Yelling “beer” in a kafé

Man, yesterday was a weird day.

Norwegian language was pretty normal up until the last hour of class. At that point, our teacher told us we were going to talk to random Norwegian people so we needed to write down sixteen questions to ask them.

She’s kidding, right? Yeah, she must be, because that’s just awkward.

We worked in pairs to come up with sixteen questions, then our teacher looked over our questions and made some corrections to them. She then said, “Okay, you have a half hour to go ask people these questions.”

Some people in my class continued to deny it at that point, thinking that she was joking. I accepted this from the beginning since I actually kind of liked the idea, mostly because I thought it would be hilarious. Really, what’s not funny about having to ask seriously random questions (our questions ranged from “What’s your name?” to “What kind of cheese do you like?”) to people you don’t know? So awkward!

And yes, it was extremely awkward. We would always go up to people and ask, “Are you Norwegian?” The normal response to this question was a very confused look followed by a hesitant, “Yes…” We then explained our (awkward) situation and asked if we could ask them some questions. Everybody was very nice and answered our questions, though they undoubtedly thought we were crazy.

My favorite conversations were the ones where the Norwegians we were talking to thought we knew more Norwegian than we actually know. They would go on and on about something and we would just sit there, having absolutely no idea what they were talking about. My friend Anne asked the questions and I would write down their answers (since we had to write everything up later), and after these long exchanges, she would turn to me and ask, “You got that, right?’

Me: “Yep!”

No, I didn’t. I would generally just catch one word in their long answer that I knew and would write down that one word.

For example, we asked one girl what she was studying and she replied with this long, complicated answer, none of which I understood. Both of us just looked stunned so she told us in English, and it was something like religious studies. Okay, cool, religious studies! …what is that in Norwegian? Yeah, no idea.

It was also funny because one of our questions was, “What is your name?” Of course almost everybody we talked to had Norwegian names, like Tsenia and Øystein. Of course they would say it and my response would be, “Huh?” They would repeat it and it still sounded like they were speaking Martian to me. For the first couple conversations I would have them spell their names for me, but I eventually gave that up since I was never sure if they were spelling in English or Norwegian… which is a problem when the Norwegian “i” sounds like a long “e” sound in English, for example.

Awkward conversations that I didn’t understand for the most part? Yes. Hilarious? Oh, absolutely. It was a lot of fun too, just because the Norwegians we talked to were so confused about why we were doing this.

Weird day only got weirder after Norwegian language.

In the afternoon I met my Norwegian friend, Eugene, in a kafé near the library so that she could help me with my Norwegian. We practiced dictations for a while since I struggle a lot with them. I then had her help me with pronunciation (which she thought was hilarious).

First word we worked on for an endless amount of time: “Øl.”

As I’ve mentioned before, I struggle considerably with the “ø,” so pronouncing “øl” correctly has been impossible for me. Eugene would say the word then I would repeat after her, saying it until I said it correctly. Or at least better than before. We went on and on with this forever, and we were getting kind of loud.

By the way, “øl” means “beer,” which meant that we were basically just yelling “beer!” in a kafé over and over again.

The poor people sitting near us were probably so confused.

We also worked on saying “kjøpe,” which I still can’t say correctly. I swear the “kj” sound is not a sound; it’s just an air noise.

We practiced until Eugene had to go to class, and by that time she said my pronunciation of “øl” was much better. Still not perfect, but better, and I will gladly take that!

Weird day. Lots of fun though.

And now Norwegians think I’m crazy.

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3 responses to “Yelling “beer” in a kafé

  1. Ah! Once upon a time I was actually engaged to a norweigan. We’d spend the holidays with his folks and I never seemed to get the tones down at all. The only thing I remember clearly anymore is Skol!

    • Oh cool! Yeah, the pronunciation is very difficult… but as long as I can be understood, it’s okay. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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