In Norway they say that everyone speaks English – (‘they‘ are the Norwegians). But it’s a myth. Firstly, even though people can speak English, it is another thing for them to want to speak English. The further north you go the less English is used, spoken or appreciated. Secondly, most Norwegians know all the ‘touristy’ stuff to say (they have learnt it in school for the past 10 years) but when it comes down to real conversation that good old language barrier buts in.
I speak fluent Aussie – a simple language with the motto ‘the shorter the better’ but I never realised how complicatedly Aussies speak. It’s not what we say – (I always try to speak ‘proper English’ and avoid slang as much as possible when speaking to a Norwegian) – but how we say it, our sentence structure and word choices, that stops Norwegians in their tracks. A simple ‘which day is your slowest’ when trying to book in a hair appointment can be answered by an open-mouthed silence. Simplify, simplify… ‘Ok, what time do you have available?’ Still the open-mouth effect. Think simple… ‘When can I book in?’ Open-mouth. As the hairdressers where always busy I was trying to find a low time where I could bring my four-wheel drive pram in with my adventurous Mini-Me, but trying to find out a good time was harder than I thought. The girl was 20, trendy and obviously into American pop culture but she still couldn’t understand me. Luckily I had my trusty old personal translator with me (I knew my Hubby would come in handy).
So, long story short, I got my first Norwegian hair cut today. It is Norwegian not because I’m in Norway or that the girl is Norwegian – it is Norwegian because practically every other Norwegian (girl or guy) has the same style. I showed pictures and I used a translator but I still didn’t get my signature ‘Aussie style’. I said to Moose ‘Why couldn’t she just do what I asked? I didn’t want tapered – I wanted bulk, a sharp concave edge and messy at the back so I can scrunch dry’. You know what he said? Those words don’t translate in Norwegian!
Hmmm – me thinks this lost in translation story was not an English-Norwegian thing, but a Venus-Mars thing.