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! 🙂

Norwegian Pronouns – it’s personal

Posted on 15. Apr, 2016 by in Grammar

Not exactly Norwegian, but I thought it was a perfect fit for the text. :-) (Photo courtesy of Dave Bleasdale at Flickr, CC License.)

Not exactly Norwegian, but I thought it was a perfect fit for the text. 🙂 (Photo courtesy of Dave Bleasdale at Flickr, CC License.)

Nothing speeds up communication like a good pronoun! 🙂 Instead of having to repeat a personal name umpteen times, it’s really great that once everybody agrees on a topic, ”you” can manage with a short ”I” or ”she”. At first glance, Norwegian pronomen look a lot like the English ones:

Jeg venter på trikken. (I’m waiting for the tram.)

Unnskyld, du mistet noe! (Excuse me, you lost something!)

Hun tenker mye. (She thinks a lot.)

Han har aldri tid. (He never has time.)

Vi bor i Molde. (We live in Molde.)

De besøker ofte Ålesund. (They often visit Ålesund.)

Then of couse, Norwegian’s got a special plural you (”thou and thou”):

Hva synes dere om Norge? (What do you guys think about Norway?)

The language has also got two different ways of saying ”it” – depending on whether the thing referred to is neuter (an ”et noun) or masculine/feminine (an ”en”/”ei” noun):

Har du sett veska mi? Den er svart med sølvstriper. Have you seen my bag? It’s black with silver stripes.

Har du sett passet mitt? Det er fra USA. (Have you seen my passport? It’s from the U.S.)

When ”it” is referring to something other than a noun – like a phrase or a situation – only det is used:

Jeg hater at det er så mye krig i verden. Det gjør meg så deppa! (I hate that there’s so much war in the world. It makes me so depressed!)

I think the greatest difficulty for English-speakers comes with the ”me” forms of pronouns (accusative/dative/reflexive, if you speak grammar!)

Du ser meg, og jeg ser deg. (You see me, and I see you.)

Kjeder dere dere? (Are you guys bored? – Literally: Do you guys bore yourselves?)

Nei, vi kjeder oss aldri! (No, we’re never bored! – ”We never bore ourselves.”)

Jeg ringer når jeg finner den/det. (I’ll give you a call when I find it!)

Hun ser ham, og han ser henne. (She sees him, and he sees her.)

Hun ser seg i speilet. (She sees herself in the mirror.)

Seg points back to either han, hun or de, and can be translated as ”herself”, ”himself”, ”themselves”. But this is where you need to be careful! 🙂 Because if you drop the phrase

Hun ser henne i speilet

it means that she sees someone else in the mirror, like her friend standing nearby! This is a Norwegian oddity which will become even more tricky in the next post, where we’ll look at possessive pronouns! 🙂