Publisert av: ingridmogstad | 20. mai 2011

Losing my Norwegian

The 17 of May (The Norwegian constitution day) has passed, and celebrating it without Norwegians or anybody who actually knows what the 17 of May is (at least not before I forced them to listen while I enthusiastically explained it) was a new experience to me. I must admit I felt more than pathetic when I suddenly found out that every Norwegian I know in Phnom Penh had left for Norway. Even the nice southern hotel owner at “Velkommen inn” said he was going home when I asked if he was planning anything. “No, I’m very sorry about that” he said, trying to comfort me. “I’m sure we have some “kjøttkaker” (traditional Norwegian meat cakes) but nothing special I’m afraid”. In his very considerate attempt at making me feel better I felt even lonelier. My flat mate left too, blaming it on her sister’s confirmation.  Good one.

After finding myself in Phnom Penh without any other Norwegians on the 17 of May, I now see that it is indeed doable. I went to Sihanouk Ville with good friends, which was very nice despite the fact that they just couldn’t bring themselves to stop teasing Norway about its late independence from Sweden (1905). I guess celebrating Norwegian constitution day abroad requires a certain level of nationalistic humour.

Indeed, this year’s 17 of May was different from the last one, when my friends and I were «russ«. Here doing the «One honk, one sip/cheers»-knot (or something like that).

The dramatic headline is caused by the recent experience of trying to write an E-mail to a Norwegian organization, in Norwegian. The words just won’t come to me. The prepositions are awkward and the language is generally poor. So sad. I’ll blame it on the fact that I have only read one Norwegian book the last six months or so, combined with not having had any Norwegians to talk to the last two weeks (the flat mate’s fault!). And the fact that I haven’t written anything except my diary in Norwegian since I came to Cambodia.  Is this is how quickly languages fade when you don’t use them? I’m amazed, and a bit disturbed.

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