Norwegian 101

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Compound words are written together in Norwegian (see Nominal compositum), which can cause words to become very long, for example sannsynlighetsmaksimeringsestimator (maximum likelihood estimator). Another example is the title høyesterettsjustitiarius (originally put together of supreme court and the actual title, justitiarius). However, because of the increasing influence the English language is having on Norwegian, and inadequate computer spell checkers, this is often forgotten, sometimes with humorous results. Instead of writing for example lammekoteletter (lamb chops), people make the mistake of writing lamme koteletter (paralyzed, or lame, chops). The original message can even be reversed, as when røykfritt (smoke-free) becomes røyk fritt (smoke freely).

Other examples include:

~ Terrasse dør ("Terrace dies") instead of Terrassedør ("Terrace door")
~ Tunfisk biter ("Tuna bites", verb) instead of Tunfiskbiter ("Pieces of tuna", noun)
~ Smult ringer ("Lard calls", verb) instead of Smultringer ("Doughnuts")
~ Tyveri sikret ("Theft guaranteed") instead of Tyverisikret ("Theft proof")

These misunderstandings occur because most nouns can be interpreted as verbs or other types of words. Similar misunderstandings can be achieved in English too. The following are examples of phrases that both in Norwegian and English mean one thing as a compound word, and something different when regarded as separate words:

~ stavekontroll (spell checker) or stave kontroll (spell "checker")
~ kokebok (cookbook) or koke bok (cook book)
~ ekte håndlagde vafler (real handmade waffles) or ekte hånd lagde vafler. (Real hand made waffles.)

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