Vibeke Sjøvoll og Geir Grothen
To Research by Two Hands
Nordic Journal of Art & Research
Vol. 11 Nr. 1 (2022) Artistic and Art-Based Research Methods

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"Geir: A boy from the north.

As a boy I spoke with a dialect from northern Norway. We moved south when I was five years old. As children we had nothing to say, we were moved. It was in 1970. I cannot remember the sound of the words I used before I was moved. I have asked my mother how I sounded, what words I used. We moved to the suburbs of Oslo. The people there talked like they did on the radio, on TV. I did not think that. I cannot remember what I thought. My father is from the north. My mother is from everywhere; she spent her childhood in the western parts of Norway, the northern, the south-eastern, the US. The spoken words of my father told the world where he came from, the sound of him made him a man from the north. The sound of my mother did not offer sure clues to anything. She was shy, soft-spoken, still is. Many of the men from the north, the women too, tried to get rid of their dialects then. People from the north were considered to be different. To get rid of one’s dialect is a hopeless task for adults, it is almost impossible to change the tones, the melody, the prosody of a person’s voice.

It only took me a few weeks to leave my dialect behind. My mother tells me this. My brain was still evolving, plastic, adaptable. My voice was thin, tentative, open. I must have wanted to sound like them. For some years now, I have come to wonder about the process of losing a dialect, a way of talking, thinking a sound and replacing it with another, the proper one. What was eradicated first? The first-person pronoun? From ‘æ’ (‘I’) to ‘jeg’ (‘I’)? I don't know. Maybe. I was trying to sound like them. Why not start with the first-person pronoun? ‘Jeg’. ‘I’. How long did it take to eradicate even the smallest traces of the north, the melodies, the tones? Did I ever get to a point where I thought I finally sounded like them?

No one from the north can hear that I am one of them."