Sunday, April 20, 2008

Nyorsk 2

Here was a stumper. Got a card from the post office saying we had a package. On the other side the printing was the same. A card printed with two sides the same? Wait a minute, slight differences...

Flipping back and forth is like one of those "spot the differences" puzzle. One side has an Ankomstdag and the other an Innkomstdag... outgoing and incoming? No, Ankomstdag is arrival date and Innkomstdag has to mean the same thing.

Then the other subtle differences: Må hentes innen 14 dager on one side, and Må hentast innan 14 dagar on the other. Hjem vs. Heim. Stader vs. Steder.

Aha! The telltale clue! In one corner it says "Bokmål", in the other "Nynorsk". Of course! There are two versions of Norwegian, "Book Norwegain" and "New Norwegian", and every official document must be written in both languages. Even though the two are very nearly identical and anyone learning one language can read the other with no difficulty, and even though Nynorsk is spoken by 10% of the population and then only in specific areas far from Trondheim, the card from the post office is printed on both sides with both languages. That's an expense Norway could do without, and further, for a country very concerned with environmental issues, that's a waste of ink and paper. A very curious issue, when Norway's ideal of fairness and equality clashes with other ideals. It will be interesting to see how this eventually plays out!

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