I’ve been waiting to show off my pocket Svenska-Amerikanska ordbok. Yes, of course there was a wide selection of Svenska-Engelska (Swedish-English) dictionaries at the bookstore. I could have chosen from any of one them. And I would have done, if I hadn’t stumbled across this little gem as I glanced down the shelf, looking mostly at price tags: my Svenska-Amerikanska (Swedish-American) dictionary.
How could I not buy it? How could I miss the chance to justify two hundred and forty years of bitter British bitching about the atrocity that is the American dialect of English? You were right, guys: whatever that garbled mess is that we speak, apparently it is not English. At least not according to the Swedes.
Oh yes, the point of this post: I have at last joined SFI! Svenska för invandrare, or Swedish for immigrants to you, is the free course of Swedish lessons offered by our beloved Socialist government (watch out, Republicans! they have nationalized healthcare and they are looking at you) and for the simple but misleading fact that I can read and write much more Swedish than I can speak or understand, I was placed midway through the course. Luckily I’m just the sort of sadistic type to like the immersion approach, so I’ll be sticking with it. But it may be worth mentioning that today in class I was feeling pretty damned good if I could follow even half of what the teacher was saying. Whenever I happened to understand something, I nodded so enthusiastically that I’ve probably given the poor teacher the false impression that I’m mycket bra at Swedish and totally “got” what she was saying. At any rate, I met a lovely fellow from Uganda, his cheeky friend from the UAE and enjoyed the first three straight hours of Swedish in my life.
They did warn me that the regular teacher comes back tomorrow and she is not half as gentle. But still…! Ah, this is what I’ve always loved. Every minute of learning a new language you feel limited and stupid and frustrated with your own inability to communicate even the simplest of ideas–but every day is full of tangible, immediate accomplishments. I learned the word mes, slang for ‘wuss’ today. (Though it just took me four attempts to spell ‘wuss’ in English.) I learned to say ‘uncertain’ and ‘dishonest’ and ‘polite.’ I can see myself growing and changing every day that I struggle. For how many arenas in life can you say the same? If only someone would just pay me to learn languages. I mean, let’s be honest, that’s basically why I love being a translator, isn’t it?
But now, since I just utterly blanked on how to write the word ‘wuss,’ I suppose it’s time to keep up on my English and Japanese, since my main chance at livelihood depends on that language pair far more than Swedish at the moment.
But a new language is always so tempting…