The language thing is one of the top points of confusion when you tell people you’re moving to Norway. The questions come in something like the following order:

  1. What is their language called?
  2. Is Norwegian a language?
  3. Do they speak English at all?
  4. Do they speak English at home?

And from my brother-in-law, the classic statement, “Um, Norwegian is English.”

Norwegians think in Norwegian. They dream in Norwegian. They play cards in Norwegian. They speak Norwegian at home, and yes, Norwegian is a real language.

I started learning Norwegian sometime last summer, maybe August or so. It is the cutest language, and definitely changed my perspective on how languages work. As many of you know, I teach Latin, the foundational language for the Romance languages Spanish, French, Romanian, and Italian. Naturally, Latin also creeps into that linguistic mutt, English. Advanced English vocabulary is often rooted in Latin. It has been really interesting to get into a Scandinavian language and analyze the different impacts of the various language families upon English.

And now, like my shameless sales pitch for Freia’s Melkesjokolade, I will now shamelessly pitch Duolingo.

It’s not as if the USA offers Norwegian at the secondary level, and I would imagine almost never at the collegiate level. Maybe somewhere in Minnesota or something, but certainly not as a standard. So, where do you go to learn Norwegian? My sweet friend recommended Duolingo to me, which somehow I had never heard of, and off I went. 118 modules later, I can get by if you speak Norwegian to me really slowly and use vocabulary I’m familiar with (Duolingo introduced me to over 3,000 new vocabulary words). I can also form my own sentences, as long as the vocabulary is available in my brain.

Duolingo also has a sense of humor:

I never understood what it meant to “run out of English” like my Croatian/Swiss friend. Well, now that I regularly run out of Norwegian, I feel the pain!

 

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