Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Skumbilar = Chewy Candy Cars


When I first started translating Norwegian, decades ago, I frequently found myself stumped by certain words in fiction, and spent hours either writing to people in Norway or talking to native speakers in Seattle. Sometimes the difficult words belonged to past history, sometimes they were slang words, sometimes they referred to kinds of food or clothing I hadn't encountered before. 

The Internet didn't exist then; I couldn't just type in  a word or a person's name.

Recently I've been translating a Norwegian novel with a character who loves candy. There are frequent mentions of what she eats and how it makes her feel (remorseful). I'm not a candy eater myself except for the occasional dark chocolate truffle, so when I'm in Scandinavia I never visit the many candy shops or pay much attention to the bags of candy for sale in convenience stores.  

This morning I stumbled when I came to a description of the character half-choking on the "shock absorber" of a skumbil. Since I knew she was eating that weird, marshmallow-stiff candy called skumgoderi, literally "foam goodies," I figured it must be in the shape of cars. I decided to see if I could find an image of a skumbil on the Internet. 

Who knew that there are forums dedicated to discussing this kind and shape of candy, apparently a Swedish specialty? Also Twitter feeds, Flickr and Instagram and Pinterest pictures. At least now I know what to call them in my translation: Chewy candy cars.

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