Notes by Autumn Light

On Hebrew, English, translation, editing, and more—by Jonathan Orr-Stav

Why have you learned Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic or Faroese as second language? What aspects of those languages are you fascina…

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(My answer to this question at

I learned a little bit of Norwegian during a summer holiday that I took there in 1981, which ended up being extended by several weeks, with a repeat visit a few months later, and another in 1990.

I was struck by the similarities between it and the Anglo-Saxon part of English (e.g., Skal viroing og fiske? = Shall we go rowing and fishing?); enchanted by its distinctive rhythms of speech; fascinated that Norwegian mothers call to their small children with exactly the same expression and intonation as Jamaican mothers (Kom nå!/Com,nuh!); and marvelled how the vagaries of the Indo-European etymology can lead to virtually the same word—cald in Norwegian (“cold”), and caldo in Italian (“hot”)—having opposite meanings.

I would jump at the opportunity to complete my knowledge of the language, but that will probably have to wait for another lifetime…



Author: יונתן אור-סתיו | Jonathan Orr-Stav

Hebrew-English translator, editor, author. מתרגם עברית–אנגלית, עורך באנגלית, וסופר.

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