Tuesday, February 25, 2014

two swedish-y things

This weekend I was twice asked, "Just how much of Swedish conversations do you understand?"

That is a very good question. Maybe I can understand up to ten percent? It is sort of hard for me to know. What their question made me realize though, is that often I am able to understand the general topic being discussed, but I am never understanding in real-time. Particularly, one Swedish friend noted that I don't participate in conversations that are in Swedish (not even with a response in English), but I do participate in English conversations. I realized the main problem is that I am usually about 30 - 60 seconds behind the conversation. It takes me about that long to think about and process what has been said. Sometimes if I am also thinking of a response, then I spend some time thinking about if I know how to say the thing in Swedish, or if I can come up with a way to say it using my limited Swedish. So you see then, by that point, the conversation has gone on, and any response I might have had is no longer relevant.

Now I will write an anecdote about an experience in my Swedish class yesterday.

We were to write a description of either a famous person, or a person sitting in the room. Then we all read them to the class and the class tried to guess the person. I am a type of person who doesn't really know famous people, and I really don't know which people are famous world-wide. There was one person I could think of that I knew most people in the class would know. So this is what I wrote (I'll translate to English here).

This person is a politician. He is tall and of average size. He has short, black and grey hair. He often wears a suit and tie. 

I had considered also giving it away totally by saying that he is the leader of the US. But I figured that since this was nearly identical to the first description of Barack Obama (except that the other person didn't mention how grey Mr. President has gone since getting into office) it wasn't necessary.

I think everyone sort of knew, but no one spoke up immediately. And then, a person took a guess. And you know what she guessed? She guessed that I had described a person in the room. Specifically, a young lady who sits near me. Nearly everyone burst out laughing, but the sad part was that she was completely serious.

Swedish word of the day: mittemot.

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