My struggle

Do you know what’s really hard?

Living in Australia as a non-australian, but sounding like one.

You see, I have nearly perfected the Australian accent. It is now extremely rare that someone asks me where I am from or where my accent comes from. I haven’t tried very hard at sounding aussie, but it has just happened naturally, as I have always had a good ear for languages. I had top grades in both English and German in school and never seemed to have a problem with pronunciations and stuff. I also pride myself in trying to write as correctly as I possibly can, and I do not like being lazy with my writing. Sometimes even Simon asks me to read through his Uni assignments to look for errors, as I am a stickler and a grammar Nazi.

You may think that this makes things easier. People won’t make fun of my accent, or I won’t be judged by people who see me as a foreigner (believe me, I have been accused of moving here to get benefits from the government – which I don’t get anyway. If you do that, I will laugh in your face, as NOBODY would move AWAY from Norway for financial gain.). By people assuming I am Australian when they talk to me without knowing me, there are no preconceived ideas about anything at all.

The problem is, though, that I am NOT Australian. I have the accent, but I don’t have the language. I don’t have the experience of being Australian, and I certainly don’t have aussie mannerisms and sense of humour. The problem is that so often, and by often I mean every day, I speak with people who have grown up aussie, lived aussie, talked aussie and been aussie – and I will never be like them! As much as the melody and intonation is just like theirs, the words that come out only sound Australian based on pure… luck?

So often I find myself in tricky situations. Still, after five years of living here, I can never reply to a “how are you” without overthinking it. Without feeling awkward or as if I am saying too little or too much. Did I ask them back? I very often talk to people and choose the wrong words for the situation I am in. And while I try to find the right words, I can hear them thinking “why is this perfectly normal Australian having such trouble with simple conversations??”

I end up insulting people. I end up using the wrong word, sentence or saying and because I do not sound like someone with English as a second language, I don’t automatically have a lifeline to hold on to. Some things that sound awesome, funny or normal in my head just doesn’t translate well once it rolls off of my tongue. Usually I can hear it though, and I will know that I have stuffed up. I try to save it, and sometimes I can, sometimes it’s too far gone.

I love it when I actually make friends that do know I am not Australian. People that understand that if I say something awkward, lame, insulting or just plain wrong, it is usually not meant that way. People who will help me find the right words or explain why I can’t say what I just said or laugh at my awkward hand gestures trying to find the correct thing to say. People who won’t give a toss if it comes out wrong because they know there is no mean intention behind it.

The looks I get from people when I try to say something and it comes out completely wrong – sometimes I want to just say “Okay, thanks, bye.”

If you are a new friend of mine, please remember that although my words are pronounced correctly, and that I have worked up quite a good vocabulary, sometimes the sentences I put together just don’t make all that much sense. And I never mean to insult or offend! (But if I do, please just tell me; “You can’t say that to people, Line…..”)

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Courtesy of 9gag.com

Almost every day I ask Simon for help. ‘How do I say this?’ ‘How could I have said that differently?’

Of course, I could introduce myself as Norwegian to people, but I won’t do that to the cashier at the supermarket or the mums at school that know nothing about me except who my child is. I am not going to make up a t-shirt saying “Excuse the occasional, unintentional foot-in-mouth – I am Norwegian”. And to be honest, sometimes when I HAVE introduced myself and said I was Norwegian, people haven’t know anything about it… Or assume that I moved here as a child and therefore it wouldn’t make much of a difference. I have done so before though, explained the whole “I am from Norway, English is my second language, please don’t be offended if I say something weird…” – but I don’t really feel like making excuses for myself before I even know someone.

Sigh.

And I am much funnier in Norwegian, too!

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One thought on “My struggle

  1. Their actions in stress and miscontet of your socalled “foot-in-mouth” is not at the reseptor’s responsibility, but the sender’s. The reseptor is only responsible for attainment of the message and its’ reaction.
    Guess what I’m trying to say is don’t feel guilty for other peoples bad reactions, it’s their problem if they can’t handle you, not yours.
    Take care and

    Ps
    Hmm jeg har et tips til deg som en venn gav meg!
    Vennligst ikke overanalyser det, han sa til meg; “Problemet er i meg, ikke i deg.” -og det han mener med det er at hvis det er noe du oppfatter som et problem så er det nettop det det er: DIN oppfatning, ikke oppfatningen av den som gir beskjeden… Det er nettopp for slike ting at åpen dialog med respekt og forståelse er så viktig som det er.

    Like

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