Finally, the Minnesota in my accent (an odd amalgamation of Tennessee, Chicago and Minnesota, which leads me to say things that come out like, "Y'all need to talk to dose guys over dere, ya knoooow?") comes to good use.
I am taking Norwegian class. It's awesome. I can say all those funny vowels, like the a-with-a-halo (å). Basically, all I have to do is pull out the Minnesotan in my voice, mix it with a little Swedish Chef, and I'm good. For instance, å is like saying a super Minnesotan "Minnesoooota", only leave out the "t". That last vowelly bit, after the s? That's å.
So, "jaså" (a sort of, "oh, really?" interjection) ends up sounding reeeeally Minnesotan, in both tone and meaning.
Of course, there's also a few million other ways to say o and u, and they're all slightly different, and then there's the other "extra" vowels, like æ (a really really flat a sound) and ø (sort of like a cow with heartburn) but I'm working on them, and they're coming pretty naturally.
I don't know if you've noticed my name here before, but it's Kari. Not your typical every day American spelling. Atypical enough, in fact, that whenever anyone else could find a personalized keychain, license plate or stuffed animal, I had nothing.
It is, however, a fairly typical Norwegian spelling. So Norwegian, in fact, that every other dialogue involves some poor girl named Kari. "Is her name Kari? No, her name is not Kari. Her name is Anne." "Is your name Kari? Yes, my name is Kari. How do you spell it? I spell it K-A-R-I." "Is Kari a student? Yes, she goes to University. What does she study? Kari studies biology and chemistry."
Yes, it's not exactly rocket science (clearly. Who's ever heard of a Norwegian rocket scientist?) but it certainly keeps me paying attention in class.
What I like best, though, is that if you go by the vocabulary we've learned so far, Norwegians are THE politest people on the planet. For instance, at the end of a conversation, instead of saying something like, "See you later!" we've learned that you say, "Takk for nå," meaning, literally, "Thanks for now." Like, "Thanks for this most recent time we've spent together, chatting." It's like the ultimate way to live in the moment, you know?
Or our professor ends every class with "Takk for i dag," meaning, Thanks for today. Us! Thanking us, the students! I love it.
I have class tomorrow, and I've already done my homework, written my flash cards, and practiced my dialogues. I'm such a geek.