After struggling (still struggling) with the fact that I am now a housewife, a spell of believing I would find a career in the entertainment business as a choreographer (this mainly involved making up dance routines in my kitchen) and saying roof to people instead of thank you for the past six months. I decided I needed to do something more productive with my time so I enrolled on a Norwegian language course.
It has been four weeks and this is what I have learned to date:
- My accent is not made to speak anything other than brummie.
- I am the only person who is unable to say ‘English’ in Norwegian. (This is a tad embarrassing as I am also the only English person)
- I have no idea how old I am.
- The Norwegian language needs to be reevaluated.
The first week was a bit of a shock to my system. My arrogant English self really believed that I would be taught Norwegian in English, this wasn’t the case. The lessons are completely taught in Norwegian, which means at least 60% of what is being said to me is lost in translation. I then had the embarrassing problem of being the only person not to master the art of saying ‘Engelsk’ (English). This is how most of my first day went:
‘Jeg snakker engelsk’. I said quietly to the class.
‘Nei, kan du si engelsk?’
‘Engelsk’ I repeated.
I think you get the picture. This went on for what felt like forever until the tutor realised I was completely incapable of saying it.
Just before this though I was asked to come to the front of the class, introduce myself and write my name, age and where I’m from on the board. So with my heart racing and face bright red I walked up and said, ‘Jeg heter Emma’, wrote on the board and quickly walked back to my desk and sat down. As I could feel my face resuming back to a more human colour, I looked at what I had wrote:
Emma, 38, England
For those of you that know me will know I am not 38, I am in fact 34. So why I felt the need to add four years onto my age is beyond me. As I sat there I started to panic. What if they ask for my date of birth? Do I lie and give them a false one as not to look stupid? Or do I come clean and tell the class I momentarily forgot how old I was? Nope, I had a better idea. I decided that the way to go would be to reduce my age by one year every time I was asked. Looking back now the simple thing would have been to jump straight to 34, but my brain didn’t come up with this little gem of intellect at the time. So, for the first day I had to stay 38. This was because it was written in big white chalk under my name. Thankfully on the second day this had been rubbed out so I proceeded with gradually reducing my age until I got to age 34. To my surprise no one picked me up on this but there did seem to be quite a few puzzled faces. But thankfully I am 34 again.
Being on this course has made me realise how simple my own language is. I don’t role my rrrrrrrrr’s or make a funny throat clearing noises at the end of words, my sentences don’t go up then down then up again and I certainly don’t feel the need to hold my nose to get the right sound when saying numbers 13 – 19. Which brings me to the subject of why I believe the Norwegian language could be made so much simpler.
- If you have to hold your nose when teaching how the numbers 13 -19 are said I think its a pretty good indicator that maybe Norwegian people have been saying them incorrectly. For instance, 18 is spelt ‘atten’ – just pronounce the e, it makes it so much easier.
- If you’re not going to pronounce a letter, then why is it there? e.g. ‘gjenta’, not only is the g silent but further confusion comes when the J is said as though it were a Y.
- Other words that confuse the shit out of me: Brød is said as brur, og as oo, jeg as yay, under as unner, gjør as your and so on.
- But the hardest thing for me to remember is the pronunciation of the three extra letters in the alphabet Æ, Ø & Å. Why oh why are these even needed?!
But of course I am only moaning about any of this because my plain, slow english voice prohibits me from saying anything Norwegian without sounding like a brummie Del Boy.