Hvordan sier man, “Holy Cow” på norsk? Can you believe it’s been three years since I’ve started learned Norwegian? That’s right — on May 7th, 2010, I revealed to the world (literally, the World in Words podcast) that I would begin learning norsk after wrapping up the 37 Languages project — a linguistic experiment in which I speed-dated a bunch of different tongues to find the perfect one for me.
Since then, I can honestly say that learning Norwegian has been like a relationship — in fact, the longest one I’ve ever had. When I consider the analogies, it seems to fit. I think about it constantly and there isn’t a moment where I’m not in contact with it. I’ve passed up parties and events, staying home and curling up on my bed with Norwegian lessons and on some occasions, waking up from bilingual dreams. Norwegian and I have certainly had our struggles, leading me to stray after being lured by Turkish for a brief period. But still, something has always drawn me back to its delights and its comfort.
How has my progress been since then? Right now I am at a B2 level (upper intermediate), aiming to reach for C1 (advanced) by the end of this year. I can pretty much read Norwegian without any problems and write it, despite struggling a little with prepositions and pesky grammar irregularities. And according to my friends, my speaking abilities are pretty good. However, the biggest hurdle has, from the start, been with spoken Norwegian. I’m a visual learner by default and picking up on pitches and audio idosycranicies is difficult for me. At the same time, Norwegian has a ton of dialects, which create a formidable challenege for those learning the language. In light of that, I feel like I’m very close to achieving my goals.
When I chose Norwegian three years ago, I had coincidentally booked a flight to Oslo some months before. After three years, I will be returning to Norway, albeit later this autumn. But this time will prove to be quite the contrast as I hope to use very little English while I’m there, as compared to struggling to understand words like pålegg and saying, Snakker du engelsk? with people asking me to repeat myself.
I think with language-learning, as with any passion, one must be a little bit on the crazy side. And the relationship analogies certainly paint me that way. But I have absolutely no regrets; Norwegian is quite simply one of the best things to ever happen to me.
PHOTOS: All from my first trip to Oslo, Norway in May 2010.