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Nov 24

DNA study finds London was ethnically diverse from start

Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 in Links

A DNA study confirms London was an ethnically diverse city from its very beginnings, BBC News has learned.

Read more here.

Nov 24

Genetic history of Europeans revealed

Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 in Links

A study of ancient DNA has shed new light on the genetic history of Europeans, confirming that farming spread across Europe due to an influx of ancient people from what is now eastern Turkey.

Read more here.

Oct 27

What happened?

Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 in Other, Whining

Today the sun was shining and it was actually quite warm and not windy at all. Very nice in fact. I hurried out so I wouldn’t miss the sunshine. My mom and I went shopping (groceries, nothing more fun).

That’s when I was hit with depression. By staying indoors for quite a while (except for bringing in the mail, apples etc or hanging the laundry) I’d sort of been in denial. Partially shut myself down. Now it all came back to me. What a pathetic failure I am. What a loser.

At the store we ran into a woman my mom knew from way back. I remember her kids. It was like looking back in time. There he was, that kid (who wasn’t my friend, but I knew him – he lived in our neighbourhood). Except he’s not six years old anymore, with one of those toothless smiles, six-year-olds have. It was the guy’s son. And according to the grandmother there are more grandkids, and she and this boy were going to get them.

Great. This guy, who quite honestly is younger than me, has more than one kid now. Then look at me. Living with my mom. Still struggling to get a degree and later, hopefully, a job. No boyfriend, no kids. Help!

I know many other people are a lot worse off, so I’m ashamed to whine like this, but I just hate myself for failing this badly. The worst part is I’ve never known what to do or rather how to do it, obviously, or I’d have done it years ago. (Close your eyes, take a deep breath. If you can’t even calm down, how are you ever going to straighten out this mess you’ve made of your life?) There. One thing at a time. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? A pity it isn’t, not really.

Feb 3

Studying Languages

Posted on Saturday, February 3, 2007 in Humanities

I love to learn new languages or work on the ones I already know a little. Unfortunately, apart from Swedish (naturally) and English, it’s quite hard to get practice. You really should go to the country where the language is spoken, and preferably for a long time – six months, a year, or more. If you can’t do that – and I can’t and I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to – there are some other things you can do.

Almost every day I read the news online. Not just ordinary daily news, but about all the other things I’m interested in. When it’s possible, I try to read the news in as many languages as possible. For instance, I get my daily news stories from a site called EuroNews. There I can read the same news story in French, Spanish, Italian and German. That helps a lot and if I need more help, I use an online service, like Altavista Babelfish.

Technology news and ecology news are trickier. Those are just two of the things I’m interested. Usually, I can only get those news stories in my two first languages. When I can, I try to get those stories in French and possibly Spanish – my two “second best” languages. That doesn’t mean I like some languages more than others. It’s just that these are the ones I’m a little better at, than German and Italian.

Another thing I do, is read books. So far, that’s only in French. I try to get a good book I’d like to read and then I buy it in French. In fact, I don’t think the series of mysteries I’m into now have even been translated into Swedish, and most likely not into English either.

Last year or the year before, I found out that a Chinese book I wanted to read was only available in one Western language. Fortunately for me, that language was French. That gave me the opportunity to read the book and practice one of my languages at the same time.

One of the best things you can do – other than staying in the country where the language is spoken or talking to a native speaker – is chatting or emailing with a native speaker, or posting at some online message board or forum or in an internet group. For a while, I had the opportunity to chat with a Frenchman. That was really useful. I could use expressions that were a little more difficult than I usually dared to, because I got instant feedback. If I was searching for a word, I could ask him. Of course, emailing is good too. You’ll need to use a dictionary, but it’s probably best if you can express yourself at least on a basic level without help. It’s more difficult if you need to use the dictionary all the time.

Of course, you might ask yourself what possible use I could have for my studies. In strictly utilitarian/economical terms probably not. I’m not planning on moving to another country, though I used to think about that a lot, some years ago. It’s possible that I might get a job here in Sweden, where I’d get to use some of my languages. Of course, I’d need to be completely fluent. I’m only fluent in English (and Swedish), not any of the other languages. Not yet anyway.

What I’d really like is to become a translator, but that’s not going to happen. I write books in Swedish and English, but I doubt if I’ll ever be able to write that well in any of the other languages.

Despite that, I think my language studies are ‘useful’. At least it keeps my brain active. Besides, it’s a lot of fun. Nowadays, there isn’t much I find ‘fun’, but reading, writing and using languages in some way, really are.

Reading about history is another thing I enjoy. Reading – not studying. Music is another of my interests, but the only reason I mention that here, is that listening to music can actually help you with your language studies.

When you listen to a song, you can try to translate the lyrics inside your head. Music is an aspect of a country’s culture, so by listening, you might learn something about the country where the language is spoken.

These are just a few things you can do to practice your languages. None of this is very expensive. If you can’t afford to or don’t have the time to travel, you can try doing what I do. Of course, that only works when you’re not a complete beginner. On the other hand, there are supposed to be excellent online courses or courses on CD:s and DVD:s, but that will be a lot more expensive.


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