Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Language trouble...

Norwegian, Danish and Swedish are so closely linked that we can all just speak our own language to each other and still understand each other. Of course it depends a bit on dialects (Norwegian, especially, changes A LOT throughout the country) and accents but if we all focus and listen then it's usually okay.

A lot of Swedes come over to Norway to work, the Norwegian Krone is stronger than the Swedish Krona. Most of the Swedes in Norway is in Oslo and so if you visit Oslo you will hear a lot of Swedish as well as Norwegian. There are actually a lot of Swedes at my work.

Which is where my problem lies....

I can of course understand some Swedish, there were some Swedish tv-series and movies that I used to watch when I was younger but they had Norwegian subtitles as well, but my Swedish isn't very good. There are two Swedes that I work closely with at work, and occasionally I struggle to understand them. Maybe it's because there aren't any Swedish people in Vestnes where I'm from, and so I'm not really that used to hearing Swedish around me. I feel really guilty about it though. Whenever I have to ask them to repeat what they're saying multiple times just because I have no idea what a Swedish word that they used in that sentence means I feel really bad. I feel like I should be able to understand them better.

Maybe you're thinking "Why don't they start speaking Norwegian if they live in Norway?". It would probably be easy for them to do so since the languages are so closely linked, and some of them DO change some of their words to the Norwegian ones (the ones that are REALLY different from  Norwegian), but then at the same time there isn't any point for them to change to Norwegian since we're meant to understand them anyway. Would a Norwegian living in Sweden start speaking Swedish? I think a lot of Norwegians would answer no to that. If I moved to Sweden I probably would start speaking Swedish, or maybe just speak "half and half", just change some of the words to Swedish, I don't know, I don't have any plans about moving to Sweden and it's not something I can know for sure unless it happens.

One of the first questions you ask or get asked when you're travelling is "Where are you from?". When I was travelling and I met someone from Sweden (lots of them in Australia!) they would instantly start talking Swedish, and I would speak Norwegian. Part of me wished they would have just stuck to English.

It's kind of easier when the languages are really different, you don't have to worry about all this. I can't mix and match with English, well, not when I'm speaking to someone that doesn't know Norwegian anyway.

Danish is even worse than Swedish. It's a lot worse to understand. It sounds really strange! I'm not saying that to be mean or anything, but if I listen to someone speak in Hindi or Chinese I expect it to sound strange to me because I can't understand a single word anyway, but Danish shouldn't sound THAT strange! I feel really bad about not always understanding that as well. I struggle a lot more with that than with Swedish but luckily I don't have to listen to it as much. I want to go to Denmark but I think that if and when I do I will just take the easy way out and speak English to them. If they find out I'm Norwegian they will start talking Danish to me and I would probably have to ask them to repeat themselves 50 times.

Being realistic though I really should just stick to Norwegian, Swedish and Danish. I can't get any better at understanding it unless I try. After working with Swedish people for over a month now I can already tell I'm getting slightly better at understanding Swedish quicker.

If any Swedes or Danes reads this I would love to hear your thought about Norwegian!! Or just your thoughts about my thoughts. I would also love anybody else's thoughts of course!

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