GriegScandinavian Music London

On Learning Norwegian

By December 27, 2017 No Comments

I started learning this language because I saw how close it was to Swedish, and I found the Norwegian relatively less effort. The course I had concerned an English girl called Sue who had a Norwegian boyfriend called Arne. She was not such a likeable person, and not a good thing in english/norwegian relations by a long stretch. She told Arne that his pride and joy, the Wiegeland sculpture park that he had taken her to, was boring. Also she chatted up another man on the way over to Norway on the ferry as she had a motorbike which absolved her from taking the plane with Arne. Anyway, Arnes relatives for some unknown reason seemed to really like Sue. Thank goodness! I also kind of began warming to her when, driving her motorbike down a steep hill mid sentence of exclaimimg about the view she got hit by a lorry coming in the opposite direction. Maybe she was a good egg after all if she was a landscape fancier like me. In hospital (miraculously relatively unscathed) she managed to locate Jan (the man she met on the ferry) in another ward but failed to recognise him due to the extent of his injuries. Which I thought might have hurt his feelings considering that it was her fault as he had been riding postillion. At some point afterwards she decided to work at a hotel at Bode and seemed to be going off piste with a ski instructing hotel owner. Then he got back together with someone else and Sue and Arne ended up having a wonderfully happy Swedish Christmas together discussing the grammar of writing cards. They were also promised lots of cakes. So everyone was happy. And I don’t know about you but I was certainly very happy with the entertainment value. I thought that maybe Norwegian courses were fabulous reading because their tradition of writing stories was alive and well. I had a book of Norse myths as a child which I adored and have now passed on to my daughter. Norwegian language teachers seemed to go out of the way to sustain their language learners interest. Also I was really liking the Norwegian, and feeling, yes, I would so much like to be a tourist there and see Bode, Tromso and the Hardanger fjord for myself. So, when I found Mysteriet om Nils, or the Mystery of Nils, an intermediated Norwegian course billed as “thrilling adventure story” I quickly bought it. When it arrived I was a bit worried that there was no Norwegian to English dictionary inside it, only a dictionary from medium hard Norwegian to less hard Norwegian. I could see their point, that I would be learning two words at once, but it sort of hinged on the fact that I might fail to learn anything at all. So I used google translate, and that became like an open sesame of riches of the linguistic variety. So now I was sorted I found I agreed that the story was indeed thrilling. I also appreciated the different speakers, so you could hear different accents coming across. I cant say I have found a more exciting book to read any time in the last five years. Because I was so gripped I really really wanted to squeeze the sense out of the words and because of their place in the storyline they each seemed very vivid and strangely apposite. The fact that the main character was a doll seemed to be an added bonus too. I was treated to other tidbits on the way such as a mesmerising excerpt from a book about coming to terms with ones homosexuality for a Norwegian christian, and another couple about life in the immigrant community. Really enlightening. And a chapter that included real swear words. The main character finally turned out to be the human that had created the doll, and her name was Erna. Which reminded me of Arne, and whether he was still getting on ok with flighty Sue. After all this singing Griegs songs in Norwegian felt fun and normal  even though it turned out to be in a different dialect of Norwegian than the one I had started learning. Well, I have to love all this linguistic variety that life throws at me. And and I must say I would be delighted if a second installment of the detective story was coming out soon ..

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