Forlåt, jag förstår inte

So, the games of cat and mouse have commenced. My mission to is to avoid any kind of social interaction, where I have to listen (eek) or speak (double eek). Situation number one: I turned the corner into my street and saw the neighbours in their garden. Bugger, absolutely no chance of avoidance. I needed to blag it, so cheerfully shouted out “hej”, as though it’s the most natural thing in the world. Oh, no. She responded with a hej, too, but I sensed that she wanted to say more. I was right. Ears straining, I caught “välkomna dit” and I rejoiced! Not only did I understand, but I had a suitable reply: “tack så mycket!” This gave me the upperhand and I was able to scoot into my house without a further word needing to be uttered!

Situation number two: the telephone rings. Nobody I know knows my number yet. Which means, that there MUST be a Swede at the other end. So, I ignore it. Then I try to get my 8 year old to answer it (“please sweetheart, your Swedish is SO good”). He refuses, so my next line of defence is my 6 year old. He is happy to help but can’t figure out how to answer the phone. It rings off. Then, rings again. Panic sets in – what if the in-laws want to pop round? What if there is an emergency. So, I pick it up. But, the confusion isn’t limited to just 6 year olds. It doesn’t appear to be a “normal” phone and I also can’t figure out how to answer it. Many frantic “hejs” later, the person on the other end gives up. Then tries again – finally, I managed to pick up the call and assuming it is my mother in law, babble some kind of incoherent Svenglish sentence down the phone. Only it isn’t the mother in law, it is the mother in law’s sister, who I really don’t know very well. The realisation sends my pulse racing and to my own ears, I sound like a two year old in a gag. Adding to my rising hysteria are two children who think it is hilarious to start screaming at the top of their lungs and turning the hoover on. To say my Swedish reverted to pigeon-Swedish is being severely unkind to pigeons. The mother in law’s sister would have had more of a chance of understanding a pigeon than she would me. But, again, the Swedish positive attitude was bestowed upon me and I was told that my Swedish was actually quite good. Hilarious! I do not believe for one minute that my Swedish at that point could ever be classed as good. Who the heck are they comparing me with? In the end, I was so completely mortified that I thought that the only way to get rid of her was to become mute. It took a while for her to get the message and the silence was beyond excruciating while she did, but it worked. I had visions of her putting the phone down and sniggering to herself. I probably would have done.

So, as I said, here begins the continual game of cat and mouse. Anyone that suspiciously looks like they might want to converse with me is ignored (not rudely, just in a “I’m away with the fairies” kind of ignorance), or if I can’t ignore them, then I just nod my head whether I understand them or not. In the comfort of my own country, I am a lively, reasonably outgoing and social person. I would not dream of ignoring anyone. I hate to come across as aloof, arrogant or unfriendly but I tell you what, rather that than a stuttering buffoon, needing to use the dreaded “forlåt…jag förstår inte” 😦


8 thoughts on “Forlåt, jag förstår inte

    • Yes, I have learnt that from last time I was here – before, I would always reply in Swedish, but it is much easier to reply in English. That way, they know what they are up against! 🙂

  1. Oh my goodness you are the same as me with Swedish! I studied a year of it while in Russia, and am looking SO forward to moving -apart from the speaking Swedish part. I am so terrified of speaking(worst of all with the boyfriend) and avoid situations when i will have to use it. I also have a problem like yours where I can write and read fine so I get placed too high above my comfort level and sitting with other students rambling away in fluent swedish feeling like an idiot when I can’t keep up. Oy. I feel so much less alone after reading your posts. Thank you

    • Yes, that is me!!!! It is so frustrating! This time around I am not putting any pressure on myself – they speak in Swedish, I reply in English! Try that! So far, it seems to work – I speak in Swedish when I feel confident enough to and if I don’t, it’s English! You are not alone! 🙂

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