Losing my words


“This screenshot is here because, well, why not?”

This is a non-WoW related post. It is also a fair bit personal. In a way it could be interpreted as what happens to a draenei who end up on a different world, with a different language. But most of all it’s closer to a farmer, who once in the 19th century emigrated from Duvemåla Socken to a country far, far away.

You ready? Here we go!

I’m swedish, born and bred in what some people of the world call “paradise”. I grew up talking swedish. I learned how to read and write in swedish. I published a novel in swedish. I’ve been talking and reading and writing swedish for at least 44 years (I’m 45, btw). A year ago, give or take, I had the opportunity to be the translator of Joe Devers “Lone Wolf”-series, from english to swedish, a complete restart of the Lone Wolf-brand for a predominantly swedish market, for the first time since the late 1980’s. Needless to say I jumped on this opportunity.

I’ve been reading english on one monitor and writing swedish in another monitor for more than a year now. There’s a lot of Lone Wolf-material to be translated. At first I didn’t even think about it – but this is probably something that has been … growing on me. For years.

I’m starting to loose my native language.

Case in point: I’m doing this rather personal blog post in english, a language that should be foreign to me. But it isn’t. In fact, I have an easier time writing this than I have working on a personal project, a novel, in swedish.

I love words. I’m in love with the word. I have always been. When other kids tried their hardest to be a part of the soccer team (or the thug squad), I was deep in thought figuring out Tolkien, le Guin, Lovecraft and Strindberg. When other students tried their hardest passing the math test, I ditched class and hung out at the library (yeah, that wasn’t smart but insanely fun). I started writing “creatively” when I was seven. Writing kept me alive, in a very real sense, all through a teen chased by bullies and later on – through a terrible time of suicidal depression.

Writing keeps me alive.

But here’s the thing: Up until now I have never ever experienced this feeling of … lostness. I have lost my native language. Words that once came to me like flies to a heap of dung (well okay, I’ve never been great with metaphors) now are … lost. Or at the very least reluctant.

Swedish words, that is.

More often than not as I write I find myself writing a word in english, before I delete it and then write the same word – in swedish. Sometimes. not always, I actually have to try to remember what the word is – even though I know it, in my mind, in my very bones.

My bones talk english.

This is what scares me. I have never ever set foot in either Great Britain or the US, or any other english speaking country, yet english feels more native to me than my native language. Have I lived in a virtual english-speaking world so long that I have become an involontary immigrant to one or more countries I have never visited outside the internet?

Truth be told, I believe that is so. I’m losing my roots. My language. I’m starting to feel like Wilhelm Mobergs character Karl Oskar Nilsson, från Duvemåla Socken, who in the 1850’s emigrated to Amerika och såsmåningom changed his name to Charles Nelson. A man who didn’t “lade in veden”, but “puttade in veden” (as his wife Kristina put it).

The section above is exactly like my brain functions, right now. I’m glancing at, and listening to the lines of, an american movie on one monitor as I write this. I’m flipping over to a text in swedish (a daily newspaper) from time to time. The news article is about a certain right wing party in Sweden. In another tab another article, this one in US english, is open – that one is about the things going on in Ferguson.

Here I am, not knowing what language I should interpret the information in. At times I have to stop and look up am english word, what it means in  swedish, a word that I know the meaning of – because I … well, not actually forgot … but hesitate … What does it mean in swedish? Some five years ago I woul have done the exact same thing for an english word.

This … worries me. In a sense. Yet, in some strange way, it also comforts me. Because while I might loose one language, I’m gaining a new one – and maybe I can fuse the two together because one can never truly loose the native language.

But I am a little bit worried. Here’s a fun fact, by the way: I did write that as “lil'”. I guess I’ve listened to too many americans. I am worried for my words. It’s not nationalism – I am not the nationalistic kind. It’s more of … well … heritage. Honor. In a very metaphysical way it feels as if I’m letting my parents down. They taught me to speak, think and read in their native language. Yet here I am – a digital immigrant. I’m a man who in a sense does exactly what Charles O Nelson, near Kitchisaga Lake in Minnesota, a man born in Duvemåla Socken, Sverige, once did.

I’m losing my native words.


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