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GENERATIONS: Art Lee: Scandinavians never repeat gossip. . . so listen carefully

Most public school teachers operate on the premise that there is no such thing as a dumb question, just dumb answers.

This assertion is challenged, however, by actual questions asked by American tourists visiting Norway. A few of these questions appear below as first reported by the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet (daily newspaper); the questions were also printed later in the VIKING magazine, a current publication in the U.S. aimed at readers interested in Norway and Norwegian-America.

• "Is it true that Norwegian women stay pregnant for 12 months so that their children can stand the cold better?"

• "When do the fjords close?"

• "Are the trolls still around? Are they nice or are they mean?"

• "When is troll-hunting season?"

• "Are the sculptures made from real human bones?" (Tourist question asked in the Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo.)

• "Do the Vikings live on Reservations now?"

• Tourist commentary at Ulsten Kloster, a monastery built in the 1200's: "Look at these walls! They're just like Disneyland!"

• Tourist observation in store after seeing a stuffed toy seal for sale: "They even kill the little ones! Isn't that just awful!"

• Tourist pointing to a wooden troll figure representing the early migratory Sami people: "Were they really Finn-landers?"

Art Lee is a professor emeritus of history at Bemidji State University.