You drive your gorgeous rental Tesla out along the exit from Gardermoen airport, clear signs directing you towards Oslo or other exciting points in the Østfold. A sign looms up* with a friendly message in English:
Goodbye and Welcome Back!
You do a double-take – have you found yourself on a road heading back into the airport? How did they know you’d get lost so quickly? And are they always this friendly?
Closer inspection of the Norwegian sign above it reveals:
Ha en Fin Dag. Velkommen tilbake!
Directly translated – Have a good day and welcome back.
Velkommen tilbake: this is a charming expression – a wish that after a wonderful experience here you will choose to come back sometime, and that when you do come back you will receive a warm welcome. From whoever put up that sign.
But, my Norwegian readers, in this situation it does not translate as Welcome Back. That’s what you say when you actually arrive again, not when you’re leaving!
I’ll suggest some alternatives for this kind of scenario (leaving a place, finishing a website transaction, saying goodnight to the very last customer in the bar):
Come back soon! Come again!
Have a good trip!
Hope to see you again!
Thanks for coming/shopping/just being here!
Or just the Goodbye is enough on its own
And here is a more correct use, where you will indeed be welcomed back in the spring to this tower on the Oslo waterfront for an amazing view.
(Actually, it would sound better as “See you in the Spring”. Springtime sounds a bit Cole Porter-ish.)
Velkommen = Welcome (that’s fine and dandy, it’s said when someone arrives)
Velkommen tilbake = See you again sometime, we really did enjoy having you even if we didn’t communicate it so well at the time.
* Disclaimer – it’s been a while since I’ve driven from the airport, and wouldn’t usually stop to photograph signs, so this particular sign might not be there, or worded differently. It’s an illustration of a scenario. And come to think of it, can you actually rent a Tesla?
About Wash your Language
I’d love to help you polish your English! I offer web copywriting and editing as well as translation from Norwegian to English and from Italian to English. Read more.