Norwegian: You're very welcome

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Grefsen, Mar 13, 2009.

  1. Grefsen

    Grefsen Senior Member

    Southern California
    English - United States
    Her er et spørsmål at jeg har hadde for en lenge siden. (Here is a question that I have had for a long time.) Når jeg første started learning norsk, the usual reply given for "Tusen takk" was "Vær så god."

    I guess I have never really understood why "Be so good" would be an appropriate reply to someone after they have thanked you.
    :confused: I'm also not sure what the Norwegian equivalent of "You're VERY welcome" would be?
  2. Linguanne New Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Hello Grefsen!

    Puzzling, yes of course it would be. Idioms tend to be, no matter in which language they appear, right?

    As a native Norwegian, I'll try and explain:

    When to use "værsågod": You have come across the word as a response to someone saying "Thank you". It may just as well be used before that thank you has been uttered: in other words, "værsågod" (or "vær så god") can also be used when you in English say "here you are" (when you give something to someone).

    The literal translation of "værsågod" is more like "be so kind". (In modern Norwegian, no one would ever dream of using the adjective "god" in this instance. The word is not at all obsolete, of course, just used a bit differently today than when the idiom was coined.) And the polite thing to say, way back when, when presenting someone with a gift, or suggesting that someone perform a task, move out of one's way, or whatever, would be: "Would you be so kind as to .... (accept my gift/finish my work/move your person from out of my sight)".

    Moving on towards an explanation: when we Norwegians can be prone to reply "værsågod" AFTER being thanked by someone - well, could be that we're a bit slow---, more likely, we (shy, taciturn and not-very-used-to-being-around-other-people that we are known to be) seem to need an obvious reminder (the other person's expressed "thanks") to offer up the polite words to match the situation. So, when the shopkeeper responds værsågod in response to your thanking her for handing over the purchased item and/or the change she owes you, she is really acknowledging the fact that she has just rendered you something - that something could even be the service of allowing you to accept something from her.......

    Or, you could view it this way: when værsågod appears in a situation after the thank you, it matches exactly the phrase I encountered time and again from sales personnel when I lived in the U.S. some years ago: I said thank you when accepting the change, they replied "You bet!" or even "You betcha!" That response is still quite puzzling to me....

    I hope you found this reply at least a bit illuminating - good luck onwards with your Norwegian studies! You probably know that we Norwegians are both thrilled and puzzled by the fact that someone take enough interest in us to bother to learn our language...:)
  3. dinji Senior Member

    Borgå, Finland
    Swedish - Finland
    Just to confirm Linguanne's presentation, in Swedish varsågod has a synonym var så vänlig (vänlig='kind'). The two are rather interchangable, the latter being slightly archaic in my ear.
  4. Pteppic Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norway, Norwegian
    Well, someone has to play the evil editor :D . Har hadde is an impossible construction - it should be har hatt. When you can substitue "which" for "that", the Norwegian word is som, and can also be skipped completely. Also, "for a long time" is most simply translated as lenge. You could also say i lang tid, but lenge sounds more natural, at least to me (for lenge siden means "a long time ago"). Strictly speaking, "when" used about a past situation should be da, but on the other hand, this word seems to have evaporated from the Norwegian language (he said bitterly). Finally, I don't think there's any good way to translate "first" in cases like "when I first started" (and it is a bit redundant anyway :p ). Anyway, the first sentence should be Her er et spørsmål jeg har hatt lenge and the second might be something like Da jeg begynte å lære norsk.

    As for "you're very welcome", I think the closest Norwegian phrase is bare hyggelig, which is even closer to "my pleasure".
  5. montmorencywrf Member

    Abingdon, Oxfordshire, GB
    English - England (south-central)

    Sorry to wake up this long-sleeping thread [spot the man in catch-up mode], but I couldn't resist responding to this :) I hadn't heard "you betcha", but, at least a few years ago, there seemed to be a vogue in the USA for sales or service personnel in such situations, after being thanked, to reply simply "Sure!". I too found this very disconcerting. (I much preferred "You're welcome").

    Veering slightly back on-topic, I was delighted when I first spotted the expression "Være så god", as it immediately reminded me of the (now rather dated) English "be so good", as in "would you be so good [as to carry my bags porter...]" (which you might just hear in old films etc). I know that's not how ""Være så god" is used, but at least it gave me something to latch on to amid a sea of otherwise incomprehensible Scandinavian. For similar reasons, I also love "for eksempel".
  6. Havfruen Senior Member

    English - American
    The expressions "you bet!" or "you betcha!" seem to be regional, I've heard them mostly from people in the upper midwest US, i.e. Minnesota, Michigan, etc.

    In Danish, an alternate response to thank you is "det var så lidt" (It was so little, it was nothing). Is this used in Norwegian?
  7. Tech12 Member

    Yes, "det var så lite" or "det var da så lite" does occur. I personally don't use it though.
  8. Spirillist New Member

    Reviving this thread for some additions...

    "Vær så god" is a general polite phrase that can be used in many contexts where you would say "please" in English. For example, "vær så god og kom inn" means "please come on in." It's a bit archaic except in standard idioms; the main one I can think of is when telling people that food is served, that they may start loading their plates, or actually start eating (once everyone has been served): "Vær så god og forsyn dere/vær så god og spis."

    I would associate this use, for when you're offering someone something, with the use meaning "you're welcome," like Linguanne suggests.

    For that meaning, there's also "ingen årsak," which literally (and somewhat puzzlingly) means "no cause/reason." I've also heard "med glede" (lit. "with pleasure" or "gladly"), which sounds a bit odd but is more effusive. If you absolutely need something for "you're VERY welcome" you could go with this. Other occasional responses include "den er grei" (very loosely translated, "that's cool" or "it's all good"), but now we're in the realm of idiosyncratic usage.

    So the alternatives are:
    "Værsågod." - Standard response.
    "Bare hyggelig." - Standard. I would primarily use this when someone thanked me for a favor, cf. "My pleasure."
    "Ingen årsak." - Standard, perhaps a bit conservative or old-fashioned.
    "Det var da så lite." - Means roughly, "Oh, it was nothing!" I find it a bit obnoxious; too much like false modesty.
    "Med glede." - Sometimes used, but not standard; could sound unidiomatic.
    "Den er grei." - Non-standard, informal.
  9. Grefsen

    Grefsen Senior Member

    Southern California
    English - United States
    Velkommen til nordiske språkforumet Spirillist! :)
    Takk for denne gode forklaringen. :thumbsup:
  10. Jed2 New Member

    Are vaer saa god and vaer saa snill completely interchangeable? I know the difference that the first is more "your welcome", but isn't it acceptable to also use it as "please" when asking a favor?

    Any more ways to say "please" when asking a favor?

    Tusen takk!
  11. myšlenka Senior Member

    They are not interchangeable at all!
    Værsågod - used when you are offering something (or as a reply to "thanks" when you given something).
    Vær så snill - please (often in a begging way).
    You can also use vennligst to say 'please', but usually (if not only) in imperatives.

    If you are learning Norwegian, I would suggest that you generally should avoid direct transfers of English politeness phrases as they often sound non-idiomatic in Norwegian. I would for instance never use vær så snill if I am ordering something in restaurant/café.
  12. vthebee Senior Member

    English- Ireland
    What would be the best expression to use when ordering something in a restaurant (for please)?
  13. myšlenka Senior Member

    These are possible ways to order in a restaurant:
    1) Jeg vil ha...
    2) Jeg vil gjerne ha...
    3) Kan jeg få....?
    4) Jeg tar....

    The one in 2) is probably the closest you get to some kind of 'please'. You can also add takk at the end of the order, but I don't perceive it as rude if you don't. If you put 1-3 in the conditional, you also soften the message, making it more polite, but it's generally not necessary.

    And again, many of the politeness codes in the UK, France, Germany etc don't really work in Norway.
  14. vthebee Senior Member

    English- Ireland
    Ok thanks!

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