Being the Tower of Babel – my linguistic background

So here we go – I never wanted to write off topic posts, but bear with me: some of my wonderful readers have been asking me about my linguistic background. It’s a bit complicated, so I thought it’d be easier to write a seperate post. I didn’t write this post to justify myself, it’s just so much easier to write one post than long comments! I appreciate when you’re helping me with my English, but don’t feel obliged to do so.

First of all: Finland is a bilingual country. Finnish is the language of the vast majority, but Swedish is an official national language as well. You can read more about the Finland Swedish minority on Wikipedia.

So far, so good, but now it gets complicated. I’m dealing with 4 to 6 languages in my everyday life. 4-6?

Finnish, English, German and Swedish (the latter mixed up with Danish and Norwegian). Oh, and if you were wondering: Tessa and Kajsa are ignoring the word “no” in all of them.

Finnish
Society in general
Work
Friends and neighbors
To some extend medical care, mostly physical.
To some extend public institutions (mostly oral)

Swedish
Friends
Work
To some extent medical treatment, mostly related to mental health.
Public institutions, (mostly written)

German
Family and friends
Officially my mother tongue, but not always my strongest language

English
Feline Internet
University
Sometimes work
Friends (but very few of them)

Danish / Norwegian
I’ve never attended any Swedish classes, although Swedish is one of my strongest languages. I’m sometimes feeling more comfortable with Swedish than German. Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are Scandinavian languages and very similar, yet different. I can’t come up with any comparison. Many native speakers have difficulties understanding each other, but they’re normally copying very fast when exposed to another Scandinavian language. My ‘basic language’ was Norwegian. I adapted to Swedish, and eventually forgot Norwegian. However, I’ve been also living in Denmark, and adapted from Norwegian and Swedish to Danish.

So what happens when I’m very tired? I’m mixing all of these 6 languages. People have difficulties to understand me – if they don’t speak all the languages I do. I can’t concentrate when I’m tired. I’m not only using foreign words, but I also translate expressions to other languages, and they hardly make any sense. If you don’t know what “it’s raining cats and dogs” means in English, it sounds very weird in Finnish. I’m sometimes worried how I’ll be able to communicate when I’m old and demented. It’s also a real problem in acute medical care. When I was in the emergency room some weeks ago, I felt so bad that I couldn’t concentrate on any language. I was saying sentences nobody understood.

Talking about being tired: I need a small break from this blog as I’m really tired and exhausted. I just don’t wake up, and I’m afraid that I will fall back to depression. Blogging became an obligation during the last week, and I need some time off.