Turns out I don’t speak Norwegian. A drunken revelation.
All of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, have very similar languages. Very Germanic. The Norwegian language is very similar to the Swedish language. Pretty easy to read if you speak Swedish, less easy to understand. Danish is the same. Although Danish sounds like someone speaking Swedish with marbles in their mouth. It’s not attractive. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. I’m not.
All of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, have very similar languages. Very Germanic.
In a sober state, I can usually understand Norwegian well enough to have a conversation with them. I miss words here and there but get the gist and am able to respond in a halfway intelligent manner. Which tends to be what I strive for in everyday life. Halfway intelligent.
In Danish I can pretend. Nod and smile. Concentrate real hard and hope that I guess right with my response. It’s frustrating, and I completely blame not being a real native speaker of Swedish for this.
But the other night I was heading home from a party with a few other party goers. When one of them turned to me and began to speak Norwegian. I knew it was Norwegian because, despite it being 3 in the morning, and having had a beer, or two maybe, I could recognize the language. This, however, did not help me in distinguishing individual words and making sense of them. So, in Swedish, I apologized and explained that I was in fact an American and had a hell of a time understanding Norwegian. At which point the girl switched immediately to Swedish. Which first made me jealous, and then confused me. I suppose enough Swedes actually understand Norwegian, but it just seemed strange that a person, despite knowing the language, wouldn’t speak it.
Anyway, after my jealousy and confusion passed, her boyfriend joined the conversation. In Norwegian. At which point he was admonished for not even trying to speak Swedish by his loving girlfriend. In Norwegian. Somehow, I was able to understand that. Or maybe she was really speaking Swedish and in those early morning hours I just couldn’t figure out what language was being spoken; I just knew I understood it.
Either way, I learned a valuable lesson. While some people gain confidence and language skills with a little booze. Or at least they claim to. I don’t. In fact, I just end up a bumbling mess of confused languages.
Welcome to Sweden. Where an understanding of Norwegian is not required, but preferred.