The Plumage Don’t Enter Into It!

Yes, it’s a Norwegian theme this morning and Mark started early, just as we were having our tea, when he opined that Norwegian was ‘easy’.

‘Is it?’ I said.  I’ve never attempted to learn Norwegian, as last night’s limericks will have shown if you were at Pinggk.

Mark showed me a picture of a flag with the Norwegian word ‘Flagg’ under it.

‘Yep, that looks easy,’ I said.

He could have left it there – but no!  He then showed me a picture of a coat of arms, underneath which was written the word ‘Riksvapen’ (the ‘a’ should have a little circle over it).

‘What?  How is that easy?’ I said.

He sighed impatiently.  Well, ‘vapen’ is obviously weapon.  As in arms – right?’

‘I guess,’ I said slowly.

‘And Rik is Reich,’ isn’t it?’


‘Reich!  As in the Third Reich!  Meaning kingdom!’

Ok so now we have… after a great deal of struggle – ‘kingdom weapons’.

Hmm.  Maybe Norwegian not so easy after all.

But the theme was appropriate for last night’s Pinggk was on the theme of ‘in translation’.  I did first of all a poem by Lorca, ‘Pequeno Vals Vienes’,

with Leonard Cohen’s translation ‘Take this Waltz’.

Then in the second half I did my limericks ‘On Not Understanding Scandinavian Languages’, in which the Norwegian verse goes:

‘And Norwegian’s complex as fjords

more twiddly than Anglian broads

the grammar’s a beast

but the parrot’s deceased

in Valhalla with Vikings and swords.’

Mark made his poetry debut with one he’d written himself in Esperanto with English translation.  Alison and Magnus did a really interesting simultaneous English and Icelandic poem, and two Chinese women read some fascinating poems in Chinese.

So that was good.  I didn’t sleep very well and was just sipping my tea and recovering from the Norwegian language lesson when Mark hit me with this:

‘The Norwegian language council recommends the terms Norwegian Bookmorg and Norwegian Munork.’

‘What?’ I yelped.  I did eventually get an explanation out of him but it exhausted me so you’ll have to look it up if you want to know.

But I wouldn’t bother.

‘Beautiful plumage, the Norwegian Blue…’

Kirk out


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