Salongfähig

The German word “salongfähig” is well known here in Norway, with a meaning vaguely similar to “politically correct”. It literally means something that fits in a salon, a place where cultivated people gather to talk.

However, in Norwegian the word “salong” is also used about a set of living room furniture, and the heart of this is the sofa. (We do not have a word for “couch” in Norwegian, only sofa and divan.  The Arab word “sofa” is used almost interchangeably with the Persian word “divan”, although there seems to be a vague consensus that divans are better suited for napping in and sofas better suited for just sitting.  Sofa seems to be winning and may remain the only word in use. Divan has been retreating internationally as well, from what I read.)

The lack of a proper Germanic word for these things is no doubt due to the fact that our ancestors were quite austere. Some variant of the word “bench” is quite common in Germanic languages. In Norwegian it is called “benk”, but sitting on them is no longer comfortable enough for our skinny rumps.

The other mandatory part of the “salong” is of course a couple matching living room chairs. I believe it has been possible to buy more than two, but in today’s small families that is probably rare.

The third and final component is the low living room table, “salongbord” in Norwegian. It is used to put coffee cups on while drinking coffee in the living room, as Norwegians like to do.  But I bought this set used, and there was no table with it, for reasons unknown. This suits me well, as I don’t drink coffee. I would probably just have covered it with magazines anyway, or even computers.  This time, I intend to have no big computers in the living room, only laptops at most.

Instead, I would like to sit reasonably near the wood stove with a good book. I find that my home office, completely crowded with computers, is not so conductive to reading books, since it puts me in a computer frame of mind just by entering. Wood stove and living room furniture seems a more suitable environment.

Whether that will be enough to lure me away from the computers is another matter.

IKEA has just this week opened a shop outside Kristiansand, and people are swarming the place. As a result of many people buying new furniture, you can get great used furniture cheaply.  Today’s very durable purchase set me back about NOK 1000, or $175, but well over half of this was fuel for my friend’s van. He lives in the province east of this one, but came all the way to pick me up, help me buy the furniture, drive it home and help me carry it. So he certainly deserved it.

In all fairness, it was his idea too.  He is the only person who occasionally visits me anyway, but it was probably not for his own sake. He is used to austerity, as an old-fashioned Christian he spends much of his time in prayer and fasting, not to mention celibacy, and hard work to earn his own money and give to those in need. So he probably does not mind the hard folding chair that was all I had before. But if he thinks I should become a little more “salongfähig” in this regard, I don’t see it as a great loss, even though I personally live more like a porcupine than a human socially speaking.

And at least it let me write a diary entry that humans can actually understand. I hope.

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