Reflections on the First Elfdalian-Themed Month

Written by Dyami Millarson

Monday 1 April, the exact day when people celebrate April Fools’ Day, was the commencement date of our Elfdalian project, which I announced in my article on the language of the trees originally published at the beginning of this month. As I am writing this, April is drawing to a close, which means the first month of our Elfdalian project is drawing to a close as well. April is a special month, because during this spring month, spring is becoming truly visible whilst trees and plants are starting to blossom and display their light-green leaves. April symbolises a new beginning, which is why Easter, the folk festival of the new beginning, has been celebrated during this time since ancient polytheist times. For me, April meant two celebrations: April Fools’ Day which I experienced as a joyful day as I commenced a new language project and Easter which was for me the symbolic celebration of a new beginning for the Elfdalian language. I would have liked to write an Easter special, but I decided to just publish an article written in the language of Groningen about the wealth of knowledge found among the elderly and why we ought to pay special attention to learning from them. I felt it was nice to talk about why the elderly are rich spiritually. People too often only pay attention to the elderly when they are rich financially, which is unfortunate, but I believe we should pay attention to the elderly because they are rich spiritually.

Spring is the time when everything starts to grow again and the world starts looking renewed and reborn. I experienced this spectacle of nature in April, and I saw a symbolic meaning in all of this; I saw a message of newfound hope. I thought the world showed me a suitable special message for Elfdalian. I had not originally planned it this way, but it was just meant to be. Likewise, I thought that March was really appropriate for studying Helgolandic, because as it turned out later, 1 March was the day when the speakers of Helgolandic could finally return to their sacred island after having lived in exile for many dreadful years. One surprising reward for learning Helgolandic was that it fostered a deep connection to the island and North Sea. April 2019 was our Elfdalian-themed month and I realise that April 2019 will never come back. I have spent much of my valuable time in April this year on learning Elfdalian and I look back on April as a wonderful experience. I undertake language challanges, because I always want to learn something new. I gained new insights from learning Elfdalian. When you learn a new language, you need to solve problems and this offers you new insights of various kinds. Languages inspire in so many ways and they help one make sense of the world around.

With significant effort, I have published 1 long Elfdalian article in April. Due to personal reasons, I did unfortunately not achieve as much in April as I had anticipated, so I will have to extend my full-focus study period to next month, which means that I will continue studying Elfdalian in May with complete dedication. I hope to publish many Elfdalian articles in July. My current planing is to publish a Saterlandic article every single day in May, a Helgolandic article every single day in June and an Elfdalian article every single day in July. This month I was not satisfied with the amount of Elfdalian words that I have learned, so I will focus in May on building my vocabulary. I recently translated 120 Elfdalian words to Clay Frisian. As a next challenge, I hope to translate 1200 Elfdalian words to Clay Frisian and if I have time to spare, I may wish to make a list of thematic vocabularies for Elfdalian later. Simultaneously, I wish to continue reviewing 3500 words of Swedish in May.

I have not been able to focus much on grammar in April either. Verbs being the most relevant aspect of grammar to my mind, I could spend more time on memorising the list of Elfdalian strong verbs in May. It might be an appropriate challenge for next month to produce an article listing the Elfdalian strong verbs. I have made similar lists of strong verbs for Clay Frisian, Aasters and Eilauners in 2018. While studying Elfdalian strong verbs, I could simultaneously review Swedish strong verbs. Other aspects of Elfdalian grammar worth paying special attention to are the conjunctions, preposition (which are linked to at least 1 grammatical case), pronouns and the declension of nouns and adjectives. I do not want to spend too much time on learning these, but I just want to focus on what I want to use for the time being. Some grammatical aspects, as well as some vocabularies, are tools that I do not need right now. However, I am sure there will be a right time when I definitely need them.

What struct me in April – and what I learned – is how important it is to study Swedish simultaneously with Elfdalian. I noticed how interconnected these languages are, and it did not escape me what a boost it has given to my Swedish to learn Elfdalian, which demonstrated to me that a legitimate argument could be made that learning Elfdalian is good for one’s Swedish. April has definitely seen the improvement of my Swedish language skills as I started cultivating my Elfdalian language skills. I have observed the following over the last 3 years: Frisian languages in the Netherlands assume bilingualism such that one has to know fluent Dutch as well, Frisian languages in Germany assume bilingualism such that one has to know fluent German as well, and Elfdalian in Sweden assumes bilingualism such that one has to know fluent Swedish as well. This bilingualism would, in my opinion, not be strictly necessary if better study materials were available in languages other than Dutch, German and Swedish respectively, but this is presently not the case. We would like to do something about that in the future and make these languages accessible to a larger amount of people.

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