Typical Norwegian Countryside
I have the most terrible time pronouncing and differentiating between male and female names in Norway. Joe laughs at me when his phone rings and I call out the name and completely misuse my pronouns. I would hear a name and be certain it was female only to find out it was male. It turns out, I'm not the only one having trouble in the name department.
One of my friends here used to organize field trip activities with the women's group and often, she was in contact with different people through email. As we were waiting in the car outside the War Museum in Stavanger one day, she abashedly admitted that she didn't know who we were looking for. She had never encountered the name in the email before and therefore, had no idea if we should be seeking out a man or a woman.
Another friend of mine told me how her company had organized a team building trip outside of Norway in which they were asked to share rooms. A list was posted in the office and she found herself having to ask for help because wouldn't it be awkward if she accidentally signed herself up to bunk with a man?
Apparently, this is a common enough issue for foreigners as the very first exercise in one of Joe's Norsk workbooks is distinguishing the common gender of a name. While there are certainly variations that one sees for either male and female (hello, my name is Jay,) I'm curious as to how you'd do on a little quiz. Let me know in the comments which names you'd peg as male and which names you assume are female.
I'll leave the answers in the comments later on so check back and see how you did.
Other interesting notes on the topic of Norwegian names:
+The concept of a middle name (which most people outside of your family don't know) is not used here. If you see a first name and a second name, Inger Tone Bjelland, you would refer to that person as Inger Tone.
+There is a certain amount of government control when it comes to naming your baby. Apparently this is to look out for the child's wellbeing so likelihood of finding a Rainbow Pony Starchild here is quite slim. (Norway is not the only country that does this!)