Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Language Learning

I'm starting to learn Norwegian now - sorta. Last night I met with Knut Dale, who is the Norwegian teacher here at the high school in Odda. He specializes in NyNorsk, which is essentially a combined approximation of all the dialects in Norway so that when it is written everyone can recognize the word. The other written system in Norway (still spoken in some places, apparently) is BukmÄl, which is much closer to Swedish. Sweden ruled Norway until ... Knut is actually from near Voss, further north of here, and so has a distinct dialect - a dialect which most of this area spoke at one time. Back when the factories in this area first opened up, workers came from all over Norway with many different dialect backgrounds, and so the sound of the language here changed.
The benefit for me of Norwegian (NyNorsk in particular) is that the characters are phonetic, so once I learn the right sounds to associate with each letter, it's just a matter of practicing and memorizing the words and meanings. Knut gave me a bible in NyNorsk which corresponds pretty closely to the NIV English translation, and I recorded him reading a passage of scripture. I'm going to listen to it while reading along, and practice repeating the words after him so that I can get the flow and intonation, and hopefully begin to recognize more words when people talk around me. There is still a strong local dialect that I will have to account for, but hopefully it won't be too hard.
The picture for today is of the 'Vasskraft Monument' which they built on the hill above the Slottet. S7302036.JPG It commemorates the 'waterworks' or hydro-electric plant based here in Tyssedal that powers most of this area and a large part of Norway as well. The monument is supposed to light up and play music while water flows out and along the channels. Then people can follow the path through the mounds in an ever-tightening spiral until they climb up to the rock itself. Apparently it only worked once and continues to break down. They finally got the water to run again, but the music never has worked since that first time.

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