Sunday, October 11, 2009

New word alert: to thorbjorn

OK, this one probably won't stick, but it's kinda cute. Yoni Brenner's piece in the NYT this morning puts a coinage in Obama's mouth:
You know, two months ago, when Thorbjorn Jagland announced that I had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I said that I was “humbled.” Today I have several other words: “Baffled.” “Incredulous.” “Slightly-very-irritated.”

But ultimately, conventional adjectives fail to convey the powerful rush of emotions one experiences at receiving such a surprising and politically tone-deaf honor. And so I have invented a new word: it’s called “thorbjorn.” As in, “Wow, those Scandinavians completely thorbjorned my hard-earned political capital.” I know, it’s not the best name.
We could use a few new Norwegian loanwords. I mean, lutefisk works for us up here in the Upper Midwest, but ...

7 comments:

ordblogg said...

Well, you do have some "lefse" to go with your lutefisk in the Mid-West. Not to forget that "quisling" is a Norwegian word. (Without the tricky "ΓΈ" which they can't write in the New York Times)

Mr. Verb said...

Oh, I was kind of kidding: The Dictionary of American Regional English has a whole set, including plenty of food and holidays, but also ish. Uff da will presumably be in the upcoming volume!

Thanks.

John Cowan said...

Ish is a Norwegian borrowing? I thought it was just the inherited suffix -ish as an unbound morpheme. (The subject of a play by some modern Shelley, no doubt.)

(I do find some other ishes in the OED, all of them fairly obscure, most of them connected with issue in one or another of its senses, and none of them Norwegian.)

Mr. Verb said...

Oh, just to be clear: This is the 'ish' of disgust, where many people would say 'ick'. It's not the 'ish' of current youth language ('Was the party good?' 'Ish'), which is indeed a morpheme that broken free.

Beyond that, just quoting DARE here, of course. This *would* get us the tight correlation with the Upper Midwest -- it's used mostly from Wisconsin to the Dakotas, a good match with Norwegian immigration.

ordblogg said...

Yeah, I know there are a lot of Norwegian food/names in the Mid-West, most of which doesn't taste or sound like I am used too. I have also been told there are 50000 Norwegian speakers there. Seen any of them?

Ish? We'd write it "isj" here in Norway - but yes, we use it. We have "usj(!)" too.

Mr. Verb said...

Yes, it's the same as Norwegian 'isj', and here no doubt with support with the Danish and Swedish cognates.

I really doubt there are 50,000 Norwegian (heritage) speakers, but Wisconsin's Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures is starting to make contacts with the communities where it is spoken. The 2000 US Census showed 3,500 using Norwegian as 'home language', with many more throughout the region. Contact CSUMC or the Wisconsin Englishes folks for more.

ordblogg said...

Takk! (Which of course means thanks:)