A love letter to høyfjellet

Posted on 30. Jun, 2014 by in Nature

Høyfjellet at Hardangervidda (Photo courtesy of Christian Theede Christiansen on Flickr.)

Høyfjellet at Hardangervidda (Photo courtesy of Christian Theede Christiansen
on Flickr.)

According to the late Norwegian singer and humorous writer Odd Børretzen, the first Norwegians were nuts: With istida (the Ice Age) coming to an end in Europe, do you think these sturdy fellows stayed to enjoy the sunny lands in central Europe? Nope, instead they followed the retiring is (ice) on its path nordover (northwards) to de ugjestfrie fjella (the unwelcoming mountains) of Norway-to-be, where kulda (the cold) and the sparse soil made life an uphill struggle… (Of course, the stereotypical nordmann – Norwegian – loves climbing hills and mountains!)

You’ll see those Stone Age pioneers got it right when you visit det norske høyfjellet – the Norwegian “high plateau” (literally: high mountain). With tregrensa (the “tree limit”) well below you, there’s only your friends and you, and lier (highland pastures) and daler (valleys) and fjelltopper (peaks) så langt øyet rekker (as far as the eye can see, literally “reaches”). The air is clean as spring water, and the enormous stillhet (silence) around you makes every heartbeat resonate. You’re very tett på himmelen (close to the sky/heavens) now, so take care that you don’t become too religious! :-)

Om vinteren (in the winter) the høyfjell is like another planet where everything is white and alien. People go skiing on plains of snø (snow) so thick that you often glide past the uppermost twigs of trees, jutting out of the cape.

I påska (in Easter) høyfjellet gets a makeover as påskefjellet (the Easter mountains), and Norwegians are swarming on the high plains, as it’s often the only place where there is still snow. Sola (the sun) is really hot now and its stråler (rays) are reflected by the snow. Remember to dress lightly, even if there’s snow underneath you, and remember lots of solkrem (suntan lotion) and solbriller (sunglasses, shades). Otherwise, people will seriously think you’ve been vacationing in the Sahara! :-)

Om sommeren (in the summer), when there’s only snow on the highest peaks, høyfjellet is popular among trekkers who often go from hytte til hytte (cabin to cabin). There are many cabins that are free for tourists to use.

Naturally, there is nothing quite as vakker (beautiful) as høstfjellet – the mountains with autumn hues at their feet.

Mind your inversion

Posted on 29. Jun, 2014 by in Grammar

Master Yoda - origami

The sequence of words important is, yes!

Norwegian grammar has a tiny detail that always gives away foreigners: Inversion. That basically means that in some situations you have to change the word order, and if you forget to do that in those situations, well, then you sound like a foreigner… :-)

There’s inversion in English too. To make a phrase like “you are happy” into a question, you simply make the subject and the verb switch places: Are you happy? (With other verbs than “to be” it gets more complicated, but let’s leave that for now.) As you know, Norwegians make questions in the same way: Du er glad > Er du glad?

Let’s make that last example negative: Du er ikke glad (You are not happy) > Er du ikke glad? (Are you not happy?) Once again, Norwegian and English are like two peas in a pod.

Okay, let’s turn our example into a dependent clause:

Du sier at du er glad. (You say that you are happy. – As you maybe remember from school, a dependent clause is part of a main clause. “that you are happy” cannot stand on its own.)

And the negative one:

Du sier at du ikke er glad. (You say that you are not happy.)

Finally we see the difference between the two languages. In Norwegian, the word “ikke” does a backwards summersault and places itself in front of the verb in dependent clauses: Du er ikke > Du sier at du ikke er…

The same goes for other words of the same kind, that is, adverbs that somehow influence the meaning of the whole sentence, such as ofte (often), alder (never), alltid (always), bare (just):

Han reiser ofte til Oslo. (He often goes to Oslo.) > Jeg har hørt at han ofte reiser til Oslo. (I’ve heard that he often goes to Oslo.)

Hun møtte plutselig ei gammel venninne. (She suddenly met an old friend.) > Det er hun som plutselig møtte ei gammel venninne. (That’s the one who suddenly met an old friend.)

Du ringer aldri. (You never call.) > Jeg forstår ikke hvorfor du aldri ringer. (I don’t understand why you never call.)


Norwegian Waffles

Posted on 31. May, 2014 by in Food, Traditional


Typical Norwegian waffles with jam, rømme and brunost. (The photo is a modified version of a CC licensed one at Flickr.)

En vennegjeng (a group of friends) and I once paid a visit to a friend’s familie in the Haugesund area (Southwestern Norway by the coast). All of a sudden moren (the mother) in the house entered the wood-panelled living-room balancing a plate full of steaming hot vafler. I found it a very Norwegian experience! :-)

Below is a vaffeloppskrift (oppskrift = recipe) that should give you a decent taste of Norway. It’s been particularly tested for the blog…

Du trenger (You need)

1/2 time Half an hour

1 vaffeljern 1 waffle pan

1 kokeplate 1 hotplate

4 dl hvetemel 4 decilitres (0.4 litre) of wheat flour

4 ss (= spiseskjeer) sukker 4 tablespoons of sugar

1,5 ts (= teskjeer) bakepulver 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder


Et vaffeljern. Waffles are usually heart-shaped in Norway.

1 ts vaniljesukker 1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar

1 ts kardemomme 1 tablespoon of cardamom

0,5 ts salt half a teaspoon of salt

6 dl melk 6 decilitres (0.6 litre) of milk

100 g smør 100 grams of butter

3 stk (= stykker) egg 3 eggs


Slik gjør du (”Like this you do”)

1. Smelt smøret. Melt the butter.

2. Bland mel, kardemomme, bakepulver og sukker i en bolle. Tilsett melk, eggene og det smeltede smøret. Visp. Mix flour, cardamom, baking powder in a bowl. Add milk, eggs and the melted butter. Whip.

3. La vaffelrøren hvile i ca. 20 minutter. Let the waffle dough rest for about 20 minutes.

4. Varm vaffeljernet. Nå kan stekingen begynne. Heat up the waffle pan. Now the frying can begin. (Dear US readers: Please don’t sue me if anything goes wrong; you may need to adjust the temperature, put some butter on the pan before you fry, etc. ;-)    )

5. Server vaflene med syltetøy, rømme eller brunost. Serve the waffles with jam, rømme (Norwegian sour cream), or brunost (Norwegian brown goat cheese).

Jeg håper det smaker! I hope it’s tasty! :-)