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  5. "De slår ham i hjel!"

"De slår ham i hjel!"

Translation:They are beating him to death!

December 7, 2015



What does "hjel" literally mean? Is it just another word for "død"?


In modern Norwegian it only exists in the expression "i hjel/hel", which translates to "to death".

Its origin is the Old Norse word "hel", meaning "death", which also referred to the realm of the dead in Norse religion. This link persists in our current word for "hell", which is "helvete".


It's also where the English word hell comes from. I find it fascinating that early Christianity in Germanic speaking areas just reused the pagan Norse word for underworld. You would think the church would have avoided anything that reminded people of the old gods! So much of Western Christianity is influenced by the local pre-Christian traditions, it's really interesting.


Very interesting, thanks!


Helvete can be used to stress a sentence too - Instead of i hjel or would be something very coarse to say ?


No, that wouldn't work. "I hjel" is a fixed expression.


I heard to say that norwegian people swear a lot - that's why I got curious about it - Can judge me but I really like such "emphasizers" of words ordinarily known as swearwords... !


In Northern Norway, sure. In general? I'd say English speakers have us beaten.

Swearing is notoriously context, dialect and sociolect dependent, so I would tread carefully as a non-native. No judgement, just a piece of advice.

"Helvete" and "helvetes" are among the more common swear words, but they're not a substitute for "hjel/hel".


True... lol!

I think in general that social class has an influence relatively fifty-fifty on that context 'cause I see that upper-class people swear so much as the others... ! But I get impression that it has much more to do with culture and age than any thing... !

But it is very interesting to know how it works... Maybe certain words could be extremely offensive in Norway, y'know! And it'll usually take us (as foreigners) some time to learn and become familiar with the culture and all that stuff... !

Thank you for your time - I imagine that help tons of users it must be really tiring and even tiresome... lol!

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