serbianfan

Senior Member
British English
God/glædelig/gleðileg jul/jól to everybody! But have you ever wondered why e.g. Norwegians wish each other a "good Christmas" but native speakers of English don't? Well, it may be partly because teachers tell pupils in British schools to avoid the word "good" if possible when they write essays, and use other words like 'useful", "high-quality", etc. (At least, they did when I went to school!). Not so in Norwegian, where "god" is often thrown in where it doesn't seem really necessary. So a patient in hospital should ideally get "god og verdig behanding" as a common alternative to just "verdig behandling".
 
  • raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    Well, Norwegians use "god" in all kinds of wishes: God ferie, god tur, god helg, god bedring, and so on. I know that "gledelig jul" exists, but it seems a bit old-fashioned to me. There are some dialect-specific wishes. My mother (from Trøndelag) used to say "til lykke med jula".

    When we don't use words like "happy" or "merry", maybe it is an expression of Scandinavian gloom? :) Or at least the traditional (religious) view that celebrations should be serious and dignified, rather than frivolous?

    Not so in Norwegian, where "god" is often thrown in where it doesn't seem really necessary. So a patient in hospital should ideally get "god og verdig behanding" as a common alternative to just "verdig behandling".

    Actually, I think "god" and "verdig" means quite different things here. "God" means that the treatment should be of high medical quality, "verdig" means that the patients should be treated respectfully.

    Godt nytt år!
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Well, Norwegians use "god" in all kinds of wishes: God ferie, god tur, god helg, god bedring, and so on. I know that "gledelig jul" exists, but it seems a bit old-fashioned to me.
    "Good" is also used in English wishes, but just not in the two-word formulaic versions. It would not sound odd to wish someone "Have a good weekend" for example, or "I hope you have a good Christmas".

    Incidentally, I was never taught to avoid "good", but "nice" was frowned upon. Writers are traditionally expected to be walking thesauruses for some reason, even if repetition of the same word can be used to good effect. But I digress...

    Have a good New Year :)
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    Actually, I think "god" and "verdig" means quite different things here. "God" means that the treatment should be of high medical quality, "verdig" means that the patients should be treated respectfully.
    I had a feeling you would say something like that, Raumar :) But I still think that the "god" is rather meaningless here, it just makes the sentence sound nicer. Because here there's no idea that the hospital which only offers "verdig behandling" is more likely to make the wrong diagnosis or provide poorer treatment. Compare this with a company that offers "raske og rimelige løsninger" versus one that only offers "rimelige løsninger". In that case, you might suspect that the latter company was not so fast, and if speed was important to you, you might go for the first company. Whereas I doubt very much if you would choose a care home for your grandmother based on whether they said they offered "god og verdig behandling" or "verdig behandling".

    Incidentally, I was never taught to avoid "good", but "nice" was frowned upon. Writers are traditionally expected to be walking thesauruses for some reason, even if repetition of the same word can be used to good effect.
    Yes, I think I was taught the same thing about "nice" too. It all depends on the context. In many cases the Norwegian "god og..." translates as "nice and...". So if you come indoors after a walk in a gale and minus 10, you will soon feel "nice and warm/god og varm".
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    I had a feeling you would say something like that, Raumar :) But I still think that the "god" is rather meaningless here, it just makes the sentence sound nicer. Because here there's no idea that the hospital which only offers "verdig behandling" is more likely to make the wrong diagnosis or provide poorer treatment. Compare this with a company that offers "raske og rimelige løsninger" versus one that only offers "rimelige løsninger". In that case, you might suspect that the latter company was not so fast, and if speed was important to you, you might go for the first company. Whereas I doubt very much if you would choose a care home for your grandmother based on whether they said they offered "god og verdig behandling" or "verdig behandling".

    Honestly I think that virtually no business would market itself in less than a flattering manner, so obviously they'll say whatever gives the potential customer a good impression.

    In terms of what it actually means though I can certainly see why both "good" and "dignified" are used. It's absolutely possible to have one without the other. As a matter of fact I think we definitely can see that in health care in general around the planet. In some cases you get the medically or "technically" correct treatment but without any dignified care, where you instead are treated as a piece of meat or object with a problem to be solved. In and out. Fixed. Goodbye. And I think in other cases you definitely can be met with friendly, compassionate staff that treat you with dignity, but that don't have the level of care that you need - i.e. the care not being "good" enough.

    Again though, in terms of marketing it doesn't matter. Businesses will say whatever sounds good. Omitting one of the two words would likely lead anyone to say "Well, the other is assumed to be true, because who wouldn't offer 'good' or 'dignified' service?"
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    I know that "gledelig jul" exists, but it seems a bit old-fashioned to me.
    In Danish you'll hear both glædelig (joyous) jul and god (good) jul. My impression is that glædelig jul may be less common today, but both are definitely used. I've always preferred joyous over good, but that's probably just me.

    Dansk sprognævn posted the following comment about glædelig vs god jul (on FaceBook):
    Er der egentlig forskel på at sige "glædelig jul" og "god jul"? Nogle mener at man først må sige "glædelig jul" efter julegudstjenesten, andre har ikke en holdning til hvornår udtrykkene må bruges.
    I Dansk Sprognævn bliver vi ofte spurgt om det ene er mere korrekt end det andet. Det er det ikke. Nogle foretrækker det ene udtryk frem for det andet, men det er ofte en smagssag der bunder i familietraditioner.

    Dansk Sprognævn ønsker i hvert fald alle både en god og glædelig jul!

    Someone commented that in Norway 'god jul' is used before Christmas and 'gledelig jul' is used between Christmas and New Year's ('Romjulen')...what do the Norwegian speakers here think about that statement?
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    Well, I've lived in various parts of Norway, and like Raumar, I haven't heard "gledelig jul" very often, and I'd never heard that it tended to be used more in "romjulen".
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    Someone commented that in Norway 'god jul' is used before Christmas and 'gledelig jul' is used between Christmas and New Year's ('Romjulen')...what do the Norwegian speakers here think about that statement?
    There are apparently some Norwegians who make this distinction, but I don't think I have come across any of them. This was actually a media story in Norway this Christmas. The broadcaster NRK asked no less than four professors whether it is acceptable to say "god jul" between Christmas and New Year's Day, and all of them said that it is perfectly fine :
    Heter det virkelig «gledelig jul» i romjula?

    Godt nytt år!
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    Very interesting, thanks so much raumar!
    Etter å ha ringt fire professorer uten å finne noen forkjempere for å bytte ut god jul med gledelig jul i romjula, forsøker vi Riksmålsforbundet.

    Men det lover ikke godt, for de har skrevet god jul på nettsiden sin. Til tross for romjula.
    ;):D(From the article linked by raumar)

    ...and A Happy New Year to everyone!
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    There are apparently some Norwegians who make this distinction, but I don't think I have come across any of them. This was actually a media story in Norway this Christmas. The broadcaster NRK asked no less than four professors whether it is acceptable to say "god jul" between Christmas and New Year's Day, and all of them said that it is perfectly fine :
    Heter det virkelig «gledelig jul» i romjula?

    Godt nytt år!
    Pleased that is settled then. It's a slow period for news, and professors (wheter emeritus or not) must have a slack period around now too, and are probably thankful for a phone call from NRK :)

    But is it "godt nyttår" or "godt nytt år?

    I was just writing an email and had to check:
    Godt nytt år, godt nyttår, godt nyår, godt år
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    Pleased that is settled then.
    Are you sure it's settled? Four professors (of what subjects?) doesn't sound like a representative sample to me. No, in best democratic Scandinavian traditions, you'd also have to ask ten lorry drivers, ten supermarket cashiers, etc. etc. So until we read the scientific article based on this comprehensive survey, we will continue to get our knickers in a twist about what to say when we meet someone between Christmas and the New Year :)
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    Are you sure it's settled? Four professors (of what subjects?) doesn't sound like a representative sample to me. No, in best democratic Scandinavian traditions, you'd also have to ask ten lorry drivers, ten supermarket cashiers, etc. etc. So until we read the scientific article based on this comprehensive survey, we will continue to get our knickers in a twist about what to say when we meet someone between Christmas and the New Year :)
    :);):thumbsup:
     

    basslop

    Senior Member
    Norsk (Norwegian)
    Pleased that is settled then. It's a slow period for news, and professors (wheter emeritus or not) must have a slack period around now too, and are probably thankful for a phone call from NRK :)

    But is it "godt nyttår" or "godt nytt år?

    I was just writing an email and had to check:
    Godt nytt år, godt nyttår, godt nyår, godt å r
    I made this distinction myself to my colleges at work this year – on Teams since we are all working from home these days. My last day at work before Christmas I wrote “God jul og godt nyttår”. Today which is my first day at work after the Christmas holiday I wrote “Godt nytt år”.

    In the first case I wished them a happy new year celebration. In the latter, I wished them a good/nice/happy 2022.

    I would also add that later on, say from about mid-January we may use “fortsatt godt nytt år” (Still good/nice/happy new year). The greeting fades out during the rest of that month. Though I have heard it been used later on.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    Then there is the question of what "hvit jul" means. In NAOB the definition is "juletid med (ny)snø", i.e. some suggestion that the snow should be fresh, rather than having been on the ground for two weeks. In Den Danske Ordbog, on the other hand, "hvid jul" means "jul hvor størstedelen af landet er dækket af sne, især juleaften". I couldn't find a definition in a Swedish dictionary but maybe someone else can. To me it has always meant snow on the ground, however old that snow may be - on Christmas Day in the UK, or later in Norway, where of course "jul" lasts a long time. On the other hand, if quite a bit of snow fell on Christmas Day in the UK, but it didn't settle, I think I might still call that a white Christmas, but I wouldn't call it "hvit jul" in Norway if that happened and there was no snow already on the ground.
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Then there is the question of what "hvit jul" means. In NAOB the definition is "juletid med (ny)snø", i.e. some suggestion that the snow should be fresh, rather than having been on the ground for two weeks. In Den Danske Ordbog, on the other hand, "hvid jul" means "jul hvor størstedelen af landet er dækket af sne, især juleaften". I couldn't find a definition in a Swedish dictionary but maybe someone else can. To me it has always meant snow on the ground, however old that snow may be - on Christmas Day in the UK, or later in Norway, where of course "jul" lasts a long time. On the other hand, if quite a bit of snow fell on Christmas Day in the UK, but it didn't settle, I think I might still call that a white Christmas, but I wouldn't call it "hvit jul" in Norway if that happened and there was no snow already on the ground.
    Bookmakers used to take bets on there being a "white Christmas" in Britain (maybe they still do), and I remember hearing they stood someone on the roof of BBC TV Centre in London on Christmas Day, and if a single snowflake was spotted in the air bookmakers paid out on the bets. That's the closest to a definition I know of.

    I don't "white Christmas" was a thing until the 1954 movie, was it?
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    I couldn't find a definition in a Swedish dictionary...
    Vit jul
    1. betecknar att marken är snötäckt till julhelgen

    Well, that's at least what wiki says...I'm sure our Swedish friends can educate us further. This is actually more in line with the Danish and English definitions. Any amount of snow on the ground in Denmark counts, regardless of 'freshness' and even in areas with more predictable snow cover in this country there's no requirement regarding freshness.

    I don't "white Christmas" was a thing until the 1954 movie, was it?

    Holiday Inn, 1942. Holiday Inn (film) - Wikipedia
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    and if a single snowflake was spotted in the air bookmakers paid out on the bets.
    I woke up one Christmas morning in Newcastle to find a very few snowflakes on the ground - about one for every two or three paving stones. Apparently that would have won a bet, but at the time I thought about what constituted a white Christmas and concluded that it would have to be at least half of the ground covered with snow. Perhaps it depends where you are and what you're used to: a small flurry of snow that covered less than half the ground would be greeted with delight as a white Christmas in the Scilly Isles, whereas in a part of Scandinavia that usually sees plenty of snow, it might be called "svart jul".
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    In Sweden "en vit jul" can also mean this: Vit jul - IOGT.se to abstain from alcohol and drugs during Christmas celebrations.
    That's an interesting definition of a white Christmas!

    I incidentally came across this CNN article There's an actual scientific definition of a 'white Christmas' which gives another definition of a white Christmas:
    According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a "white Christmas" is defined as having one inch or more of snow on the ground Christmas morning.

    Kært barn har mange navne, or maybe ...mange definitioner :)
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    A Christmas without snow in Sweden would be called "en grön jul" (a green Christmas) or as here Här blir det en vit jul – prognos för fredagen "en gråbrun jul" (a grey-brown Christmas), not a black one.
    En grön jul refers to the vegetation, mainly grass, while en svart jul refers to the December darkness which seems extra dark when there's no white snow on the ground. But what does en gråbrun jul refer to - both vegetation (or lack of it) and the darkness?
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    en svart jul refers to the December darkness

    I have never heard this said in a conversation in Swedish. While it probably can be found on the internet, like anything else, I don't think it's frequently used at all.. despite global warming. It's possible it's found in some cases where someone either wants to juxtapose it to "vit jul" making a literal play on the words' opposite qualities (i.e. vit vs svart), or in cases where someone decides to decorate using black instead of the more traditional colors.

    So as far as referring to what the environment looks like I've never heard it.

    "Vit jul" I agree typically refers to snow on the ground or a bit less frequently an alcohol-less holiday. The latter also applies to other time frames like "vit vecka" or similar.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    Actually, my "svart jul" was Norwegian, not Swedish, but that probably wasn't clear. In Norway it's sometimes used for a Christmas without snow.
     
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