One Tounge

Language is not an issue in Norway for English speakers. Everyone speaks English to some degree or has learned just enough to help you out on the street. I’m finding that that is the case in many parts of the world. In Quebec EVERYONE speaks English even though you are required to do business and politics in French. English is becoming the universal language, which I find interesting because I’m told its not the easiest to learn.

I’m told that Norwegians are taught English starting in kindergarten and throughout the rest of their education. I can’t help but have flashbacks to my watered down Spanish classes in elementary school. I would say that most Americans could say they learned a good deal of Spanish in school (and from Dora the Explorer), enough to get them around. But I am quite impressed with how most everyone in Norway speaks English at a conversational level. In my two weeks in Norway I have only met one person who did not speak English.

Another interesting point is how musicians in Norway typically sing in English. These songs that are likely incepted, revised, and discussed in Norwegian are ultimately sung in English. The simplest answer as to why Norwegians write music in English is first, most people know the language and they can better appeal to the American music market, and second is that rock and pop songs can sound strange in Norwegian.

Regardless, Norwegians are solid in the use of their language and show no signs of switching to English as the primary language. Quebec, Canada is the only state that speaks French in the entire country and they struggle to maintain their French identity as they are completely surrounded by English speakers. The use of French in Quebec is actually a hot button issue amongst some Canadians. But here in Norway there seems to be no doubt of the strength of the Norwegian language.

The primary issue with everyone in a foreign country speaking your own language is how you are virtually cut of from learning theirs. Using Spanish as an example again, the majority of people there don’t speak English. This in turn forces you to use whatever vocabulary Dora repetitiously lodged into your brain to get around. In Norway you rarely hear anyone who isn’t a tourist speak English and most signs are in Bokmål, the common Norwegian dialect. Despite the immersion in the language I fear that without the necessity to speak it I will struggle to find the motivation to learn it myself.