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Dugnad for the common good

In each Norwegian language course you will meet the word dugnad. It has a long tradition in Norway and means working together voluntarily and unpaid for the benefit of the local community.

Norway is a country committed to local traditions, customs, dialects, costumes and dishes. It is important for Norwegians that it is nice and clean around. It is equally important to live in good communion with others and to do something for the common good. The custom of dugnad fits in perfectly with these values.
dugnad norwegian learn
The mysteriously sounding Norwegian word dugnad comes from Staronordic and means ‘help’. However, it is usually translated as a social act. In 2004 he won a TV competition for the national word Norway.

Fortunately, the so-called spirit of dugnad (dugnadsånd) has survived to our times and even now, in the majority of housing estates, common neighborhood cleanups are organized twice a year, most often in spring and autumn. Perfectly organized co-residents clean up the lockers, repair what is broken, paint fences, renew playgrounds, rake leaves or soot and take care of plants. In other words, together they decide what to do to make life better, more comfortable and more enjoyable.

In addition to specific tasks, Dugnad serves at the same time, and perhaps above all, neighbourly integration. This is an ideal opportunity to get to know each other and talk while working together. Usually the residents take care of making coffee, baking cakes and waffles and preparing hot dogs.

So let’s not be surprised if you are asked to take part in a strangely sounding dugnad – it can result in only benefits.
Useful phrases
Here are a few phrases that can be very useful in such a situation:

å vaske opp – to clean up
å male – to paint
å pusse opp – to renew
å reparere – to repair
å hogge ved – to chop wood
å sage ved – to saw wood
å slå i en spiker – to drive a nail
å skru i en skrue – to tighten the screw
å grave i jorda – dig in the ground
å plante – to plant
å rake løvet – to rake leaves
å klippe hekken – to trim the hedge
å klippe plenen – mow lawn

Read more about Dugnad in this great BBC article: http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20180521-how-dugnad-shaped-a-nations-work-ethic
Did you take part in dugnad? What are your impressions?

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