How to Pretend to be Fluent in Norwegian

This also worked moving somewhere with a strong regional accent and dialect… 🙂

© Alice Baguet Illustration by © Alice Baguet
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Becoming fluent in Norwegian is a long and bumpy path, full of “YEAAAHHHH I am so good at this” and “Oh my God I will never make it” moments. In the down moments, when you burst out laughing thinking THAT was a joke (sorry it wasn’t, say the eyes of your mystified colleagues), you will need some little things to keep you going. Small expressions or words that will automatically make you feel more fluent than you really are. Who doesn’t like to hear “Du er SÅ flink i norsk!” (you are so good in Norwegian!) when you perfectly know you aren’t?

This blogpost is inspired by a short article in The Oslo Eye. I made my own list of things that make me feel like I am more fluent in Norwegian. Hopefully it will be of some help for other immigrants like…

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Soggy Doggy Blog

People, what is with all this wet stuff? My dainty wee paws got soggy this morning. And at lunchtime, Dad took me for a ridiculously long walk, considering the weather…I mean, I appreciate the thought, but it was raining sideways! By the time we got back I was soaked through, even my super swish coat with the reflective stripes was dripping wet! Dad was wetter though, he was squishing. His coat and boots were utterly soaked. Poor guy. But we dried off and had a nap, and I think we both feel much better now.

Turns out I was right about Big Pup. Mum says she has something called depression. This isn’t good, she smells sad and confused, but what IS good is, she’s going to be at home for a while. I love my family, they rock, but Big Pup found this spot on my head that feels just so good when she scratches it. She’s lovely, and all mine, so paws off, ‘kay?

Bouncy Pup was in a funny mood when he got in. I don’t know what’s going on under all that ginger fur, but he’s angry at things that don’t matter and keeps thumping Noisy Pup just because. And he burst into tears coz he lost on Mario Kart. I’d show him how it’s done, except, y’know, paws….but if I had opposable thumbs, his bum would be toast! I may have to take him for some really long walks. It’s how I get rid of my grrr. Unless the Evil Cat Scourge shows up.

Noisy Pup has discovered books. Like, I think he always knew about them,  but he’s started reading the wordy things in them! The book he read after school was about a pig playing football (I know, pigs play volleyball, but whatever) and the pig kept scoring a goal. This meant noisy pup had to stand up, wave his arms in the air and shout GOAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!! So annoying! And then he re-read it. Grrrr. And I was trying to sleep!

I think that’s the news done…oooh, I discovered Mum’s cleaning dusting thingy…and I have killed it to absolute bits. Yeah, I am the total fizzy business.

Night, HansFans.
Big wuffs xxx

Amanda Bynes, Robin Williams, and the Spectacle of Mental Illness

Let's Queer Things Up!

Internet, we need to have a talk.

I’ve had a number of readers ask why I’ve neglected to write about Amanda Bynes this last year. It’s simple, really. I don’t believe that celebrities are “fair game,” and that, when they have very human and very difficult struggles, I should capitalize on those things by writing an article, however well-intentioned. I believe they are deserving of privacy and respect, by virtue of their being people.

However, I’m making an exception here, because in the midst of the negative and callous press that Bynes has received, I think it’s time we had a chat about it from a different perspective. And then, after we’re done, I think it’s time we stop speculating about it altogether. Deal?

First and foremost, there is no way for us to know what, if anything, Bynes has been diagnosed with. The family has denied schizophrenia and bipolar…

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Wow, it’s been a weird day.

Mum took me for a huge long walk this morning, we went across some fields and found a wood, only five minutes from home. Mum kept saying stuff like “I’ve been here eight years, and never knew it was here!” I could have told her it was, I smelled it ages ago, but she didn’t ask me, did she?

She also said “Hans! Will-you-just-stop-PULLING!” an awful lot, but if she will take me for a walk somewhere which has the smell of other dogs, big stinky molehills, and invisible rabbits, what does she expect?


When we got back, I had my breakfast, then Mum and Dad went out and left me. They came back with a big metal thing, which apparently is called a ‘bloody gate’. They cuddled it for a long time, and made a big fuss of it, then just left it in the garden. Then they went out again! And came back and cuddled the bloody gate some more, but when they’d finished cuddling it, it looked different.

The kids were in a funny mood today.

Bouncy Pup wanted cuddles, but didn’t listen when I told him to get out of my space, so I had to growl at him a bit. He got the message, but I think he’s just got so many hugs in him, they have to come out somewhere. He was quite shouty this evening…I hope I can help him cheer up.

Noisy Pup came home and read a book. It sounds different to his usual talking. He’s usually very loud and he’s the hardest to understand, but when he read, his voice was just right. Mum made a big fuss of him because he read some big words, but I just liked him talking.

Big Pup smelled sad. I’m worried about her, but I gave her lots of snuffle kisses and stood right behind her legs so she knew I loved her. She didn’t like it when I sat outside the loo and waited for her, though…

It’s nearly time for my loopy half hour when I just go totally MENTAL. And after that, a last wee, and Cat Patrol. I’ve got them so scared!

Night night, HansFans
Wuff xxx

DogBlog: Hans’ Adventures in Aspieland

I don’t think mum is very happy with me, right now.

Last night she stayed up late to give me my last sniff round the garden (she kept saying “Are you gonna wee, then?”, and I felt like barking “No, of course not! I am bravely defending you and the herd against the Evil Cat Scourge!” but I was polite and didn’t mention it. Points for Hans, eh?) and when I’d checked the perimeter, she shut the door, fussed me, and WENT TO BED!?!?!? What a part-timer!

Anyway, I could hear That Cat from next door in the garden. In MY GARDEN. Who does he think he is?!? I can’t open locked doors (duh) so I politely went to the bottom of the stairs and wuffed a bit until mum came to see what the matter was. Thing is, I think she thought I needed the loo – she’s obsessed, honestly! – so she just opened the door and I was off like a rocket. That Cat did not KNOW what had hit him! I chased him off like a boss. He tried standing on top of the wall, but I can jump sooooooooo high. I don’t know who was more scared, That Cat or Mum! I got told off (very quietly, it was gone midnight) and told “IN!” in THAT tone of voice.

Then Mum went upstairs, again!

After ten minutes, I realised I did need a wee after all. I made lots of noise, jumping over the sofa, killing my slipper, running into the door, but I think mum was ignoring me. Anyway, I….puddled….I knew mum wouldn’t be happy, so I stood at the bottom of the stairs and huffed until she came down. Mum saw the puddle straight away and cleaned it up, but she didn’t speak to me at all, and went back to bed again.

I was kind of hurt. It wasn’t my fault! I’d tried telling her, but I could tell she was cross. I wanted to apologise, so I went and huffed at the bottom of the stairs. After five minutes she appeared with a duvet that didn’t smell of me. Then she plonked her bum down on my third sofa and fell asleep without talking to me! Well, a wet love to the face got her talking, although the words she used were really not polite. But I’m counting it as a victory, coz I WON, so there.

I’ve already been for my morning hurtle, where I courageously and vigilantly searched for invisible rabbits, and didn’t pull Mum’s arms hardly at all. It is tiring being a Wonder Hound…

#DogBlog #HansFans

The Cliched Writer’s Group Meeting

This is an unedited writing exercise….just something silly….a glimpse inside the deranged workings of #FP’s Clichéd Writer’s Group.

The meeting of the Clichéd Writer’s Group started late, as half the attendees were outside, furiously dragging on their cigarettes. Those who remained in the run-down church hall were evenly split between the drinkers of cheap, dissatisfying coffee, and those Tweeting or Blogging that things hadn’t started yet.

Tim, the de facto leader of the gang burst through the hall doors, trailing nicotined-up writers like anguished ducklings.

“People, people, let’s get this show on the road!” he shouted, clapping his hands together in the style of a maddened gym teacher. Bernadette muttered from the back that SOME people had, in fact, been ready for a good twenty minutes, and had been waiting for the slaves to the weed to sort themselves out. But as she’d been forced onto decaf by her doctor after trying to attack a trolley boy in Waitrose, nobody took her very seriously.

Tim waited until the rest of the group had settled, chattering like sleepy starlings, before raising his hands for attention.

“Now,” he boomed “I’m sure you’ll all be just thrilled to know that our subversive campaign on Twitter is bearing fruit already! It seems that people don’t want original or well-written fiction, they just want our cunningly recycled clichés! Yes, boys and girls, Trope Fiction is gonna make all of our names!!!”

Harry coughed. He was a dry, dusty man in his sixties who’d actually had a novel published in 1972; an improbable SF work featuring ‘roided up astronauts crashlanding on a planet solely populated by triple-breasted Amazonian aliens with a lax attitude towards clothing and personal space. It was made into a B-movie which still had a small cult following, meaning Harry got to go to conventions WHERE PEOPLE KNEW HIM, and, as such, the rest of the CWG treated him with extreme reverence.

Following Harry’s cough, an expectant air fell over the group as they collectively held their breath and waited for his wit or wisdom.

“Were there any rich tea biscuits out this week?” he asked. “I can only have them here, Susan’s decided we need to detox, and biscuits are banned at home now…” his voice tailed off plaintively. With a faintly disappointed air, Melanie went and rustled in the communal biscuit tin (10p non-voluntary contribution per week) and emerged with a crumpled pack of the aforementioned treat. Harry took them with murmured thanks and set to munching happily.

Tim glared at Harry, then refocused on the group. Between them, they had the largest collection of unfinished or unsubmitted manuscripts in the Western Hemisphere. A chance conversation with Steve, the CWG’s Secretary and other founder, had led to the creation and collection of this group of dissatisfied and disillusioned Artistes (capital ‘a’, French pronunciation, if you please). They met every Saturday to plot, commiserate, and occasionally celebrate. Tim stroked the butter-soft corduroy of his trousers before speaking.

“Due to the modest success of our Twitter campaign via the Hashtag-Friday-phrases, we can clearly see that readers are ready for our unique brand of writing! It’s time to gather momentum, get our heads in the game, and take the literary world BY STORM!!!” Tim’s tendency to talk in highly punctuated capitals was a strange quirk, but one which made him truly fabulous at clichéd writing.

Clare made a funny little humming noise and tapped her french manicured nails on her ever-present notepad. “With all due respect, Tim, don’t you feel that sometimes we’re almost too derivative? Wouldn’t it better behoove writers with our combined experience and skill to perhaps collaborate on something…new?” She lowered her eyes to the floor, flushing as she spoke.

There was an indrawn breath from Tim, who proceeded to turn an alarming shade of purple. He gasped a couple of times, for once rendered silent. Margaret leaned over and patted his hand. Nobody knew why Margaret was part of the CWG; she wrote a very well-read cooking blog and had a recipe rescue column in two local papers. A motherly lady in her fifties, she hated discord and often mediated in the spats which inevitably ensued in a group full of highly strung creatives. “Clare, love,” she said “don’t you think it would be a bit daft to suddenly change tack after all this time? People are finally noticing us, this could be our way into the big time.”

“Added to which,” Steve butted in, “We’ve had more recognition for this than we’ve had between us for any of our other works, Harry and Margaret excepted. Do you not see? This is almost like a real, honest-to-God focus group, and the results are overwhelmingly in favour of derivative pap, Clare. Face facts!”

Clare reddened, and apologised in a small voice. Steve looked like all of the chisel-jawed, tousle-quiffed, tall-tan-and-buffed heroes of the Billionaire Erotica she devoured like Maltesers every night. Being spoken to by him directly caused flurries of mingled desire and dejection to whirl within her, as she was forced to realise that a) he wasn’t going to ask to impregnate her, b) he wasn’t a billionaire with a sex dungeon, and c) he was actually a bully, only not in a Miss-Jones-six-of-the-best way.

The final member of the group spoke up.

“I don’t see why we have to go big. Why not keep on doing what we’re doing? People do seem to enjoy it, and we’re making them smile, I think. Can’t we just carry on as we are for a bit?”

Tim struck her with such a look of venomous disbelief that she shrunk back in her seat. “Well,” he sneered, “that’s just the attitude I’d expect from the kind of woman who tried writing paranormal romance about,” he contoured his face into a nauseous parody of sweetness, “WERE GOLDFISH!”

Kiera wasn’t going to be cowed by a yuppie in corduroy and loafers; she took more attitude from her kids and emerged victorious. Well, sometimes. Glaring over the top of her wannabe-hipster glasses, and looking scarily reminiscent of her mother thirty years before, she closed the argument and the meeting by quoting Frank N Furter in the Rocky Horror Picture Show:

“I made you, and I can break you just as easily!”