March 28th, 2004


Norwegian.. a parenthesis??

When I went to York to visit frida, we met up with one of her friends, mindcrime who is Norwegian.

Being two Swedes, one Norwegian and one Englishman, we came to talk about language. Mostly in the way of translating text on some stuff I'd bought for mindcrime. Grötris, hjorthornssalt and various other fun stuff.

Scandinavia is often seen as one market, which means we get a lot of things that is marketed in all of Scandinavia, which means that the declaration of the content of that bar of chocolate is listed in all the languages etc, similar to the way international products has it in like a dozen languages..

Finnish we shouldn't mention. It's a language that's totally unique, with words that, well, doesnt very much remind of much else at all (Hungary and Mongolia are mentioned), with a grammar that's similar to the Roman languages (Spanish, Italian and French etc).

Sweden, Denmark and Norwegian has the same origins and is similar enough to make one to sort of understand what is said in one of the other languages (Even if Swedish has sort of moved the furtherst away from the ancient Scandinavian language).

That way, Swedish is often listed, as is Finland, on it's own.

Often, though, Denmark and Norway has to share language on products, with Danish often being the main language. As in.. a box might have text in Swedish and Danish, but marketed in Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

A bar of chocolate might have the content in Swedish and Danish/Norwegian, where they usually has a Danish listing, with Norwegian words in a parenthesis if it differs from the Danish word. But generally it feels as if it's for the Danish market, with Norwegian sort of added as an afterthought..

The oddest thing, that mindcrime pointed out, was that on a bar of chocolate the content was for all three countries.. Sweden/Denmark/Norwegian. The odd thing was that the text was all in Swedish. Not a trace of Danish and Norwegian. Not even in parenthesis. It was a Swedish listing and nothing but. Only that Denmark and Norway had to understand that as well (Which they'll probably does, since they're far better at understanding Swedish than Swedes understanding either Norwegian or Danish (Sweden is a very huge country, which means that most of Denmark or Norway are closer to Sweden than much of Sweden being close to Norway or Denmark geographically. You're able to pick up Swedish radio- or TV-signals in most of Denmark, while you're only able to pick up Danish radio- and TV-signals in like 10 percent of Sweden).

Now, the differences aren't that big..

Reading from a bar of chocolate: "Cloetta Kex Choklad" (Which has informative text on the front in English and German as well: Filled wafers in milk chocolate/Gefüllte Waffeln in Milchschokolade.

On the back it has the ingredients listed in a dozen or so languages. Sweden, Denmark/Norway, Finland, Great Britain, Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Estland, Czech.. , Russia.

S/D, N/GB: Ingredienser/Ingredienser/Ingredients :
Vetemjöl/hvedemel/wheat flour
härdad vegetabilisk olja/hærdet vegetabilsk olie/hydrogenated vegetable oil
kakaosmör/kakaosmør/cocoa butter
mjölkpulver/mælkepulver/milk powder
kakaomassa/kakaomasse/cocoa mass
vegetabiliskt fett/vegetabilsk fedt/vegetable fat
vasslepulver/vallepulver, mysepulver/whey powder
emulgeringsmedel (sojalecitin)/emulgator (sojalecitin)/emulsifier (soya lecithin)
bakpulver (natriumbikarbonat)/hævemiddel (natriumhydrogenkarbonat)/raising agent (sodium bicarbonate)

(The Swedish ö = ø in Danish/Norwegian and Swedish ä=æ)

I wonder if it sort of affects the Norwegian identity in some way, by sort of being seen as a parenthesis? To sort of tag along with Denmark, or in worst case scenario having to do with Swedish alltogether etc..

Norwegian was Danish some hundred years ago, and after that sort of became independent, but as a union with Sweden, before it became it's own country close to 100 years ago... (Even if it, had enjoyed more or less freedom during the ages (Even when it belonged to Denmark, when it had it's own laws and "goverment" at some times).

Sweden and Denmark has been bitter enemies for a very long time. Some 400 years ago we were in constant wars, and even if we're "friendly" now, Sweden and Denmark are good at critizising each other etc. Not sure why, really. Denmark doesn't look that much towards Sweden, while Sweden does have a slight envy or longing for Denmar (in general). Norway does see Sweden as the big brother, for good and worse. As in, some do look at Sweden with some admire (and sort of wish that Norway was as "good" as Sweden), while others are sort of irritated at Sweden for being the "bigger brother" who always are gonna be "so good" (Even if we're not, really). Sweden do see Norway as that thing over there. Nothing we sort of care that much about, in a sense.. Norway is over there, as simple as that. Nothing we admire nor hate or anything. If anything, we might look at Norway with some big brotherly attitude at times.. sort of.. "Yeah, yeah.. you'll grow up someday as well.. then you'll manage better" with a sort of amusement.

Can't really say anything about Denmark, but they sort of have a "we do things our way"-attitude.

Norway, in general, seem to sort of jump up and down and wanting to "prove themself", to become visible. "Hey.. look at us, we exist as well". A pride in their country when Norway does something good.

Swedish attitude in general seem to be of "knowing what's best". "You could do this and that, but the smart thing, of course, would be to do it this way". As in.. there's proper things to do things.

An interesting thing is that Sweden's biggest newspaper is owned by a Norwegian company since about 10 years or so. I don't know if it's because of that, but it has adapted a lot of the Norwegian attitude, and sort of tries to boost Sweden, in a similar way they've done in Norway. Some 15 - 20 years ago, we sort of looked at the rest of the world mostly.. now it's one heck of a lot of Swedes looking at other Swedes, for some reason. A sort of American culture as well. That everything is uninteresting, unless it has a Swedish connection in some way. A sort of. National Hockey League wouldn't be anything, if it hadn't been for the Swedes playing there.. etc. If there's a huge earthquake in China, they make sure to find some Swedes that were in China at the time, or if they can't find one.. at least find someone that was in Asia at the time. (I really hate that).