Some monuments may sound quite weird, like this monument to a Paperclip that is placed next to the West Railway station (between the City Hall and Aker Brygge).
It is not by chance however because the monument is a memory to this ingenious and simple device that was invented by Norwegians.
How simple is the Paperclip? And now try to imagine your life in the office without it! What would we do without those smart Norwegians?
Norwegian belongs to the Germanic language family. We have many words in common with German and some words borrowed from English and other Indo-European languages. But grammar differs though. Actually besides from other Scandinavian languages Afrikaans, spoken in South Africa and Dutch seem to be the closest related languages. Like Swedish, Norwegian uses pitch accents, but to a lesser degree. The pitch accents give the language a musical quality and are sometimes employed to distinguish the meanings of homonyms. It can be quite confusing to a foreign speaker when the word bønner has three different meanings according to the accent . (Bønder , Farmers represented by tone 1), Bønner, prayers, beans (tone 2), Our different dialects might represent additional extra challenges.
Norwegian is an SVO language meaning that we usually base our sentences on subject, verb and object. (I have a car) in Norwegian (jeg (s) har (v) en bil (o). But we're also capable of changing the word order like: (Bilen(o) har(v) jeg(s) in English (the car have I)
The Norwegian alphabet consists of 29 letters, the first 26 or which are the same as the Latin Alphabet. The three last letters are
æ, ø and å
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Æ Ø Å.
Norwegian nouns fall in to three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. The inflection of the nouns depends on the gender.
m.: en gutt gutten gutter guttene
(a boy) (the boy) (boys) (the boys)
f.: en/ei jente jenta jenter jentene
(a girl) (the girl) (girls) (the girls)
n.: et hus huset hus husene/husa
(a house) (the house) (houses) (the houses)
In English the verb are inflected according to which person is acting (I go, she goes). In Norwegian we don’t inflect verbs like that. Verbs like (I go) and (She goes) are inflected the same way jeg går (I go) hun går (she goes) vi går (we go)
The most difficult part of the Norwegian language is the learning the clauses. Many foreigners speak almost perfect Norwegian but don't master the clauses.
"She says she doesn't want to do it". "(hun sier hun ikke vil gjøre det) If we divide the sentence in two parts :
Hun sier. Hun vil ikke gjøre det.
But when the last sentence is a clause, the word for not (ikke) comes first, it switches with the word vil, (verb). So this is the result: Hun sier hun ikke vil gjøre det. this is Norwegian at an advanced level.
Compound words are written together in Norwegian, which sometimes makes the word extremely long like sannsynlighetsmaksimeringsestimator (maximum likelihood estimator). Because of the English influence on the Norwegian language, it seems to be a tendency that we split up words that usually are compound occasionally with humorous results. Instead of writing, for example, lammekoteletter (lamb chops), people make the mistake of writing lamme koteletter (lame, or paralyzed, chops);)) other examples include
Smult ringer ("Lard is calling", verb) instead of Smultringer ("Doughnuts")
Tunfisk biter ("Tuna bites", verb) instead of Tunfiskbiter ("Tuna bits", noun)
Tyveri sikret ("Theft guaranteed") instead of Tyverisikret ("Theft proof")
On Mc Donald’s the shift leaders sometimes have sign with "shift leder"in stead of shiftleder. When the words are not written together it actually means " replace leader !"I don't know if the young people working there are aware of this grammatical mistake.
What you should now about us, is that we like to meet new people but we don't like to take the first step. We may seem a little reserved, but once you start talking to us you'll notice that we are friendly but still a bit shy (well with some alcohol, we're quite different). We are not a kissing and hugging nation. (Except from those we know very well).
I believe that's represent the general Norwegian person, but we also have some regional differences. It has been said that the people from Bergen are more outgoing; the people from Trondheim have their own sense of humor and really like to party. The people from the south coast of Norway, like Kristiansand are very shy people and are more affected by their Christian beliefs. When a person from the north of Norway gets angry or hot -headed we think of it as charming and a part of the North Norwegian culture and identity. But if a person from Oslo gets angry it's not that charming. The North people are also allowed to use some swear words that would not be acceptable by a person from another place. I believe that some of these character sketches are just stereotypes that the Norwegians likes to make fun of
We don't usually talk to strangers, and when using public transport you'll probably notice that the Norwegians will not share seat with someone if they do not absolutely need to
-we don't like to cluster. Personal space is respected. So you should not be offended-It's just a culture thing.
We consider us self as strongly independent people. We want our kids to do well in life and don’t depend on different (social instances). If you’re familiar with some of our fairy tales like Askeladden (ash lad), he’s the one who takes life in his own hands, killing the troll, winning the princess and half the kingdom-with no help from anybody.
You should also know that being indebted by borrowing or receiving favors will make us uncomfortable.
If you're planning to stay in Norway (Oslo), maybe you want to study here and make friends, keep in mind that it takes time to make Norwegian friends. It takes time to know the Norwegian culture, our jokes, and our funny language. But please be patient and you'll get Norwegian friends for life.
Almost all young Norwegians master (good) English. Most of us also had French/Spanish and/or German at school but hesitate to speak it, even though we understand it. The problem is that we hardly ever practice it. And we usually watch English spoken programs on TV. So talking about television shows like. can be a conversation topic. But please don't reveal the end, we're some light years behind other countries like the US.
In Scandinavia door locks or keys often have to be turned contrary to how you are used to turning them to open or close a door.
For example, in Germany a door with a door handle on the right side is usually locked by turning the key clockwise, whereas in Scandinavia you might have to turn it anti-clockwise.
Oslo doesn't differ much from other Scandinavian cities and this is obviously Scandinavian local custom. As soon as the sun comes out in May they all rush from their rooms, flats, offices, classrooms, libraries etc., strip down to bathing suits and enjoy the open air in city parks catching the sun rays.
Parks are really extensively used for this and it is interesting to see how they all become living rooms of the surrounding neighbourhoods between 11 and 5pm aproximately.
People come here with children, couples having picnic, students coming with their books, artists with drawing paper.
I really loved this custom of living together in city parks, and I had to take some photographs for research reasons only (although some girls in bathing suits weren't very convinced in this as they saw me taking pictures behind the bushes). Life of the researcher isn't easy!
Bunad: a national suit used for special occasions, like the 17th of May and weddings, but newer in funerals. We have numerous different national suits, and you can't just pick a nice suit if you don't have some sort of a connection/link to a specific region. But if you like the national suit from Telemark , your cabin in Rjukan should be your necessary link..
But as a general warning you should never wear a Sami costume if you have no Sami affiliation.
17th of May: our constitution day.We celebrate our freedom after being subjected to cruel aliens for centuries. It's also a great opportunity to see all the national suits you wish you had. Other keywords are hotdogs, ice cream, Norwegian flags, marching bands and high-flying balloons.
hytte: "Cabin". A sort of a little house with fireplace usually isolated, and without a normal WC and hot water. We spend our time there in the holidays. It's a part of our national identity. But most of us DONT own a cabin, we just have access to one. Sharing a cabin with family members and friends often means trouble, so think twice before going for this solution.
Our nature plays a big role in our Norwegian identity. According to all Norwegian lifestyle magazines, the ideal of happiness is moving to a remote and isolated place engage in farming, listening to the sounds of nature and cowbells- and just forget about the rest of the world. It’s the Norwegian way of self-realization.
Gå en tur: go for a walk, from one distance to another and back, and for no special reason. In every personal ads they all like to "gå turer i skog og mark".It's a Norwegian cliché.
ski (cross country) skiing We are actually born with skis on our feet, and it's a part of the Norwegian identity.Some famous Norwegian skiers: Bjørn Dæhli, Vegard Ulvang and Thomas Alsgaard and not at least our new stars: Marit Björgen, Therese Johaug and Petter Northug.
We’re proud to have arranged the Olympic Games in Lillehammer in 1994.
We are also very proud to have beaten Brasil in football WM in 1998, (but our performances in general are not much to brag about.)
Harrytur/harryhandel: To avoid bankruptcy, we travel to the Swedish border Svinesund and empty _their_ shelves for cheap food, candy and alcohol.
Forspiel/nachspiel: it’s nothing sexual, but a private drinking party before and after the pub crawl- to avoid going bankrupt.
our word *ja* (yes) with ingressive affirmation, we don't have inhalation problems we just talk like that!
Målstrid: the never ending war between Norway’s two official written forms of Norwegian: Nynorsk and Bokmål.
kos* some kind of pleasure/kozy.
"brunost": (Brown cheese) You either like it or hate it. Its'very Norwegian, just remember to use our Norwegian invention, our cheese slicer.( I doubt it’s only a Norwegian invention, but please don't destroy our pride)
"Vaffler": We eat a lot of waffles. Eating waffles with jam and sour cream is a Norwegian tradition.
Dugnad a Norwegian term for voluntary work. Nobody can force you to participate in this, but you _should_ participate to gain more social capital.
Russefest: the crazy time before high school graduation. The whole concept starts in autumn and for most of us it ends in the middle of May ( and for some, it never ends) . It's by far NOT the most intellectual time of our life.
SOME PROVERBS AND SAYINGS
"Hvor var du når Oddvar brå brakk staven?*
Oddvar Brå: was a popular Norwegian skier than unfortunately broke his staff during VM in Oslo Februar 23th,1982. I don't really know why it's so popular to ask about this, but you have to know where you were the day this incident occurred.
"å hoppe etter Wirkola/ to jump after Wirkola" " "*
Bjørn Wirkola was one of the best ski jumpers in Norway. He was always the best so being next in line to jump was not that fun. Today we use this saying when trying to compete with someone who's totally superior. I would totally lose my motivation if I knew that the person singing before me in a song contest was a famous singer like Celine Dion.
Det er typisk norsk å være god* "It's typically Norwegian to be good "
"an expression of our" arrogance when it comes to "sports performances"
As you walk the steets of Oslo do look above your feet since the whole city is a large exhibition place for local artists. It is obvious that the city government is investing a lot into this project that probably has a purpose to bring some joy on the streets of a place where recently the most famous work of art was "Scream" painting by E. Munch.
So look around for wire people dancing above the street in Aker Brygge, divers taking a plunge from the SAS Radisson hotel tower or simply a chandelier hanging from one side-street at Grünnerlokka. There are more pictures in my Travelogue.
Norway has two official written languages, Bokmål and Nynorsk (new Norwegian". Norway was once in a union with Denmark many centuries ago, that’s why our Bokmål (our majority language) is strongly affected by Danish (it doesn't sound like it though!)
New Norwegian dialect and written language is mainly used on the west coast. In Television about 25 percent of all the subtitles are in Nynorsk according to Norwegian laws. Some of the reporters also speak a kind of New Norwegian dialect. If you work in a public office and you receive a letter written in New Norwegian you're actually obligated to answer in New Norwegian. But I don't think anyone does that if they have a lot other things to do. I don't think they get fired or fined if they answer in normal Norwegian.
The law also decides that all school kids have to learn both languages in school. It has been objected to this law for several decades. It seems to be the case that we all understand New Norwegian and spending our school ours learning to write a dialect that we don’t speak seems to be a waste of time. But our New Norwegian language has strong historical and cultural roots and all attempts to eliminate it have not worked out. I have actually never heard about a person who has actually has needed New Norwegian after graduation. Well maybe if you want to be a Norwegian teacher.
Besides from our two written languages, Sami language is also spoken in the north of Norway (Finmark) where some of the lap people live but most of them live in Oslo. A fellow VTV member reminded me of the complex language situation the Sami people face. They have at least four different Sami languages/dialects. Many years ago the Sami people were not allowed to speak Sami at school. They were forced to speak and act like Norwegians. Today the young Sami people are being taught according to the bilingual model with Sami as a teaching language and Norwegian as a second language and English/German/French/Spanish as a third language
these days there are very, very many Swedes in the center of Oslo. In every store and kiosks you are guaranteed to meet them. They speak Swedish, a language close to Norwegian.
Some New Norwegian glossery: sound file
English/ New Norwegian/ Bokmal
I eg/ jeg
Norway Noreg/ Norge
size storleik/ størrelse
white kvit/ hvit
she ho/ hun
to start byrje/ begynne
a lot mykje/ mye
some useful Norwegian (in Bokmaal)
thank you (tusen) takk
my name is jeg heter.....
godbye ha det (bra)
Silje Vige singing in New Norwegian in MGP 1993 (number five) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-VqRkX-Eqc
Janosch in New Norwegian: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNLmKq3UA84&feature=related
(visit this page for a free basic Norwegian course)
At most places with customer service (e.g. Post Office, Tourist Information, Money Exchange) you have to take a number from a machine. Then you have to wait for your number to be called or to be shown on a display with the appropriate counter. So instead of waiting in a line you are able to browse through other things while waiting for your number to be called.
and here's a tips on how to pronouce the three last letters in our alphabet sound file sound file
Æ, Ø Å
sær ( strange)
Er , verb, to be. ( jeg er, hun er etc) I'm. she is...
The Norwegian Cats make a sound that's Æ-related "Mjau"
And if you hurt yourself and want to scream something , if we're not swearing, we say au au au.
Eventually you can think of the word "van" (American accent) or:
Bad, Ass , have or you can imagine you're at the dentist and have to open your mouth until it hurts.
is like the e in her It's her car
MØØ That's the sound of the Norwegian cow in every child book.
Nøff, nøff, that's the sound of the Norwegian pig..
is pronounced like the a in saw, it's a bit more open. think about the Scottish accent.
jeg så henne ( I saw her)
( a city in Norway)
( I have to)
Ål, place in Norway or an eel.
So if you want to practice å hun er så søt (ooh she's so cute!)
It's complicated to use these letters in my VT guide. Sometimes I just make it easier by using some others letters instead. But it does not make a big difference.
The R-sound can be really difficult for people from English speaking countries they have a reputation for committing a bloody massacre on the Norwegian “R.” It's the rolling that makes it hard. In Norwegian we have different R-sounds according to the dialects. If you think that the R-sound from the west coast of Norway is the easiest, you can just say you learned Norwegian from a person living there. Or stick to the scottish R-sound, if you think it's easier.
your R-sound should be something like this;) Or the R-sound you make if you'riding a horse, and what it to stop. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr , well that how we do it in Norway...We roll it.
And this is a funny vers about Ibsens ripsbusker og andre buskevekster ( Ibsen's currant bushes and other shrubs. )
ibsens ripsbusker og andre buskevekster..
Take care when you enter a public place. Usually you find a machine there and you get a number. As soon as you see your number indicated, it's your turn. We saw these numbers in the tourist information, in Trafikanten, when changing money, ....... We saw as well lots of tourists waiting without an number. They didn't know about it and had to wait longer.
A great way to see many of Oslo's sights without breaking the bank is to buy an Olso pass. It will allow admission to most of Oslo museums and provide free public transport. They can be bought for valid time periods of 24, 48 or 72 hours.
One thing that is often strange for foreigners is the custom of taking off your shoes in the hallway. This is for practical reasons, preventing the floors from becoming dirty especially in winter .if you're arriving a party with your party shoes you shouldn’t be thinking of taking them off unless they got dirty on your way there.
Norway does not differ from other Scandinavian countries in their policy towards alcohol either. In regular shops it is only possible to buy beer, and this also usually has some sort of a curtain that closes after certain hour in the afternoon.
It is possible to buy wines and other alcohol only in state-controlled Vinmonopolet shops. It is sometimes an amazing sight to see people filling large trolleys only with bottles and paying thousands of Kroners for it.
Although they claim that they can't compete with Swedes and Finns, Norwegians also love drinking and you'll see lots of drunk men and women strolling the streets on Friday night like it is some sort of a national sport. It happens again on Saturdays and Sundays they all chill out in the countryside becoming brand new again on Monday morning.
Norwegians are playful people. In parties (especially child parties) they play different games. That could be running the fastest you can, with a bag around your legs. Or carrying a potato on a spoon, with your mouth. Even though I consider myself as an adult I often play these games with other adults. This picture was taken on the 17th of May this year.
picture 2 potato competition
Carry a potato on a spoon and try to get it to the other side. With the help of your mouth.