Showing posts from August, 2013

I don't own the English language

A few weeks ago, my husband and I visited Olso, the capital of Norway. It's a beautiful city, set at the head of a long inlet (the Oslo fjord), surrounded by mountains. We loved our visit, as did many other tourists from all over the world.

All of the Norwegians that we met spoke English. They spoke with only a trace of an accent, using very respectable pronunciation and perfect sentence structure. When they spoke Norwegian, I could hear that their language is eerily similar to English, especially in its rhythms and tonal variations. It was like hearing English through a special filter--I felt that I just barely didn't understand it. The origins of English are half Latin, half Germanic, and Norwegian is not too far from the Anglo-Saxon dialect spoken in Merrie Olde England.

Surrounded by English, I was soothed by its familiarity. Living in Prague, I hear much more Czech, Russian, German, French, Slovak, and Italian, none of which give me the impression I am among "my peo…