No nakedness on Nordic cruise ships

From Norway to Sweden, Denmark, Germany and for that matter to Great Britten, you can travel by boat. Some call them cruise ships, I call them ferries. Since there are a lot of tourists, you often find signs in different languages. When we went to Sweden in the Christmas holidays, the picture to the left caught my eye. Direct and good translations can be difficult. Even if you use the ‘right’ words, the interpretation might give a wild association. On top of the pics (click on it to enlarge!) in red letters it says in Norwegian first: ‘All bruk av åpen flamme forbudt’, meaning: ‘No open flames allowed’, but as you can see the words in English are: ‘No naked lights’:-)

One of those ferries captures with my Nokia mobile phone.

When my wife first came over from US, she started to read the signs and tried to understand what they meant. The one to the left was one of them (click to enlarge!). The pictures shouldn’t give you any wrong ideas: In some areas they want you to slow down, so they put speed bumps on the road. In Norwegian speed is ‘fart’ and to slow is ‘dempe’. Sometimes you also run into speed control and in Norwegian that would be: ‘Fart Kontroll’. My wife always thought this was pretty funny. So when your visit Norway, ask before you get the wrong idea of what’s going on.

Speaking of the language, as I know my regular readers like to learn something from my posts: Norwegian is a Germanic language and is closely related to and generally mutually intelligible with Swedish and Danish. Together with these two languages as well as Faroese and Icelandic, Norwegian belongs to the North Germanic languages (also called Scandinavian languages). Due to isolation, Faroese and Icelandic are no longer mutually intelligible with Norwegian in their spoken form, because mainland Scandinavian has diverged from them.

As established by law and governmental policy, there are two official forms of written Norwegian — Bokmål (literally “book language”) and Nynorsk (literally “new Norwegian”). From the 16th to the 19th centuries, Danish was the standard written language of Norway. As a result, the development of modern written Norwegian has been subject to strong controversy related to nationalism, rural versus urban discourse, and Norway’s literary history. Historically, Bokmål is a Norwegianized variety of Danish, while Nynorsk is a language form based on Norwegian dialects and patristic opposition to Danish.

Let me end this post with another confusion you might have if you are visiting a certain place in Norway called Hell; a small village with a population of 352. It has become a minor tourist attraction because of its name: people like to take the train there to get photographed in front of the station sign. What was possibly Norway’s most popular postcard, at least among English-speaking tourists, showed the station with a heavy frost on the ground—Hell frozen over in fact, though there was no caption to make the point. Visitors to Hell can even stay at the Hell Hotel. The pic to the left is from the old warehouse in the Hell Station there is a sign “Gods-expedition”, an old spelling of the Norwegian word for cargo handling office. The name Hell stems from the Old Norse word hellir, which means “overhang”, “cliff cave”. The Norwegian word ‘hell’ can also mean “luck”. A yearly blues festival, the Hell Blues Festival, takes place in the area around Hell each year. The festival changed its name to Hell Music Festival in 2006 to open their doors for music other than blues.

Have I made my point: Don’t judge Norwegian by signs as it can be much more pleasant than you think:-) Even if it is Hell on earth LOL!!

Warning: We are celebrating my wife’s birthday this weekend and even the in-laws are coming over from the US. So there might be less posts and comments from me the next 10 days!

Update: My blog friend Mrs Lifecruiser had a similar post about the Swedish language once. Take a look!

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  1. Renny, this post made me laugh out loud! Things lost in translation are always very humorous to me.

    A very happy birthday wish to your wife also!

  2. In-laws? Say no more! We all understand! Better get cleaning and be on your best behaviour! HA! Kidding! You’ve already passed that test!

    Those are funny translations! I need a “Kontroll Fart” sign for my husband!! LOL!

    Where does Finnish fit in to the Germanic languages? Is it similar to any you mentioned?

    Have a great visit with your company!

  3. Oh yeah..Happy Birthday, Diane! It will be nice to see your parents. I bet you miss them! And they will get to see their grand-kids.

  4. He,he… funny post and as always very interesting. Belgian and Norway are not so far away and it is a shame I don’t know more about your country. But now I am catching up quickly by reading your posts.

    Happy Birthday to your wife!

  5. oh my, the fart kontrol in hell just made me giggle like a 10 year old boy. ok, i admit it…i am immature and find humor in this. i can just imagine how diane got giggles too. thank you for sharing such a humorous and informative post. actually the linguistic history was really fascinating. i love that sort of thing.

    finally, let me wish diane a very happy birthday. i hope the visit with family is especially wonderful!

  6. Renny,
    I loved learning a bit more about your language and seeing the signs. Also the opportunity to see “Hell” on Earth was not to be missed!
    Wish Diane a very happy birthday. I’m sure she’ll love spending time with her family.

  7. LOL! Those signs are hilarious! Tell your wife Happy Birthday and enjoy the visit with her family. She must be excited!

    OK, is it just me? Does anyone else see the body parts on the Fartsdemper sign? ;)

  8. I think that this post is eye opening. English readers will find this a blast! I would be one of those folks who travel to Hell for sure!

    Happy Birthday to Diane!

  9. He-he Renny, languages are really fun to play with. And name of places meaning one thing in one language and something very different in another, But Hell, let’s have fun with it, and avoid beeing offended. The Danes can “Grine” and Norwegians can “Le”. – Both meaning laugh in English. (“Wipe”- in N and “Cover” in DK).

    We are counting down for THE EVENT on Saturday.

  10. Ha ha ha, I know, that’s just so funny :-)

    I once wrote a post and mentioned the fart-word too among a lot of other fun ones:

    Swedish Bad Language

    Congratulations to your lovely wife and have FUN :-)

    BTW: Don’t be surprised over our flaming new blog look when you get the chance to visit! It’s supposed to be temporary, just to get rid of the Santa, but I’m not sure, maybe I grow too fond of it… *lol*

  11. Hey!advance Happy Birthday to Dianne! :D

    thats very funny esp fart kontroll,haha!
    like Dianne,they will humiliate me.thanx for the info,it will help for those who`s gonna tour in the future..i am one of them!hopefully,LOL!

  12. Hey Happy Birthday to your wife and have fun bonding with your in-laws!

    Thanks for sharing those pix, reminded my Silja line trip from Helsinki to Sweden then to Dover, Great Britain :P

  13. I like boats and ferries its just everyone else I know won’t board on with me. One of these days I’m going on a cruise and my husband can stay home and lump it.

    btw does that place have a sign saying “Welcome to Hell” ? that would be too funny

  14. First of all, a very happy birthday to Diane. I wish you all a fantastic weekend. Since family from the USA are coming over, I wonder if this is a milestone birthday?! :)

    In relation to stories about language and how we can get so messed up when we misuse it in a language we don’t speak well, you could surely write a book and become a millionaire! I love it.

  15. First and foremost, Happy Birthday to Diane.

    Yeah I heard alot of these stories from my Norwegian father here heheheh.

    @Mother of Invention – Finnish language belongs to the Finno – Ugric. Same as Hungarian and Estonian. Finnish is considered as one of the most difficult to lean in Europe

  16. Really interesting ! Now I also want to go to Hell and !!! I can say to Mr. Gattino “go to Hell” and he can’t complain. The sign on the ferry also is wonderful, he, he ! and the fart thing hilarious. I can read the Scandinavian languages and at least get an idea about what they are writing, because of the german language, but I cannot speak. Dentists, hairdressers and doctors often have swedish or danish magazines laying around, because a lot of swedish people live here in Waterloo. Here is the “Scandinavian School” so it’s logical that a lot of them moved here to be close to the school.

  17. Thanks for the shout out about my bad language post :-)

    It’s so fun this language “games” *lol* Just think about it, what misunderstandings they can cause!


  18. Thanks for the interpretation before I traveled to Norway this summer. I haven’t come across this on my Norwegian tapes! Hope your wife has a lovely birthday!

  19. LOL RennyBA @ the funny signs and stuff!
    Here in Bodega, we have that schoolhouse where Hitchcock filmed the birds, and, people constantly are driving by, snapping pics, or jumping out of the car and pretending to be chased by lots of birds, have their traveling companion snap their picture!
    Have a fun celebration with your wife and I am happy to be back, and glad you came along for the ride to India with me!

  20. Hi Again
    Happy Birthday to your WIFE , may she be blessed with good health and many, many ,many, more Happy Birthdays .
    I love this post , it is very interesting and humourous, I am with your wife on this one ” ‘Fart Kontroll’,,,, laughed out loud , thanks , I bet I will rember that one and the Hell froze over as well , very intersting place you live , Lucky!

    Take care ,,


  21. Good post Renny!

    No Naked lights made me laugh as well as the picture of the fart bumps!!

    I always find the instructions that come with things manufactured in Asia are hilarious to read because they usually have something totally erroneous but funny translated into English if you read closely!

  22. Rennie:
    When I told my wife (Big Pig) that you were talking about nakedness in her blog, she blushed and said she’d have to see for herself. After she learned that you were talking about curious translations of signs, she was greatly relieved. You see, here in Australia, we are much more conservative than you are in Scandinavia. Therefore, nakedness is something that we never see and rarely even discuss. Oh, Rennie, you are quite the guy! No wonder you have thousands of fans and ardent admirers!

  23. Oh Renny! You really had me laughing and P thought it was a riot too. He’ll have to read this post. sorry I’ve been lacking catching up… Yes it’s hard doing too much at times. hehe

  24. To All: Thanks so much for your visit and comments – I’m very thankful and flattered!
    I have of course passed your greetings to Diane and she is thrilled!
    This is just a short update to tell you the big party for her is taking place in 4 hours and we have 30 guest so right now it’s just chaotic. I’ll be back later on this weekend to give you an update!

  25. Ha ha ha! I don’t know what’s funnier, “Fartsdemper”, or the picture above it on the sign! “Warning: Pointy Bra Ahead”!

  26. This was fun, reminded me of old times. You see, I’ve been to Hell and back. Well, more exactly, I’ve been past Hell, a couple of times, didn’t stop, as I thought they might keep me. I was travelling over from Ostersund in Sweden, to Trondheim in Norway, at the time.
    I was living on an island in the middle of the Baltic, in a lovely little town called Mariehamn. The ferry route in passed speed restriction signs, Max Fart!, which amused the tourists. My friend there dj’ed at a disco, This being advertised as “Full Fart, med Max Fart!” So Paul’s alter ego was Max Fart, ever after.
    Re: Finnish, fenno-ugrian languages being reputedly difficult. I thought so at first, until I realised Finnish is a very consistent language, unlike english with its many different pronunciations and spellings.
    A simple rule for language learners is to think ‘If toddlers and dogs can understand it, then so can I’
    You don’t need to be fluent, to know tenses and cases all the time, if you can use very basic forms, people can understand you, and will treat you all the more nicely because you’re trying to use their language. They’ll find it easier to lapse into English, though, than listening to you mangling their mother tongue.
    In Sweden, if I remember rightly, you may be cursed at and tolled to ‘Fara til Hekla’, Go to Hell. Hekla is, of course, the big live volcano, in the south of Iceland, The fires of hell spout from it, and during an eruption you can hear the screams and sighs of the tortured souls below.

  27. “No naked lights.” That’s pretty good, but I see some odd phrases even in English here in the midwest. I was shopping the other day and saw a display of two piece bathing suits. One sign said, “Amazing bottoms.”

  28. Hi there,
    I happended to come by your blog and I found it to be entertaining. However, I can’t but comment on the fact that you manipulated the “fartsdemper”-photo to give them niples…!:)

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