(Isn’t your audience Norwegian?)

This is a potentially controversial post. It is filled with some facts and a lot of my own opinions. Language puritans and those easily offended are advised to look away now. 


I’m open to criticism, I believe it can be healthy. But the thing that irks people the most about me, is the language I speak… Seriously?!

I’m active in encouraging creative people to embrace their creativity. Through Handmade in Norway, I support and promote artisans and makers in Norway. Some people do not like the way I do this, or rather, they react to the language that I choose to speak.

I may not be Norwegian, but I am not one of those foreigners that refuses to speak another language.

I live in Norway and have been here since 2005. I’m from England and moved to Oslo when I was 28 years old. I speak Norwegian. I’m told that I am very nearly accent-free, in so much as I can be mistaken for a Norwegian with a slight indistinguishable twang. I’ve also been told by some Norwegians that I speak better Norwegian than they do. I don’t believe this for a second, but I think that it is very kind of them to say so. I’m not the kind of Brit that expects everyone else to understand English.

But why the heck do I write in English then? I live in Norway, I’m promoting people that live In Norway, and I’m surrounded by Norwegians. If I’m so well integrated, why don’t I write in Norwegian?

It is a valid question and I have been asked many times to justify my language choice. Now I think it’s time that I go public with my reasoning. I understand that it is a controversial decision, and some find it downright outrageous. I have even had people refuse to follow me on social media because I write in English. I was told once that it is disrespectful to the Norwegian people, and that it undermines my whole goal to promote Norwegian artisans and makers.

Now I won’t lie, I was taken aback by this. It’s a pretty shocking accusation and I didn’t like it one little bit. However, I’m as stubborn as a mule and not easily offended. So I quickly pulled myself together and concluded that this was just complete nonsense.

So here we go!

My one and ONLY reason for writing (almost) exclusively in English is…

Dun dun dun *dramatic musical interlude*

I want to reach out to the largest possible audience and get my voice heard. My goal is to promote the artisans and makers of Norway to a global audience.

Here’s some numbers for you. There are 5,407,080 people living in Norway and nearly all of them speak Norwegian. Approximately 4,3 million of those people also speak English as a second language. Norwegians are very very good with languages, especially English. In contrast, the number of people that speak Norwegian is equivalent to just 0.07% of the total world population. The rest of the world is not so good at speaking Norwegian.

Of the 7,5 billion people living on this planet approximately 1,5 billion speak English. That’s 20% of the global population that, if they were able to visit this website or my social media profiles, would be capable of reading and understanding what they read. They might not agree with me, hell, they might not even be interested, but that’s a whole other story 😉 Now obviously my reach is not that great to include every English speaker on the planet. But oh how I wish it was! Regardless, the odds are stacked substantially in favour of meeting someone fluent in English over someone that speaks and reads just Norwegian. 

So there you have it. My one and only reason for writing in English. To me, this is a no-brainer, and the criticism baffles me. But there are many different kinds of people in this world, and thankfully they’re not all like me. If there were more like me, then I’d probably be out of a job!

I can write in Norwegian if I choose to do so, but I choose not to for the benefit of the people I write about. Write me an email in Norwegian, and I’ll reply in Norwegian. Addressing a bigger audience gives a much greater chance of success.

When I decide to proudly shout across the internet about my amazingly talented network, well, I’ll do that in the most effective way possible. It’s English all the way baby!

There I said it! It’s out and I can’t take it back. It’s been a sensitive subject for some people within my network. I hope that this quashes any misconceptions and silences the skepticism about my choice of language.

Until next time!

Kelly Palencia – Founder of Handmade in Norway

Creativity and Community

SIDE NOTE: It is also worth pointing out that my website is a .com site and not a .no site. This was deliberate too and done for exactly the same reason. The content of my blog and the workbooks I have created to help makers apply to makers everywhere, not just in Norway. Restricting my site to the limited reach and lower grade SEO of a .no site would not make sense.