Saturday, September 02, 2006
As Americans, we only have to speak one language. I'm not nearly as critical as some people are about this, because it's simply a result of not being geographically located or economically obligated to learn another language. Most of us speak a little Spanish, German or French--whatever we remember from high school. The rest of the developed world (generally 50 years old and younger) speaks at least two and sometimes three languages, almost always including English because somewhere along the line English became the dominant and default language for communication across the developed world.
I have total admiration for the way Swedes can go from Swedish to English and back to Swedish without a second thought. "Svenska till Engelska till Svenska igen." I would not be here if they were not able to do this. One of the first things people would ask me when hearing about this adventure was "Do you speak Swedish?" I would look at them and say, "Of course not. But fortunately they all speak near perfect English." From the university professor to the student to the barista or bartender, they can all communicate with me perfectly. While I'm sheepish about always making others speak English, I can at least start conversations in Swedish, then divulge that "Jag taller lite Svenska" (I speak a little Swedish), then they shift gears into English, usually without hesitation. They start learning it in 3rd grade! Very impressive.
I start my Swedish classes in mid-September. Two times a week for three hours at a time. Really, it's the least I can do....
Here's some more fun pictures, since language does not easily lend itself to quality supplemental photos (except for one, I guess). First: A quaint square in Gamla Stan, the old city of Stockholm. Second: The view from my temporary apartment in Linköping of the city. Nice, huh? See you next week!