Norwegian: Kote, Lut

Abalord

Member
Hebrew
I am trying to understand the following sentence:

"men da han fant Flint måtte han også finne en Kote som han kokte i Lut og gjorde Knusk av. Så slog han Ild til dem."

Could it mean that he would find some kind of lapp tent (kote), tear pieces from it and cook it in animal fat (Lut) and then set fire to it?

The English translation doesn't explain the process, only that he makes tinder: "but when he had found a flint, he must also make tinder. Then he could strike fire with it."
 
  • Svenke

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    Took some research to find this out!

    "Kote" is normally spelt "kåte", but a more common word is "kjuke", in English "conk", the fruiting bodies of bracket fungi = polypores.

    "Kåte" in the big dictionaries:
    kåte - Det Norske Akademis ordbok
    Norsk Ordbok - Ordbok over det norske folkemålet og det nynorske skriftmålet

    This page describes how to make "knusk" 'tinder' from "kjuke" 'conk' by boiling it in "lut" 'lye':
    Å tenne ild med flintstål og knusk

    Wikipedia about "kjuke": Kjuker – Wikipedia
    And in English about "polypore": Polypore - Wikipedia

    Svenke :)
     

    Abalord

    Member
    Hebrew
    Wow, Thank you very much! I would never have thought he is talking about fungi as tinder. The article "kåte" in Wikipedia is about some kind of lapp tent.

    About the word Lut/Lye, what do you suppose is the context? He is probably not referring to the modern chemical agent, but to animal fat, right?
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    Lut is lye, and that is not animal fat. It is the chemical agent, but that is not a modern invention. It has been been used throughout the centuries, for example for cleaning and for making lutefisk. In earlier times, when people couldn't just go to the store to buy lye, they had to make it themselves. Lye can be made from wood ashes and water, see:
    How to Make Lye
     

    Abalord

    Member
    Hebrew
    Thank you, that is very interesting. So perhaps I misunderstood what exactly is this Lut/Lye as a chemical agent. It is not like "caustic soda" but more like "potash"?
     

    Abalord

    Member
    Hebrew
    So it seems. I guess I'm having a difficulty comprehending this because an everyday use for caustic soda is for cleaning and plumbing, but I suppose it's not uncommon to use certain chemical agents in food preparation, even though in their undiluted state those chemicals are not fit for consumption.

    However, because there are apparently several different agents who are called "lye", and who historically were made by a process of plant ash and water, I'm still not sure what the author referred to in the sentence I posted: NaOH, or caustic soda; KOH, or caustic potash. By the way, in the Hebrew Wikipedia article for "Lutefisk", they claim it is made with Boric acid, B(OH)3, but it's not unreasonable to assume that the author of this article made this claim up.
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I don't know what the dilution of the caustic elements in wood ash is (and google does not help) but it is strong enough to turn fish into a jelly-like consistency, so prolonged exposure to your skin is probably not a good idea! Note also - after the treatment with lye, the fish is left to soak in water.
     

    sjiraff

    Senior Member
    English
    It might j ust be me but the quote in Abalord's post seems kind of different to what i'm used to reading in contemporary norwegian, is it old fashoned?

    It might just be my level of norwegain though!

    Da jeg prøvde å lese Romanen "Sult" slittet jeg litt med å forstå en god del setninger for å være æerlig!
     

    Abalord

    Member
    Hebrew
    I believe it is quite old fashioned, however, I'm also currently reading Knausgård, and he writes that as a teacher he was asking his pupils to read some old Norwegian novels, and even for them it was very difficult.
     

    Svenke

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    Knut Hamsun, the author of the text, wrote a conservative Riksmål (the predecessor of Bokmål), i.e. fairly close to Danish in some respects (but not all).

    But the initial quote is not very different from modern Bokmål:

    "men da han fant Flint måtte han også finne en Kote som han kokte i Lut og gjorde Knusk av. Så slog han Ild til dem."
    should now be
    "men da han fant flint, måtte han også finne en kåte som han kokte i lut og gjorde knusk av. Så slo han ild til dem."

    Maybe gjorde knusk would more naturally be lagde (laget, laga) knusk, but otherwise the grammar is just the same.
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    I think that there is only one element of this text that really makes it look old-fashioned: the initial capital letters for all nouns. Apart from that, the text looks quite modern to me, at least at first glance. (Svenke points out some other differences from modern Norwegian, but these are less obvious.)

    I am no expert of the development of Norwegian spelling, but this text looks a bit inconsistent to me. When I see the initial capitals, I would also expext to see more Danish-looking spelling. For example "kogte" (or even "kogede"?) instead of "kokte", "finde" instead of "finne", and "fandt" instead of "fant".

    Svenke, do you know if this combination of capital initials and otherwise quite "modern" spelling ever has been considered correct Norwegian? Or has there been a half-hearted modernization of the text?
     

    Svenke

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    An attempt to write Danish as it was in 1917, when Markens Grøde was written; I don't think the words kåte and knusk exist in the language:

    "men da han fandt Flint, skulde han ogsaa finde en (Fyrsvamp) som han kogte i Lud og gjorde (Tønder) av. Saa slog han Ild til dem."

    Capitalization of nouns was archaic in Norwegian at that time and had begun to be omitted long before the turn of century.
    The first major changes that separated Riksmål from Danish came in 1907, and koge > koke and lud > lut were among them.
    But finde, fandt > finne, fant and slog > slo came in 1917, so the book would have been written before that.
    The text also has the new letter å rather than aa. This was allowed, but not compulsory until 1917.
    I don't think Danish would use måtte in the way that Hamsun does.

    So yes, I think there are both old and new aspects in Hamsun's language here.
    It doesn't look to me as if this text has been modernized later; in that case, noun capitalization would have been the first archaism to go.
     
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