Heavy-Metal Fans Inspired to Study Finnish, Norwegian


From The Wall Street Journal:

International fans of Nordic heavy metal are taking that devotion a step further: They’re learning tricky languages like Norwegian and Finnish to better appreciate their favorite bands.

“It’s quite a well-known phenomenon that students in Italy study Norwegian because they’re interested in metal,” Ms. Nergaard said. Irene Burdese, currently teaching Norwegian to 92 people in Turin, and Milan-based Kristian Bjornsen, who is also teaching the language to Italians, both say Norway’s unique brand of “black metal”—a darker blend of thick beats and sometimes-Satanic themes—is a big inspiration.

The thick, massive and amplified distortion that metal bands rely on may not dominate the global music industry. But metal bands hailing from the furthest reaches of Northern Europe have amassed a global following and have become integral to the genre.

“Every time someone tells us that our music has inspired them to learn, for example, Nordic languages, it gives me another reason to keep doing music,” Sami Hinkka, the 35-year-old bassist for Finland’s Ensiferum, said. Growing up, he read the lyrics of Iron Maiden and Metallica and used a dictionary to help translate the words

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