Så mye ski!

Just finished the sports unit, and that last lesson was so much skiing! Sorry to ruin the surprise for anyone not there yet :-P

But anyways, the thing that struck me immediately was that it seemed like all of the verbs for skiing were also verbs for other modes of transportation. "Jeg går langrenn" means "I ski cross-country" when I'm used to translating går as walk. "Jeg kjører utfor" suddenly meant "I'm skiing downhill" when I was totally expecting it to be "I'm driving downhill." Is there a simple way to tell when a sentence is about skiing? Especially in instances where there's not a greater context to work from?

June 6, 2015


There is no one verb that means "to ski" in Norwegian, you have to express that concept using a phrase: "gå på ski", "gå langrenn", "kjøre utfor" etc. As you can see, all these phrases make use of an "auxiliary" verb such as "gå/stå/kjøre" so you have to sort of forget the meaning that verb has when taken on its own.

There are no situations where "Jeg går langrenn" could mean anything other than "I am cross-country skiing". The only ambigous sentence of all the skiing-related phrases I can think of is "Jeg kjører utfor". Context would give the meaning away, though.

Situation 1: you ask Knut what he likes to do in his spare time. He says "Jeg kjører utfor". In this context it means that he habitually goes downhill skiing.

Situation 2: you and Knut are perched atop a hill on your bikes. You ask Knut if he's going to walk or bike down the hill. He replies: "Jeg kjører utfor", ie he's going to ride his bike downhill. You'd be hard pressed to misunderstand this sentence in either situation.

Hahaha, that skill killed me, too :D First I thought "Wtf, when will I need to say that?" but then I understood that skiing is a very big and important part of Norwegian culture, so... it's good to know all those words!

There are two sayings that always tickle me regarding Norwegians and skiing. "Norwegians are born with skis on their feet." and "Norwegians learn to ski before they learn to walk."

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