A Norwegian bird’s tale Posted by on Jun 10, 2016 in learning, Literature, Nature

The beautiful myrsnipe. (Photo courtesy of Arnstein Rønning at Flickr, CC License.)

The beautiful myrsnipe. (Photo courtesy of Arnstein Rønning at Flickr, CC License.)

How do you learn norsk when you’re not surrounded by the language? Well, surprise, bøker (books) can be excellent teachers! 🙂 Read a bit of Norwegian every day, and slowly the language will be taking over your brain… Mohaha! :-]

The problem, of course, is finding texts that fit your level. Most books are either too long&difficult – or too easy&boring… Here’s a short little eventyr (fairy tale) to get you started. It’s from the famous collection by Asbjørnsen og Moe (which helped shape Norwegian identity in the 19th century). Please note that the English translation is a bit old – a skytter is someone who’s hunting with a rifle. Au, au means ouch! ouch!

Hver synes best om sine barn

Det var en gang en skytter som var ute i skogen; så møtte han myrsnipa.«Kjære vene, skyt ikke mine barn!» sa myrsnipa.

«Hvad er det for noen som er dine barn da?» spurte skytteren.

«De vakreste barna i skogen går, er mine!» svarte snipa.

«Jeg får vel ikke skyte dem da,» sa skytteren.

Men da han kom tilbake, hadde han i hånden et helt knippe myrsniper som han hadde skutt.

«Au, au! hvorfor skjøt du barna mine likevel da!» sa snipa.

«Var det dine barn dette?» spurte skytteren — «jeg skjøt de styggeste jeg fant, jeg.»

«Å ja!» svarte snipa, «vet du ikke at hver synes best om sine barn?»

(By Jørgen Moe, copyright expired)

One’s own children are always prettiest

A sportsman went out once into a wood to shoot, and he met a Snipe.

“Dear friend,” said the Snipe, “don’t shoot my children?”

“How shall I know your children?” asked the Sportsman; “what are they like?”

“Oh!” said the Snipe, “mine are the prettiest children in all the wood.”

“Very well,” said the Sportsman, “I’ll not shoot them; don’t be afraid.”

But for all that, when he came back, there he had a whole string of young snipes in his hand which he had shot.

“Oh! oh!” said the Snipe, “why did you shoot my children after all?”

“What, these your children!” said the Sportsman; why, I shot the ugliest I could find, that I did!”

“Woe is me!” said the Snipe; “don’t you know that each one thinks his own children the prettiest in the world?”

(Translated by G.W. Dasent, copyright expired)

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


  1. Ian Cormack:

    Takk, det var nyttig. Jeg er australske, men to av mine barnebarn er Noeske statsborgere, og men de vil snakke engelsk, for å visa dem noen respect, jeg tror jeg skal ha noen ord norsk. (Takk også til Dr G for å hjelpe med denne oversettelse)

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Ian Cormack Hei Ian, kjekt å høre at det er folk i Australia som snakker norsk. 🙂 Lykke til med studiene.