Meet the Monster Posted by Bjørn A. Bojesen on Oct 31, 2015 in Language
Monsteret er løs! (The monster is ”loose”!) Right now, it is doing everything it can to prevent you from learning norsk! Men fortvil ikke… (But don’t despair…) There is a way to get through Halloween alive… First of all, you must kjenne din fiende (know your enemy)!
Of course, the Norwegian night is full of demons… Pronunciation, Word Order and Strong Verbs are just some of the beasts that are vying to make you run away screaming!
However, monsteret over alle monstere for Norwegian-learners has to be … Variety! Just consider the following examples:
• You want to tell somebody about your favourite book. But should it be min bok, boken min or boka mi?
• You and your friends want to order seven drinks. Should you ask for sju or syv, or just give up and order åtte?
• You want to tell someone you like them. But how should you introduce yourself without sounding like a wannabe native: jeg, je, i, eg, æ…?
As language learners, we want quick fixes. We want 1 spelling for neither … nor. Then our dictionary tells us that it can be either verken … eller or hverken … eller. Both are correct, and we want to bang our head into the nearest wall! 🙂
But here is the thing… Learn one word at a time, and use it! Pick the easy solutions – you are not going to sound like a Native from day 1 anyway! For example, if you find it difficult remembering which words are feminine, stick to masculine forms (boken and solen or boka and sola). Noone is going to hate you; people tend to be very understanding and helpful towards language learners.
If you are living in a Norwegian town and are planning to stay for a long time, talk to the people around you, learn their dialect! 🙂 Otherwise, just stick to the words and forms of the written language – which is often bokmål Norwegian (as in this blog).
Unlike dialect speakers of countries like England or Germany, Norwegians rarely switch to a ”standard language” when talking with people from elsewhere. So, if you’re hanging out with a group of Norwegians and finding yourself misunderstood (maybe you got the pronunciation wrong?), you may be met with many different ”whats”: Hva (sier du), Kæ (seie du), Ka (du sei)?
English-speakers from Scotland and California don’t use exactly the same words or pronunciaton, but they can still communicate. If possible, spend some time in Norway, listen to Norwegian radio stations. In a while, all the ”gibberish” will make sense… Remember, you don’t have to speak 5 different dialects yourself – just to get the gist of what folk sier (people are saying).
• pick your favo(u)rites
• keep it simple
• accept that Variety is there to stay
Now, go ahead and meet that monster. Are you ready? 🙂
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