Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


ÆØÅ
October 6, 2012 1:14 PM   Subscribe

SLYT - Two Norwegians mock America for its puny alphabet, with disastrous consequences
posted by Dim Siawns (54 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Catchy!
posted by figurant at 1:17 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I complain about my belly fat / You die from it, I can't compete with that."

Ouch, baby. Ouch.
posted by Golfhaus at 1:21 PM on October 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


That's good stuff. They have delicious pickled herring, too!
posted by jquinby at 1:24 PM on October 6, 2012


For reasons of the irrational sibling-like rivalry between Nordic countries I feel compelled as an Icelander to point out that our alphabet has 32 letters.

EAT OUR DUST, NORWAY!
posted by Kattullus at 1:27 PM on October 6, 2012 [39 favorites]


Slavery and brainwashing!
posted by The otter lady at 1:29 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Stopid Norwegians and your delicious oil and rich flora och fauna. Not only did you get Å Ä Ö wrong, you forgot about Jante putting out a video like this.

PS. Just kidding, guys! We love you. But seriously, your two languages thing is messed up. We used to be so closed and able to talk about anything but now you sound like you're suffering from indigestion :(

Sincerely,
Sweden
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:32 PM on October 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wait until they discover Sindhi....
posted by Houstonian at 1:32 PM on October 6, 2012


"The largest true alphabet where each letter is graphically independent is probably Georgian, with 41 letters."
posted by hat_eater at 1:35 PM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Let's be honest. Those aren't really extra letters; they are regular letters wearing hats.

Totally doesn't count.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:36 PM on October 6, 2012 [54 favorites]


There is no such thing as a Norwegian alphabet. Like their royal family, we kindly borrowed it to them.
posted by brokkr at 1:37 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually, we have 27 letters: A-Z, and the letter Uh.

How else do you spell Uhmerica?
posted by hanoixan at 1:38 PM on October 6, 2012



For reasons of the irrational sibling-like rivalry between Nordic countries I feel compelled as an Icelander to point out that our alphabet has 32 letters.

EAT OUR DUST, NORWAY!


Well then, speaking on behalf of my Norwegian partner (who isn't allowed to read Metafilter):

'Ya, that's about all you've got to eat there, isn't it?'
posted by jamjam at 1:41 PM on October 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


Oh not at all, we've also got snow.
posted by Kattullus at 1:45 PM on October 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Uh oh.

Now that I realize character sets matter, we're totally screwed.

China.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 1:51 PM on October 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wanted to enjoy this video, but my Latvian wife is lording their 33-letter alphabet over me.
posted by Harald74 at 1:52 PM on October 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh not at all, we've also got snow.

And lava! And puffins!
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:57 PM on October 6, 2012


Is this the Pet Shop Boys?
posted by four panels at 2:02 PM on October 6, 2012


Pæt Shøp Båjs
posted by brokkr at 2:06 PM on October 6, 2012 [21 favorites]


Written Cherokee uses 85 letters. Or are we only counting Roman letters?
posted by workerant at 2:11 PM on October 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is good, but the Norwegian accent bothers me (and I say that as a Norwegian). It's especially egregious towards the end, where some Norwegian guy does the worst Obama impression known to man.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:11 PM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sure, without æ, you can't call this bæsj, and that's just wrong.

(I conveniently have these letters on my keyboard, but that means that typing the @ is a major pain in the ass.)

In terms of phonetic alphabets, I think the Abugida alphabets are going to win here. You get to add another dimension of consonant sounds to each letter, so you get a matrix of options, rather than a straight line.
posted by grajohnt at 2:13 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


EAT OUR DUST, NORWAY!

How about "SUCK MY Þ"
posted by zippy at 3:03 PM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know, I blame The Proclaimers, and all those letters they demanded be sent back from America.
posted by chavenet at 3:10 PM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


So when Romney wins and has Big Bird taken into the back alley and shot behind the dumpster, then TV can start running what appears to be this Norwegian version of Sesame Street to educate US kids? Is that how it'll pan out?
posted by Wordshore at 3:30 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


For reasons of the irrational sibling-like rivalry between Nordic countries I feel compelled as an Icelander to point out that our alphabet has 32 letters.

I feel compelled to note that Russian has 33. Suck it, Trebek.
posted by Nomyte at 3:34 PM on October 6, 2012


We need an alphabet where the letters wear capes.
posted by arcticseal at 3:47 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tamil has 247 characters. 12 vowels, 18 consonants, 18x12 vowel-consonants and 1 special letter.
posted by Wordshore at 3:48 PM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine showed me this clip of a Norwegian stand-up, who recently won "Best Newcomer" at the Edinburgh Fringe. I'm pretty sure he's hamming his accent up to insane levels for the Englanders, but he's definitely got his own, pretty wonderful thing going on. I feel like he deserves his own FPP, really, rather than being lazily appended to the first of the many Norwegian comedy threads we have, but there we are.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 4:03 PM on October 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


Tagged: brief moments of pr0n
posted by clvrmnky at 4:24 PM on October 6, 2012


You guys are totes adorbs with all your extra letters and whatnot.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:56 PM on October 6, 2012


When I was a senior in high school there was a Danish foreign exchange student in my class, I have a very distinct memory of his laughing uproariously at my attempts to pronounce Ø.
posted by nanojath at 6:05 PM on October 6, 2012


English speakers expect their letters to do more work and multitask.
posted by smirkette at 6:10 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Please don't Æ Ø Å all over my face. It solves nothing.
posted by dgaicun at 6:17 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jon Mitchell: "A friend of mine showed me this clip yt of a Norwegian stand-up, who recently won "Best Newcomer" at the Edinburgh Fringe. I'm pretty sure he's hamming his accent up to insane levels for the Englanders, but he's definitely got his own, pretty wonderful thing going on."

He might well be hamming up his accent, but in general, I would not be surprised if a Norwegian spoke English with that accent. It's totally plausible. See also Thor Heyerdahl.

Holy shit, this Daniel Simonsen guy is hilarious, though. What the hell, why haven't I heard of him before? I'm impressed with anyone who can stand in front of a crowd and do something this awkward and uncomfortable with a completely straight face.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:23 PM on October 6, 2012


I studied Swedish in college. It's not Norwegian, but despite what either Swedes or Norwegians will angrily insist, they're pretty similar.

I studied Swedish partly because I like to take the road less traveled, partly because I had a beloved hunchbacked Saab 96 sedan at the time, but mostly because in my major, you had to take either a math track or a language track as a way of "supplementing" your arts and humanities degree. Despite the fact that my SATs were ten points shy of getting me out of math altogether, I took and failed MATH 001 five times (and had to pay extra for the "remedial" class, to boot) and would have had to take it at a community college had I not gone to my faculty advisor and bawled my eyes out about how I was working a full-time job, a part-time job, and moonlighting as a stripper to pay for college. Had almost the same experience in MATH 110, so the math track was out.

Flopped in Latin, experienced serious schadenfreude in Deutsch, couldn't even make out the words in Spanish, but Swedish—well, that was a truly wonderful thing. Swedish is grammatically as simple as languages that aren't Esperanto get, but most people couldn't handle the pronunciation. The most elemental Swedish tongue-twisters, little ditties about seven sick nurses and such, would kill most mortals, but I spent my teen years phonetically learning to sing Zarah Leander and impersonate Kraftwerk singing about calculators in Japanese, so my tongue was already relatively twisted.

It helped that my Swedish professor was an absolute gem. She was onto me and how, when I couldn't remember a word, I'd svenskafy English or Latin root words into Swedish because that would work, astonishingly enough, at least five percent of the time. Still, even though she knew I was hopeless, she enjoyed my company and enthusiasm, and would be extra patient.

Fortstå?

Where I was less than I could be with language, I made up by getting obsessed with Swedish culture, politics, and of course, cars cars cars. I'm a gearhead, and Sweden was a country of eight million people with two world-class automakers. Besides, I love clean, simple, elegant design, and the Swedes concur.

My professor also had the funniest mouth I have ever seen on a living human, and I've been to The Black Eagle with Scott Thompson. That lady—usch usch usch. I think I went out of my way to rile her because Swedish expressions of despair and frustration are just...stunning spectacles of off-kilter vowels and impossible combinations of S, W, H, and the way a dolphin arcs its spine in mid-leap, as rendered in unvoiced sound.

"Can you go over the vowels again?"

I knew them. She sort of knew I knew them, but oh my, how I loved to watch her say them. So many vowels, so similar, and so alien—sigh.

I'd make her laugh all the time, and a laughing Swede manages to go through a hell of a lot of vowel sounds if one's just lip-reading. I don't know how deaf people manage in Sweden, to be honest. I offered her a neatly wrapped gift one Christmas, and explained that I intended to put poison in her vagina.

"You want to put poison in my vagina!?" she exclaimed, and it was a natural mistake. Svenskafying "gift" into Swedish does not equal "present." It equals "poison," and the worst part is that the Swedish for "present" is "present," not "gift." I was on the right track, but so very, very wrong. I don't even know how "fitta" got in there, but my teacher was kind to say "vagina" instead of a more literal translation.

She corrected me, I blushed, and she laughed and laughed. I was content.

I nearly killed her at Christmas, though. Where I sucked at scholarship, I excelled in going native, and I was going to Swede the hell out of myself in place of always having the right word. For Christmas, I made Lucia buns and made myself a kick-ass candle hat to do the Lucia procession. Learned the song, albeit the simplified kids' version, and even though it was gender-bending for me to wear the candle hat, I didn't want to be a dumb stjernespill, because star boys are lame. Excused myself from the classroom, lit my candle hat, got into gear, prepared my sack of candy and buns, and reached around to extinguish the classroom lights so I could burst in, all gloriously lit in the spirit of the holidays—

Sadly, the end result of a homemade candle hat and the physical action of leaping into a room was not good. Real candle hats have little wells that catch the extra wax, but my candle hat did not. Real Swedish children wearing official Lucia candle hats also don't tend to jump around, because of the obvious potential for disaster. I was instantly covered in a cascade of burning hot wax for the second time in my life, which abruptly halted my Lucia song and set me into a frenetic dance of agony. This had the effect of sharing my agony with the rest of my very small class, because when one dances in agony in a homemade candle hat, one is shockingly effective at dousing the rest of the class in burning hot wax. The viking obsessed bisexual hippie in the front lurched backwards and fell, and I managed to dislodge the homemade candle hat.

My professor was absolutely silent, but her eyes were clenched tight, as if she was having a heart attack, and her perfectly amazing lips acted out the silent death cries of every fish on Alderaan in those last reverberating seconds. I stood there, surrounded by wax and irritated classmates, and watched tears roll as she doubled over in sweet agony.

When her composure returned, all she could say was "usch, usch, usch," but that pretty much said it all. I passed Swedish, and for a while, I could read it fairly well, could write like a grade school kid, and could watch Mitt Liv som Hund with a piece of masking tape over the subtitles, but it's slipped away from me. I last spoke it with confidence in a diner on the Taconic State Parkway in the mid-nineties, and then it just faded. I'd learned a language, though, which made me right proud.

On my last day, knowing I probably wouldn't see her again, I brought her a little present.

"I have some poison for you, though I'll just put it in your hand if that's okay."

"Tack. Det är mycket vänlig."

These days, the residue of a language learned is mainly used annoying people by pronouncing the names of things in Ikea properly.

"It's smOHlahnd, not 'small' land."

"Only you would learn a language to annoy people at a department store, Joe."

"Hey, I learned it so I could yell at my car."

"Sure you did. Doof."

"I believe the word you're looking for is 'knasboll'."
posted by sonascope at 7:53 PM on October 6, 2012 [58 favorites]


Tamil has 247 characters. 12 vowels, 18 consonants, 18x12 vowel-consonants and 1 special letter.


OUR ALPHABET HAS NO SPECIAL LETTER. We are a nation of shame.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:20 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


And Q DOES NOT COUNT.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:20 PM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jon Mitchell: "A friend of mine showed me this clip of a Norwegian stand-up, who recently won "Best Newcomer" at the Edinburgh Fringe. I'm pretty sure he's hamming his accent up to insane levels for the Englanders, but he's definitely got his own, pretty wonderful thing going on. I feel like he deserves his own FPP, really, rather than being lazily appended to the first of the many Norwegian comedy threads we have, but there we are."

Speaking a foreign language in a convincing local dialect is one thing; trying to be funny at the same time makes it harder. This guy is directly transplanting his Bergen dialect to English, with good results. Ænd rilly, måst pipl fråm Bærgen spik Inglish kajnd åv låjk dis.
posted by Aiwen at 8:32 PM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Very funny, silly video. Of course, Japanese wins if you are talking about the number of character sets themselves--3 you need to know to use the language (and Japanese people all know the English alphabet too, which brings us to four), containing a total of upwards of 2300 characters--but of course Chinese wins on size (easily 3000-4000 characters for functional literacy).

And, as the video demonstrates, size matters, people.
posted by dubitable at 8:48 PM on October 6, 2012


Aiwen, you just freaked me out 'cause I realized I could read that last bit. Weird.
posted by dubitable at 8:49 PM on October 6, 2012


Yep, he's definitely from the Bergen area. Good routine.
posted by arcticseal at 9:11 PM on October 6, 2012


Lipstick Thespian: "And Q DOES NOT COUNT."

Not even, sometimes, Y?
posted by deborah at 10:33 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh not at all, we've also got snow.
Our snow is....bigger.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:29 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


OUR ALPHABET HAS NO SPECIAL LETTER. We are a nation of shame.

We do have the special interjection "like" which can be correctly fit into any place in any sentence without modifying the meaning at all.

(I was traveling with an advanced Japanese speaker in Japan last year and almost every conversation he had involved the word "ano" a lot. I finally asked him what it meant and he informed me that it was the Japanese word for "uhhh...")
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:15 AM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile in London it is proposed that the English alphabet be reduced to two characters representing schwa and a glottal stop, since that's all anybody seems to use these days.
posted by nowonmai at 4:07 AM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Swedish, Norwegian and Danish are like three dialects of the same underlying language - in a roundabout way. So I feel confident I can share the following Danish sentence here:

U å æ ø, u i æ å.

Now, strictly speaking this is a local Danish dialect (sønderjysk - Southern Jutland dialect), but it's still Danish. Written out in standard Danish, it'd be "ude på øen ude i åen" which means "out on the island in the middle of the stream".

U å æ ø, u i æ å.

No wonder my Scottish partner sometimes claims I am just making up stuff when I speak Danish - although I don't speak with a sønderjysk accent.
posted by kariebookish at 5:44 AM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


" ... I was instantly covered in a cascade of burning hot wax for the second time in my life, ..."

Only sonascope could write this in a thread about enthusiastically vowel proud Norwegians.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:18 AM on October 7, 2012


Well, kariebookish, in Swedish we can say

I åa ä e ö å i öa ä e å
to mean in the river is an island and on the island there is a river.
Speaking of islands,

"Ö, ö, hö-ö; hö-öns mö."

means: Island, island, grassy island; grassy island's maiden.
posted by dabitch at 11:48 AM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


In Icelandic, this is a valid sentence:
Á. Á. á Á á á.
The sentence means: A man with the initials Á. Á. who is from the farm Á (which means river) owns a sheep.
posted by Kattullus at 1:52 PM on October 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Here's an attractive girl doing Swedish tongue-twisters, for the record.
posted by sonascope at 5:32 PM on October 7, 2012


Kattullus - That my friend, is impressive.
posted by dabitch at 9:02 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tamil has 247 characters. 12 vowels, 18 consonants, 18x12 vowel-consonants and 1 special letter.

Note that modern Tamil (but not the ancient Grantha script) actually has less letters than in most Indic scripts. In Telugu/ Kannada, for instance, there are 16 vowels and 48 consonants, and three additional characters. Then there are some of us who're trying to popularize a new vowel in Telugu to differentiate a hard "aa" sound (the existing aa sound, as in, "raaga") from (what we're calling as) mEkaswaram, literally, the goat's sound: a more Anglophonic "a", like you have in loan-words such as "bank", "tank", "baptism" and so on. All this not including the crucial symbol for supressing a vowel sound, the halant (in Devnaagri) and its equivalents; it's not a vowel or a fully fledged letter per se, but it's quite crucial.

Also, modern Tamil only has one form of letter-conjunctions, that of vowels with consonants. In most other Indic scripts, you have vowel-consonants and conjunct-consonants, consonants "combining" with other consonants. In Devnaagri, this takes the form of "half" letters, but in most Indic scripts, they're actually different glyphs; because two or more letters can combine together, the total number of possible glyphs is a few factors higher than 18*12. :)
posted by the cydonian at 1:46 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


it was the Japanese word for "uhhh..."


So that's why the Japanese make Italians crack up laughing. It's the Italian word for arsehole.
posted by aqsakal at 1:49 AM on October 8, 2012


Wow. It's also "yes" in Czech.
posted by hat_eater at 7:21 PM on October 8, 2012


« Older Moyers & Company presents “United States of ALEC,”...  |  The Safe Motherhood Quilt Pro... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments