02 July 2008

08 June 2008

Norwegian Wind Power

(Source: The World Factbook, CIA)

Here's an interesting article about how Norway plans to make the transition from producing oil to another source of energy. Written by Michael Graham Richard at Treehugger.com, the article describes one very good use of the Norwegian oil revenues.

"Norwegian Wind Power Could Become Europe's Battery"

"Norway's Oil and Energy Minister, Aaslaug Haga, seems to think that wind turbines are a good bet. The Scandinavian country is the 5th biggest exporter of oil in the world, but it also has the longest coastline in Europe and lots of strong wind. A 30-page report vy the Energy Council, comprising business leaders and officials, says: 'Norway ought to have access to up to 40 terrawatt hours of renewable energy in 2020-2025, of which about half would come from offshore wind power.' "

Premier of "Kurt blir grusom"

Dan grew his own mustache for his
Kurt video in Intermediate Norwegian at St. Olaf.

In our third-semester Norwegian courses at St. Olaf College, we have used the children's novel Kurt quo vadis by Erlend Loe as a supplement to the textbook Stein på stein. The students love the characters, the use of language, and the humor in the book, and everyone can identify with Kurt's struggle to find a job that makes him feel important and equal to his wife, who is an architect, and to their friends, who are doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. At the end of the semester, we always have the students divide up into groups and create a video based on two of the chapters from the book. On the last two days of class, we watch the videos to review the main events in the book, share our work with one another, and celebrate the end of the semester. Those days are a highlight for everyone, students and teachers alike. Two years ago, inspired by inquiries from campus security about what our students were doing using the dormitory vacuums outside, my colleague Marte and I wrote a parodi of the Kurt story and showed it to the students on the last day.

Kurt blir grusom på film (Source: Aftenposten, Dag Kjørholt, 06.05. 08)
For the past two years, there has been an animated film in the works that is based on two of the books in the Kurt series, Kurt blir grusom and Kurt quo vadis. Currently several well-known Norwegian actors and comedians are doing the final recordings of the voices for the Kurt characters, and recently they met with the press to discuss the film, which is scheduled for release on Oct. 31, 2008. See the article from Aftenposten above and the trailer from YouTube.

07 June 2008

Dating in Norway

Today there was an article on NRK's website about Norwegian dating habits. Read the article and do the exercises below.

"Nordmenn dater minst" (Source: NRK, Elin Thingvoll Berge, 06-06-08)

a) The article is written in nynorsk, so if you are used to reading bokmål, be aware that there will be several differences in spelling, grammatical forms, and sometimes word choices. Later in the exercises, there will be more information about some of the specific differences.

b) In this article, Norwegian dating habits are compared to those in Sweden, Denmark, and Italy. Can you predict where there is more dating and where there is less?

First reading:
a) In newspaper articles, the main ideas can often be found in the title, the photo, the photo caption, and the sub-titles. Look at just these elements and give your best guess as to the main idea in the article.

Main idea: ________________________________

b) Helpful words

  • stevnemøte: date / gjennomsnittet: the average / unngår: avoid
Second reading:
a) Now read the article again more carefully and complete the exercises below that address the main points in the article.
  1. Folk i Italia går på date to ganger så ofte som folk i Skandinavia.
    Riktig: ___ Galt: ___

  2. Hva er den mest populære sommerdaten for både kvinner og menn?

  3. Hva er den nest mest populære daten for kvinner?

    For menn?

  4. Det er populært å gå på kino når man er på date.
    Riktig: ___ Galt: ___

Third reading:
a) Sometimes, it is enough to get the main ideas from an article and then move on to something else. However, if you are interested in this topic and want to gain a more complete understanding of the article, use the resources below to help you.

b) Study the differences between nynorsk and bokmål
  • More diphthongs:
    meir: mer / fleirtalet: flertallet / eit: et / blei: ble
    : helt / seier: sier / meiner: mener

  • Different pronoun forms:
    eg: jeg / me: vi / dei: de

  • Different verb forms:
    invitera: invitere / gjera: gjøre / håpa: håpe
    ligg: ligger / gjeld: gjelder / legg: legger
    kjem: kommer / tek: tar / passar: passer

  • Different form of "ikke" and other common words
    ikkje: ikke / berre: bare / sjølv: selv
c) Other important words:
  • ei undersøking: a study / skryte: brag / fleirtalet: the majority
    tykkjer: think / korga: the picnic basket / føretrek: prefer
    ein spasertur: a walk / utandørs: outdoor / til dømes: for example
    segling: sailing / passar: fits, is appropriate / støtte: support

06 June 2008

Norwegian Political Humor

Today I found a wonderful parody on YouTube of two of Norway's most prominent politicians, former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and the current prime minister Jens Stoltenberg. It reminded me of the political humor in the skits presented on Saturday Night Live when comedians imitate American politicians. Below is some background information on Harlem Brundtland and Stoltenberg as well as a video of each giving a speech.

Gro Harlem Brundtland
Gro Harlem Brundtland was educated and worked as a physician early in her career before moving on to become one of the most well-respected and prominent politicians in Norwegian history. She was the leader of the Norwegian Labour Party for many years, and she was Norway's first and only female prime minister, serving three different periods: 1981, 1986 to 1989, and 1990 to 1996. In 1998, she became the Director General of the World Health Organization, and she is currently serving as a Special Envoy on Climate Change for the United Nations. Harlem Brundtland was born in 1939.

Gro Harlem Brundtland giving a speech
at the annual meeting for the Labour Party

Jens Stoltenberg
Educated as an economist and born in 1959, Jens Stoltenberg served as the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Finance before becoming the prime minister for the first time in 2000-2001. He has been the leader of the Labour party since 2002 and is currently serving his second stint as prime minister as part of a coalition government comprised of the Labour Party, the Center Party, and the Socialist Left Party.

Jens Stoltenberg giving a speech on March 8, International Women's Day. In his speech, he gives credit to Gro Harlem Brundtland, who was a role model for many Norwegian women as well as men.

Parody of Gro and Jens

At the Gullfisken awards ceremony in 2007, Morten Grøtnes and Rigmor Galtung did a parody of the current prime minister Jens Stoltenberg and former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. The man who played Jens was good, but the woman who imitated Gro was hilarious. My favorite line was "Det er typisk Gro å være norsk," a play on the the statement she made many years ago, "Det er typisk norsk å være god."

05 June 2008

Global Perspective

(Click on the map to download. Source: www.heiverden.no)

At my school, we are in the process of designing the space in a renovated building that will house administrative offices, student services, the education department, and all the language and area studies departments. One of my colleagues in French envisions a giant globe etched in the floor at the entrance and a sign saying, "The global perspective starts here." I love the idea, and it has made me reflect on ways that we can integrate a global perspective in an equally clear and concrete way in our curriculum. Of course, we already emphasize Norwegian culture and develop our language learning activities around the cultural context in Norway, but I think we could do a better job of being more intentional about examining Norway and the US in a more global perspective.

I started looking for materials online and went first to the CIA World Factbook. I had used the flags, the country profiles, and the maps before, but today I discovered the ranking pages that list all the countries in the world and their ranks for population, child mortality, exports, imports, debt, gdp per capita, consumption of oil and electricity, etc. The Factbook is in the public domain, so the text, map, and images can be used freely.

The World Factbook (CIA)
Norway's Country Profile (Look for the bar graph icon for links to the ranking pages.)
Flags of the World
Maps of the World

Later, I found my way to the site for the United Nations Association of Norway (FN-Sambandet) and from there to Globalis, an online interactive world atlas, with a large number of resources for the language classroom.

Country names in Norwegian and flags
Norway Profile in Norwegian
U.N.'s Millenium Development Goals (in Norwegian)
Norway's Campaign for the Millenium Development Goals (in Norwegian)
Video Ad for the Millenium Development with Jens Stoltenberg
Norway's Progress (in Norwegian) / USA's Progress
Comparative Country Statistics (in Norwegian)
Global Blogs (Many in Norwegian)
Online world atlas with many maps, including one of Mt. St. Helens (near my hometown)

A few more links of interest from other sites:
World map with country names in Norwegian (free download)
Norway's Relationship to Norway (In Norwegian / From UD)
USA Profile (In Norwegian / From UD)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Utenriksdepartementet)
UN's Millenium Development goals (in English)
NORAD (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation)

04 June 2008

Good advice for writing

"We should remember rhetoric’s doctrine of inventio, which teaches us how to find the best content and the most convincing arguments. And which teaches us to prefer exploring one central argument in depth rather than superficially reeling off a number of different arguments."

"In the same way, rhetorical doctrine tells us about the appropriate development of our theme, dispositio, that the different sections of our disposition have different functions: the introduction should arouse interest and win good-will and credibility. The presentation of the matter should be brief, clear and concise. Our argumentation should provide proof of our theses and refute our opponents’ objections. And our conclusion should summarize and where relevant appeal to feelings and action."

From "The Rhetoric of Powerpoint" by Jens Kjeldsen, seminar.net

The Palace

One of my projects for the summer is to update all of my digital presentations so that they have a unified design with the same background color and fonts. Since I'm a Mac fan, I have chosen to use Keynote with a simple black background and white text (Gill Sans). In the end, I hope to have a large number of slides ready ahead of time that I can later mix and match as I prepare presentations for different contexts. I will post some of the slides from time to time this summer.

This slide shows the palace in Oslo. The caption reads, "The palace is located at the end of Karl Johan's Street and was built during the period 1824-1848."