Closer every day, but still a long way to go

A few days ago I got to speak with a Korean at work. However, we didn’t actually speak Korean. There were moments where I wished I could have just switched to Korean rather than us speaking potluck-Scandinavian, but his Norwegian was sooo much better than my Korean that I betrayed no knowledge of Korean and we stuck to our unique Norwegian/Swedish/Danish mix. It would have been so cool if I could have just switched and wow’ed him with my Korean skills!

The odd thing is that I never spoke this much Swedish when I actually lived in Sweden and now I speak it almost every day! Life is really unpredictable.

If some of you wonder how we can speak together in different languages, it’s because the Scandinavian languages are relatively similar. Danish and Norwegian have relatively similar spellings, but some strategic words are very different, and Norwegians “sing” more. Swedish sounds closer to Norwegian than Danish, but has a significantly different vocabulary from both Danish and Norwegian.
It often works if at least one has a fair understanding of which words are different and adjusts to the other, but other times a dialect can really throw you off and then you need to find a native or switch to English.

One day I will be able to make that switch to Korean.


2 thoughts on “Closer every day, but still a long way to go

  1. Rob Oakley

    AH! – I wish that you had at least tried to speak a bit of Korean, although I totally understand if this was a work situation, next time just end the conversation with thank and goodbye in Korean… Koreans are always so amazed when you speak Korean, even living in Korea. It is actually off-putting as mostly Koreans will laugh and say “oh you spoke Korean” then reply in English… My wife is from Busan and for my own amusement (usually when I have had a drink) I often use the Busan dialect words (satoori) to see their reaction, which ranges from mild shock, hysterical laughter or serious advice that people usually use Seoul dialect. But the worst thing is speaking simple Korean that you know is right to get laughter and replies in English… zaps my confidence, even though I know they don’t mean it! Good Luck – I’m still enjoying your Blog!!!

    1. koreanlearner Post author

      Thanks for still reading!!!
      It was a pure work related phone call and about insurance, of all things, so I didn’t dare.

      Oh no, don’t let it get to you. I’m slowly getting more confident speaking. That has taken me a long time. I’m generally writing more Korean through KakaoTalk recently, but I still have major black-outs when speaking. I think I’m improving, though.

      It’s odd what impresses people. The Danish princesses are all foreign so their Danish skills have gotten a lot of press. The crown princess (Australian) learned Danish very very quickly, the same goes for the Cantonese born princess (now divorced from the younger prince – I think she held her first speech in Danish after 3 weeks or so). In their cases it made perfect sense to be in awe. I have no idea about the younger prince’s new (French) wife. And then on the other hand you have the queen’s husband: French, has lived here for the greater part of four decades. He held a speech at some official event and the newspapers went “oh, his Danish has really improved!”. After 4 decades that should be expected! It’s bordering on being insulting to comment on fluency after such a long time.


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