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…’