NTNU - Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet
Ansvarlig redaktør: Informasjonsdirektør
Anne Katharine Dahl

Tore Oksholen

Teknisk ansvarlig: 
Kenneth Aar


Stewart's Corner

Spørsmål angående engelsk kan stilles til språkrådgiver Stewart Clark, Studieavdelingen, e-post: stewart.clark@adm.ntnu.no,
tlf. 73 59 52 45 eller faks: 73 59 52 37

Definite article

In most cases, the use of the definite article in Norwegian and English is similar. One problem is the difference between a noun being used in its general and specific senses. Take the word industry as an example. When it is written without the definite article: «Industry must survive», this means industry in general. When it has the definite article: «The industry must survive», this means a specific industrial sector. Translated into Norwegian, both phrases will use «industrien». This distinction applies generally. Here are some
other examples:

general sense

staff (all employees)

life is good (in general)

modern society (in general)

music calms (all types)

specific sense

the staff (those in a specific organization)

the life of Brian (a specific one in a film),

the geological society (specific group)

the music of Brahms (his
specific music)

Remember even though there is a definite article in Norwegian, nouns in a general or abstract sense do not have «the» in English.

Reference lists and indexing

If an index of books, journals and papers puts the titles first and some of these start with «The», it is common to use the first main word in the title to decide the alphabetical order. For example, The Complete Plain Words is indexed under «C» but written The Complete Plain Words. The same applies to proper names in English. When indexing The Hague, it will be written «The Hague» but will be under «H» in the index/reference list. For institutions, «the» is normally omitted as the first word in the title. Universities are
referenced as «University of...», even though they may really be «The University of ...» and they should be listed under «U».

When there is no «The» as the first word in a title/name, a lower case definite article is to be used in running text: «This is the Norwegian University of Science and Technology», but not otherwise.

Tricky words

Per cent, percentage

Per cent (Norw. prosent) means rate per hundred and may be an abbreviation of the pseudo-Latin per centum. It is always read as «per cent» and written as two words in British English, but as one word in American English. The ISO standard 31-0 (1992) states that there should be space between the numerical value and the unit. Therefore write 35 %, not 35%.

Percentage (Norw. prosentandel) is a rate or amount in a hundred. Percentage is followed by a singular or plural verb according to the noun that is involved: «20 % of his income is used for rent».
«80 % of the houses are to be redecorated». Do not use percentage to mean someor a lot. Note that percentage

is written in one word in both BE and AE.

Degree certificate, transcript

Degree certificate (here, Norw. eksamensvitnemål) means an official document that states the degree awarded by a specific university: «Norwegian universities tend to send the degree certificate in the post instead of formally awarding it in person on degree day as in many other countries».

Transcript (here, Norw. karakterutskrift) in the context of higher education means the official record of a student's work showing the courses taken and the grades awarded: «He asked for the English version of his transcript from the University of Oslo».

Enlightening English

A brochure called «Det Skjer», March 2000 is published by Trondheim Aktivum partly for our foreign visitors and boasts of an «english summary» (non-capitalized).
I suggest «Norwenglish puzzle» would be more accurate. Among the places you must go, we have: «Nidarosdomen was started built in the late, early middleages...this is also the place for Norway's royal crowning and weddings». If you cannot wait for a Royal wedding in Nidarosdomen, another attraction is the
giddy «Tyholt-tårnet»: «Just outside the town someone built a big tower from where you on a clear day can overlook the whole citycentre of Trondheim. Actually you can sit down up in the tower an enjoy lunch or dinner while the tower spins around»