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Miles: Language

April 1, 2011
  • In my Gender Equality class, we talk about major issues. We represent ten mother tongues. We never bothered to define “Gender.”
  • At a party, a woman from Mexico and I start speaking in Spanish. I realize that I’m accidentally sticking Norwegian words into my sentences.
  • My good friend says “Well, this girl, I mean, Woman” then says “Damn, Miles, I can always tell when I’ve broken one of your language rules” joking about how I have chosen to try and refer to my peers as women, not girls.
  • I am asked to, and do, to the best of my ability, perform all the different “American” accents.

If nothing else, this semester I have learned the importance of language. Or rather, I have learned that I have yet to discover the full importance of language. As a writer, clearly I’ve always placed a certain emphasis on words and the power they hold, but here, with the added element of different languages, I’m understanding how many layers go into the simple act of using words.

I don’t really have anything concrete or informative to say. I just feel strongly that language should be paid more attention to. And I want to learn how culture influences language — for example, if one of my friends says something that I perceive, from an American background, to be incredibly offensive, am I obligated to consider whether or not it’s offensive in their culture?

I think I’ve just entered another “too much input, no way to output” mode. It’s officially April. I’m halfway done. I’m nowhere near ready to leave. I keep having to work on preparations for coming back  – job interview, searching craigslist for apartments — and while I’m glad to be prepared, I feel frustrated that the US and my life there is invading my Norway life.

This is why I am currently eating a matpakke with knekkebrød, ost, and hardkokt egg. I will be as Norwegian as possible for the next two months.

Things I have learned:

WHEN YOU EAT SWISS FONDUE, YOU DRINK TEA. Why? To prevent the inevitable cheese hangover that hurts all over, but hurts so good.

 

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