Norwegian: "Kjære deg" between two men?

QuinnFox

New Member
English
In Andre Bjerke's De dødes tjern, on a couple of occasions, heterosexual men refer to each other as "kjære deg".

For example:

"Du har sikkert hørt tale om noe som heter magi. Eller har du ikke det?"
"Kjære deg, jeg har jo middelskoleexamen."

Was this a normal thing for men to say to each other? Or is it meant to be ironic/sarcastic?

Thanks!
 
  • Svenke

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    Interesting question!
    Usage may have changed in the 80 years since the book was published, but here's the way I see it:

    Kjære deg may be used nonsarcastically.
    (Kjære + name may be used for instance to open a greeting where sender and receiver are of the same sex, without implying anything sexual or erotic between them.)

    But kjære deg is often used to indicate something like 'It should be unnecessary for me to say this, but ...' or 'You should be able to understand this on your own, but ...'. So he's saying, 'Obviously, I've heard of magic, since I've got middelskoleexamen'.

    That is how I interpret your example. In addition, I suspect there is some irony in the information that the speaker has middelskoleexamen. He may be saying that he's highly educated, while implying that it's not actually all that much to brag about. But I would need more context to say for sure.
     
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    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Finnish
    In Swedish kära du / snälla du can be used in a similar way, when someone says/does something that's accidential/unintended and (usually) stupid. Kära du, var det verkligen nödvändigt att hälla ut mjölken på bordet?
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    But kjære deg is often used to indicate something like 'It should be unnecessary for me to say this, but ...' or 'You should be able to understand this on your own, but ...'. So he's saying, 'Obviously, I've heard of magic, since I've got middelskoleexamen'.
    In this usage I'd describe it as as politely condescending. An English equivalent (between two gentlemen of an older time) might be "come on, old chap"
     
    In Swedish kära du / snälla du can be used in a similar way, when someone says/does something that's accidential/unintended and (usually) stupid. Kära du, var det verkligen nödvändigt att hälla ut mjölken på bordet?
    The question in the initial post was whether the frase could be used by a man when speaking to a man. Whether the phrase can be used (generally) is a different matter.

    My experience is that in the Swedish known to me it would be unheard of that a man says kära du when addressing a man. But the phrase could be used when a man speaks to a woman, and when a woman speaks to a woman or a man. Are matters different in Finlandssvenska?
     
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    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    My impression from Norwegian is also that it's used more by women than men (and more by older than younger women). I wouldn't say it's 'unheard of' for a (heterosexual) man to say 'kjære deg' to another man, but certainly highly unusual. But I don't know if gay Norwegians ever use it.
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The question in the initial post was whether the frase could be used by a man when speaking to a man
    To be even more precise, the question is "Was this a normal thing for men to say to each other". I am not sure when the story is set, but it was written over 60 years ago.

    Edit: The film was from 1958, but the book was published in 1942, so it would have probably been written 80 years ago!
     
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    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    But kjære deg is often used to indicate something like 'It should be unnecessary for me to say this, but ...' or 'You should be able to understand this on your own, but ...'.

    An English equivalent (between two gentlemen of an older time) might be "come on, old chap"

    My impression from Norwegian is also that it's used more by women than men (and more by older than younger women).
    I agree with all of this. I can only add that even though I don't use this expression myself, I don't think I would find it odd if others used it.

    In addition, I suspect there is some irony in the information that the speaker has middelskoleexamen. He may be saying that he's highly educated, while implying that it's not actually all that much to brag about.
    I read this a bit differently. As far as I know, middelskole wasn't a high level of education. So I agree that there is an some irony here, but I think the point as that even people who isn't highly educated (like himself) have heard of magic. But I agree with Svenke that it depends on the context. Which of the characters says this?
     

    PoulBA

    Senior Member
    Danish
    Kære dig or kære du doesn't work in Danish. To get that sense of despair, we'd say, (jamen,) kære ven, ... or, søde ven ...
    Kjære / käre / kære directed at the other seem to be the common denominator for this use in our Nordic languages; quite close to English, dear me, execpt that this expression is directed at the speaker himself.
    Kære ven, jeg har jo mellemskoleeksamen.
    Kære ven, var det virkelig nødvendigt at hælde mælken ud på bordet.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    "My dear friend" can be used in a similar way in English, but it's not very common and a bit old-fashioned: "My dear friend, there's no joy without pain" (that one's out of my head, not from Google hits :)).
     
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