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April 16, 2012 - Mike Donahey
One of the advantages of being married to a Norwegian is the good food one gets to eat — kringla, krumkake, lefse, rommergrut and sweet soup — to name a few. (I've omitted lutefisk and kumla, but will write about them in another blog). Readers of Norwegian descent and others familiar with the first five know how tasty they are. And others who don’t may look up their definitions as there is not enough room to sufficiently describe all here.
There are other advantages to marrying into a Norwegian family I discovered. Learning Norwegian words is one. And after many years of marriage I still remember several of them. I was exposed to strange words “fey da,” “uff da” and others when dating my better half.
Me, being the inquisitive and nosy type, needed to know what they meant. “Fy da” (fee-da) expresses disgust, revulsion and horror I learned. “Uff da” is used to express compassion, empathy or annoyance. My wife's late mother, bless her heart, had many more, for she had been raised in a household where Norwegian was the principal language.
Use of fey da and uff da is as close as my wife has ever come to swearing. Which is refreshing, in a era when some people think nothing of dropping obscene words in casual conversation or on social network sites. And I don’t mean just damn or hell.
Damn and hell — once forbidden — are now tame. Ironically, years ago, use of those two words in earshot of my parents earned my siblings or I a mouth-washing with a bar of Ivory soap. My late mother, despite her petite frame, knew how to do that job well on all offenders in our house.
Despite that punishment I’ve still made my share of mistakes with foul language. Regrettably, it made me think later in using that language I did not set a good example for my daughters as parents are supposed to do.
Which is why fey da and uff da should be strong enough for me now. "I love it when you say 'uff da' my wife said to me recently — is another incentive and as good as they come.
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