believe it or not: self-satisying lingustic updates

Believe it. Today, I think I can say with confidence, was my best day yet in the Swedish Language. Sure, it still wasn’t perfect. I still had trouble saying miljöskydd and ömsesidigt and sjö and etc. But that is beside the point. Here are the cold hard facts:

1. Today I represented the EU in a mock-meeting about the sustainable development of a proposed Neutron Spallation source  (ESS) to be built in Lund. In Swedish. I was nervös out of my mind, but I made it.

2. During said meeting, I won an argument about why the development of green-energy facilities supplying power to ESS should be built on an interconnected European electricity network, rather than far away in developing countries outside of the EU. In Swedish. Of course, I didn’t actually understand completely that I what happened until an observer explained to me afterward that I had gotten the final word. But he explained to me in Swedish, so it still counts.

3. This has nothing to do with Swedish, but this morning I went all maintenance-manager on my sink and took it apart to clean it and put it back together. I spoke neither English nor Swedish to the sink, so overall it was a wash. Pun absolutely intended.

4. I had a pleasant chat with one of my classmates, who is not in my work group and wasn’t someone I knew before today, about things not having to do with the course…such as earthquakes and bike crashes and all those things I normally talk about besides Spallation sources. In Swedish.

5. In the evening I hung out with a bunch of really, really awesome people, two of whom I knew from the bike club, one being Johanna, and one being someone I met through Johanna. The rest I had never met before. We conversed on topics as widespread and academic as Harry Potter, LOTR, bikes, music, the USA as a ‘melting pot’, the Spanish language, Sweden, logarithms, dialects, and basically all those things I normally talk about besides Spallation sources or earthquakes or bike crashes. They talked about several other things amongst themselves that I either a) couldn’t hear b) didn’t understand or c) was to tired to even try. But no matter. My linguistic handcap (meaning the number of times they clarified in English) for the night could probably been counted on one hand. And then, then we played karaoke. It was beautiful.

6. I am on the road to mastering Swedish noises. America: if I come back and keep saying “mmmmmmm” (translation: go ahead, keep talking) and “aaaaa-aaaaaa” (yes) and “—-short, audible intake of air—-” (also means yes), don’t be alarmed. That just Sweden talking. aaaaaa-aaaaa. Precis. Absolut.

7. This is as silly one, but I think I am not afraid of English anymore. For the first few weeks, I was really embarrassed about speaking English. I felt as if maybe everyone would think I was dumb for not speaking Swedish, and spent many hours pretending I understood when I didn’t, a little trick that I still use every so often, like every day. Maybe this insistence on having Swedish spoken to me (and all the awkwardness I endured) is what has led me to this new level of understanding in the first place. But now since it feels more and more like I am getting the Swedish under control (this is still a very tentative statement), English seems less stupid. Maybe because people don’t really switch on me anymore, so it feels less like a scarlet letter. English is a good language, and I like it.* I shouldn’t hate on it. After all, the English language is my greatest source of power in this world (case in point: this blog, see also daily cal). I am lucky to have it as my mother tongue, even if maybe it means I’ll have to work 30 times as hard to say miljöskydd correctly. But someday I’ll get there too.


Totally random: The korridor across from  me is having a party. I have just heard, in this order: 1. Don’t stop Believing 2. Vi Gräver Guld i USA  3. Like a Prayer. 4. Don’t Stop Believing (again). Oh my God, Sweden. Really?


* Any Swedish people who might be reading this, despite these new thoughts about English, NO, you are still not allowed to speak English with me. Om ni växlar språk ska jag bara försätta på svenska. Tack : )


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