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In Norway, ‘Texas’ is slang for ‘crazy’

The flag of Norway
The flag of Norway

So what did we learn from the Internet this week?

We learned that the next time you’re in Oslo, just drop the word “Texas” in casual conversation and you might just earn some respect. The Lone Star State is now a synonym for “crazy” but hold on, don’t get your spurs in a knot. In this case, it’s often a good kind of off-the-hook crazy, not the let’s-lock-’em-up kind of crazy.

Texas Monthly, which broke the story on Tuesday by writing about a Tumblr feed on the phenomenon, says that usage often is linked with the phrase “det var helt Texas” which means, roughly, “it was totally/absolutely/completely bonkers.”

It has nothing to do with current Texas or American politics. In fact, the phrase appears to go back decades. Anne Ekern of the Norwegian consulate in (where else?) Houston told NPR that it comes from “watching cowboy movies and reading literature about the wild West. And the wild West held, I think with most Norwegians, strong Texas association. So when we use the expression ‘Texas,’ we think about -- you know, most of us think about a lot of action, a lot fun and a lot of things going on.”

Texas Monthly went totally Watergate on the issue, dug around and found several examples of the term in Norwegian sources including a fisherman who described the sight of a rare swordfish as “totally Texas,” a soccer match was declared “totally Texas,” and out-of-control truck drivers in northern Norway were said to be creating a situation that was “totally Texas.”

Other examples abound. A Norwegian pizza chain, Dolly Dimple’s, made a commercial calling its pizza deal “helt Texas.”

The Houston Chronicle reported that a Norwegian band named Plumbo has a country-tinged rock song called Helt Texas. It’s also the title for a dance-pop-hip-hop video from a group called Club de Norvege featuring Benjamin Beats.

The question now becomes does this mean we have to return the favor and describe anything that’s calm and cool as “totally Norway”? As in, “there was absolutely no traffic on I-35 during rush hour this morning. It was totally Norway!”

Then we can celebrate by cracking open a bottle of aquavit.

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