Norwegian sound of agreement
August 21, 2006 11:27 AM   Subscribe

What is the name of the vocalization Norwegian speakers make when they are agreeing with a speaker?

It sounds like saying 'ya', but on an inhale instead of an exhale. In English, it would be replaced by 'mmhmm'. I heard it mostly when a group of people were talking to each other, and the listeners would make the noise when they agreed with some point. What's the name of this sound, and more generally, what is the term for this kind of vocalization?
posted by tumble to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know the word you're looking for, but I think it's a regional thing. It's more common in northern Norway than in Oslo, for example.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:29 AM on August 21, 2006

I don't know what it's called, but I've heard Estonians and Finns do it too.
posted by penguin pie at 11:52 AM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

...swedes too - I heard this often in Stockholm as well as in Kiruna
posted by seawallrunner at 11:55 AM on August 21, 2006

They're just saying yes ("ja" in Norwegian) but inhaling (why they do it I don't know, and not everyone does it).

Swedes do it too. Again, not all. (ah, seawallrunner was quicker)
posted by ClarissaWAM at 11:57 AM on August 21, 2006

Could you be thinking of "jo"? It's used when someone protests in the affirmative to someone who has just asserted the negative. It's a bit weird. Eg:

Person A: Snakkes norske?
Person B: Nei.
Person A: Jooo!

Which roughly tranlates to:

Person A: Speak Norwegian?
Person B: No.
Person A: Yes you do!
posted by ed\26h at 12:00 PM on August 21, 2006

If I understand correctly, the oldtimers in parts of Nova Scotia do this too. (In English - inhaling while saying "yes/yep.")
posted by Amizu at 12:17 PM on August 21, 2006

*inhales* Yep *exhales* , Nova Scotians do indeed inhale their yes sometimes. Never "no", though.
posted by fish tick at 12:34 PM on August 21, 2006

Best answer: The word you want is ingressive.
posted by languagehat at 12:47 PM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

Any chance someone can link to a sound sample of this?

(as I'm having a heck of a time trying to say "ya" while inhaling)

posted by Rash at 3:58 PM on August 21, 2006

It sounds more like "hyuh" (or "hjuh" as those in the country of fjords might spell it). It's one syllable, with a breathy "h" like sound at the start, that transitions quickly into a "yuh."
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:18 PM on August 21, 2006

Best answer: I've always heard it referred to as an interjection, but yea it's an ingressive as well.

It's a common thing both for Norway and Sweden, but it definitely has it its regional variations. The northern Swedish version where I come from is a lot more pronounced than the Norwegian version.

My American husband loves to make fun of me for it, because it sounds very silly. I do it a lot when I'm on the phone with my parents, for example. It's primarily a northern Sweden thing too, because there is this joke:

How does a Stockholmer clean the dust from under his bed?
He brings his northern Swedish friend over, asks him to look under the bed, and asks "Dusty isn't it?".

I can't do the Norwegian one, but here is mine! ;)
posted by gemmy at 6:09 PM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

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