A guide to proper use of ‘Uff Da’

A guide to proper use of 'Uff Da'
One of the things I'm proud of is that I was a charter member of our local chapter of the Sons of Norway.

How about that? A Polander in the midst of those lutefisk-eaters!

I got there by marrying Phyllis Gunderson, an admitted Norwegian, and that qualifies me to write this column about the traditional ethnic expression, Uff Da.


No self-respecting dictionary that I know of will try to define it, but Uff Da in Middle America is about as common as the ungrammatical "I seen it," which all good Norwegians use.

Uff Da is the same as Charlie Brown's "Good grief!" It is the universal favorite of people who don't know what to say.

Here are some samples of when to use Uff Da which I pilfered from someplace or other:

Uff Da: trying to dance a polka to rock-and-roll music.

Uff Da: losing your gum in the chicken coop and thinking you found it three times.

Uff Da: arriving late at a lutefisk supper and getting served minced ham instead.

Uff Da: noticing non-Norwegians at a church using lefse for a napkin.

Uff Da: watching what dogs do to lutefisk stacked up in front of the butcher shop.

Uff Da: getting a runny nose when you eat hot soup.

Uff Da: discovering I had a rag for a gas cap.

Uff Da: looking in the rear view mirror and seeing flashing red lights.

Uff Da: noticing that I had a toothpick in my mouth when my wedding pictures were taken.

Uff Da: looking in the mirror and wish I hadn't.

Uff Da: means starting with nothing and have most of it left.

I've also got a phoney application for a Lutefisk Inspector from the Department of Consumer Affairs in Pierre addressed to Ole, Knut and Torvald.

It asked for the following: Spell lutefisk in the blank provided. Work experience including dead fish identifier, with number of years experience.

In keeping with the theme of the document, there are blanks calling for: need more fingers, need more toes, need both!

Under the heading of equipment Qualified to Operate were flush toilet, pencil, South Dakota lottery machine and snoose can.

There was a blank for filling out a claim of previous experience in consumption of lutefisk, too. It included space for the date and name of the hospital at which you were treated!

Then, in your own words (at least three in one language) tell why you want this position. Foreign language proficiency was given as English, Norski, and Ya Sure. Uff Da was not even mentioned!

© 2006 Robert F. Karolevitz

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