Notes on 1.5-lingualisim, and Dramas

I am living in a grey area. Don’t worry, it’s not a moral one. At least not at the moment anyway. It’s the grey area where other people don’t know how much you understand them. When they think you don’t understand them but you do, things can get awkward fast. When they think you understand them but you don’t, you just try to keep ’em believing without looking like a fool.

I am in this weird place in my level of understanding where when people talk to me, I understand what they are saying, but I don’t remember the specific words they used. It used to be in my head så här: Noise–>Swedish–>English–>Meaning. Now it seems to be something more along the lines of Noise–>Meaning. Don’t get me wrong, understanding is nothing short of a rapturous feeling. But for some reason I am still left unfortunately helpless when it comes to speaking, as usually omvänd procesen funke inte…the reverse process doesn’t work (see!). Meaning–>Noise, ok, I can do that. But it’s the Noise–>Language step that’s tripping me up, even in English sometimes (gasp!). Lectures in Swedish don’t really scare me as much as they used too, but discussion section, hoo boy. Yea you heard me, discussions på svenska. I’ve started in on Johanna’s class, sustainable development in Perspectives, and yes, that is a whole ‘nother post, so I’ll leave it at that for the time being.

The Spex has been keeping me busy, as it is now performance week, and I have been spending every night in sköna AF Borgen (vårat gamla hem!) running the light board (hence the lag of blog posts). The Spex has also been an absolutely amazing, fun, and trying experience. It is strange for me to accept the fact that there are people I know who I have never, never, spoken English with, and who have become my friends and my co-workers throughout this entire fantastically nonsensical experience. I plan to write all about the Spex in detail after this whole thing is over, but for the time being (just to put at ease my adoring public, namely my former roommate-you know who you are- who checks my blog officially more than my own mother) I present you with short dramatizations on my 1.5-lingualism and the life of a Spexare (spex-er).

1AM, after 20 hours of working on the Spex during helvetesöndag (the sunday from hell, were we work all day), I stand drinking tea and coffee with a fellow techie.

Fellow techie: (something in Swedish)

Me: (something in Swedish)

F.T.: (something in really fast, really sloppy, tired-person Swedish)

Me: mmmm…mmmm…jaaaaaaaa (I didn’t quite understand you but I’m too tired ask you to repeat yourself)

F.T.: smiles and nods (I realize you didn’t understand me right there, but I’m too tired to repeat myself)

Me: (Good, then we are in agreement. Let’s drink more tea.)

Before the First performace:

Fellow Techie 2: Är du laddad?!? (Are you charged up)

Me: (I know what he means, but I can think only of electrons, unfortuntely) JAAAAAAAA!

—High five!—-

12 Midnight, at Spex dinner, after the premiere (yay!)

Spexare1: Hola! (in the casual way that people often greet each other in another language for fun)

Spexare2: Hola!

Me: (Oh my, spanish, heck yes! Now, I’ll show ’em who’s the bilingual, internationally-savvy one!) Hola! Hablan uds. espanol? Podemos halbar espanol…under hela sittningen! Es más lättare för mig att halbar espanol que Svenska! Es un språk tan bonito!

Spx1 &Spx2: ??????? (clearly, they don’t speak Spanish…)

Spx2: Var kommer du från, nånstans? (where are you from?)

Me: Aaaa. Californien. California, en los EEUU. Dónde många manniskor prata spanska!

Spx1: (in english, very slowly) WHICH LANGUAGE DO YOU WANT US TO SPEAK WITH YOU ?

Me: hehe…svenska…eller spanska si quisieras, gracias! eller, tack, menar jag……Just not English….Dang.

–We took the rest of the night in Swedish–



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5 Responses to “Notes on 1.5-lingualisim, and Dramas”

  1. Dorian Wacquez Says:

    I know what you mean about the noise->meaning thing. I get this a lot of times when I first dip myself into a language. The more you know a language, the harder it is to keep it just as background noise: you find yourself catching bits and pieces here and there, your comprehension increases, and you catch yourself playing little language games (I wrote about this on my site a bit when I wrote about me and my polyglot girlfriend) We go through these same games and challenge eachother when we hear a foreign language being spoken around us.

    Keep up the language learning!

    • tornspira Says:

      Thanks for the encouragement! You know what else is a fun game? Try to listen to your mother tongue, but disassociate the words from meaning, so that you can just hear what it sounds like. It is a really strange effect, and usually I can only get it to last for a few seconds before I fall back into understanding. Oh, and like your site, too! Interesting posts!

  2. Sabrina L Says:

    ah ha – now you can understand the language mix up in my head in Paris a few years back! 🙂 glad you are feeling better – enjoy the vignettes! u r having fun – good to see Johanna & Annika hi to them! more pics of you too! 🙂 lvu

  3. Linnea Says:

    Ha! I loved this. Cracked me up.

    “Really fast, really sloppy, tired-person Swedish” is the worst.

    And the hybrid Spanish/Swedish has got to be the most useless thing EVER. Unfortunately, my brain reverts to Spanish whenever it can’t find the right Swedish word.

    Occasionally, I still catch myself saying, “Kan du talar en espanol?”

  4. Le lingua franca « the daily saga Says:

    […] quite actually, relieved. I’ve only been self learning French for two weeks after all. So it begins, […]

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