Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What about language?

My husband and I watched a show about vikings the other day, and he asked if I understood the language in the show; I often giggle to myself when watching True Blood and the vampires speak Swedish. In this show, I didn't understand a word.

This made me think... When I was a little girl in school, teachers said the language we used to speak in Scandinavia was a lot like today's Icelandic. It makes sense since Iceland is an island difficult to reach, and people there would have had less outside influences than us. I don't understand Icelandic. I mean, I don't understand it at all.

There are even areas in Sweden with older dialects that I don't understand. There's an area called Älvdalen not too far from my home town. If they start talking their own dialect they could just as well speak Russian. I at least know the Russian words for yes and no...

Example: The swedish word for anthill is myrstack. My uncle who grew up in a village just a little up north from me called it ramärabösa. Even if you don't understand the language, you can see that the words are completely different.

English today is different than English just ten years ago, and with text messaging and phone keyboards, an increasing part of the population think it's acceptable to write the word you as u and are as r even when they write with a pen or on the computer. To me, messages like "What r u u 2" or "Hw r u 2day" look cryptic.

Languages constantly change, both on their own and through mixing with other languages. Keeping this in mind, how far back in time or into the future could one go and blend in? How far could one go and make oneself understood? What do you think?

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