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Norway and our Icelandic Mercenaries/Cannonfodder!

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Cheetah, Jun 15, 2011.

  1. Cheetah

    Cheetah Deity

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    The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation yesterday revealed that the Norwegian military has been recruiting Icelanders to fight under the Norwegian flag in Afghanistan.

    In some ways it makes sense. Norwegians and Icelanders are very much the same people, and our cultures and countries are more or less the same. The language is somewhat different, but close enough that it's not hard to learn.

    In other ways, it is quite... unusual? Lots of Norwegians like to think of us as a "Peace Nation" (whatever that is - IMO), so just the fact that we're participating in Afghanistan and Libya - even for humanitarian reasons - is quite hard for some to swallow. Likewise, Iceland is a very un-military nation with no real army, navy or air force. They do have a coast guard, but otherwise rely on their allies for military protection (After the US left in 2006, Norway has taken over the job of immediate military protection of Iceland).

    The process has been going on for years, but after the financial crisis and Iceland's economic problems, the Norwegian offer of free higher education and a steady job has become very tempting.

    Norwegian officers (mostly previously recruited Icelanders) are even visiting Icelandic high schools to inform about the possibility of serving in the Norwegian forces.

    News of this recruitment has of course been surprising, both in Norway and Iceland. Several Norwegian politicians are skeptical of the practice, as are politicians in Iceland. Especially the Icelandic Department of Education is being questioned for allowing recruiters to visit high schools. A few law professors are also considering that this recruitment might in fact be illegal.

    ---------

    So that's a bit of the story. What does CFC feel about it?
     
  2. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    My name is Ernst von Mansfeld and I approved this message.
     
  3. GinandTonic

    GinandTonic Saphire w/ Schweps + Lime

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    Like the Irish in the British Army? You need to find some really unrelated nation, but Nepal is already bagsied ok.
     
  4. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    I don't see where it really stands out as unusual historically or legally. It may stand out for Norway and Iceland in their modern history. But in their modern history they haven't had large militaries. A lot of nations recruit internationally. And that's hardly a new situation.
     
  5. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Is this happening mostly because Icelandic is so close to Norwegian that the new recruits are going to easily understand what's being said by their superiors? Or a mix of that and the economic conditions in Iceland?

    How close is Norwish to Icelish anyway?
     
  6. Cheetah

    Cheetah Deity

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    Yeah, that's close to what I've been thinking. Our modern cultures really aren't military in the same way that many others are.

    It's mostly the size and visibility however. I've understood that the Icelandic Anti-Terror unit is one of the best in the world, and Norwegian Special Ops can give SAS and Navy Seals a run for their money any time. And apparently Norwegian forces have been exceptionally effective during the Libyan operation, dropping more bombs with our six F-16s than other allies with larger participating forces.

    It's just that while we might be good at it, we prefer not to think about it much. I guess...

    Both I suppose.

    Icelandic is basically how we spoke in Scandinavia a thousand years ago. But while they've been able to preserve the language quite good (they have very strict laws concerning it), we've been severely influenced by German, French and English, so that the Scandinavian languages no longer sound or reads like Icelandic.
     
  7. Babbler

    Babbler Deity

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    I don't see a problem with it.
     
  8. Junius

    Junius Prince

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    Don't know much about the Norwegian military. Is this happening because there is a lack of recruits within Norway?
     
  9. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Do you guys get any Danish recruits, then? Or is Danish not as close to Norwegian as Icelandic is?
     
  10. Cheetah

    Cheetah Deity

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    Not really. We still have conscription, and the military is so small that only about 1/6 of all men in each year has to serve. The military literally has their pick of the best of the best. Conscripts aren't sent to Afghanistan or Libya however, we have professional units for that. However, there are more than enough people signing up for those units after their conscription ends. Or at least that's that I think...

    My guess is that the military just like to expand their pool of potential recruits. Also, apparently Iceland's educational system is a bit heavier on the hard sciences, so Icelanders are good soldiers or something?

    Denmark has it's own military which is much like the Norwegian (and Swedish) military in more or less all aspects. So I don't think there are any Danish recruits here. Could be though.

    Danish (and Swedish) is way closer to modern Norwegian than Icelandic is. It's really just a strong dialect in the Scandinavian language.
     
  11. timtofly

    timtofly One Day

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    Will they be well paid?
     
  12. Cheetah

    Cheetah Deity

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    As well as their Norwegian counterparts. There's nothing special about them except that they have a different passport really.

    I don't know how much our professional soldiers are paid though. However, one of my friends did a tour in Afghanistan 5 years ago, and he got about $8,000 USD in a "sign-off bonus" (sorry, no idea how to say it in English) when he left the military.
     
  13. Mango Elephant

    Mango Elephant Deity

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    Norwegian and Danish are pretty much the closer than the two languages are to any other language. For about 400 years when Denmark ruled Norway the official language of Norway was Danish, so when the Danish left Norway kept the language Danish, made a few changes, and now it's Norwegian, even though it's pretty much just Danish with a Norwegian accent.
     
  14. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    That's pretty cool about the languages. I don't really care about the military that much, but to stay on topic.. what would happen if Norway or Iceland joined the EU and the other one didn't? Would any EU laws prevent EU soldiers from serving in non-EU countries or the other way around?
     
  15. GinandTonic

    GinandTonic Saphire w/ Schweps + Lime

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    * Considers Gurkhas and Foreign Legion *

    No.
     
  16. Leifmk

    Leifmk Deity

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    This is... not entirely accurate.

    Norwegian, Danish and Swedish are all modern-day descendants of the same Old Norse language from a thousand years ago and have been subject to many of the same influences since then; so are Icelandic and Faroese, but these have been subject to fewer influences and have remained much closer to the Old Norse. I'm going to refer to the former as the mainland languages and the latter as the island languages.

    Old Norse had a bunch of dialects and so do the modern languages. There was already something of a division between East Norse dialects (predominant in Denmark, most of Sweden and eastern bits of Norway) and West Norse ones (predominant in western bits of Norway and a few bits of Sweden as well as in the North Atlantic island colonies).

    For historical and political reasons, each kingdom has wound up with its own official standard for orthography and grammar, mostly organically evolved from however people have spoken near the capital area of each kingdom. This is definitely a clear case of the old proverb "a language is just a dialect with its own flag and army". Norwegian is something of an exception in that it has two competing standards, where one is a further "Norwegian-ized" development of the old Danish one (handed down as you say from when we were in union) and the other is based on a deliberate synthesis of a selection of Norwegian dialects (to some extent chosen in order to be "particularly Norwegian", which means it has more bits of Old West Norse in it than the other versions of the mainland languages). It is important to understand that no native Norwegian actually speaks according to either of these standards except when reading a text out loud; everyone speaks some dialect or other.

    To this day, written Danish just looks like Norwegian with some old-fashioned spelling and a few too many commas. On the other hand, nobody understands spoken Danish anymore, not even the Danes themselves, as may be seen in this documentary:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-mOy8VUEBk

    More seriously, all three mainland languages remain mutually intelligible, although some dialects are easier to get than others. As a native speaker of Norwegian, there are a few Norwegian dialects I find harder to follow than "mainstream" Swedish, or even Danish (when it's not slurred too badly). Also there is considerable continuity of dialects across borders; the way some Norwegians in a given area close to the Swedish border speak will often be pretty similar to how the Swedes just across from them sound.

    Meanwhile, the island languages are not intelligible for a mainlander (although pretty easy to learn). When trying to read a text written in Icelandic or Faroese, one can usually puzzle out just enough of the content to achieve a pretty high state of confusion. When listening to someone speaking either of these languages, it sounds just like some kind of western Norwegian dialect until you try to pay attention to what they're saying, and find you only get about one-third of the words and half the grammar. Icelanders and Faroese at least used to have some compulsory Danish education in schools, and the usual observed result of one of those guys trying to speak Danish is a pretty close approximation of Norwegian.
     
  17. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

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    Jutland much... Christ that's a horrible dialect.
     
  18. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    It's Denmark. Everything about it is horrible.
     
  19. BvBPL

    BvBPL Pour Decision Maker

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    Look out for van Owen, Roland!
     
  20. oagersnap

    oagersnap Emperor

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    You Norwegians just love posting that, don't you? I know what it is without even clicking the link.

    But seriously, precisely the same argument could be made (and has been made) from the opposite viewpoint.

    By the way, they still have compulsory Danish in Icelandic and Faroese schools... So I guess it would make more sense if the Icelanders joined the Danish army?
     

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