Norwegian: Heisann

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by StunningNorway, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. StunningNorway Member

    English - Australia

    I have recently seen this word used as a Norwegian greeting. Is it slang, colloquial, a 'newish, made-up' word of an evolving language, from a dialect or Danish/Swedish? I presume that the word is made up from 'hei + sann'. The word is not in my dictionaries.

  2. NorwegianNYC

    NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    It is not new alt all. If anything it is slightly old-style. The word is indeed composed of "hei" and "sann". The word "sann" normally translate into "true, real", but in this case is is sooner an interjection, and does not have an independent meaning. There is no difference between "hei" and "heisann" other than the latter often carrying an element of surprise.
  3. henbjo Member

    Valencia, Spain
    While what NorwegianNYC writes is true, I would like add that it is the case that "heisann" is mainly used in casual settings.

    The whole word is sometimes also used as an interjection interchangeable with "oi", "ops" (English "whoops"). On a side note, the "sann" can also be appended to "oi" to produce "oisann", which just as with "heisann" means the exact same thing as before. :)
  4. NorwegianNYC

    NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Thank you henbjo - that is an important nuance! After some research, I have found that "sann" (as in heisann and oisann) is in fact a metric device in folk poetry. Many Scandinavian stev (a four-line stanza) include the word "sann" as an interjection in the end of a verse, and it is probably related to the tonal system in the Scandinavian languages. Short words like "hei", "hopp" and "oi" are 'up'-words, and by adding the otherwise nonsensical "sann", they go up-down, and thereby complete the verse. Why "sann" is anybody's guess, but it has been suggested it is related to the word "sann" (= true, genuine) in the meaning "indeed".
  5. bicontinental Senior Member

    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    It seems to be an older Scandinavian greeting,quite informal, as henbjo pointed out, hejsa in Danish and hejsan in Swedish. Interestingly, the Danish online dictionary, Den Danske Ordbog, suggests a German origin hei-sa, of which 'sa' is derived from the French ça). Who knows. And the Danes do the hejsa-hopsa as well... even the hejsa hopsa-sa. :)

  6. basslop

    basslop Senior Member

    I am not much into stev history but concerning folk poetry, both my parents and my parents in law practised folk dancing in a local "leikaring". So I have heard quite some stev with "sann". However I have also noticed that now and then "sa ho" (she said in English) is used instead. Therefore I guess "sann" actually is "sa'n" = "sa han" (he said" in English). It make sense that the stev is referring to a statement or a story that an other person has told. Due to my limited knowledge here, there is an other solution too: If NorwegiansNYC is right. Then "sa'o" could be something more recent started from someone who
    a: did not know, like me, and wanted to distinguish between men's and women's statements
    b: did know but on purpose wanted to play with the language
  7. StunningNorway Member

    English - Australia

    'Heisann' ;) alle

    Tusen takk for forklaringer.
  8. NorwegianNYC

    NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Very interesting! I feel it might be a confluence of hei-sa (from French ça) and a contraction of sa han > sa'n > sann, and that the latter was reinterpreted as "indeed". Bottomline, it is a nonsensical utterance that add a certain implied meaning.
  9. AutumnOwl Senior Member


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