Picking up a new language is like opening a window into a different world. It’s a journey filled with incredible discoveries, occasional confusion, and many a tongue-twisting moment. As we embarked on our adventure in Norway, learning the local language was a priority – but it turned out to be quite a challenge.
Our language learning journey started with the popular app, Duolingo. It was a convenient and flexible way to introduce ourselves to the basics of the Norwegian language, turning language learning into a fun, gamified experience. Yet, as anyone who’s tried to learn a language knows, it takes more than an app to truly master it.
When you think about learning Norwegian, you might assume that there’s just one language to learn. However, Norway actually has two official written languages: Bokmål and Nynorsk. While Bokmål, ‘book language’, is used by the majority, Nynorsk or ‘new Norwegian’, finds its roots in rural dialects and is still prevalent in some western and central regions.
These two languages, though having much in common, differ significantly in their vocabulary and grammar. As language learners, this meant we had to decide which language to focus on, all the while understanding that being proficient in one didn’t necessarily mean we could easily understand the other.
And then, there’s the matter of dialects. In Norway, regional dialects are a point of local pride and cultural identity, and they vary dramatically from one region to another. It’s said that you can tell where a Norwegian is from by their dialect. So even though we were diligently practicing Bokmål with Duolingo, we found ourselves bemused by the distinct pronunciations and unique words used in our local community.
Despite the challenges, learning a new language is an enriching and rewarding endeavor. It’s a gateway to deeper connections with the people around us, and a tool that fosters understanding and empathy. While we’re still very much on our language learning journey, every mispronounced word and misunderstood sentence is a step forward in this fascinating process.
We’ll continue to share our experiences as we navigate the diverse linguistic landscape of Norway. If you’re a language learner yourself, remember that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to not understand everything, and it’s certainly okay to feel overwhelmed at times. Language learning is a marathon, not a sprint. So let’s embrace the journey, one word at a time.