Controversy over translation of Norwegian national anthem

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

A suggestion to translate the national anthem of Norway into Urdu is causing controversy. The Progress Party opposes the idea, saying that people who cannot understand Norwegian could just hum with the Norwegian citizens. Norway celebrated Syttende Mai, its Constitution Day on May 17 with traditional children's parades last week. The song is usually sung on this occasion.

The editor of Utrop, a newspaper for the minorities in Norway, suggested the translation of the national anthem in an editorial in the national paper Vårt Land. Such a translation, he said, would allow immigrants of Pakistani origin to show their love for Norway by singing the Norwegian national anthem. The title of the national anthem is after all "Ja vi elsker (dette landet)" which translates as "Yes, we love (this country)."

"This is integration in reverse," said Per-Willy Amundsen, the Progress Party spokesman on issues dealing with immigration. According to him, "the best gift that the immigrants could give to Norway would be learning the language of their new homeland."

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