Day 5 - Copenhagen (DK) to Oslo (N) via Gothenburg (SW)

Fun facts:

  • Oslo has been the location of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony every year (with just a few exceptions) since 1901.
  • Norway has the world's longest road tunnel, 15 miles (24.5 kms).
  • It has a land border with Russia.
  • There are two written versions of the Norwegian language, Bokmål is used by the vast majority of the country, while Nynorsk is more popular in rural areas, particularly in the western fjord region.
  • Modern and ancient skiing were invented in Norway.
  • Europe's biggest herd of wild reindeer lives here.
  • Norway has a volcano.
  • Around 98% of Norway's domestic power usage is drawn from hydroelectric power plants.
  • The government has tightened energy-efficiency standards for buildings, and has encouraged firms and homeowners to burn wood and other forms of biomass for heat and power, instead of fossil fuels.
  • Norway supplies London with a Christmas tree every year to say thank you for their help during World War II.

I am feeling a little confused!! We got on the train in Denmark and then had an hour's stop-over/coffee in Gothenburg, Sweden before finally arriving in Oslo in Norway!!! Where was I? Which language was being spoken? What was the currency - Danish, Swedish or Norwegian Krone and what was the exchange rate!!! Thank goodness for card payment! In a matter of hours, another three countries and borders and completely different people and culture!


The miracle of language

Here are some musings about the incredible nature of language. Have you ever stopped to wonder at how the human brain developed language to communicate? Over 7000 languages are spoken across the world today and when I hear people talking in another language which I don't understand, I find it incredible to think that these words and sounds make perfect sense to them but are totally unintelligible to me.

Apologies for this lengthy post about languages but this is a great passion of mine. I love seeing how the languages of Europe and indeed the whole world link up and have evolved/are still evolving.

In Europe alone there are 24 official languages while as many as 200 languages are spoken across the continent. During our journey we will encounter the following types of languages - English, German and Dutch (Germanic/West Germanic languages), French (a Romance language), Norwegian, Swedish and Danish (North Germanic/Scandinavian languages) and Finnish and Estonian (Uralic languages), Latvian and Lithuanian (Baltic languages) and Polish (a Slavic language).

English is a Germanic language and it was brought to us by the Germanic tribes who invaded England after the Romans had left between the 5th and 7th centuries. These invaders came from the area which is now known as northwest Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands and were the Anglo-Saxons. They were the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes and gave us the name England as well as many of our counties which were kingdoms, Wessex (Western Saxon kingdom), Sussex (Southern Saxon Kingdom), Essex (Eastern Saxon Kingdom), Middlesex (Middle Saxon Kingdom) Anglia (Angles' Kingdom) etc.


Many of the basic words for food, drink, physical needs come from German and Dutch - Brot/brood, Wasser/Water, Hunger, Milch/melk, Käse/kaas, besser/beter and many more. There were, of course, later many French influences, but it is still classed as a Germanic language because it retains the grammar and word order from its Germanic ancestry. If you go to parts of the Netherlands, Denmark and Northern Germany, you will hear a language called Frisian (a West Germanic language) which shares 80% lexical similarity with English. It is incredible - you can almost understand some of what is being said.


And let us not forget that the Vikings brought many words into our language and further influenced the structure of our sentences after the Anglo-Saxons. The word Viking actually means 'an overseas expedition'; they were invaders from Denmark, Norway and Sweden who came to plunder and pillage villages in Northern England and the Yorkshire dialect  uses even more Old Norse words in daily speech than standard English does.


By the 870s, the Danish Vikings had settled peacefully across most of Northern England and farmed the land. They lived mainly in Northumbria (which included modern-day Yorkshire), East Anglia and the five towns of Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Stamford and Lincoln.


The Danes were the most politically organized and were the strongest of the three groups and the strongest in terms of military power. They were also the first to convert to Christianity (almost entirely by the end of 9th century). England even had Danish kings from 1018 to 1042 but the Norman conquest in 1066 marked the end of the Viking era.


Some of our weekdays are named after Norse gods - Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Thursday and there are lots of words linked to war and violence - berserk, club, gun, ransack, slaughter, scathe as well as words descibing landscape -dirt, dregs, muck, rotten. There are also lots of other everyday words - husband, loan, sale, bark, blunder, get, haggle, shake, window, ill, leg, happy, anger, birth etc.