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"Det er verken fugl eller fisk."

Translation:It is neither fish nor fowl.

June 12, 2015



For the non-native English speakers who didn't know the idiom, it means: " Not any recognizable thing. Not one or the other, not something fitting any category under discussion" According to idioms.thefreedictionary.com


I've spoken English as my first language my whole life and I've never heard of this idiom.


I think it's the first thing I heard after being born.


Seriously, you've never come across "neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring"? I suppose that makes me older than you but it simply means neither one thing nor another, ie cannot be categorised. The red herring is included for emphasis.


What region is this idiom from? I'm a native English speaker and have never heard it before.


It was very common in England and Scotland. It seems to be dying out.


It seems backwards to translate "fugl eller fisk" as "fish or fowl." I know the expression in English has "fish" first, but shouldn't the literal translation of this sentence be "It is neither fowl nor fish."


When you learn idioms you're supposed to learn to say them correctly in the other language, not literally (if this was to be translated literally, "fugl" would not be translated to "fowl").


It accepts a more literal translation, too. I put "that is neither bird nor fish" and it took it. Anyway I'm glad they show the English idiom; it only just made me realize that fugl cognates with fowl. Remembering that word just became about a million times easier \o/


The question remains: Is this also an idiomatic expression in Norwegian?


True, but how are we supposed to know it is an idiom, if we ever seen it before?


You are not, but you have learned something new.


*have never seen ;)


*haven't never done seen =P


In German it's "weder Fisch noch Fleisch" - "neither fish nor meat".


So funny: in switzerland (swiss german) we say "weder fisch no vogu" - "neither fish nor bird"


So true, Norwegian is rather a mix of "Swiss-German" and English than German and English. So it is quite easy to learn for English and/or German speaking people. Probably "Swiss-German" and Norwegian underwent similar vovel-shifts ;-)


In Dutch it is " het is vlees noch vis". Det er verken kjøtt eller fisk.


"Het is vlees noch vis" and similarly: "Het is hom noch kuit", are expressions often used when a (policy-) decision does not reflect a clearcut choise for one-or-the-other solution to the problem and in fact requires a follow-up. I have the feeling this is not the same for the Norwegian phrase though.


Wait, fugl, fowl, I get that word now!


I had translated this as "there are neither birds nor fish", since "det er" can also mean "there is/are" and, unless I'm mistaken, "fugl" and "fisk" without any articles could also be interpreted as indefinite plurals. Am I completely wrong here? :D


For fish you are correct, but for fugl the plural is fugler. I translated as "There is neither fish nor fowl" and it was wrong, so I reported it, because it should be accepted.


I believe that would be "det finnes" instead of "det er", though I could be mistaken.


Are "verken" and "hverken" completely interchangeable or are there some differences in meaning? Perhaps it's a development to ommit the unhearable h, i could imagine.


They're completely interchangeable, and yes, removing the 'h' is an attempt at making the spelling more phonetic.


I am amazed that many do not know this expression! In Italy it says: "it is neither meat nor fish", to say that a dish has no flavor, or figuratively if a person or something is not distinguished in anything.


Everyone figured it was an idiom, and here I thought it was referencing the childrens game "tampen brenner"...


The literal translation should still be accepted, even if a better translation is proposed, which is still not the case as I'm writing this. It hasn't been fun, typing out correct literal translations on a cell phone keyboard twice only to start all over again.


Neither ... nor is a tricky one. It fell out of favour in English teaching circles (UK / Scotland) when I was being taught in the 70s & 80s. It's essentially a contraction of "neither ..., nor is it ...". I don't know if it's back in vogue or this is a US English difference but I have a visceral reaction against it. Much like pluralising 'roof' as 'roofs' (when it should be rooves, like hooves).


Really? No one ever told me that and I am still using it. I was taught in the 60s and 70s.

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