Since I live here in Norway I met a lot of immigrants like me, that in time became friends… and who are in “the same boat” as me. With this expression I mean that we as immigrants had to integrate into the Norwegian society, we had to learn the Norwegian lifestyle, the system, the culinary culture, the traditions, the culture in general and of course the language: Norsk!
In this article, I wanted to challenge some of my friends to read a Norwegian pangram, that is a sentence that contains all the letters of the Norwegian alphabet, my goal was to make them read it according to their abilities without trying to imitate the Norwegian accent. So we have Robin, half Norwegian and half American who reads of course in Norwegian; Fabio from Italy, Alex half Argentinian and half English, Claudio from Colombia and João from Portugal.
You may be thinking why I choose to challenge them…?
Well… Because as always I was curious about their lifestyles here in Norway, so I asked them a few questions and of course I recorded their voices reading that pangram to discover how they pronounce the Norwegian sounds!
The pangram they have to read is the following one:
Jeg begynte å fortære en sandwich mens jeg kjørte taxi på vei til quiz
Translation: I started to consume a sandwich while I was driving taxi to the quiz
Here is Robin:
The questions are:
How many years have you been in Norway?
From 1 to 10 how difficult is Norwegian?
Which language do you use in your daily life?
Fabio moved to Norway 21 years ago and he thinks that the Norwegian language, at least in the very beginning was very hard to speak and understand, but now after so long, of course he is able to speak it. For him in a scale from 1 to 10 on the difficulty of this particular language, he would say it is between 6 and 7, because Norwegian people have several accents and dialects you have to get used to, since there is not a 100% official national language. He communicates in Norwegian with Norwegian people who understand him very well.
But I would say that Fabio pronounces the sentence very good with some differences, such as: Jeg /jaj/ has to be pronounced opening the mouth like in a smile and he doesn’t, also he doesn’t pronounce the close sound of the letter y as the sound ø, which has to be pronounced opening the lips like saying an o but the sound that comes out is an e. To finish he should pronounce vei /vaj/ like jeg, smiling.
Alex moved to Norway 5 years ago and he thinks that the Norwegian language is very difficult, so he gives a 10 to this language’s complexity. At work he tries to speak Norwegian but he confessed that in his daily life, he speaks English, easy right?
We have to remember that Norwegians speak English fluently too, because dubbing doesn’t exist here.
Alex does the same thing as Fabio: he also pronounces jeg and vei without smiling and the letters y and ø in a incorrect way. What distinguishes Alex is his t sound, completely English! But as Fabio, he can be understood in Norwegian, which I think is the most important thing even if they don’t pronounce words exactly the same way as Robin, but here is the beauty: their being foreigners and their effort to communicate in Norwegian despite all.
Claudio moved to Norway 5 and half years ago and the value that he gives to Norwegian’s complexity is 9. He speaks both English and Norwegian and he specifies that at his job he speaks 50% both, on the street he speaks more Norwegian than English and at home he speaks 95% English and the rest Norwegian. He says that he got married to a Norwegian girl from Trondheim who speaks dialect which is for him very difficult to understand.
I think that Claudio is getting closer to the Norwegian sounds, he just doesn’t pronounce jeg smiling and the sound æ as it should be pronounced (to pronounce æ we have to open the mouth like saying an a but we are saying a+e) but for the rest, according to my ear, he is very good, because he’s got the Norwegian musicality.
He moved to Norway 5 years ago and he says that 6 is the level of this language’s complexity. He also confessed that he can speak Norwegian in a simple and basic conversation, which becomes English when it gets harder.
João pronounces all the sentence in a completely nasal and closed Portuguese accent: here I can say that he transfers his deep language roots even in his pronunciation, that is cool because you always understand him but a Norwegian should get used to a different accent like his.
As you can see my friends…it’s a hard job to be an immigrant ;)!