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“Kya baat hai!”: Our embassy’s favorite words

Taking inspiration from our Ambassador’s video from this year’s Jaipur Literature Festival, where he describes his favourite word, ‘dugnad’, we decided to do a fun activity at the Embassy and ask all colleagues their favourite words.

The best and the biggest achievement for us in this exercise was to see the amount of positivity we received. It also says a lot about human behavior. After all, you will hardly ever see someone saying their favourite word is ‘hate’ or ‘hunger’, which shows how all of us are deeply connected through unknown positive vibes!

So, here’s what we got: the words we received are first of all showing the respect that people feel for each other, which is important both in our professional as well as personal lives. They are also diverse: the words came in many different languages. Eyarkai (nature) in Tamil, shukriya (thank you) in Hindi, sukhamalle (“hope you are doing good”) in Malayalam, ma gardinchu (“I will do it!”) in Nepali, serendipity in English and fornemmelse (a subtle feeling, a sense of something) in Norwegian, all demonstrate the diversity of the languages spoken at our Embassy.

The choice of words also clearly reflected many of the employees’ own qualities. The Tamil word puñciri (smile), sharing and help illustrate actions that make others feel better. Other poetic words such as the Norwegian håp (hope) and forelskelse (the feeling of falling in love), were also mentioned.

Some words were more expressive, such as ramailo (fun) and expressions like “Kya baat hai!” (great!)  and “theek-thaak” (okay, good”) in Nepali, Hindi and Punjabi. Others were softer, like the Western Norwegian dialect word of venleik (a person with a beautiful and kind character) and vennskap (friendship), as well as equity, described by one of the employees as a “word that gives justice to so many emotions and actions”.

The Hindi word navaachaar (innovation) was mentioned, as well as juggard, (do we really need to translate that ;) ? ). The Nepali word unnati (progress) was also mentioned, described by one of the Nepali employees as “a feminist word which represents equal opportunity for progress for both genders”.

Also, some words showed the poetic sense of humor of the staff. One of them – faith – was described like this: “Faith is like Wifi: It's invisible but it has the power to connect you to what you need!”

The choice of some Norwegian words may indicate that some employees miss their home country. One of them, snøfnugg (snow flake) is described as “representing Norwegian winter at its most poetic. It brings promise for the future and memories of childhood”. Another word, bølgeskvulp (the sound of small waves) reminded one employee of “the Norwegian summer in a boat at sea; swimming, eating and just enjoy some slow summer days in fresh air”.  

Many of the Norwegians mentioned descriptive and distinctive words that they like partly for their funny sound and meaning. The word sporenstreks is almost impossible to translate, meaning something like “immediately” or “ASAP”: “Literally it comes from when you kick a horse with the things you have on the back of your riding boots to have it move”, said this innovative Norwegian! Snerk is another distinctive, weird-sounding word, which points to the thin coating that is made on top of hot chocolate – a dear and common childhood memory for many Norwegians. Ombud is a distinct word and one of the few Norwegian words that are used internationally. An ombud is someone whose job is to take care of something. We surely love doing that!

The most creative word though, produktmomentkorrelasjonskoeffisienten, is mainly liked because it is abnormally long. Put together of four words, this colleague learnt this word while studying statistics. A very simplified meaning of the word is “the statistical correlation between two variables”.

The Norwegian Embassy is a workplace of great diversity – a quality that reflects upon India in general. As one of the employees described the Tamil word paṉmukattaṉmai (diversity): “Unity in diversity is India’s strength, so it is for our Embassy. We have people from different states, following different religions, speaking different languages, but who work together under one big umbrella of the Embassy”.

The clear winner was the smiley J emoticon suggested by a colleague. After all, it’ s the most commonly used word by everyone across cultures and languages!

Finally, a colleague wrote ‘thank you’ as his favourite word. Without describing it at all, all of us at the Norwegian Embassy would like to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who’s stopped by to read this collection. One that we are very proud of!

If you are curious of what Ambassador Kamsvåg's favorite word is, click here.