Thursday, May 24, 2012

Language notes part 7: A strange moment

Just a quick note, in the midst of finals. I had a odd language moment the other day, courtesy of Joe, my visiting cousins E. and S. (more on their visit later), and the fact that the four of us ran into one of my Swedish teachers from last term, at random, on the street.

Teacher T. (she of the 'we have nothing better to do in Sweden other than compare our hands' incident) and I saw each other and I said hello, then I started to introduce people... in Swedish, because that's all I've ever used when speaking to T... Joe and E. and S. stared at me... And then I suddenly realized that I should speak English, but wait, I had never heard T. speak English, and oh my gosh, what do I do now? What language should I speak? Using English just felt wrong, like it would be cheating or something, and I became briefly (but truly) tongue tied. I think this sort of thing has happened to T. before though, and thankfully she quickly took over and introduced herself to all (of course she speaks English, better than I do probably, don't be silly).

We all talked briefly about Uppsala and the weather, but I found myself switching back to Swedish when talking to T. I don't think I was intentionally showing off — in retrospect I suppose one who is studying something obscure (like Swedish) is glad to when an opportunity comes along to display one's knowledge, however imperfect.

(Quick, someone ask Joe about separation logic.)

Anyway, learning and using a foreign language certainly has its odd moments. I guess I expected it to be more like history or something fact-based — you study it, and then you know more about it, and that's nice. I've never studied/learned something that results in moments of pure disorientation...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Witches of Easter

JenniferAnd now to start catching up on some of the stories and fun things that have happened in Sweden in Spring of 2012.

First, Easter, or in Swedish, Påsk. (Quick refresher: in Sweden, Easter is the holiday (well, Skärtorsdag, to be precise) when the witches come to beg for candy... and a couple years ago, a father came by with his two adorable little girls dressed in their adorable påskkärring costumes, and said, 'You can always give them a little bit of money, 5 or 10 kronor. Or fruit. Fruit is good.')

So this year, the witches came early. Before noon!, which is hardly fair. Needless to say, we had not yet gone out to get candy. I tried to delay the påskkärringar at the door while Joe frantically hunted about for something to give them. We had a couple wrapped chocolates sitting around but that seemed a little light, so Joe grabbed a couple of blood oranges to give them as well.

They took the oranges and looked... a little dubious.

I wanted to sneak a picture of them because their costumes were so fun, so I nipped out on the the balcony and looked back toward the door that they would come out of. I was therefore in plenty of time to see the older one, who was holding the door open for her companion, pick the orange up out of her bag, and give it a look that I will generously describe as one of disapproval.

Right. Note to selves for next year: "fruit" is not an appropriate present for the Easter witches. Do not listen to the advice of their dads!

I just hope we haven't earned ourselves a curse or anything.

For Easter dinner on Sunday we went over to our Swiss friends, and were joined by three other friends and a visiting mother (French, Swedish, French-Swedish, and French, respectively). Their citizenships are important because it meant a whole new group of people to introduce to cascarones! It's always entertaining, introducing this custom to new people... there are about ten seconds of hesitation, between picking up a cascarone and choosing a victim... and then the victim realizes that maybe they would like to avoid getting a confetti-stuffed eggshell broken on their head, and so they run away, and then the chase is on (see picture to the left). (And the exercise was welcome, because it was just above freezing outside, and started to snow a little bit while we played a very poor game of kubb.) This was also Baby N.'s first Easter, and I'm only too glad to have seen to it that she — a Swiss national born in Sweden, with a temporary French passport — should have enjoyed a Mexican Easter tradition that my Irish grandmother picked up America.