A linguistic journey to the frozen north
I don’t really remember when they started popping up like mushrooms, but, like mushrooms, every time I turn around, there’s another one: note cards taped everywhere.
No, they’re not mine. I’ve given up trying to be organized and have resigned myself to being able to find things with a less than 10 minute search. They’re not the Long Suffering Husband’s either, because, in our going-on two decades together, I’ve never seen that man make a list. He’s allergic to them, and that’s why he always forgets something while he’s grocery shopping, but that’s another column.
They’re not my Little Professor’s, because his hand writing is, frankly, atrocious and instantly recognizable.
They belong to the Sassy Saint.
And they’re everywhere – on the front door, in the bedrooms, even in the bathroom. All written in an indecipherable (to me) language and all marked with “please don’t remove.”
“What is this?” I asked Sass.
“I’m trying to teach myself Norwegian.”
” … Norwegian?”
“Yes. This one – ” she pointed to the one on the outside of the bathroom door ” – says ‘where is the bathroom?’ And that one – ” she pointed at the front door ” – says ‘good-bye.'”
“You’re going to teach yourself Norwegian by plastering the entire house with notecards with Norwegian phrases?”
“Yes. I’m also listening to Norwegian metal bands. With subtitles.”
” … Norwegian metal bands?”
“Metal is popular in Norway.”
“Metal singers scream a lot. It might not be the best way to learn the pronunciation.”
“Don’t worry,” she assured me. “I’m also listening to Norwegian rap music.”
“That’s a relief. But maybe you should study a language that will be useful.”
“I might live in Norway someday.”
“That would break Momma’s heart if you moved so far away,” I said.
“I could visit. You could come with me. We could visit Hel. It’s very small, but they get a lot of tourists, especially in the winter, so people can say they’ve seen Hel frozen over.”
It seemed like a lot of money to spend to make a corny joke. “I’d love to visit Norway with you, but you might want to think about learning a language that you’d use more. What about French? Remember when you were obsessed with ‘Les Miserables’? And you wanted to be a freedom fighter? You’d be more likely to use French than Norwegian.”
“But I like Norway. And I want to learn Norwegian. I’ll learn French in high school, but they don’t teach Norwegian.”
She found a 100-year-old Norwegian grammar guide, but many of the structures are now archaic. She’s also taken to watching videos uploaded to YouTube by Norwegians, trying to pick out familiar words.
“How’s the Norwegian going?” I asked recently.
“OK. It’s hard, but I’m starting to recognize some words.”
“You know, I’d like to have a Norwegian-English dictionary.”
“Hmm. I’ll think about it.”
“My birthday’s coming up.”
… I’ll make a note of it.
(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)