Understood Imperfections

I haven’t shared any language-related posts in quite some time. In the past, I’ve share some of our misunderstandings and blunders, as well as some words we find useful or just really like.

But sometimes we stumble upon things we realize are simply not the same between our two languages, English and Norwegian. And that’s what I’m sharing today.

I made some pizza to share with friends one evening. As we sat around the coffee table, chatting in a mix of English and Norwegian, my friend took a bite of the pizza. She then turned to me and said “That was really good.” I thought it strange that she only had a bite, but thought maybe she didn’t really like it, or maybe she just wasn’t hungry.

And then, she continued to eat it. And proceeded to take another piece and eat it as well.

I was confused. Her comment would, in English, indicate she was finished. And yet she was still eating.

As I thought about this, I suddenly remembered how to say the same thing in Norwegian. Regardless of if you’re in the process of eating or if you’ve already eaten, the phrase is the same: “den var god/det var godt.”

And if I were to translate that word-for-word from Norwegian to English?

It was good.

I understood why she said what she said. And more importantly, I understood what she meant.

And I also appreciated the slight imperfection in the English phrase, knowing how very often I myself speak with ‘imperfections’ when I speak Norwegian.

The point is, we understand each other, despite the imperfections.

And isn’t that what communication is really about – being understood?

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