Tag Archives: Norwegian

The sufferings of ‘S’

In this strange life I’ve stumbled into, I spend a lot of time living inside a foreign language. I think I’m beginning to develop a slight empathy for what foreigners encounter when they try to learn our very bizarre English tongue.

What struck me the other day was the way we use (or torture) the letter S.

At the end of a word, “s” can mean one of three different things in English:

  • It can mean a simple plural: “dog” becomes “dogs.”
  • If we precede it with an apostrophe, it means a possessive: “Edward’s” (except in the case of “its,” an unfortunate and confusing side effect of the very problem I’m complaining about).
  • Finally, when used with a verb, it means present tense: “This is the product Acme makes.”

This is all the result of bad table manners on the part of the English people – bolting down a Germanic language and Old French without chewing them properly (Old Norse for dessert).

Norwegian is much more rational (a final “s” means possessive. That’s all). I’ll bet Chinese is too.

And pretty much any other language you could name.

But I love English. It’s kind of like one of those exclusive neighborhoods with the winding, poorly marked streets: “Welcome to Pretentious Heights, Minnesota. If you can’t find your way around, it’s probably because you don’t belong here in the first place.”

The Norwegian word for ‘translator’ is ‘oversetter’

From time to time on this blog, thanks to Phil’s patience and longsuffering, I review movies and TV shows. Sometimes they’re foreign productions, often Scandinavian ones. One of my most frequent complaints about foreign films is the poor quality of the English translations.

It appears I’ll now be in a position to do something about that problem.

Briefly stated, I responded a couple days ago to an inquiry in a Facebook group, asking for people with Norwegian translation skills and writing abilities. I figured I might as well take a shot, and today I have an agreement to work as a freelancer with Meteoritt (Meteorite), an Oslo-based company that does translation, closed captions, and subtitles for film and television productions.

They’ve got me working on a very interesting project right now – but I can’t tell you what it is. There’s a non-disclosure agreement, for reasons that make sense once you get involved. When the project is released, I’ll be able to tell you I worked on it.

Some of you may be asking (as I asked myself) “What will that mean for your novel-writing?”

Well, in the short run, it will make it difficult.

But in a few months, if things go as I expect, my day job situation is likely to change. At that time I’ll probably be in a position to spend more time on the novel.

Maybe all this won’t work out. Maybe I’ll find the company incompatible, or the work too challenging. But if it prospers, it could set me up for my old age in a very agreeable manner.

I’m very happy about this.