The Challenge Of Norwegian Place Names

by phyllis on July 29, 2015

JHHLX100-4220267My special project for the Norwegian Cruising Guide this year is to make sure that the place names in the Guide as closely match those on the Norwegian charts as possible. In previous editions, I used Den Norske Los, the Norwegian Pilot, as the standard for choosing harbour/anchorage place names. However, Kartverket’s decision to stop publishing in English, except for the Svalbard volume, made them an impractical resource for most visiting sailors.

But Kartverket’s other decision–to put all their charts online–has made the Norwegian charts the obvious standard to use for place names. Added to which, Kartverket updates the charts regularly, unlike DNL. And so, in the last edition of the Guide, we made the waypoint for each harbour/anchorage a link to the online charts.

As the second step in that process I am now laboriously going through each entry and comparing it to the online chart, then checking in with Hans Jakob Valderhaug, our Norwegian correspondent, for his input, and then between us we determine what is the best name for the entry.

It is a time consuming but fun process as I learn more and more about Norwegian place names:

  • there are two formal languages in Norway (nynorsk and bokmål) plus literally hundreds of dialects, which causes discrepancies between different resources;
  • chart makers are not always in touch with local usage;
  • some harbours are unnamed on the chart but have a local name, which Hans Jakob is able to access (unlike us visitors);
  • the name under which visitors might look for a harbour is not the name on the chart (e.g. Digermulen, which is a famous mountain in Lofoten, is not the name of the harbour; however, for our readers to find the place, we include that in the name), etc.

So look for this closer connection between harbour/anchorage names in the Guide and those on the Norwegian charts in the next edition.

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