and the Environment

Many of the best proverbs from Norway have to do with the countryside, as the nature of the land plays a huge role in Norwegian history and culture throughout the years.

I love bjørnen og bjørnemannen (bjørnejegeren) har ikkje same meining, which means the bear and the hunter are not of the same opinion. Not inspirational? Of course it is, if you’re troubled by people who disagree with you, it’s inspiring to hear that there may be a fundamental reason for this that has nothing to do with the quality of your argument.

Some of the best proverbs are simple: Who, when looking for inspiration, wouldn’t find av små frø blir det store tre inspiring once they learn it means from small seeds big trees grow. When faced with a daunting task and few resources, hearing that can get you moving confidently forward. The Norwegians are a smart people!

Finally, my personal favourite Norwegian proverb is dei galne har mange morosame stunder som den vettige ikkje har, which means the maniacs have many funny hours that the sane guy does not have. The sense and humour of this proverb is inspirational to me because I often feel like I spend too much time working and am missing out on fun – but sometimes that’s the price for being sane!

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