Last summer an avis (newspaper) article about Norwegians being uhøflig (impolite) shocked me into writing … this blog post one year later! I’ve thrown away the paper, but it still bugs me that anyone could come up with such tull (nonsense, bullsh*t). Most Norwegians I’ve met are very kind and høflig (polite)! True, Norwegian has no proper word for please. There are, however, other remedies:
• takk (thank you) is used much more than in English. You say takk for maten (thank you for the food) when you’ve eaten, takk for sist (thank you for the last time) when you meet somebody again, takk, i like måte (thank you, likewise) when someone wishes you well, takk som byr (thank you who’s offering) when someone’s offering you something (edible), takk, det var snilt av deg (thank you, that was kind of you), tusen takk (thousand thanks), takk skal du ha (thanks, literally: thank you shall you have), takk, takk (thank you, thank you)! It can also be nice alternative to please: Et pizzastykke, takk! (A slice of pizza, please!)
• unnskyld (I’m sorry) or unnskyld meg (excuse me): Unnskyld, kan du vise meg veien til Frognerparken? (Excuse me, can you show me the way to Frogner Park?) Unnskyld meg, men du har spist rømmegrøten min! (Sorry, but you’ve eaten my Norwegian sour cream porridge!)
• dessverre (unfortunately) and beklager (I’m sorry): Beklager! Vi har dessverre ingen lefser igjen! (Unfortunately, we’ve got no lefser left!)
• vær så snill (”be so kind”) is probably the closest you get to please: Kan ikke du kjøpe den største bamsen i butikken? Vær så snill!!! (Can’t you buy me the biggest teddy bear in the shop? Please!!!) Hjelp meg, er du snill. (Help me, please.)
There are certainly many other ways of showing høflighet (courteosness) in Norwegian. All this talk about being nice, however, has me wondering: What are your experiences from Norway like? Were people kind, polite, rude or something in between? Share your stories in the comments section – please!