Allegro språktjenester

Allegro språktjenester blogger om språk og oversetting.

In August last year, Allegro published a blog about how correct use of punctuation can save your life. This month, Allegro will also demonstrate how sensible use of commas can save money. Millions, in fact. The case concerns the Oxford comma, also known as the serial comma. This is an optional comma used before the word ‘and’ at the end of a list, e.g. for breakfast today, I had toast, fruit, and yoghurt. In this example, the Oxford comma is redundant, since we automatically assume that fruit and yoghurt are two separate things. In other cases, though, it is definitely worth considering. The Oxford comma is more commonly used in the USA, and apparently for good reason. In Maine, USA, a dispute solely resting on the use of the Oxford comma was recently settled for the amount of 5 million dollars.

Some of Allegro's assignments can be more demanding than others and the expression ‘I’m going to lose my marbles’ happened to crop up one afternoon at the office. This, of course, was met with laughter followed by a curiosity about where the phrase ‘to lose one’s marbles’ actually comes from. The answer was quite surprising and rather complex. The story goes that the word ‘lumber’ was widely used in England until about the mid-20th century as a metaphor for the contents of one’s mind. The word lumber in this sense meant unused pieces of furniture. The metaphor portrayed the mind as a room that was cluttered by old tables and chairs, which obstructed its proper use.

Vi som jobber i Allegro språktjenester, har en fantastisk utsikt fra kontoret i femte etasje i Leif Grung-bygget Blaauwgården i C. Sundts gate. Vi ser mot Ulriken i sør – noen ganger badet i sol, men ofte gjemt bak skyer og tåke, og mot Bryggen i øst, som myldrer av turister i sommermånedene og står pyntet med julelys langs gavlene i desember. Et litt mindre kjent, men like kjært bergensfenomen som vi kan se fra vår utsiktspost, er Beffen. En liten oransje og grønn balje av en båt som krysser Vågen fra morgen til kveld. Beffen har en lang og tradisjonsrik historie bak seg, opprinnelig som del av A/S Bergens Elektriske Færgeselskab (derav navnet Beffen), og har for lengst blitt et bergensk ikon. Den 24. oktober for en del år siden fulgte jeg min datter til barnehagen for å feire FN-dagen.

I first came to Norway in 1994, the year of the spectacular Winter Olympics in Lillehammer featuring Norwegian gold medallist Kjetil André Aamodt, whose first name I, and most of my fellow Englishmen, pronounced ‘kettle’. We like anything to do with a good cup of tea. I was determined to learn the language since I was planning to stay a while and watched avidly to see if I could pick up any handy words or phrases. In fact, this was my second meeting with the Norwegian language. The first was through Norwegian music. As a child, I’d idolised the Norwegian band A-ha, the members of which my friends and I referred to as Morten (easy enough), Pal (as in chummy) and Magne (as in mag and knee). Around the time of my first visit to Norway, the song titles and lyrics of various Norwegian metal bands were a hot topic in the English rock magazines of the day. I remember my bemusement at the fact that the vocalist of a metal band had chosen to call himself ‘Hat’.