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Help me decipher this handwritten Norwegian postcard from an ancestor
March 1, 2014 1:15 PM   Subscribe

My dad found this postcard that was sent in 1910 from my great-great-grandmother to her son and his wife. I've taken a stab at translating it from Norwegian to English using Google Translate, but I've only been able to figure out a few words due to the handwriting. There might also be some characters that I'm not familiar with. Can anyone decipher more of it?

The first sentence seems to start with "We are all [something] and struggling..." but I'm lost after that, except for occasional words like "letter" and "pains". I'm getting the impression it's not a happy message.

The front of the postcard is a photo of my great-great-grandmother taken by a professional photographer. She has a very solemn look on her face, but I know most people in that era went for the dignified look in photos.
posted by theory to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I just love how it was address to "Mr and Mrs Nome, North Dakota RR#2" and was actually able to be delivered.

Ps - If you could transcribe the text, you might have better luck getting help with translation.
posted by kamelhoecker at 1:35 PM on March 1


I just love how it was address to "Mr and Mrs Nome, North Dakota RR#2" and was actually able to be delivered.

I blurred the last name. It was addressed to Mr & Mrs J. [lastname]
posted by theory at 1:39 PM on March 1


Here's a modified copy of the image, darkened a bit for readability. I know a little Norwegian, and I'll see if I (or any of the Norwegians I know) can decipher more of the text...
posted by mbrubeck at 2:55 PM on March 1


Not an expert, but it looks like there are some of the older style cursive Gothic letters in use, or at least that influence is there. If that is so, then Table 3 starting on p. 11 of this pdf might be of some assistance, though the examples are fancier than your text. There are also some good examples in this pdf (see esp. pp. 4 - 7 for variations of standard letters which might help you decipher what some of the letters are).
posted by gudrun at 3:01 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


It appears to be signed "Moster" - mother's sister? The English equivalent would be the less specific "Auntie". Like the OP, I cannot make out much beyond the initial "we are all [something].." - I have some Norwegian friends, so will have them take a look.
posted by kariebookish at 3:44 PM on March 1


I think the fourth word might be forsikti ("careful"). I created a Google doc with further attempts at transcription, but I'm not making much progress. (Feel free to edit or comment on the document if you want.)

The PDFs that gudrun posted are useful for some of the letters, but there are few that don't seem to match any of the examples. Also I don't know enough Norwegian to make good guesses.
posted by mbrubeck at 4:07 PM on March 1


It seems to me that the first sentence is "Vi er alle friske og det samme önsker jeg at höre i (...) jeg har faaet", which should translate to "we are all healthy and the same I wish to hear in (...) I have received".
The third last line seems to start with "da jeg ikke (...) se dere i höst", "because I will not (...) see you this fall".
posted by iviken at 5:16 PM on March 1


My husband is Norwegian and between the two of us, we were able to attempt to transcribe a little bit and translate it. It seems like it's all one run-on sentence. Neither of us are particularly good with old handwriting but here's our best guess, with punctuation added...

Vi er alle friske og det samme ønsker jeg at høre i fra dere. Jeg har faaet? brev i fra dere som jeg ? mange? ? jeg sender en ? jeg ikke kunde ? se dere i høst. Vi har fint vær her. I fra deres moder/moster?

We are all healthy and I wish to hear the same from you. I have gotten? a letter from you which I ? many? I send a ? I couldn't ? see you this fall. We have nice weather here. From your mother (or maybe auntie, like kariebookish mentioned?)
posted by flod logic at 5:18 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


Moster is aunt on the mother's side. It is all written in one sentence, and like above its: we are all healthy and I hope to hear the same from you.. then last sentence; ...could not? see you this autum and we have nice weather her in... Moster
posted by dreamsandhope at 5:44 PM on March 1


It seems like a nice postcard wishing them well, and a part where: "jeg sender en" means; I send a ??? as I could not see you this autumn.


vi er alle friske og det samme ønsker jeg at (å) høre fra dere

jeg har faat (fått) brev i fra dere som jeg siger (sier) ?

??? jeg sender en ?? da jeg ikke kunne se dere i høst

vi har fint vær her i ??

Moster
posted by dreamsandhope at 5:57 PM on March 1


Ah, I think I see that she wrote the letter "d" in a way that kind of looks like "sl" or "st", which is why I initially thought the 6th word was slet instead of det. And that would mean that it's probably signed "Moder" instead of "Moster", right?
posted by theory at 5:58 PM on March 1


I updated the doc based on all the comments above and filled in some missing pieces by comparing the unknown letters to the "solved" ones. There may still be some errors, but I think the whole thing is something like:
Vi er alle friske og det
samme ønsker jeg at
høre i fra dere. Jeg
har fåt et brev i fra
dere som jeg siger så
mange tak. Jeg sender
en skyge af mig
da jeg ikke kunde få
se dere i høst. Vi har
fint vær her. I fra deres
Moder
or
We all healthy and I hope to hear the same from you. I have received a letter from you, for which I say many thanks. I'm sending a shade of myself [the photograph?] since I didn't get to see you in the fall. We have fine weather here. From your Mother.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:18 PM on March 1 [6 favorites]


It seems like it's all one run-on sentence.

I speak Swedish. A few years ago, I translated some Swedish letters about as old as this one for a friend of mine. They contained lots of run-on sentences as well. Maybe that was the style at the time.
posted by Hatashran at 9:51 PM on March 1


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