Thursday 20 March 2014


The church after which the road I live on is named
Now if I could only pronounce it!!
After having lived in Norway for about a year and a half now (not quite, but getting there), I can quite honestly say I understand a fair bit. Not everything mind, but definitely a lot more than when I first got here. 

People have always commented on the fact that I spoke such good Norwegian. And I did, even I know that and am not afraid to say so. The thing is, a language is not just speaking. It's hearing as well. And even though I heard, I didn't understand. Since what they speak over here is not what I learnt. In fact, there are only two people (out of over 200) that have always been relatively easy to understand. Both come from the East of the country where the language spoken is a lot closer to the language I leant originally.

But on occasion, I will make mistakes. I talked about window wipers one day (I needed new ones for the old car) and one of my colleagues just erupted in laughter. When she was able to say something, she told me why she had just erupted. She was seeing two burly hunky men lying on the bonnet of the car wiping the windows. Because instead of saying vindusvisker (the thing) I said vindusvasker (the person). 

Then, the other day I was telling some colleagues about the infernal mystery light. And they kept throwing funny looks at me, until there was one who actually asked: are you really talking about lice? The Norwegian for light is lys. The y is being pronounced halfway between a u (as in demure) and e (as in see). Just try it. Make the sound for one and then move to the other and stop halfway. The Norwegian for lice is lus. The u is pronounced like the u in demure. And the problem is: I can't get enough distinction between the two. 

Now that would not normally be such a problem. Usually by the rest of the word people understand which letter I mean: a y or a u. Or an i, since it's a mixture of the i (pronounced e) and u of course (still with me, or do you need to read the whole thing again?). However. I live on a road which spells in nynorsk. Which means a y. Which I cannot pronounce properly. So, every time I have to tell people what road I live on... I am in trouble, since I can't pronounce it! Annoying to say the least. 

At least the rest is getting better. 


  1. Hari OM'
    Crikey Mara - if that's all that's wrong... I have learned several languages in my time but can not claim any kind of fluency in any - well other than my native of course... i admire you're use of English, so am sure the Norwegians are equally impressed!! Loved the story of the Irish Guide by the way! heheheheheh. YAM xx

  2. Well, when you get rid of the lice, and get the light working properly, and get those men off the front window of your car...
    Yam is right. Your English is perfect, especially your spoken English. I remember you phoning me and I didn't recognize your voice because you have an English accent. LOL
    Keep up the good work, you'll be Norsk in no time.
    Luv, K

  3. You are my heroine or is the heroine or is it heroin? I admire you for your linguistic skills. I barely speak my own language properly!

  4. and I play the translator here between the French and Germans. When they insult each other I smooth the translation and turn it into excuses. Then they both smile and peace is here again. In general people are all very nice. I thought of you when I saw our animation team for the first time. Such a hard work for a few tourists ! the hotel is only half full and mostly retired people. The 3 girls and 2 boys are all from Djerba.

  5. I think both you and they have a good, humourous attitude.

  6. Funny least you can laugh about it. Have you asked anyone to pronounce the street name for you?


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