Fresh air does not smell of fragrance

Frisk luft lukter ikke av parfyme.

Living abroad 2

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Something that is very common when have to speak a different language all the time is that you in your head think in your own language. Then when you translate and say it in the language where you live, it might come out wrong. This is because the way of saying things in your own language may be different from the way it is said in the other language. This happens even though you actually know how to say it. And why? Because you are used to say it the way you say it in you own native language since you learned how to speak. The power of habit is strong. Sometimes it make oneself look like a fool, saying the wrong things because it comes out wrong. Like in Swedish and Norwegian, some ways of saying something in Swedish might be a positive way of saying something, but if you say it in the Swedish way talking Norwegian it is heard by the Norwegians like something negative. An example is the expression “Det var värst!” in Swedish. In Swedish this is a positive expression meaning something is really good. If you say this in Norwegian (“Det er verst”) it means that something is really bad. The right way to say it in Norwegian is “Det er ikke verst!” (That is not bad) Another word that means the opposite is the word “rar”. In Swedish it means being sweet, nice and loving, while in Norwegian it means being strange. Imagine the look on a Norwegians face if you forget yourself and say it in Swedish! And then we have the Swedish word tös that means girl. But in Norwegian the word tøs means an easy girl. I actually made the mistake one time and called a friends daughter tøs meaning girl like in Swedish, and the mother got really offended and upset. And there are many words and ways of saying things that is like this. Also Swedes are a bit more direct than most Norwegians I have experienced. Swedes tend to say things right on, while Norwegians are a bit more hold back.

Sometimes when I am really tired or really upset over something I get forgetful speaking the foreign language. That is because I lose focus on the language and my energy is unwillingly focused one other things. When this happens I am more likely to say something in the Swedish way, talking Norwegian, or even use Swedish words instead of Norwegian because I get unfocused. When calm and refreshed one can put 100% in focusing getting it right, but when tired or upset you get disturbed and make mistakes. And if it gets really bad I do not even try to speak Norwegian, I kind of give in to being tired or upset. Batteries out of order. ;)

Some people I have known for a long time have never heard me speak Swedish at all. And I do not talk the local variant of Norwegian here. I speak bokmål and here it is more common to talk a blend of bokmål and nynorsk, plus some local expressions. But I have only school Norwegian even though I try to pick up some words all the time from the locals. And some of those who have never heard me speak Swedish and hear me speak Norwegian bokmål believes I speak Swedish. It is like they hear what they want to hear. For a long time ago I got to hear that a bit to often. My feelings got hurt. Here I try my best to talk Norwegian even though it is not in the local tung, and they complaint because of it. Like the only way to speak Norwegian is the way they speak it here? How stupid is that? When one travel through Norway there are many different local ways. It is not that I can not speak Norwegian. I am actually rather good at it, even though I am mostly self learned and got only a few months of schooling in the Norwegian language. I actually speak Norwegian bokmål fluently. Others I have talked to think I am actually a born and bred Norwegian (!), just not from the area I live in. Many people I have talked to believe I maybe am from the North of Norway, or somewhere from the South of Norway (and I am Swedish LOL). Imagine. :) When I get to hear that I feel really proud. :)

Many would say that it does not matter. Why do you not speak Swedish all the time? The languages are so much a like! Well, it is because I want to blend in. And it is because a lot of ways of saying things in Swedish means something different or even negative in Norwegian, and I do not want to be nasty to anyone. Also I think it is about respect to learn to speak the language where you live. Being able to express yourself and talk to others in their own language.

Do you have any experiences in this? Tell me your story. I love to hear it! :)

(more postings like this)

Author: Annelie

I like canoeing, photographing, friends, movies, food, humor, and going on trips. I dislike rudeness, dishonesty, violence, nastyness, and people not caring for others. I do not drink much, I do not smoke and I do not do drugs. I love friends who are kind to me and stick with me. If you want to give me a gift, the best gift is to stop smoking and stop using fragranced products. Then you give me health and that dear friend, is the best gift a person can get. It is a gift of love. I got asthma and I am hearing disabled.

One thought on “Living abroad 2

  1. Pingback: Living abroad | Annelie on asthma, humor, and the world.

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