Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Diamenten: Sold!

As you may remember, I posted about the potential e-bay sale of the Diamanten back in November. Well it's official--the sale over and the Diamanten has a new owner.

In the online auction for this notable piece of architecture there were 53 different bids. In the end Tommy Sharif, owner of Sharif's Dekksenter won out with a final bid of NOK 270,000 (about $40,000 USD). Sharif then donated the diamond-shaped cabin to the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, who will make it part of the Holmenkollen Ski Museum.

It's nice to see that such a recognizable landmark in the world of skiing will not be lost to time and apathy. To read more about the sale, make sure you check out the April issue of Viking magazine.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Språk og kultur / Language and Culture – Compounds

Another great language article from Colin T. Enjoy!

Last week we published a post entitled “Elgnytt (Moose News): The White Moose of Sweden.” Readers might be forgiven for thinking that “elgnytt” was a word we had to look up in a dictionary, but the truth is we just made it up: elg (moose) + nytt (news) = elgnytt (moosenews). You get to do that a lot in Norwegian.

As a general rule, in Norwegian, if you have a word that’s made up of two or more parts that can stand alone as independent words, you have to write them as one single, unbroken word. Sometimes we do this in English and sometimes we don’t. As far as we know, there isn’t really a reason why we write “baseball” or “basketball” as one word and “bocce ball” as two. In this respect Norwegian is much simpler – you’ll pretty much always write one word if you can, with maybe an extra “s” or “e” in there as a kind of linguistic adhesive when necessary. For example:
  1. hus (house) + arbeid (work) = husarbeid (housework)

  2. konge (king) + familie (family) = kongefamilie (royal family)

  3. forretning (business) + s + mann (man) = forretningsmann (businessman)

  4. folk (people) + e + tallet (the number) = folketallet (the population number)
Sometimes you end up with words that are extremely long by English standards:

miljø (environment) + over (over) + våking (monitoring) + s + systemer (systems) = miljøovervåkingssystemer (systems for monitoring the environment.

You can learn more about this in Sons of Norway’s online language program Norwegian for Reading Comprehension.

To non-native speakers like us, these one-word compounds somehow sound like more than the sum of their parts. For example, here are our two favorite Norwegian compounds:

kjærlighetssorg – (SHAR-lee-het – sorg): the feeling of heartbreak resulting from disappointment in romantic love

støvsuger (STUV-soo-gerr): vacuum cleaner, literally “dust-sucker”

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Språk og kultur / Language and Culture

There will be a new language component up later today!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Today in History: Wreck of the Alexander Kielland

Today marks the 27th anniversary of Norway's worst maritime disaster since the WWII era. On this day in 1980 the Norwegian semi-submersible rig, Alexander Kielland, capsized with more than 200 workers on board. The rig capsized in the Ekofisk oil field, which is approximately 320 km east of Dundee, Scotland.

Of the more than 200 men on board when the event took place, 123 were killed and less than 90 survived the ordeal. While there were more than enough life rafts, the high death toll was mostly due to the facts the capsizing happened very quickly--in a matter of minutes--and that most of the workers were caught in the mess hall and/or cinema areas of the rig. Also, it was determined that some safety features of the life rafts actually worked against rescue efforts in disabling the rafts and not allowing them to float free of the rig.

The wreckage was massive and it would take more than three years to recover all the bodies before the rig could be scuttled.

Viking Ship Slide Show

Thanks to Charlotte Fluker, the cultural director of the Gateway to Florida lodge, there is a great slide show of last weekend's regatta. There are some great photos of members and Sons of Norway staff. I hope you enjoy it!

And thanks again to Charlotte!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Elgnytt (Moose News): The White Moose of Sweden

Since the end of Aftenposten English many in the Norwegian-American community have suffered from a deficit of moose news, a phenomenon covered in an earlier blog post.

Here, however, is some relief. This week the Norwegian paper Dagbladet picked up this story about two albino moose spotted in Sweden, close to the border with Norway.

The rare animals were photographed by Gerd Johsnrud, a Norwegian woman from Kongsvinger, Norway, while driving near the Swedish town of Charlottenberg. Johnsrud had just enough time to snap these pictures before the battery in her camera died and the moose vanished.

Albino moose are extremely rare. The article quotes one Jon M. Arnemo, a professor at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, as saying that moose moms give birth to albinos only once in a million births.

While uncommon, white moose are not unknown to Norwegian forests, and even less so to the Norwegian press. The article also says that another albino moose caused controversy in Østfold, Norway when a local hunter’s group refused to spare the animal during the 2006 hunting season. A year later, an albino moose spotted in Finnmark, in far Northern Norway, was dubbed “Ronalbino” by Dagbladet’s readers.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Florida Regatta Weekend: The Videos

I've got treats for the eyes today. That's right, I've got videos from the regatta weekend in St. Augustine, Florida.

First up there are two videos of the regatta, which can be viewed here and here. These were shot by Eivind Heiberg this past Saturday from the shores of the Matanzas inlet. It looks like a lot of fun, and a bit of a challenge, keeping everyone in sync with their rowing.

Next I have a couple videos of the regatta's winning crews. There's video of the men's race winners, as well as the winners of the women's race.

And if that wasn't enough, Eivind also sent me some video from the Knut Erik Jensen concert that was held yesterday. From everything I've heard, the performance was awesome. You definitely don't want to miss out on this five-minute clip of the concert.

I hope you enjoy all the videos, I know I did. It looks like the regatta weekend was an awesome event, which comes as no surprise since those D3 folks are all pretty awesome. From the looks of it, Fraternalism is alive and well down in Florida! Now I've got to figure out a way to get down to Florida for next year's regatta.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Viking Ship Regatta Weekend in Florida

Folks living near the Matanzas inlet down in St. Augustine, Fl, must have been rubbing their eyes and doing a few double-takes as they looked out onto the water this weekend. Normally a quiet waterway, this past weekend it was transformed into a regatta course for four 10th century viking ships! That's right, while celebrating its 35th anniversary this past weekend the Sons of Norway lodge in Jacksonville, FL played host to the annual Viking Ship Regatta.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the Lodge President Marci Larson on Saturday and she filled me in on all the festivities. The anniversary celebration began on Friday with a tour of the San Sebastian winery where everyone had the opprotunity to visit the oak room and be part of an elegant wine tasting. Then, later that evening, there was a VIP reception and dinner on one of the Jacksonville members' yacht, which was attended by Sons of Norway International board members and the captains of each viking ship entered into the regatta.

Next, Marcia told me about everything that was planned for today. The morning schedule was open so attendees could explore the beautiful area around St. Augustine. Then, there was a lunch at the White Lion. Once lunch was finished it was time for the Regatta!

Though the regatta had originally been planned to be held in the waters between Fort Matanzas and the Bridge of Lions, the weather had other ideas. The wind was kicking up too high for safe boating, especially during the rowing portion of the regatta, so it was decided that rather than scuttling this year's event an alternate location would be found. Within an hour or so Marcia and her team had a new location and course ready to go, this time just a couple miles north of the Vilano Bridge. With that, four teams from Sons of Norway lodges in Florida were underway. The teams represented this year were:
It turns out that Fraternal Director Eivind Heiberg and District Three International Director Barbara Berntsen were both rowing on the Viking World's boat, Valhalla. According to Eivind, it was a great experience and a lot of fun, even though his boat came in 4th place. The winner of this year's event was Gateway to Florida, with Gulfstream and Ft. Lauderdale taking 2nd and 3rd places respectively.

After the regatta there was a banquet for everyone who attended this year's event. Over 100 people showed up at the St. Sugustine Rod and Gun club for an exquisite dinner prepared by one of the world's best chef's and good friend to Sons of Norway, Willy Hansen. I've had the pleasure of sampling Willie's culinary magic in the past, so I'm sure the banquet was no less than spectacular.

Then, today, the regatta weekend wrapped up with a concert by famous Norwegian pianist, Knut Erik Jensen. The concert was held at St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church, where Jensen played a number of songs by famous Norwegian musicians, as well as some not so famous. According to those in attendance it was a great concert because Jensen took time to explain the history of the music he was playing and explained the cultural and historical aspects of his performance. From everything I've heard, it was a great concert and a fitting end to Jensens current tour of the U.S.

So, there we have it. The regatta weekend has come to a close. But the fun isn't over yet! Come back tomorrow and check out the video we shot of the event! I'll have all sorts of links to videos from the entire weekend for you!

Until then, have a great Sunday!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Today in History: Henrik Ibsen

It was 181 years ago today that the father of modern drama was born. Happy Birthday Henrik!

Born into a well-to-do merchant family in Skien, Norway, Ibsen left home at the age of 15 to become an apprentice pharmacist. Not caring for this profession, he moved to Oslo as a young adult with hopes of matriculating at Oslo University. This was not to be his future, either, when he failed some of the entrance exams. This string of bad luck would, in the end, be a stroke of good luck for all of Norway because these false starts and wrong turns intensified Ibsen's desire to be a full-time playwright.

His career as a playwright was not always an easy one, having little success at first he was often forced to work in the theater as a producer and director instead. In fact some periods were so bad that Ibsen went into a self-imposed exile in Italy for nearly 30 years. He did not return to Norway until after he was recognized as a noted playwright. Over the course of his 56 year career, Ibsen would go on to author nearly 30 plays, including the famous A Doll's House.

Ibsen died in Oslo on May 23, 1906 after a series of strokes. An oft repeated story says that when a nurse assured one of his visitors that he was a little better, Ibsen sputtered "On the contrary" and died.

Even though he's been gone for more than a century, his impact on the world of modern drama is still widely recognized. In fact, in 2006, a number of countries celebrated Ibsen Year to commemorate the centennial of his passing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Did He Mean Valhalla or Utopia? You Decide.

Today we have a very interesting blog post from Nichole, a staffer here at the Sons of Norway HQ. I thought it was very timely and educational. Enjoy!

To those familiar with Old Norse and Norwegian / Icelandic mythology, Valhalla is not only a place, but a construct of character. Sure, sure, it’s where the chief god, Odin, welcomes the shadowy souls of men slain on the battlefield, but moreover, it represents honor and duty. As Valhalla is eternal, so too should be the memory of sacrifice.

Recently (late January), Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the following comment incorporating Valhalla, which jolted me out of my mindless commute:

“This is going to be a long slog, and frankly, my view is that we need to be very careful about the nature of the goals we set for ourselves in Afghanistan," he said. "If we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose, because nobody in the world has that kind of time, patience and money," Gates testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The quote comes from the Washington Post, but you can also hear audio of the statement at NPR.

This left me wondering what Gates meant to invoke with that word? Did he really mean Valhalla? My colleague, most respected blogger, Norwegian cultural emissary and general visionary Colin Thomsen, suggests that he may have merely intended “viking heaven.” This, as Colin pointed out, is how many people unfamiliar with Old Norse / Icelandic mythology personally define the word (I had never, even before studying the sagas of that long past epoch, defined Valhalla in that manner. I would be interested, though, to hear comments from readers about their definition of Valhalla and how they’ve encountered it in popular culture).

If what Colin suggested was true, it’s worrisome that Mr. Gates could be so careless with our dear language! While one might guess that his aim was most certainly to imbue the phrase with a notion of a Utopian end--not only to the violence in that region, but also the U.S.’s involvement--a notion of a “central Asian Valhalla” could also be read (though likely not Gates’ intent) as a reference to martyrdom.

And for those of you who need a primer on Valhalla:
In the sagas and eddas, Valhalla is the Odin’s grand hall, adorned with golden shields. Soldiers that die in battle are borne here by the valkyries, who also serve the fallen mead, kind beings they are. Odin greets the slain warriors, and they prepare each day for Ragnarok, an apocalyptic battle that is prophesied to destroy the entire world. Hardly the most appealing reference to make on the future of Afghanistan.

Monday, March 16, 2009

New addition to the creative team

For those of you who didn't see the news release, there's a new face in the Sons of Norway creative team. We've FINALLY hired a Graphic Design and Communications Assistant and it couldn't have come at a better time. Her name is Melissa Ederer, but you can call her "New Kid" like everyone else at the office does.

Now, since we are like one big happy family, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce Melissa to the members and everyone else on teh webs. Here goes!

Where did you work before joining Sons of Norway?
I worked in Madison, WI for a creative consulting firm called Timpano Group. I worked alongside business consultants as the in-house graphic designer. Primarily my job duties included everything from client meetings and branding sessions to designing promotional materials; and on rare occasions, event planning.

Who were some of your past clients/accounts?
My prior client work varied quite a bit. Some of the main clients I have worked with are Madison Community Foundation, Wisconsin Nonprofits Association, the Benedictine Women of Madison, and Forward Community Investments. A favorite client of mine was King of Hearts Video Productions, a startup wedding videography company.

What is your educational background?
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with graphic design emphasis from University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.

Where are you from originally?
I grew up in a rural area of southwestern Wisconsin located around Prairie Du Sac.

So far what do you like best about working for Sons of Norway?
So far I am most impressed with the family-like atmosphere at Sons of Norway. For a company with many employees all working in various departments there is a strong sense of not only collectiveness but humor as well. The staff genuinely seems happy, and that is always a positive atmosphere to be in.

What do you most look forward to in working at Sons of Norway?
Learning. I’m a Scottish German masquerading as a Norwegian at the moment. There is a lot to learn about the traditions and heritage. The most exposure I’ve had up until working for SoN is Betty White’s Scandinavian character on The Golden Girls, while funny, it is not altogether overly informative.

What do you like best about Graphic Design?
For me, graphic design is a fantastic opportunity for a creative outlet. I had always been a very art-centered person whether it was painting or photography or even performing arts. Graphic design provides me with a place to focus all of my interests into one career. It also allows me to focus on concepts and language and their translation into a visual product.

All esoteric and ambiguous speaking aside, I get to do something that I really enjoy, and hopefully something that at the end of the day just looks cool.

My hobbies include anything art or music related. In the summer months I generally spend as much time as I can at the family lake house, so if sitting in the hammock or riding in the ski boat is a hobby than I am quite skilled.

Do you have any hidden talents that will be handy at Sons of Norway?
Hidden talents? Nope not a one, or at least none that I will admit to. How about retaining useless information? Right now the most useless bit of information that I can think of is the entire jingle for the “Free Credit Report.Com” commercial in the pirate themed restaurant.

Describe your sense of humor.
My sense of humor is mostly due to the fact that I grew up in a large family and was picked on a lot by my older siblings. As a result I had to learn how to “dish it back,” that means that I might be a little sarcastic at times or an occasional user of one-liners.

Foreign languages spoken? (klingon, bacce, and "L337" do not count)
Unfortunately, I don’t speak any foreign languages fluently, however I might come up with a random phrase in Spanish now and again.

Who would win in a fight: Darth Vader and Superman? Please explain why.
Darth Vader or Superman? Well I would have to go Superman just because I am a horrible Star Wars fan and aside from the whole booming voice and scary helmet thing I don’t know much about Darth Vader or his fighting skills. Besides, Superman has laser vision he doesn’t need a Light saber.

If you were a super hero, what would your name be and what would your special powers be?
If I was a super hero I think I would want to have some sort of special powers to control time and the ability to teleport wherever and whenever I want. [Editor's note--Seriously? You're idea for an awesome superhero is one whose powers are rooted in the ability to...go places? Oookay...I guess we'll have to work on that whole "imagination" thing. It's cool. We've got all summer...sigh.]

So, to recap, we've hired a talented, if somewhat Star Wars challenged, graphic designer who is an admitted cheese-headWisconsinite and Goldern Girls afficionado.

Seriously, though, we're all very excited to welcome her to the team and look forward to working with her.

Språk og kultur / Language and Culture

As Norway is the birthplace of skiing, it’s natural that so many of the sport’s terms come from Norwegian – starting with the word “ski” itself, which is pronounced like “shee” in that language. Another skiing term, slalom, comes from a dialect word from Telemark, slalåm, which has more less the same pronunciation in both languages. As for telemark skiing, which is a specialized style or technique, well, no points for guessing where that comes from.

Looking at other skiing words in Norwegian, you can get a sense of one of our favorite aspects of the language. To a native English speaker, Norwegian often comes across as being a very blunt, direct language. For example, the English word for the sport that combines skiing and shooting is biathlon, meaning “sport with two disciplines.” In Norwegian it’s called skiskyting (SHEE-sheet-ing) which translates directly as “ski-shooting.” To our ears, “ski-shooting” is much more descriptive and direct than “sport with two disciplines” although we do wonder if someone who didn’t know the sport might imagine that the athletes were out shooting skis.

Here are a few more Norwegian skiing terms along these lines:

skihopping (SHEE-hop-ing): ski jumping

langrenn (LONG-ren): general term for cross-country skiing, literally “long run”

kulekjøring (COO-leh-shor-ing): mogul skiing, literally “bump driving”

Friday, March 13, 2009

New Sons of Norway Charter & Constitution

Recently Sons of Norway unveiled the reboot of its Charter and Constitution. The resulting document is the culmination of more than two years of hard work on the part of a committee who have shown great dedication. This new document constitutes a big change in layout and organization of information. That being so, I thought it would be a good idea to interview someone who was a driving force behind the project, International Secretary Audun Gythfeldt.

Audun was gracious enough to speak with me and share some behind-the-scenes information as well as his own thoughts on the project.

SofN Blog: First, thanks for taking the time to share some information about this project with the readers. Now, tell me who was on the committee that was tasked with this project. Also, did each member have specific duties/roles? If so, what were they?

Audun Gythfeldt: The Committee consisted of the following: Marit Kristiansen, Jostein Bakken, Sherrill “Swede” Swenson, Tore Pettersen, Jim Olson, Barabara Berntsen, Ray Knutson and myself as chairman.

I asked Barbara to be the secretary for the committee, but otherwise none of the members had a specific duty.

SNB: What were the goals of the committee? Do you feel you met them all? If not, which goals were not met?

AG: The resolves of the resolution that was passed by the International Lodge in Vancouver in 2006 read: “THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the International Lodge support a process to review the current Constitutions as to its components and their relevancy to the laws and governance of our Society; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the International President shall appoint a special committee to develop a re-ordered constitution and companion document which will be reviewed by the International Board during the 2006-2008 biennium and /or any other member group. The committee shall submit a report to the 2008 International Lodge Meeting.”

The goals therefore became to reorder the Charter and Constitutions into a document, or documents, that were relevant to the laws and governance of our Society. We clearly think that we achieved these goals.

SNB:Tell me about the process. What were the steps taken from the beginning, leading to the document we now have?

AG: In order to avoid any misunderstandings, the Committee asked the International President for clarification with regard to what was expected, task parameters and process. No limiting factors were set, but it was strongly suggested that the re-ordered Constitutions and Companion document should have a one-to-one correlation with the material in the then current Charter and Constitutions, and that the documents should be debated on their individual merits as to form, not content.

Having accepted this, the purpose of the task was to simplify the Constitutions , keeping in only laws-related items. At the outset the Committee developed a “structure outline” setting out the flow of the constitutions after having removed items not considered being law. The items so removed became the Procedures part, or the “companion document” if you like. During this part of the work, it was realized that there were many issues that that applied equally to all the three sections of the former constitutions, and with that in mind, a fourth constitution, General Provisions, was developed.

The Committee then worked on the structure of the document as we wanted the chapters to have the same contents in each of the different sections, in the constitutions as well as in the procedures. The idea was to line up the issues in a lateral fashion so that an issue in one section can be found in the same place across the board.

Probably the last thing the Committee tackled was the numbering system. I suggested that a decimal system would be my preference, and the Committee agreed. This is particularly important with regard to the Committee’s attempt to line up issues in a lateral fashion, and it would also avoid that future changes would necessitate significant changes in the numbering system.

The Committee also discussed whether to separate the Charter and Constitutions from the Procedures, but came to the conclusion that there is such a strong relationship between the sections, that they should be issued in one publication, and made available both in hard copy and on the SONS OF Norway web-site.

SNB:Have you gotten any feedback from lodges/districts about the updates that have been made so far? How has the document been received?

AG: I have had very little feed-back yet. There was surprisingly little debate at the International Lodge meeting in San Diego, and the printed version is just now being distributed.

SNB: What’s the next step for the committee? I know that in this first stage you didn’t make any changes to the content, just the order. But now are you going to be reviewing the content for possible updates?

AG: The Committee is now at work making improvements. We have already made changes in the Procedures, which the International Lodge granted the International Board the authority to do. We are now looking at changes in the Constitutions. Several of the committee members have suggestions, and we got a number of suggestions from former International President, Dennis Sorheim, that we are looking at. Tore Pettersen and I also want to take a look at the Index, which we think is in need of some improvement, and we want to include procedures from other parts of the organization in the Procedures section. With that I think we have plenty on our plate for this current biennium!

SNB: Any final thoughts?

AG: It was an incredibly interesting exercise to be part of. But I am sure thoughts will come once I start getting feedback from our members. So, let us have a little chat when I come out to Minneapolis next month for the International Board meeting.

Ski Update

A couple of weeks ago we blogged about the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships held in Liberec, Czech Republic. In the final medal count, Norway came out on top with 5 gold medals, 4 silver and 2 bronze. The US followed Norway in the medal count (4 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze) with Finland coming in 3rd (3 gold and 5 silver). Congratulations to all the athletes.

In the same post we also discussed how Norwegian athletes are leading the charge to get women’s ski jumping recognized as an official sport in international competitions. Yesterday the Norwegian press was in an uproar over a last-minute decision to cancel the trial run in a competition at Vikersundsbakken due to the continuing controversy about the place of women in the sport. Trials were supposed to start yesterday, with a group of male and female athletes competing for places in this year’s FIS World Cup in Ski Flying (a more extreme version of ski jumping). Instead the run was abruptly canceled, although there are differing accounts as to why. From the different reports it seems that there was dissent among the competition’s judges as to how the event had been organized, or possibly whether or not women should participate at all.

In any case it now appears that all the athletes, including the women, will jump today. You can watch for results and more info right here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Today in History: Gustav Vigeland

On this day in 1943 Norway mourned the passing of one of its most well-known artists, Gustav Vigeland.

Vigeland was born in a small coastal town, called Mandal, and raised by a family of artisans and craftsmen. As a young man, he was sent to Oslo to learn the art of wood carving, which would eventually be the foundation for his later works in stone. These later works included contributions to the restoration of the Nidaros Cathedral, and the many pieces that would eventually become Vigeland Park.

I've never had the opportunity to visit Vigeland Park. Something I will severly regret on my deathbed, should I never get the chance. Photos alone are enough evoke strong emotional reactions. I can't imagine what it must be like to see them in real life. If anyone has a story they'd like to share about their experiences in Vigeland Park, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What's Next?

I'm glad you asked.

Oh. You didn't ask? Well, let's all pretend you did. It's really much better for everyone if you had, ok? Good.

As I said, I'm glad you asked. Over the course of the next week I'm going to be posting an interview with International Secretary Audun Gythfeldt wherein he'll talk about the reboot of the SofN Charter and Constitution. I'll also be making an announcement about a new edition...er, I mean addition to the Headquarter's Staff as well as revealing the true identities of the people people who make this blog happen. It's going to be illuminating to say the least.

Oh yeah, and there will be a post about Vigeland and maybe even an interview with this year's Norwegian Experience winner. Goodness, it's like sweeps week for this blog. Only without any explosions, guest stars, cliff hangers and surprise endings. So...yeah...I guess it won't be much like sweeps week after all. But it'll still be worth coming back!

So, until then, I leave you with this Norwegian moment of Zen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bergen Norway

If you are watching the news, then you know Minnesota is getting hit by a late winter storm right now. No fun for those of us stuck here in the cold. So, in hopes of warming things up around here, I give you a fun slideshow of Norway! Enjoy!

Monday, March 9, 2009

How do you get to the blog?

Don't forget there's a contest happening here! That's right--everyone who can find strange/funny search strings that lead to the Sons of Norway blog will get a nifty Norwegian flag keychain! To learn more, check our last week's post here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Språk og Kultur (Language and Culture)

Here at Sons of Norway we get a lot of questions about Norwegian language and this blog gets a lot of visitors who are interested in learning Norwegian. I think it's awesome that so many people are interested in the subject, so in the future the blog will be running some more posts related to Norwegian language, vocabulary and etymology. To kick things off, we have an interesting post from Cultural Advisor Colin Thomsen on Skijoring.

Or is it Skikjøring?

Let's find out!

Here at the culture desk, we recently received a question about the word skijoring. It's an English word that refers to the sport of skiing while being pulled by an animal, usually a dog or horse. We had always assumed that the English-language term "skijoring" was a mutilation of the Norwegian word skikjøring (literally "ski-driving"). No less an authority than the Oxford English Dictionary attests to this etymology, calling it a "semi-naturalized alteration" of the Norwegian term. This makes perfect sense as the "kj" combination has no value in English (to say nothing of the poor ø) and an English speaker whose primary exposure to the word was in writing would only naturally pronounce the word as "skijoring."

But there's one problem. Skikjøring doesn't mean "skijoring." The word for that in Norwegian is snørekjøring ("leash-driving").

The Norwegian language makes lots of distinctions between types of skiing that English does not. For example snørekjøring is a general term that can refer to skijoring as we know it in the States, or the "Nordic style" of the sport where the dog and skier are separated by a sled. In competition, this sled (pulk) is loaded with weight of 20kg for male dogs and 15 kg for female dogs. Skikjøring is another general term for skiing without a precise equivalent in English.

However the skikjøring --> skijoring etymology could still be correct. Perhaps skikjøring had a different meaning, say, 100 years ago, or maybe there was some longer term (hundeskikjøring, for example) and only the skikjøring element was adapted, with changes, into English. Or perhaps whoever gave skijoring its name just didn't know Norwegian well enough to pick the right term to mutilate.

But as I did more research, we found yet another explanation. In a 1937 volume of the academic journal American Speech, Steven T. Byington offers a different etymology of the word. He begins by saying that Webster's dictionary "asks us to believe that skijoring is derived from skjgjøring, lit. 'ski-doing.'" He goes on:

When skis became famous, the French army organized a body of men on skis, and called them skiers, in French skieurs. These skieurs invented the practice of having horses pull them along on their skis. (The authority for the facts so far is the Britannica) The Norwegians, in adopting as a sport the method of the skieurs, called it skieur-ing, in Scandinavian orthography skijøring; for it is good Scandinavian custom, in borrowing a French word, to give it a phonetic spelling based on the analogy of Scandinavian orthography. When the sport came to the United States it was spelled skikjøring, as I well remember; but the newspapers went at once to printing it with a plain o in accordance with the habit of American newspapers regarding marks over vowels as unessential frills...

Byington is almost certainly right about dismissing skigjøring as nonsense (it's not a word) but how likely is it that the French "invented" being pulled by an animal? (And of all animals, why a horse? Wouldn't they have been more likely to eat it?)

Editorial note:
While we all enjoy a good joke at the expense of the French, it would be unfair not to mention thatTo be fair, it should be noted that in Norway horse meat is used in some sausages, such as Vossafår.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Can You Tell Me How to Get to the Sons of Norway Blog?

The other day I was taking a look at some recent visitor stats, and I noticed that the blog had become very popular with search engines on two topics: Gløgg recipes and the WWII Norwegian Resistance movement. In just the last couple months we’ve had a lot of new visitors stopping by to learn about both subjects, which I think is very cool. But then I got to wondering what other search terms were bringing visitors here. Most were pretty straightforward, like Norwegian Blog, Sons of Norway International Convention, etc.

But, in going through the list of thousands (literally) of search terms and keywords, I came across some pretty strange stuff. I found search terms that left me simultaneously laughing and scratching my head. So much so, that I thought it’d be fun to share some of the really choice keywords that have brought visitors to this little corner of teh intertubes.

With that I give you the Sons of Norway Blog’s Top 10 Strangest Search Terms!
  1. history of dark norwegians Ok…huh? Are Norwegians like Jedi now? Was someone trying to find Luke Skøywålker and Dærth Væderson? Actually, this term leads you back to the post about death of Aftenposten English.

  2. glad it's time for lutefisk again This one kinda threw me for a loop, because in the 9 years I’ve worked for Sons of Norway I have NEVER heard those six words spoken together. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, just that it’s got to be very rare. Like seeing Bigfoot flying a UFO level of rarity.

  3. norwegian famous conga Until now I never knew that Afro-Cuban drums (or the line dance) were popular in Norway. Nor did I know that this blog was one of more than 50,000 sites that come back from the search term. Who knew that Norwegians like to get funky?

  4. drunken burping Huh? Why would anyone spend even a moment googling drunken burping??? More to the point, I’m curious if they were pleasantly surprised or disheartened when they followed the link to our blog, only to find an article about a drunk moose. Just pondering that will provide me with entertainment for the rest of the day.

  5. orange peel psychoactive properties Hmmmmm. You people are starting to scare me. This term takes the searcher to our article on Gløgg recipes, but in looking at the other pages this search returned, I’m guessing that Gløgg isn’t what they were looking for. Darn hippies.

  6. frozen death grandfather adopted norway Ok, now it’s just getting weird.

  7. norway food fish smells bad This one leads visitors back to the article I wrote in October about strange/dangerous foods in Norway. But, again, I have to ask why would someone combine these five words into a web search? I mean not all Norwegian food or fish smell bad. Take salmon for example; very tasty and very nutritious. I’m just saying, is all.

  8. nazi doctor treating rheumatoid arthritis norway …And just when I thought the frozen grandfather search would be the strangest, we get this gem. I’m not even going to touch this one other than to note that I could not replicate the search, so I have NO idea how it even ties to the blog.

  9. crown princess mette marit + ugly Oh come on now! I think the crown princess is quite fetching, actually. I mean she’s no Martha Louise (who I admittedly had a small crush on for years) but she’s certainly not ugly! You know, she got a lot of crap (undeservedly) from the Norwegian public and press when she first started dating crown prince Haakon but it’s been more than a decade! Come on people—don’t be haters!

  10. christmas fish soaked in poison Yeah…let’s really let this one sink in. Take a minute if you need to—I did. Again, this leads a visitor back to the post about strange Norwegian foods, but here it’s a little out of context. I’m almost afraid to ask what someone might be trying to accomplish with this kind of web search. However, if they read my post, they probably learned that you don’t need to soak certain fish in poison to make them poisonous. Is this a sign that I ought to be more careful about what I eat this year at Christmas dinner?
Wow, I've read through this post five times now and I'm still alternatingly shaking my head and ROTFL (just a shout out for teh kidz). This makes me curious, though, in a morbid sort of way. Are there even stranger/funnier keywords or search strings that lead to the blog? So curious, in fact, that I am going to make this into a contest!

Here's the deal: whoever sends me the strangest/funniest search terms that lead to the Sons of Norway blog will receive a free Norwegian flag keychain. You can either post them here on the blog comments, or e-mail me at eevans@sofn.com. If we get enough responses, I’ll share the funniest here. Alright, now head on over to Google and see what you can come up with! Good luck and good searching everyone!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Norway Dominates Nordic Skiing Championships

This past weekend the 2009 FIS Nordic World Skiing Championships wrapped up in Liberec, Czech Republic. Held every second year, the Nordic World Championship consists of various cross-country skiing and ski jumping events. Of the 61 nations competing, Norway has been the clear leader in medals across the board. As of Friday morning, Norway lead the medal count with 9 medals including 4 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze. The US comes in at second with 5 medals.

Norway’s Nordic skiers are celebrities in the their home country, and while gold medal winners like Petter Northug and Ola Vigen Hattestad have gotten a lot of press attention, the stand-out star of this year’s competition is a ski jumper who’s bringing home the bronze. Anette Sagen, 24, from Mosjøen in Northern Norway, is widely considered one of the best female ski jumpers of all time. In Norway she’s known not only as a stand-out athlete but as the reluctant figurehead of the movement to recognize women’s ski jumping as an official international sport.

Both within Norway and on the international stage women’s ski jumping has faced opposition from people didn’t think women could compete at the same level as men, and organizations who didn’t think the sport would generate enough popular interest. Sagen began making headlines in 2004 during a Junior World Championship. Sagen took first place, but because the women’s competition was not part of the official program, she was not awarded a medal or given a podium ceremony like the male contestants. Just weeks later Sagen made headlines again she was denied the opportunity to compete in ski flying (ski jumping off of extra high hills) at Vikersundsbakken in Norway. Officials eventually relented and Sagen jumped for a record-setting 174.5 meters.

In the years since, Sagen has often found herself pushed into the spotlight of an intense public debate about equality in sports. Sagen has appeared very reluctant to assume sucha central role in the discussion, always crediting her fellow athletes and supporters and once even trying to withdraw from the debate altogether.

In 2006 it was announced that women’s ski jumping would be included in the 2009 World Championships. Coming in 3rd in the historic competition behind American Lindsey Van and German Ulrike Grässler, Sagen’s bronze is seen in Norway as a major victory not only for the country, but also for equality.