Saturday, October 23, 2010

Funny Words


I think one of the reasons I liked living in Norway so much, was because I laughed a lot.  Even though Norwegians as a whole are pretty serious and sober people, their language has a way of just cracking me up.  Some of the expressions they use are very funny, as well as the sound of some of the words themselves.  If I didn’t come from an English speaking background, I’m sure I wouldn’t have laughed as much as I did, but there were some words I heard over and over again that never failed to put a smile on my face, like “snart ferdig.”  To properly pronounce those words in Norwegian, one must say “snart far-dee,”  which means “soon finished.”  It made me laugh every time I heard it, or said it.  It’s used often, whether referring to dinner being ready soon or when one would say, “I’ll be done in a minute.”

Of course, “snart ferdig” doesn’t crack me up as much as when I hear someone say “full fart,” which, honest to goodness means, “high speed.”  There are often huge advertisements in newspapers or on the sides of busses for internet service, and those “high speed” words grab my attention every time.  Some neighborhoods have “farts dempre” which are “speed bumps,” and when traveling along certain stretches of highway there might be a sign that says “din fart” which means “your speed” and the digital read-out board shows just how fast the car is traveling.  There is lighthouse in downtown Aalesund with huge letters painted on the side that say “sakte fart” (slow speed) warning boats coming into the harbor not to make a wake.  I can’t imagine the origins of some of these words, but it’s pretty funny for someone from America to live in Norway and see them everywhere.

There are many Norwegian words like “fart” that mean something completely different in English.  Take the word “fag” for instance.  In Norwegian it’s pronounced “fog,” and it means a “subject” that one takes in school, or a particular trade.  I often see burley men driving work trucks with the word “FAG” in huge letters written all over it.  It’s most common on plumbing or construction trucks, and it’s always a sight that gets my attention.

The Norwegian word “do” actually means “toilet,” so I had to be careful not to mix my English with Norwegian too much or I got some pretty funny looks from people when I was talking about what I was about to “do.” 

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