Friday, October 10, 2008

Elgnytt – Moose News

We've got another great blog post from the culture desk at Sons of Norway! This week, Colin Thomsen will educate us about a very Norwegian topic: Moose. Enjoy, and please let us know if you've had any moose sightings so far this fall.

Ah, autumn and a young man’s thoughts turn to moose. It’s moose season in Norway, and we at the Sons of Norway Culture Desk have put together a few interesting thoughts and facts about Norway’s national animal.

Norwegian moose – called elg in Norwegian – are actually the same species as American moose, known in Latin as Alces alces. The Norwegian word elg is related to the English word “elk” which, confusingly, refers to an entirely different animal. According to The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and The Proto-Indo-European World the discrepancy seems to be due to the fact that Alces alces was extinct in Britain by about the year 900 AD, but the word “elk” remained in the English language, probably as a vague term meaning “large deer.” Much later as British explorers traveled the New World, they needed words to describe the animals they found there. “Elk” came out of retirement to describe a different species (Cervus elaphus, aka red deer) while a local Algonquin (American Indian) word – mooz – was brought in to describe Alces alces.

But an elg has always been an elg in Norwegian. Whatever you call it, Norwegians love their elg, which is sometimes stylized as skogens konge, or “King of the Forest” and often appears as an artistic motif known as elg i solnedgang (“moose in the sunset”).

Perhaps this explains the obsession the Aftenposten English Desk has with what we like to call elgnytt – “moose news.” In their English-language service, Norway’s largest daily newspaper seems to spend more time reporting on moose-related events than any other topic. Readers could be forgiven for thinking that the Norwegian people live in constant peril of being overrun by drunken, burping moose who terrorize the countryside. Here are a few of only the most bizarre pieces of moose news from the last couple of years:

Burping moose bad for the environment
Drunken moose terrorizes family
More crashes in the full moon
Moose on the loose at Kristiansand’s airport
Moose rampage in Skien
Thieves felled by moose
Moose canceled ski race
Moose meat in space

Despite by the apparent excess of moose, hunting the animals is both legal and popular in Norway. In most places the hunt starts in mid-September and lasts until the end of October. For all the statistics about hunting moose you could ever want (and probably a lot more) click here and here.

And finally, just because it’s too weird not to mention, some people have actually tried to domesticate moose. In fact there’s a moose farm in Russia, where moose are born and bred in order – and we are not making this up – to be milked.

1 comment:

Mort said...

I can't resist commenting on burping moose. It is a surprise not to read in the newspaper that the answer to global warming has been discovered! Poor moose.