Friday, October 5, 2018

Lingua Franca

First day in Stockholm (Winter 1988) I get my first real shot at using Swedish. At the bus stop I ask a woman which bus goes to the Krigsarkivet on thus & so street. She gives me an uncomfortable look, doesn't make a peep. Uh-oh. I ask again, carefully. She stays mum.
Then she says in English, "Do you speak English?"
"Yes, I do."
"I'm from Finland, I don't speak Swedish."
"Oh. Thanks."

I have Swedish on my mind a bit. A couple of weeks ago I was at Da Likka Sto' and overheard a couple of men discussing vodka in what sounded like Swedish or Danish. I asked them were they speaking one or the other, they said Swedish. They joked about being Scandinavians in the Vodka section. I said, "Jag talar inte bra Svensk. (I speak/talk not good Swedish)." That was unexpected! We all had a good laugh, and it was useful for me to say just that one sentence and be understood.

Never pass up a chance to practice a second language.