Yesterday my 5-year old son said, “Mamma, when you are killed I will be old.”
Mistake in English or warning?
I’ve noticed that the woman at the reception desk at the swim hall always looks at me as if I’m an alien when I ask to swim. I’ve thought about this and I think I have figured out the problem. Even though I know the correct way to say a sentence in Swedish, I think I am lacking the basic social skills for the language and culture. The problem is that when I want to do something new, I learn the most basic and direct way to say it. I have no follow up. I don’t know how to make my sentences polite. When I go to the swim hall each week, I walk up to the desk and say, “I WANT TO SWIM!” (Jag vill simma!) When I get a haircut, I say, “I WANT A HAIRCUT!” (Jag vill klippa mig! – Yes, it sounds to me like I’m saying I want to cut myself, but other people assure me this means haircut.)
I have nothing to say after these sentences. If I were speaking English, I would probably say, “I’d like to swim, please,” and then make some comment about the weather. If I were asking for a haircut in English, I would say, “Yes, I’d like to get a haircut today. Just a little off the ends.”
But in Swedish, I am forced to announce my needs in a caveman fashion and my only follow up may be occasional miming. After I announce my desire for a haircut in Sweden and they ask me how much, I usually just make my hands into scissors and pretend to cut where I would like it. This gets the message across but may also be why people occasionally treat me as if I am a crazy street person.