Coded green.

Freeday 16 November 2001


Pic of the day: Ha! It's not a screenshot from Civ3, it's a screenshot from the Civ3 screen saver! Fooled you, didn't I?

Playing with English

It's Friday and I'm tired. A week of work (such as it is) tends to do that to me. I'm not full of energy. I fell asleep in front of my computer, and was only woken up by the sound of my Civ3 screen saver.

I have the screen saver, but not the actual game. Today is the day Civ3 is released in Europe. It is somewhat unclear whether Norway is in Europe or not – we are part of the European Economic Area but not of the European Union. It is indeed so unclear that while the shops here in Kristiansand did not have Civ3, Akers Mic in Oslo is selling it over mail order. I was realistically tempted to take the night train to Oslo to buy it there in the morning, then take the day train back (and read the manual all the way) so I could play it Saturday evening and all Sunday. I'm not sure it really is that good, but it sure sounds like my type of Civilization from what I hear. But I've talked a lot about that already all this month, haven't I?


Oh, an they are taking pre-orders on The Sims: Hot Date now. Expect a detailed review and ridiculous screen shots when it arrives, if it is in my lifetime. Pre-orders are generally a sign that things are past the idea stage and starting to get near completion.

And just because I don't have anything better to write, let me comment on the sad fact that I decided to write "pre-orders are" instead of "pre-orders is" in the paragraph above. Grammatically this is probably right, but it is not really right in spirit. It is not logical that the verb "to be" should be used between a plural and a singular like that. It's kind of like writing "X=1 for values of X >1". Not good. What I really meant was this: "The fact that the shops are taking pre-orders is a sign ..." But that's rather long, and everybody knows what I mean anyway. But in light of this, the correct form of the verb would be "is" rather than are. But this again would make my English teaching readers choke on their chocolate. The obvious solution is for English to discard the overly redundant verb forms, like we in Norway have done centuries ago. In Norwegian we use the same form for "is" and "are" and "art in Heaven". I recommend you do the same.

It's not like English hasn't borrowed words and grammar from Norwegian and Danish already. This was considered highly trendy during the Viking age. You get the impression from reading European history that the Vikings were not exactly welcome, what with them being stupid heathen barbarians and all. Of course, Scandinavian school books tell exactly the opposite. The fact remains that the Vikings mingled freely with the English for quite a long time, traded and married and generally had a good time. And the English started their habit of pilfering any word they could find from languages they met. From the Vikings they didn't just get the obvious stuff like "ski" and "fjord", but also words like "law", "bag" and even "they". The languages were more similar back then, but as you know, the English have kept nabbing words from other languages ever since.

These days, the flow is rather the other way around. Of course, this is largely because we Norwegians are more and more bilingual. The young generation hardly even notices whether a song or a computer game is in English or Norwegian. Actually I don't always remember that myself.

So English words abound in modern Norwegian, despite attempts from such cultural institutions as Norsk Språkråd to make us write "vaier" instead of wire and "teip" instead of tape. (Actually we have a nifty Norwegian words for that kind of tape that you use to glue things together. It's called "limband" in my native New Norwegian, and that means "glue ribbon". Or glue tape, I guess. But these days, most people say tape.) And someone like me doesn't exactly help, I guess. Or is that "someone like I"? Someone likes me? Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

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