Norwegian: Love

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Bails23, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. Bails23 Junior Member

    English
    Hello,

    I am getting a tattoo in remembrance of my grandfather who raised me and who passed away recently. He moved to the US from Norway when he was 13 years old so I wanted to get the word "love" in Norwegian. If someone could help me, I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!
     
  2. frugihoyi Senior Member

    Copenhagen
    English - USA, Portuguese - Brazil
    I don't think there is a good word which you can use for a tattoo. There is "kjærlighet" or "elsk," which is actually a verb. But a Norwegian can correct me if I'm wrong.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2012
  3. timtfj

    timtfj Senior Member

    Northwest England
    UK English
    Well the infinitive å elske is a bit closer to being a noun I suppose. Infinitives get used that way in Norwegian. For example Å elske er godt means "to love is good" or "loving is good". Elsk on its own is the imperative: the command "Love!"

    But this definitely needs a Norwegian opinion---e.g. as to whether elske on its own without the å would work and so on.

    Looking at kjærlighet (from a calligraphy point of view really) I think it could be made to look better than it seems in type. For example the tail of the g could be extended decoratively to tidy up the appearance. So it might work visually. As for whether it works from the meaning point of view, that needs Norwegian input.
     
  4. Bails23 Junior Member

    English
    Thank you so much! I am also thinking the phrase "Because you loved me" so if you could help me with that, I would appreciate it! Thanks so much!!!
     
  5. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Yes, kjærlighet does indeed mean 'love', but it is rather the concept than the emotion. If you wish to say "because you loved me", you have two options, and I will explain them so you will get an idea.

    To say "I love you" in Norwegian is done in one of two ways - mostly depending on where you are from. The first one "jeg elsker deg", which is common in Eastern and Southern Norway. The other is "jeg er glad i deg", which is used in Western and Mid-Norway. There is no difference in meaning or strength, they are simply dialectal variants.

    You can say both: "Fordi du var glad i meg" and "fordi du elsket meg", but I have to say none of them work as well in Norwegian as they do in English. The word 'love' has inflated into a number of meanings in English, but the Norwegian counterparts are not quite as encompassing. The phrase "fordi du elsket meg" will rather sound like a love-lost than a homage.
     
  6. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    Hi,

    I don't understand this. Could you explain?
     
  7. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Kjærlighet = love, affection, fondness

    Kjærlighet denotes the general affection between two lovers; definition by extension: the love and connection you feel towards your team, country etc. 'Kjærlighet' is a stirring passion
     
  8. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    But what do you mean the concept rather than the emotion? That bit's still unclear to me.
     
  9. AutumnOwl

    AutumnOwl Senior Member

    Sweden
    Swedish - Sweden, Finnish
    It's probably the same way as in Swedish, it's not possible to say "jag kärlek dig", and use kärlek for the emotion or feeling of love towards a person, but it's possible to say "kärleken är blind" (love is blind) or "du gav mig din kärlek" (you gave me your love) and mean the concept of the emotion of love.
     
  10. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    So the division between a noun and a verb?
     
  11. AutumnOwl

    AutumnOwl Senior Member

    Sweden
    Swedish - Sweden, Finnish
    Kärlek in Swedish is a abstract noun, the colloquial verb for love is kära (usually älska), att vara kär means to be in love.
     
  12. TrampGuy Junior Member

    unspecified
    Thanks NorwegianNYC, this is very informative! I always though "Jeg er glad i deg" is somewhat weaker (at least) than "Jeg elsker deg". The first always sounded to me as more of "I am happy with you" indirectly implying - I also love you. "Elsker" always sounded more straightforward and stronger. I think the reason for my confusion comes from uses of "glad" in several other idioms, where it is interpreted slightly different from its literal meaning, yet always in a relating manner.
     
  13. frugihoyi Senior Member

    Copenhagen
    English - USA, Portuguese - Brazil
    Same here! I learned Danish first and at least in Copenhagen it seems that "at være glad" is weaker than "at elske" and the only direct translation from "I love you" is "jeg elsker dig." Then I noticed that in Norway people also say "Jeg er glad i deg." I assumed this to be weaker and subsequently have told my girlfriend many times "jeg er glad i deg" but I never actually meant to tell her I love her!!! Not that I don't necessarily, but yeah getting off topic now ;)
     
  14. vestfoldlilja Senior Member

    Norway
    Norwegian
    I don’t think it has anything do to with dialectical differences at all.

    Elsker and glad i both translate as love in English, but to me there is a difference between the two. A small one, but still important.

    Glad i denotes a lesser affection than elsker does, or said differently it contains less confusing and overwhelming feelings. The emotion I would say are the same, it’s the level of affection or how deep the emotions go within you, and how they make you feel and act, that makes a difference.

    Elsker is used more sparely than glad i and to denote important and deep emotions. Some people will only use elsker towards a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife, while others will extend it to their children as well. Others again will also use it for close family and friends. It is not used for everyone. Elsker is a word used with caution, and only if it is true towards a few select people who are very close to you.

    It’s important to keep in mind that Norwegians, and indeed Swedes and Danes will in most cases feel more comfortable with a version other than elsker. And will use glad i more freely and in everyday life, than elsker. We do keep our feelings and emotions close and do not use words describing love and affection (towards persons) in an open and free manner as one would use love in English. Of course there are those who are more open and free as well, but as a general rule, people will stay away from words that denote too much emotion.

    Regarding the tattoo: I would suggest kjærlighet. Kjærlighet means love regardless of who the love is for or what kind of love. Elsk is a command; as in elsk meg – love me.
     
  15. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Vestfoldlilja - I hate to break it to you, but if your name is accurate, you are actually proving my point. Vestfold is in the Eastern Norwegian sphere, so of course you find "elsker" to be stronger than "glad i". In Western and Mid-Norway, the word "elsker" is rarely used about people, but about preferences. In Mid-Norwegian, "æ e glad i dæ" means I love you, whereas "æ elske fisk" means you are fond of fish.

    It IS a dialectal matter. Even the president of the Norwegian Language Council said in an interview when asked when was the last time he said "jeg elsker deg" to his wife: "I have never said that, because where I come from [he is from the West coast], it is not as sincere as 'eg e glad i deg', but that I say to her every day."
     
  16. vestfoldlilja Senior Member

    Norway
    Norwegian
    My bad about the dialect issue. I still stand by what I said regarding elsker vs. glad i for those who do use elsker in regards to people and not only preferences, such as food or music.
     
  17. Eskil Junior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norwegian
    I come from the Eastern part in Norway as well (suburb of Oslo). I think vestfoldlilja has a point. It maybe that in the West and North they use "glad i" rather than "elske". if so this is a dialect. However, in the east those two concepts do NOT convey the same meaning. "elske" is much stronger than "være glad i". To explain the difference as just having to do with dialects, would severly distort understanding of how these two words are used in the Oslo-area. You would then miss an important nuance in the language
     
  18. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    No, it won't do. If "glad i"-preference is considered dialect, than "elske"-preference is dialect as well. There is no such thing as standard spoken Norwegian, therefore ALL variants of Norwegian must be considered dialects. Thus, if you are referring to the parameters of "elske" vs. "glad i" in Oslo/Eastern Norway, you are merely referring to a DIALECTAL preference in that area.

    You say: "To explain the difference as just having to do with dialects, would severly distort understanding of how these two words are used in the Oslo-area. You would then miss an important nuance in the language". I believe you mean to say: "[...] miss an important nuance in that dialect".
     
  19. Cerb Senior Member

    Norwegian - Bokmål
    While I agree about the point about everyone having a dialect in Norway, I think it's important to point out that a very large part of the population, most of the population in fact, uses "elsker" and "glad i" the way Vestfoldlilja described. It's an interesting topic and I wasn't actually aware of how this is used in the mid- and western part of Norway. It could easily make for some confusion even among native speakers. Coming from Oslo, I'd use "elsker" for strong preferences and very intimate relations, mainly romantic ones. "Glad i" comes closer to being fond of someone or simply liking something if it's about preferences.
     
  20. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Hi Cerb. I would like to clarify that I am not arguing for or supporting either variant here, and that "elsker" is by far more common. However, usage does not define correctness. The 1st Person Singular pronoun is technically speaking "jeg" in Norwegian. In reality, very few actually say "jeg", unless when the word is stressed. The common Eastern Norwegian forms are [je], [jæ] and [jæh] in spoken language. However, that does not make it 'correct' (and in other parts of the country they might say: eg, æg, ei, æi, i, æ, e).

    "Glad i" and "elsker" are synonyms in Norwegian, but is their respective value is defined by geography. Also consider the word koselig. Certain dialects will actually pronounce it "ko-se-li", whereas the majority will say "kosj-li". That does not make the majority 'correct'. It is simply a matter of usage.
     
  21. Eskil Junior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norwegian
    NYC: I am not arguing that the dialect in Oslo is the "correct" Norwegian, although it is the most common form of Norwegian. But in Oslo "glad i" and "elske" are NOT synonyms as you claim. Those words definitely carry distinct meanings. Related meaning yes - but not the exact same meaning. Therefore it will be misleading to say that they are synonyms (in Oslo): I think claiming that "elske" and "glad i" are synonyms will confuse non-natives who wish to understand Norwegian (as it is spoken in Oslo). By the way: What is your dialect NYC?
     
  22. basslop

    basslop Senior Member

    Norway
    Norwegian
    I fully agree with Eskil. Mixing up "elske" and "være glad i" could lead to embarrassing situations. Having lived my whole life near Oslo, the different (smaller) distinction in West Norwegian dialects is interesting. I was not aware of that.
     
  23. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Hi Eskil. I know you are not arguing that the one or the other form is correct; but neither am I. I have absolutely made no claim that "glad i" and "elske" are synonymous in Oslo. However, my over-arching argument is that we have to tread carefully here, and keep facts and lines of reasoning straight, and not get it jumbled up with our personal preferences and subjective evaluations. I have argued that the two terms are synonymous in NORWEGIAN based on the following:

    - There is no such thing as standard spoken Norwegian. No one speaks Nynorsk, and no one (with the possible exception of a few communities in Finnmark) speaks Bokmål.
    - There is no normative dialect of Norwegian, meaning that all dialects are idiosyncratic, and by extension, correct in use
    - Spoken Norwegian consists of a great number of dialects (in roughly 5 dialect groups), and regional differences in usage does not make a variant substandard, neither in terms of grammar, vocabulary or syntax
    - Usage does not imply correctness. In other words: The number of speakers of a dialect does not reflect a dialectal variant's validity compared to another

    Based on this, I hope to share a little light on what is my point here: "Glad i" and "elske" are synonymous, because different dialects have emphasis on different terms. In English, the expression "I guess" and "I reckon" are synonymous, but the former is primarily used in American English, whereas the latter is found in British English. The fact that there are more Americans than British English speakers does nothing to the validity of the expressions.
     
  24. timtfj

    timtfj Senior Member

    Northwest England
    UK English
    Now I'm wondering. What's more important for a tattoo? Spoken Norwegian or written Norwegian? A tattoo is, after all, in written form. What do people normally use?
     
  25. Bails23 Junior Member

    English
    Good question! I would also still like to know if someone could help me with the translation for "Because you loved me", in any dialect since I do not know exactly where in Norway my grandpa is from (his last name was "Haugen" if that is any help). I don't really want to say "I love you" since the reason for the tattoo is in remembrance of the patience and love that my grandpa had for me. If someone could help, I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you!
     
  26. AutumnOwl

    AutumnOwl Senior Member

    Sweden
    Swedish - Sweden, Finnish
    I don't know if this Bible quotation can help you, the Norwegian is a bit old (from 1930) but it says "fordi I har elsket meg/because you have loved me: http://sv.bibelsite.com/john/16-27.htm
     
  27. vestfoldlilja Senior Member

    Norway
    Norwegian
    Tattoos are personal and I would imagine most people choosing words over pictures would also choose the wording closes to their own dialect, unless it’s a direct quote.

    The phrase “because you loved me” – is “fordi/siden du elsket/elska/var glad i meg” in Bokmål, but it’s not a set phrase and does not express the same as “because you loved me“ in my opinion. More context would be needed in Norwegian since it’s not an idiom.
    It’s difficult to come up with something more suitable at the moment; hopefully someone else will pitch in.



    That’s a Norwegian/Danish translation from the Bible and not something that would be found today. The I is most definitely Danish, the Norwegian counterparts would be jeg, eg, æ and so forth.
     
  28. Eskil Junior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norwegian
    But MY point is that "glad i" and "elske" both are used in Oslo - but with different meaning. The comparison with words used in US versus UK is another subject, and I agree that is related to dialect. But I am referring to how two words are used WITHIN the SAME dialect - namely in Oslo - but with different meaning. I do not understand how two different words within the same dialect can simply be classified as an emphasis in various dialects (?)
     
  29. timtfj

    timtfj Senior Member

    Northwest England
    UK English
    Maybe I've misunderstood here, but I think the situation being described is

    • both expressions are found all over Norway
    • within any dialect, one expression is likely to have a stronger meaning than the other, or different shades of meaning from the other
    • which way round it is, and how big the difference is, depends on the dialect
    • in some dialects the difference is so great that they're best considered to be separate meanings.
    It seems to me that in languages we mostly have a sort of landscape of meanings with words scattered about on it. Each word covers a particular area of this landscape, but the boundaries are fuzzy. How different two meanings have to be to thought of as separate can be quite a subjective judgement. For myself, I often see two very distinct meanings where someone else might see basically two versions of the same thing.

    Does this make sense? NorwegianNYC seems to be saying that the differences vary from dialect to dialect, and you seem to be saying that in the Oslo dialect, they're big enough for the two expressions to mean basically different things.
     
  30. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    I am not disputing the fact “elske” ranks “glad i” in the Oslo dialect. As a matter of fact, I personally know that it does. However, the Oslo dialect is not the same as ‘Norwegian’, and in a broader view, we will find that in certain dialects “glad i” ranks “elske”, whereas in other dialects, “elske” ranks “glad i”. I cannot think of a single Norwegian dialect where you will not find both expressions.

    Therefore, “glad i” and “elske” are synonyms with dialectally contingent validity.

    My English language analogy with “I guess” and “I reckon” paints a similar picture. Both British and American English speakers use “I guess” and “I reckon”, but they use them differently, because the two words have inherently different meanings (i.e. values) in the respective variants of the English language. They are also synonyms with regionally contingent validity.

    Timtfj says:
    This is exactly what I am referring to. Both expressions are used all over the Norwegian language area, but the one tends to be "stronger" than the other depending on where you are. I cannot think of a single area where they would be 100% interchangeable, but I do not have intimate knowledge of all the dialects of Norwegian.
     
  31. TrampGuy Junior Member

    unspecified
    This argument is all about "semantics".
    NorwegianNYC's current claims cover all aspects of the answer, even though his initial response was somewhat misleading.

    The way I see it, is that it is, in fact, a dialectal difference when looking at Norwegian as a whole; meaning - Norwegian is a collection of forms and dialects, and therefore should be referred to and treated as such.
    The discussed issue, however, is a matter of different dialects, so we're basically all right here :)

    Now I'm going to stir things up again :
    I was sure it's the other way around...
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012
  32. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Ha! Yes, I deserved that one! Sorry for these long and tedious rants. At my my age I ought to know when to stop...

    That being said, in my initial response, I tried to stay on topic, but the whole thing ended up beign less about tattoos than Norwegian dialectal discrepancies...

    However, I still claim that the majority of Norwegians say ko-shli, and not ko-se-lih
     
  33. bicontinental Senior Member

    U.S.A.
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    Well, dear Bails, it kind of looks like you'll either have to drop that tattoo idea altogether...or think of a different word than 'love'. ;)
    All my best,
    Bic.
     
  34. 13avforever New Member

    English
    Such an old thread but I'd be curious as to what you got for your tattoo. I actually have kjærligheten on my wrist. As a native English speaker who learned Norwegian the concept of kjærlighet vs the emotion of elsker made sense to me. My thought was I don't want it to say love because I love someone as as opposed to my wanting a reminder to find love in everything. To me that captures the emotion vs the concept
     
  35. Bails23 Junior Member

    English

    Hello! I haven't gotten it yet, I am still unsure of what I should go for. I really like the reasoning for yours though!
     
  36. mosletha Senior Member

    Haugesund, Norway
    Norwegian
    My wife actually has a tattoo of the word 'Kjærlighet' on her wrist! In her case, it was done in memory of a friend of ours who was murdered on Utøya.

    I wanted to get it as well, but I was completely unable to decide if I wanted to use the bokmål word 'Kjærlighet' like our friend did, the nynorsk form 'Kjærleik', or the archaic nynorsk word 'Åst' – which, despite being very archaic, I prefer for various subjective reasons.

    ... er, I digress. My point is, I really think 'kjærlighet' should be perfectly fine for you. :)
     
  37. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    I am inclined to agree. "Kjærlighet" would work
     
  38. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    I must admit that I find your differentiation between "concept" and "emotion" related to words somewhat difficult to understand. These are terms from quite different sets of entities, and I don't know how they can be considered in being in contrast to each other. Emotion is a noun denoting an abstract concept of an inner state of mind of a human being. Emotion in this meaning has no physical dimension, it is a concept, an abstract concept. However, a human being can show signs of emotion, for instant of fear or love, and these signs are physically detectable. Emotion can also be described as a physical condition of a human being. We can detect emotions looking at a person or hearing, or in cases when the person tries to hide the emotion, through detecting electrical impulses in certain parts of the brain.
     
  39. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Ben - 'kjærlighet' is the concept of love. It is not used to express the emotion of love. Then Norwegian would use elsker deg or glad i deg. When the word 'kjærlighet' is used, it is almost exclusively used to express one's relationship with or longing for something.
     
  40. Bails23 Junior Member

    English

    Thanks! That is what I am probably going to go with!
     
  41. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    Of course it is a concept of an emotion, or rather a term denoting a concept (concept is an idea, while term is a word). Nobody says in Norwegian "*Jeg kjærlighet deg", especially as it is a noun. But the very word "emotion" is also a term denoting an abstract concept, so, both "kjærlighet" and "emotion" are terms denoting emotions. If you say "Jeg følte en dyp kjærlighet for henne/ham" you describe a feeling, an emotion of love, but kjærlighet is not a physical object, it is an idea that exists in our mind, in the same way as "emotion" is.
     

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