The lost symbol(s)

What has Dan brown’s book got to do with Norwegian genealogy?

As insignificant it may seem, it can make a lot of difference in your search for family.

The problem was made clear to me some time ago when I was contacted by a lady from the USA. She was looking for her ancestors in Norway and could tell me that her Great grandfather named “so and so” was born in Ore parish in Vest-Agder. Vest-Agder is a county situated in the southern part of Norway. Ore is a place in Vest-Agder, all right. It is in the municipality of Farsund. So far so good!

It just so happened that in this particular case, I recognized the part of the person’s name that told where he came from. You may want to read my article about Norwegian names. This was the name of a farm that is situated in what is now the municipality of Gjemnes in the county where I live; Møre og Romsdal.In this municipality there is a parish named Øre. I guess you already see my point. Here the Ø was “lost in translation” and replaced with an O. The lady that contacted me got her information at an online database. This just to tell you that you should check and double check the information you find.

When “translated” to English Norwegian names lost the Æ Ø and Å. The Æ was often changed to “ae”, the Ø to “o” and sometimes to “oe” the Å to “a” and sometimes “aa”. Earlier the Å was written with two A’s.

Just to look at a couple of examples. The Norwegian name Årvåg may look like this in English: Arvag, Aarvaag. Here in Molde where I live there is a place (farm) called Årø. I guess that may make Aro or Aroe. Bø may have been changed to Bo or Boe.

The rule to avoid these misunderstandings is that there is no rule. You just need to pay extra attention if you are dealing with names that have these letters in them

So what does these strange letters sound like? The Æ sounds like the A in the English words “crash” or “stab”. Ø as the U in the English word “surf”. Å as the O in the English word “bored”.
Lets practice:
When your computer locks up and you loose the last hour of work you go:ÆÆÆÆÆÆÆÆÆÆÆ!!!!

Wikipedia on Norwegian alphabet

You can write the letters on your English keyboard

On a PC
Put the NUM Lock On

Norwegian keyboard
Three extra letters

Hold down the Alt Key and type the numbers on the Number Pad:

Alt 0198 = Æ        Alt 0230 = æ
Alt 0216 = Ø         Alt 0248 = ø
Alt 0197 = Å         Alt 0229 = å

You can also change your keyboard settings to produce Norwegian letters. This is quite easy. On the control panel, check Regional and Language Options. Then check the keyboard and languages tab.

On a Mac:

Simultaneousely press the following key combinations:

Shift+Option+'(apostrophe key) = Æ
Shift+Option+O = Ø
Shift+Option+A = Å
Option+’ (apostrophe key) = æ
Option+O = ø 
Option+A = å

One thought on “The lost symbol(s)

  • October 26, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Great article, Martin.


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