Easter in Norway

I’m a little behind on my blogging, or rather, I have things I would like to blog about that I haven’t yet got around to. But who cares if easter was over a few weeks ago? In Norway we say that yule (christmas) lasts until easter, which I think would mean that easter should last until yule again.

Easter is ‘påske’ in Norwegian. The funny letter is pronounced like the vowel in ‘bought’ or at least if you pronounce the word like the Queen of England does. Or it’s at least a very similar sound. Whatever sound you manage to produce you’ll anyway be fine, as we have such dialectal variation in this country that it would fit into one or another. The word derives from Hebrew and has obviously followed the introduction of Christianity. Before the introduction of easter, or ‘påske’, the spring equinox was celebrated, so easter has proper roots in our culture. It’s still standing strong, despite the decreasing popularity of the church.

Cabin sunset. Delightful chatter. Today påske is ideally spent in a cabin, somewhere in the mountains, where you can ski wearing less clothes than you need while skiing in the winter. You should come home with rosy cheeks, white circles around your eyes and a white line across your temple (yes, from the sunglasses). You should eat oranges, marzipan, kvikk lunsj (a chocolate-covered biscuit), lamb, and eggs, but not combined.

I spent the beginning of easter by myself in my in-laws’ house while they borrowed my family and spent some quality time at their cabin, in the woods, with no snow, but with some sunshine. I had exams due, but worked efficiently for some days in order to push school work out of my mind completely for some days and spend some lazy days in the cabin with my loved ones.

I have no idealised pictures of us out skiing with our oranges and kvikk lunsj in tow. I did get a few freckles though, but not enough to brag about here. But just to show you how perfect it all was anyhow, I’ve added the one and only photo I took during those days in the cabin. A quiet sunset by a small lake in the woods about an hour from the coast. Easter was good this year!

Non-native English bloggers, linguistics and hiccups

Not having English as your native language can at times cause a few fun challenges and hiccups. I have a tendency to sometimes mix up homophones, two words that are written differently, but pronounced the same. Especially when writing a short and quick text (for instance a blog post) jeans become genes, plain becomes plane, and the list goes on. I easily spot them reading through the text, but I very rarely do, I hit post before I think, just like I speak before I think. You are most likely to come across a few here on the blog!

 

She didn't die in the spring, nor in the fall, but apparently fell down in the autumn

She didn’t die in the spring, nor in the fall, but apparently fell down in the autumn

A few years ago when I was rather new to blogging I wrote a post on a recipe of some sort including flour. Silly little me managed to swap flour with ‘flower’ resulting in a rather interesting recipe! I would just have smiled at this if it wasn’t for a ping back I got from a blog I had never visited where a girl from New York wrote a post on foreigners (non-native English speakers) blogging in English. My blog was mentioned, and linked to, along with several other blogs where both spelling and grammatical errors flourished. I was a bit hurt. I know my English isn’t perfect, and this blog is, among other things, a place for me to try and improve my language skills. So having someone comment on an error is something I hope I would appreciate, but to have it laughed at in a stranger’s blogpost left me a bit deflated.

but skip the adverbial suffixes...

but skip the adverbial suffixes…

Today I came across a blog where a post had the title ‘Fall / Høst / Tomber’. Chuckling already? Well, you know what fall means, and the British word would be ‘autumn’, ‘høst’ is the norwegian translation, while ‘tomber’ would be ‘to fall down’ in French. An easy mistake to make. Results in a wee chuckle for some of us, and I just had to share it: I found it very cute! However, I figured I had to let this completely unknown person know, but I didn’t want her to feel like I felt. I sent her an e-mail, feeling horrible trying to correct a stranger’s language. I felt my stomach tighten a bit (yes, that’s what linguistics consider a thrill!) and hoped I had stepped on any toes or hurt any feeling. Only a few minutes later she replied, thanking me dearly for letting her know. And for some odd reason that’s been on my mind for the rest of the day. A positive and good little lump of happy feeling nestled deep in my tummy, making me smile a little. Did I actually use my education for something good?

The History of English

These videos have been circling in some language related blogs during the past months. As my blog now seems to get a lot of hits from people searching for the history of the English language (after I posted this) I thought I’d add the link to these for your enjoyment.

There are ten videos, which could have been made into one, all lasting about one minute.

…and, you might learn something 😉

Only the fool writes his name…

Let me take you back to the castle I wrote about a few days ago. The castle has a built in church, like any other castle. But this caught my attention. It actually caught my attention to the degree where I let Son about for a few minutes unsupervised. I am not a very religious person myself, and have while growing up often found myself counting the lightbulbs or dots in the ceiling. This church has been visited by a number of individuals who have felt the same restlessness as I’ve felt so many times, and the evidence of it is still visible in the wooden planks and railings inside the church. A few initials, the first part of a first name, or a group of male names carved into the wood made me forget everything about the present.

I ran my fingers across these carvings. The dates are incredible (they may not be legit, but that doesn’t matter. I’ll praise the person who fooled me in that case and got my head spinning). The fonts, or handwritings, are wonderful. I let my fingers run across them, I studied then in detail. I took a few pictures of those which at that moment had a few rays from the sun resting on them and thus required no flash.

How many were caught carving? How were they punished? And what was the priest/minister talking about while these boys carved their names in the wood for me to find centuries later? Look closely at the window sills, window, walls, and carvings throughout the castle and there are many, many more to be found.

Venetian

Stan at Sentence First just posted a list of interesting links. One of them brought me to an article on Venetian. I was immediately fascinated by the subject, maybe it’s because of my interest in Scots, which also opens for a debate on whether it is a language or a dialect.


I have, as mentioned earlier, spent many summers in Italy. These have been spent in the area around Venice, and I have also visited the city itself multiple times. I also have friends from the area, and language has been discussed on more than one occasion. However, I have never once heard anyone mention Venetian. Neither by name, nor has anyone mentioned a dialect different to the one I have heard.

The story of a variety (always the safe word to use) that has developed independently from Italian for so many years, and still hold such a strong position as the article claims, is an astonishing story. I have noted the name of the book written by a scholar at the University of St Andrews (which the article is based on) and will try to find time for it sometime. For now I’ll just share the story with you, and hope that I might get some information for free (maybe you’ve already read the book? I f you have any knowledge of Venetian at all, please, do share!)

The Awful German Language

I am a language geek, and I’m proud of it. I know its’t not always obvious in this blog, but I am not a native English speaker, and I never proofread my posts (I’m not much of a perfectionist..). I came across a text by Mark Twain while I was in secondary school, going through my fifth year of German. The text was published as an appendix to ‘A Tramp Abroad’. I was only days away from an exam or important test and was given this text to read by a friend. And boy does Twain put words to some of the frustrations I was faced with:

“Every time I think I have got one of these four confusing “cases” where I am master of it, a seemingly insignificant preposition intrudes itself into my sentence, clothed with an awful and unsuspected power, and crumbles the ground from under me.”

Anyone who has attended any German classes in Norway know at least one group of prepositions by heart (aus, bei, mit, nach, seit, von, zu) and unfortunately for many of us, when trying to utter a sentence in German any preposition will trigger these lists. I am one of those who made it through the German classes quite well, as long as I had a dictionary nearby, and the tests were written. When trying to speak German, I stink. A sentence, or the attempt to answer a question using a full sentence, usually results in:

Ehm, ja, der, nein, das, nein, nein, die Kirche ist in (then the head races: an, auf, hinter, in, neben, unter, vor, zwischen – moving indicates accusative, no movement is dative) das, ehm, nein (ehm, the gender of Park? der Park? das Park? die Park? ‘der’ feels more natural, I’ll go for that) der, nein, scheisse (if Park is masculine and the church is in the park, it is not moving, Park must thus be in dative) der, den, dem, ja, DEM, die Kirche ist in dem Park! Nein! (fuck! ‘in’ and ‘dem’ gives ‘im’. Try again) Die kirche ist im Park!! Ja, die Kirche ist im Park!! (But by this time the poor Germans have already found the church…)

Twain deals well with the problems related to linguistic gender in German, but also quite fittingly describe the syntax (how sentences are created):

“An average sentence, in a German newspaper, is a sublime and impressive curiosity; it occupies a quarter of a column; it contains all the ten parts of speech—not in regular order, but mixed; it is built mainly of compound words constructed by the writer on the spot, and not to be found in any dictionary—six or seven words compacted into one, without joint or seam—that is, without hyphens; it treats of fourteen or fifteen different subjects, each enclosed in a parenthesis of its own, with here and there extra parentheses, making pens with pens: finally, all the parentheses and reparentheses are massed together between a couple of king-parentheses, one of which is placed in the first line of the majestic sentence and the other in the middle of the last line of it—after which comes the verb, and you find out for the first time what the man has been talking about; and after the verb—merely by way of ornament, as far as I can make out—the writer shovels in “Haben Sind Gewesen Gehabt Haben Geworden Sein,” or words to that effect, and the monument is finished.”

You can read the text in its entirety here.