tungemål wrote:Hi, I found this story interesting, and as a Scandinavian I feel the need to "defend" the employee. It might be that you misinterpreted the remark by that person?
It's odd that a Scandinavian book fair wouldn't bring originals, only translations. But I can't imagine the reason would be that they view the Czechs as poor. Rather I think we Scandinavians don't expect anyone to speak our languages, so translations were probably seen as a natural way of presenting Scandinavian authors.
I remember one time I visited Poland, and the young hostel receptionist spoke Norwegian with me! That really impressed me. She hadn't even been to Norway as far as I remember, but had just learnt Norwegian by herself.
No, I didn't misinterpret anything at all. It's an almost precise quote, translated to English: "No, the original books would be too expensive for you." It's slightly offensive to assume I just misinterpreted something.
It wasn't a scandinavian book fair. It is the largest czech bookfair, with books in some languages available every year (their publishers or representatives participate), and one foreign literary tradition is always picked as the main guest and offering something new. It always gets a lot of space, it is one of the main subjects of all the program (lectures, discussions with authors, even exhibitions, etc). Usually more publishers from the country (or countries in some cases) participate, sometimes they bring more to sell in the language, sometimes less, but they always bring also a lot to show in the language. Not the scandinavian year. This arrogant attitude was way bellow the usual standard upheld by the other guests together with the organisers.
Yes, the scandinavians don't expect people to learn their languages, or to buy their stuff (unless it gets damaged by translation). And that's a part of the problem. But the Swedes are profiting for example from the Polish healthcare workers coming to the country (the Czechs mostly haven't noticed the opportunity yet). And your example with Norwegian being used in Poland simply fits into that image, the hostel receptionist was clearly making a rational choice to learn the language of an important group of the guests (or may have just liked the language). The scandinavians profit from others learning a language, but make it hard without any reason, blaming our supposed poverty. It's not a fault of any individual, I don't mean to offend you, but it is extreme hypocrisy on the level of the countries.
I think this whole thread is about the fact we shouldn't expect to be glorified for learning a language and that's absolutely fine. Neutrality of the natives is still more than ok. Unpleasant individuals can be dealt with in most cases. But this kind of systemic prejudice and "artificial obstacle creation" towards the learners (unless the learners want to abandon everything, move abroad, and work for you, save your lives or care for your elders) is simply not something I want to deal with.