The future is knocking at the door. Let’s run to open.
- We should now take the plunge and switch to English completely, Lars Magne Lundheim argues in this response to Jon Olaf Olaussen.
- My attitude to Norwegian has changed, from being positive, to not caring, to realizing that Norwegian belongs to the past, Lars Lundheim reports, in this, somewhat ironic comment.
Foto: Helene Mariussen
like to thank Jon Olaf Olaussen for his eye-opening guest column about our
future in Universitetsavisa last Friday, where he argues for quitting our
antiquated practice of sustaining two different versions of Norwegian in our little
nation. After reading his piece I realize that Olaussen is partly right.
Partly, because he his suggestions only takes us half way into the future.
sentiments with respect to the situation reflects exactly how I feel with
respect to Norwegian today. In my ears Norwegian sounds better than English.
All the same, my attitude to Norwegian has changed, from being positive, to not
caring, to realizing that Norwegian belongs to the past. Listen to young
Norwegians today, and read what they write! They are already using so many
English terms, and even their sentence structure and idioms are so influenced
by English, that we should now take the plunge and switch to English
discussed this with a colleague, and his reaction to keeping with this
linguistic curiosity, was “Rubbish!” When offered the usual arguments about culture,
history, identity and diversity, he called this a despicable, mean, and
self-centred argumentation. He proceeded with a couple of questions: “Is linguistic diversity really
good in itself? Do we, for instance, understand other cultures better because
they have a language that we don’t understand, or is the lack of language
skills a barrier to understanding other cultures?”
and culture are all well and good, but they're hardly the primary function of a
written language, are they? Its foremost purpose must surely be communication?
And does communication improve by having as many variations as possible?
annual complaint, the Language Council of Norway says that it is very serious
that Norwegian academic environments publish too little in Norwegian. The
argument is that Norwegian culture and diversity are important. Well, it seems
that these state institutions are not completely in agreement. Although they
promise to improve, for example, NTNU doesn't hide that they think they have
more important things to do, if we read between the lines or the titles from
the many media reports on the issue.
the only purpose of a language is communication. There are, of course, some
snobbish academics who claim that language and writing are tools for developing
thought. These people also like to think that using their mother tongue
matters. Let’s be generous. This marginal group of sentimentalists should of
course be allowed to nourish their petty diversions. But let’s realize that the
time has come to disconnect the patient from the artificial respiration. One
does not have to be a clairvoyant to realize that Norwegian has become a
curiosity for the particularly interested.
is knocking at the door. Let’s run to open it!