17 a-may-zing Norway facts

Posted on 17. May, 2016 by in Leisure, Nature, Traditions

Photo courtesy of liknes at Flickr. (CC License; no changes were made.)

Photo courtesy of liknes at Flickr. (CC License; no changes were made.)

Gratulerer med dagen! (Happy Constitution day!) I dag er det 17. mai (today is May 17th), and store og små (big ones and little ones) have been out in the streets of Norway to celebrate their grunnlov (Constitution) and frihet (freedom). Here’s 17 things that help making Norway so amazing:

  1. Norges kvinnelandslag i håndball (Norway women’s national handball team) won the latest World Championship (in 2015)
  2. Norwegian Magnus Carlsen is verdensmester i sjakk (World Champion of Chess)
  3. together with Swedish, Norwegian is one of very few European languages with Chinese-style tones (word melodies)
  4. Europe’s northernmost point is Knivskjellodden in Norway
  5. the sounds rever (foxes) make were the inspiration for Norway’s biggest YouTube sensation
  6. Frihetsgudinna (the Statue of Liberty) was made with norsk kopper (Norwegian copper)
  7. no matter where you live in Norway, naturen (Nature) is never far away
  8. on 17. mai Norwegians go out of their way to wear bunader (national costumes) and sing! 🙂
  9. in Norway, påska (Easter) is almost bigger than jula (Christmas) – people go skiing, read crime novels and eat oranges and Kvikk Lunsj chocolate
  10. Norwegians are not afraid of speaking dialekter – while people in many other countries are trying to ”fit in” and maybe hide themselves a bit in the mainstream, Norwegians proudly reveal their local origins…
  11. thanks to its fjorder, Norskekysten (the Norwegian coast) is among the world’s most beautiful shorelines – in fact it’s mentioned in the sci-fi hit The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where a ”galactic designer” has won an award for it! 🙂
  12. Norwegian athletes have won more medals at Vinter-OL (Winter Olympic Games) than any other nation (currently 329)
  13. for some reason, Norwegians love Grandiosa frozen pizza, also referred to as ”grandis”
  14. Fossekall (by Thomas Kraft at Wikimedia Commons, CC License)

    Fossekall (by Thomas Kraft at Wikimedia Commons, CC License)

    Norway’s national bird is the little black-and-white river bird fossekall (”waterfall guy” = White-throated dipper)

  15. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was the first to reach Sydpolen (the South Pole, in 1911), and his landsmann (co-patriote) Thor Heyerdahl sailed all the way from Peru to Polynesia on a primitive raft (in 1947)
  16. history’s first troll was Norwegian (and a woman)
  17. Home of Nobels fredspris (the Nobel Peace Prize), Norway has so much likestilling (equality) that 9 out of 10 new fathers go on paid pappapermisjon (paternity leave), for 12 weeks or more, to spend time with their babies

May 1st and Norwegian Politics

Posted on 01. May, 2016 by in Politics, Traditions

"Mom deserves the same wage (as Dad)." From a 1. mai parade in Oslo. Photo by GGAADD at Flickr, CC License.)

“Mom deserves the same wage (as Dad).” From a 1. mai parade in Oslo. (Photo by GGAADD at Flickr, CC License.)

Liker du politikk? (Do you like politics?) Even though a lot of Norwegians, like people elsewhere, synes politikk er kjedelig (think politics are boring), første mai (May 1st) is a day when many are eager to hit the street and voice their mening (opinion). Traditionally known as arbeidernes internasjonale kampdag (the workers’ international struggle day), første mai remains a public holiday in Norway.

Visit a Norwegian town or major village in the morning hours on første mai, and you’ll probably see a lot of people who går i tog (march in a procession). It’s like a warm-up for 17. mai, the national day. But instead of wearing national costumes and showing their love for Norway, the marchers in første mai-toget carry banners and slogans that showcase their viewpoints. Very often people march in groups, such as the nurses’ organization marching together, or the fagforening (trade union) of the industry workers showing off their smiles.

After the march, there’s very often a public gathering, maybe at a kulturhus (culture house) or in a park. Politikere (politicians) and other persons, such as students, holder tale (give a speech). The speech is often about verdier (values) and things that people would like to improve i framtiden (in the future). Even though many still connect første mai with socialism, it’s really a day for all political parties in Norway, and you also see a lot of right-wing politikere giving speeches.

Norwegian PM Erna Solberg is from the Høyre party. (Wikimedia Commons, CC License.)

Norwegian PM Erna Solberg is from the Høyre party. (Wikimedia Commons, CC License.)

Norge er et demokrati (Norway is a democracy) with a lot of politiske partier (political parties), so it can often be confusing! Here are the parties present at Stortinget (the parliament), from ”left” to ”right”: Sosialistisk Venstreparti, Arbeiderpartiet, Miljøpartiet De Grønne, Senterpartiet, Kristelig Folkeparti, Venstre, Høyre and Fremskrittspartiet. SV is ”socialist”, while AP – who’s run Norway more than any other party – is ”social-democratic”. V, H and FrP are ”right-wing” (conservative and/or liberal). The other parties are somewhere in-between.

Currently, the country is run by the parties Høyre and Fremskrittspartiet. The PM is Erna Solberg from Høyre. God første mai! (Happy May 1st!) 🙂

Your Norwegian Possessives

Posted on 25. Apr, 2016 by in Grammar

vaarWhen you want to say ”your” or ”my” something, there are really three things to consider in Norwegian:

1. Before or after?

In Norwegian, a possessive pronoun (”our”, ”their”…) may be placed either before or after a noun: Det er min dag i dag! (”It’s my day today” = It’s my lucky day) vs. Har du sett iPad-en min? (Have you seen my iPad?)

So, how to choose? I’d say: Put ’em at the end! 🙂 Expressions such as vårt land, hans bil (our country, his car) often feel a bit old-fashioned or formal. Of course, it depends on the region you’re in. In most spoken Norwegian, however, speakers naturally opt for landet vårt, bilen hans. As you’ve probably noticed, the ”the form” of the noun is used in this context (”the-country our”, ”the-car his”). The up-front version, though, is still common in many expressions and in poetic language: Din tanke er fri (”Thy thought is free” – a song title).

2. Does it go with a plural, or an ”et”, ”en” or ”ei” noun?

If the possessive pronoun ends in an -s, you’re lucky – it doesn’t change at all: katten – bikkja – huset – barna hans/hennes/deres (his/her/their cat – dog – house – children). (”Bikkje” is another and quite everyday-ish word for hund.)

The other ones, however, have different forms: katten min/din/vår – bikkja di/mi/vår – huset mitt/ditt/vårt – barna mine/dine/våre (my/your/our cat – dog – house – children).

Unlike English, these little words don’t change when they’re on their own: the girl is mine = jenta er mi. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist dropping a pop reference!)

3. Does it refer to someone else?

This is the tricky part… Take the phrases Hun ødelegger boka hennes (She’s destroying her book), Han tar hatten hans (He’s taking his hat), De spiser eplene deres (They’re eating their apples). In each instance, the thing destroyed or taken or eaten belongs to someone else than the persons who are active. If they destroyed or took or ate their own things, the phrases would look like this:

Hun ødelegger boka si.

Han tar hatten sin.

De spiser eplene sine.

The neuter form is sitt: De sitter i treet sitt. (They’re sitting in their tree – and not in someone else’s.) This is a grammatical nicety that doesn’t exist in English, so stay alert when you read or listen to Norwegian! 🙂