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Lazy language learning

I have a bit of a confession. Recently, I’ve been feeling really, really burned out. This is a language learning blog, but outside of my routine use of Danish and Thai and my super casual side project of Esperanto, I’ve been doing a lot of other stuff.

I’ve been taking my health very seriously. I’ve been learning how to eat ‘clean’ – which is taking an enormous effort to buy the right ingredients, prepare these said ingredients, and then of course cook them. I’ve had to learn my way around a kitchen too. I’ve also been learning how to exercise and for the past couple of months have been consistently working out 2 – 4 times a week (I aim for 4 times a week). I’m using an app with detailed tutorials about body movements, so working out this way is helping my physical health a lot, but I am also learning a lot and it is surprisingly cerebral.

I hope that with time, these new skills will become a bit more like habits which are self reinforcing. But right now, doing all of this in addition to my two (soon to be three) part time jobs as well as being a dad is exhausting.

So I’ve been cutting myself some slack and watching a cybersecurity TV drama series called “Mr Robot”.

Honestly, it has been really good to just relax for a bit. But imagine my surprise when I found myself able to understand some of the random Swedish conversations in the show!

There are a Nordic trio of languages which are mutually intelligble: Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. This means that if you know one of these languages fairly well, it’s very likely you’ll be able to passively follow along with the other two languages and have basic conversations.

Mutually intelligable languages are awesome. I remember speaking to an old friend of mine from the UK who has been living in Norway for the past few years over skype, and just for fun we tried speaking our respective Nordic languages: with me it is Danish and for him it is Norwegian. To our surprise, we could understand each other!

Another fun experience I’ve had with mutually intelligble languages was when I was living in Thailand and I went over to the neighbouring country of Laos for a visa run. I remember an odd experience of having a few beers with the off duty hotel staff where we were staying, and being able to talk to them in Thai, with them responding in Laotian, and being able to communicate with each other anyway!

Have you had any surprising language moments when you were able to almost magically understand things in a language you aren’t supposed to be familar with?

I’m going to get back on with more sensible language learning next week (I’ve even booked an italki Danish lesson and everything!) but it has been nice to relax for a while too.