Monday, March 16, 2009

Språk og kultur / Language and Culture

As Norway is the birthplace of skiing, it’s natural that so many of the sport’s terms come from Norwegian – starting with the word “ski” itself, which is pronounced like “shee” in that language. Another skiing term, slalom, comes from a dialect word from Telemark, slalåm, which has more less the same pronunciation in both languages. As for telemark skiing, which is a specialized style or technique, well, no points for guessing where that comes from.

Looking at other skiing words in Norwegian, you can get a sense of one of our favorite aspects of the language. To a native English speaker, Norwegian often comes across as being a very blunt, direct language. For example, the English word for the sport that combines skiing and shooting is biathlon, meaning “sport with two disciplines.” In Norwegian it’s called skiskyting (SHEE-sheet-ing) which translates directly as “ski-shooting.” To our ears, “ski-shooting” is much more descriptive and direct than “sport with two disciplines” although we do wonder if someone who didn’t know the sport might imagine that the athletes were out shooting skis.

Here are a few more Norwegian skiing terms along these lines:

skihopping (SHEE-hop-ing): ski jumping

langrenn (LONG-ren): general term for cross-country skiing, literally “long run”

kulekjøring (COO-leh-shor-ing): mogul skiing, literally “bump driving”

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