Not fish. Å, Moskenes, The Lofoten Islands, Norway. 2011

Å is a tiny little town that seems to have closed because we arrived few days out of “the season”. The only place we could get a coffee was at an old traditional bakery.
After being in Norway for the last two weeks, the more of Norwegian I hear the more it’s starting to sound a little like English and I have started to feel that I can catch little snatches of what is being said around me and understand some of it. As I was helping myself to some coffee at the counter in the bakery I could hear some Norwegian guys ask the baker, in Norwegian, where she was from and I heard her answer back in Norwegian that she was from Poland.


When the guys left I asked the Baker in English (just about everyone here speaks English) how a Polish person ended up in Å of all places. The baker was surprised that I knew she was from Poland and after a short interrogation from her we quickly got into a discussion about all sorts of things. 

I asked what the bread-like cinnamon rolls were called in Norwegian and she told me but said that was the local fisherman’s dialect for them and then went on to give me a bunch of other names that basically meant things like, spice roll, spice snails, cinnamon spirals etc. From this topic we moved onto the people of the Lofoten Islands and the way how they speak and what issues affect their dialect.

It turns out that the baker is an historian and we got talking about how fixated the Lofoten Islanders were on cod (torsk in Norwegian) to the point that when a Lofoten Islander says the word “fish (fiske in Norwegian)”, they are referring to cod and when they speak about other fish they mention them by their specific name.

 After hearing this, I suggested that perhaps we could simplify the naming of the little cinnamon rolls by calling them “ikke fiske” (not fish)!


4 thoughts on “Not fish. Å, Moskenes, The Lofoten Islands, Norway. 2011”

  1. People in Japan use “gohan” (rice) to describe breakfast (asagohan), lunch (hirogohan), and dinner (yorugohan).

    I was brought up to understand that “roast” was beef … and any other kind of roast was called by name “pork roast”, “lamb roast”, or … I don’t think we had any other kind of roast, I was just bluffing.

  2. Ross

    We can tell so much about what concerns different cultures just by their language. Just like the Inuit and all their different terms for snow and its various states, or the Fijians and all their words for coconuts in their differents states of ripeness.

  3. Pat

    The work she was doing was very physical, fast and hot. There were no mixing machines and everything was done by hand (if you’ve ever made bread you’ll know what I mean when I say physical). Look at her arms and you’ll her profession gives her quite the work out. No place for fripperies like a top that covered two shoulders!

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