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Johan I. Borgos:

My website FAQ

It's real fun to have a website like this, knowing that it contains information that is very useful for people who are studying their Norwegian roots. I have a very high number of visitors (no, I want tell you how many!), and I receive far more mails than I am able to respond to. Most of the mailers have questions about this or that. At one time I calculated how long it would take to answer all the questions arriving in a week. It added up to 210 hours, or 30 hours a day. Unpaid hours. I hope you'll understand why I'm doing some of the aswering this way.

Q: Can I copy your texts and print them?

A: Everything on the Net will sooner or later be copied if someone finds it interesting. All I can ask for is this: If you print my texts in any publication, please include my name and - if it's possible - send me a copy. You'll get my adress if you send me a mail.

Q: Can I use some of your stuff at my website?

A: Well, I guess the law is on my side if I say 'no', but again - put something on the Net, and then you've more or less given it away. However, I cover many subjects at my website, and I hope that my visitors will enjoy more than the page you wish to copy. Besides that, I invest (now and then) quite much of my spare time on updating my own site, and I don't get paid for it. So the answer is: No, but I can't stop you if your conscience doesn't agree with me.

Q: Can you tell me about (or find) my Norwegian ancestors?

A: These are the most potentially time-consuming tasks I'm asked to do. And I almost never get the question: How much will it cost? I'm a full-time writer with very little time to spare and no employees, so my answer has been 'no' in almost every case (or no answer at all). However, the situation has changed a bit now. Take a look at the Strand Slekt & Data page, there may be a hope for some of you.

Q: Can you tell me everything about the Olsen family in Norway?

A: There seems to be a strong belief, at least in America, that common surname means common ancestors. If the surname in question is of the hereditary type, then this may be true. But most Norwegians carried with them across the Atlantic ocean a patronymic or a farm name as their surname, and then the situation is quite different. Two men named Ole, living a hundred years ago very far from each other, will probably have numerous descendants sharing the Olsen surname without being relatives. There are many Norwegian farms all over the country sharing the same name, and as a rule families living there will not be related. And, at large farms you'll often find many unrelated families, and many of them could take the farm name as their surname. Still confused? Then read more on my surname page.

Q: Can you tell me the origin or meaning of my (or another) name?

A: I'm a historian, not a language expert. I have a number of books covering such subjects as first names, surnames and place names, but only for use in my writings. The experts still debate the meaning of very old names, so every new edition of my books on names gives new explanations in many cases. Now and then I answer name questions, at least when it's easy for me to find a good explanation. But you have to take it for what it is: A quotation from some book.

Q: Can you translate a Norwegian text into English for me?

A: Translating old documents is a time-consuming process. There will always be some Norwegian words that have to be explained because English happens to lack words with the same meaning. My own command over the English language is rather limited, but the main reason for saying no to the question above is this: I haven't got time. However, I know some persons who speak both Norwegian and English fluently, so I can forward your wishes.

Q: Can you tell me about Norwegian culture?

A: Which Norwegian culture? In Norway today or a hundred years ago? North or south? East or west? Urban or rural? What ethnic group? What social group? My point is: Our culture is not as homogeneous as many non-Norwegians think it is, and it is changing all the time, like every other dynamic culture.

Q: Can you tell me about the fair and blue-eyed Nordic race?

A: We have quite many fair and/or blue-eyed people. Perhaps they constitute a majority, I'm not sure. You'll find more or less the same distribution in many non-Nordic countriees, I believe. 'The Nordic race' is a myth. You can talk about Nordic culture, but cultural heritage and genes has absolutely nothing to do with each other.

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