For some unknown reason, here on the eve of the Norwegian national day, I am reading a Norwegian grammar book. I don’t really need to learn Norwegian – Swedish would be more useful, but I am known for never doing exactly what I should be.
What I take note of is some of the rather funny example statements in the book. Having attempted to write more than my fair share of user documentation and guidelines in my career, I know firsthand how difficult coming up with good examples can be.
But in this Norwegian book there were some that made me laugh and question simultaneously.
First example: “Hun drev og reparerte bilen da han kom.” The translation given is: “She was in the process of/in the throes of repairing the car when he arrived.” What I found funny was the translation: “in the throes of” – technically not wrong but rarely would “in the throes of” be used in this way. Sure, it means “in the middle of doing something arduous or difficult”. Maybe repairing a car is tremendously challenging, but “in the throes of“? Much more often we see “in the throes of passion” or “the throes of the agony of childbirth” or something. Does fixing a car qualify on that level?
Second examples, in which the book shares information about modal auxiliaries, include sample sentences using the verb “skal/skulle” (shall/should) in a variety of contexts (expressing commands, doubts, promises, etc.). One context is the almighty threat! These threats actually made me laugh because they seemed so menacing. When I actually learn Norwegian (HA! As if that is ever going to happen), I am sure these sentences will be the first to spring forth:
“Hvis du ikke kommer med en gang, skal du få juling.”
“If you don’t come at once, you’ll get a beating.”
Even better and more violent:
“Hvis dere sier noe, skal vi drepe dere.”
“If you say anything, we’ll kill you.”