Dec 3, 2009

Why Learn a Second Language? - part 1

Some of my enormous and devoted horde of readers (disclaimer: Since human beings consist of multiple organisms, and several partake in the undertaking of reading, it has been scientifically determined that a single human reader constitutes a "horde") may wonder why one should go to the effort of attaining a second language. Først og fremst fordi hvis ingen gjorde dette, ville denne bloggen se slik ut, and secondly, because it is a mind-expanding experience.

How so?

Well, any new language you learn is likely to include a vast amount of words for concepts that do not even exist in your mind yet. As you're reading this, you are already familiar with English, one of the languages with the largest vocabularies in the world, but this doesn't mean that there exists such a thing as a language without new concepts to explore.

Below followeth a partial list of a few examples, which I will update as I recall new ones. Keep in mind that the bdelow are only very rough translations:

overimorgen - the day after tomorrow
forigårs - the day before yesterday
døgn - 24-hour period, on Earth, or the local equivalent cycle
stusselig - this is to a situation what a "loser" is to an individual. That's a very rough summary, so I'll give you two examples: "Stusselig" is celebrating Christmas without your family, or being 87 while your wife/husband died at 60
hyggelig - part of a subset of Norwegian terms which translate as "nice". This particular one means "nice in a socially inviting way". "Koselig" means "nice, as in lacking hostile qualities", or as in "cute and fuzzy in a metaphorical way". "Trivelig" means "nice in a manner which fosters mental well-being".
kassere - quite simply to throw something away as garbage
orke - nope, nothing to do with orcs. "Orke" means "can be bothered to, has the energy to, or feels up the the task of".
fag - subject or area of specializations, used both vocationally and for subjects at school
skare - a layer of ice on top of snow, which can be of any thickness or strength as long as it still looks like snow. (One of my father's favorite sayings: "When the skare carries a man at St. John's Eve, the spring will be late".)
lumsk - insidiously creepy and malevolently sneaky

In return, Norwegian e.g. has no word for "cookie", having to make do "biscuit" or "small cake", or just borrowing the word "cookie".

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