< Til forsiden

Norwegian for beginners

I realize that several of the readers of my blog are not familiar with the Norwegian language, that's why I alternate between using Norwegian and English. But in Norway - even though most people speak good English and many people can make themselves understood in at least one more language, it is expected that anyone residing in Norway should speak Norwegian fluently - it is considered one of the main indicators of what in this country is called «integration». Therefore, I now offer a crash course in some basic Norwegian terms:

A «brødskive» is a slice of bread with something on top - like a half-sandwich. It is the main food in Norway, and is normally eaten two to three times a day. Things you can put on top of your bread include cheese, jam, ham, tinned sardines in tomato sauce (very popular, that one), liver paste, caviar and so on and so forth. It is generally frowned upon to put too much topping on your bread - you should never put more than one slice of ham on your slice of bread. It is, however, okay to mix different toppings, but it's important to know what it's okay to mix, and what is considered plain strange. For instance, many people combine cheese with jam - but to combine cheese with sardines or jam with sausage is not a good idea. We eat brødskive for lunch as well, and since many schools and work places don't have cafeterias, we often bring a matpakke.

A matpakke (lit.: «food-pack») is a stack of brødskiver, either sandwiches or half-sandwiches. If you are environmentally concious you put them in a box (a matboks), but it is more common to wrap it in a special kind of thin paper, called matpapir.

Matpapir (lit.: «food paper») is a special kind of paper used to wrap brødskiver for lunch. When they've finished their brødskiver, many people like to press their matpapir into a tight ball and try to hit the dustbin with it from where they are sitting. The more obnoxious people like to throw them at other people. It is therefore quite common to find balls of matpapir lying around in Norwegian classrooms.

In a TV show a couple of years ago, the word dugnad was voted the national word of Norway. If you belong to a voluntary organization, a church or have children in primary school or children involved in sports or playing in a band, you are often expected to participate in a dugnad from time to time. It simply means that there is work to do, and people get together and do it on a voluntary basis. Common tasks are picking rubbish and painting walls and fences. To participate in a dugnad is voluntary, but it is considered bad etiquette to repeatedly miss out. Often you would bring a matpakke to the dugnad, but sometimes, you might get invited to kaffe as a token of appreciation.

If you are invited for kaffe (lit.: coffee), you can expect to get served not only coffee, but also at least two kinds of cake. We Norwegian like our cakes. You don't generally invite people for kaffe on week days (although it is okay to invite people just for coffee of course, but then you should say en kopp kaffe (a cup of coffee), in order to avoid implying the addition of cake), but you would often do it on sundays and feast days. If you are invited for both dinner and kaffe, you should reserve most of the afternoon and evening, as you would normally chatter for hours, and it generally gets very koselig.

Koselig is another very typical Norwegian word. It is very hard to explain, and its full meaning can only be learned through experience. It refers to an experience of being satisfied and at ease and enjoying the company of other people.

In the aforementioned TV show, the word that came second was the word , which is possibly the most commonly used word in the Norwegian language. It is not considered very polite, but since Norwegians in general are not very polite people, we use it all the time. It is most commonly used to imply that you didn't catch what someone just said, but it can also be used to express disbelief or surprise.

That concludes our lecture for this morning. We might come back with more later.

On this day in 2005:
Ugandabloggen: Mbale, ettermiddag

Ingen kommentarer:

Legg inn en kommentar