Translating the anthem

After the US and Germany, it is now Norway's turn to suggest translating the national anthem to make it easier for immigrants to sing it. In the good old days of immigration past, immigrants would express their love by learning the language of the country which accepted them and offered them a future. Today, they don't even need to bother. Maybe a better idea would be to give immigrants a line by line translation along with transliteration, in order to make sure that at every official event, immigrants, even the newest of the new, would be able to sing along with everybody. Or maybe the next suggestion would be to have repeated singing of the national anthem in all the official translations?

During a week that brings out huge displays of patriotism in Norway, because of Constitution Day celebrations on the 17th of May, debate is brewing over a move to write an Urdu version of the Norwegian national anthem.

The debate comes just weeks after a proposal to translate the American national anthem into Spanish stirred controversy as well.

The editor of a newspaper for minorities in Norway, Utrop, floated the anthem translation proposal in the national newspaper VĂ¥rt Land this week. The idea is that an Urdu version of the anthem would allow many immigrants from Pakistan, for example, to more easily express their love for Norway.

The title of Norway's national anthem is, after all, "Ja vi elsker," which in English translates to "Yes we love (this country)."

Norway's most conservative party, the Progress Party, was quick to slam the proposal.

"This is integration in reverse," claimed Per-Willy Amundsen, the Progress Party spokesman on issues dealing with immigration.

The "best gift" immigrants can give to "their new homeland," argued Amundsen, is to learn Norwegian. He has no sympathy for immigrants who have problems singing the national anthem in Norwegian.

"It just takes practice to learn it," he claimed. "Those who are new to the country can hum along while we others sing."

Source: Aftenposten (English)

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