Language is all I think about nowadays. People say that in the beginning you learn the basics quickly, but then you plateau for a few months, which feels like an eternity of not absorbing a single thing, but then after that halting rough patch, you start picking it up faster and more fluently. I feel like I’m finally there – gaining more insight, understanding more, being more comfortable speaking, while learning more grammar and vocabulary every day.
With this progress comes more and more mistakes:
- When you want someone to be quiet, you would say: “Tyst!” Instead I told my husband, “Tysk!” – I called him a “German!“
- While cooking one day I was excited to use a new vocabulary word that I thought meant to pull something apart, to separate it. So, I tried to ask my husband if he can cut up the whole roasted chicken: “Kan du skilja for mig?” Instead of asking if he can divide it for me, I asked if he could divorce me. Make sure you understand new words!
- While eating fish sticks, my husband pointed out that they call it “Fish fingers.” Taking this literally, I went into a supermarket and asked someone “Vet du var jag kan hitta sås for fisk fingrar?” Do you know where I can find sauce for fish fingers? Met by an odd look and a shake of the head, I thought nothing of it. The actual name for fish sticks is “Fisk pinne,” meaning… fish sticks. (Apparently he meant they call it fish fingers when they learn it in British English, comparing the variation of English names- not in Swedish.)
- Trying to learn all of the many ways you can use “slå” [roll dice, mow the lawn, hit, beat, knock on, bang on, ring...], I wanted to tell my husband to hit on me, as in flirt. This doesn’t translate too well; “slå på mig” is literately “beat me.” Whoops, nevermind.
Sometimes these language mistakes leak into and combining with my English vocabulary. I now make mistakes like:
- The capital of a country is called “huvudstan” – translating to head city. Combining Swedish into my English I said Athens is the “Head capital” of Greece.
- A nipple is called a “bröstvårtan” – translating to breast wart, (*giggle*) resulting in me saying, “Nipple wart.” Lovely.