Can understand Swedes in Danish

Swedes have a hard time in Norway

BY INGRID RAAGAARD


Copenhagen - The Swedish psychologist Ove Tangenhoff has discovered a niche in the market. When he emigrated to Norway three years ago, he discovered that life is not that easy for a Swede in a neighboring country. At first he was in love with the beautiful country with its always cheerful inhabitants, then he was irritated by the characteristics of the Norwegians, and then he adapted. Now he turns his own experience into business. Swedish immigrants can go to him for therapy. Ove Tangenhoff is promoting his new service with ads that run under headings such as "Sour Norway" or "Longing for Sweden". And clients flock to his practice. Because finally someone dares to discuss something that many Scandinavians think: The five Nordic countries Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland, which each refer to as fraternal peoples, are more different than their citizens are comfortable with - with the help of often absurd ones The "brothers" vent their prejudices every now and then: The Danes like to swamp, drink and smoke too much, are funny, but otherwise quite amoral. The four northern brothers agree on this. On the other hand, Denmark stands with the others when it comes to the Finns. They are so drunk that they even drink pure alcohol and easily throw knives. Icelandic women are the most beautiful in the world, only their husbands are all idiots. The Swedes are the senior teachers of Scandinavia, always polite, but totally boring. The Norwegians are shrewd, sham-puritans who are so proud that they even refer to themselves as "Norwegian Norwegians". As mean as these prejudices may sound, they tend to be put forward in a friendly manner, you blink your eyes and indicate that you don't believe in this nonsense, of course. Like the Bavarian-Austrian "dumpling war", such aversions also have their origins in history in the north. For centuries Norway was first part of Denmark, then part of Sweden. It was not until 1905 that the country became independent. Iceland did not declare itself independent from Denmark until 1940, Finland became an independent republic in 1919, and the Swedes and Danes have fought so many wars against each other since the Middle Ages that only extremely well-read historians can explain off the cuff where, when and why. In addition to the differences in mentality, there is also the language problem, which the Scandinavians in their stubbornness do not even recognize as a particular difficulty - which it is in reality. Norwegians, Swedes and Danes always speak their own language bravely, even when they are in a brother country. Every Scandinavian assumes that the other understands him, although Swedish and Danish are just as different as Swiss German and Low German. Icelanders and Finns are the only ones who are spared the mostly incomprehensible conversations that the three other brothers can have with each other for hours. The situations that arise as a result of these communication exercises were described by the Swedish crime writers Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö: They gave their South Swedish detective inspector a colleague from Copenhagen. The two became close friends, but always spoke Swedish and Danish to each other. Once, when they were alone together in a vacation home, they agreed to speak English when no one is around. Only then did they realize that they actually found each other unsympathetic. "However, since Scandinavians like to move to one of the so-called brother countries - sometimes out of love, but often for career reasons - these small problems suddenly turn into difficulties of unexpected proportions In the nineties, for example, a few thousand Copenhageners moved to southern Sweden because they could save taxes there. Now many are moving back. Because in Sweden reason is very important, the Danes like it more liberal. But the Swedes don't have it easy either. Almost 14,000 of them are currently living in Norway because there is something there that is in short supply in Sweden: jobs. Many of them, at least that is what the psychologist Ove Tangenhoff thinks, get depressed. "Swedes live to work. The Norwegians work to live. If they can't cope with a task, shrug their shoulders, while the Swedes become desperate. "The Norwegians, on the other hand, become desperate when they have to take Swedish lunch breaks into consideration. Just like the Danes, the Norwegians only eat a little snack at lunchtime The Swedes, on the other hand, like it warm and extensive. Ove Tangenhoff puts the problem down to the almost ridiculously simple denominator: "In Norway, Swedes have to learn to take life easier, while at the same time they have to keep their right to a warm lunch."