Friday, July 31, 2009

And some more!

I must say I have been quite good at doing my speed-reading exercises, except for the paragraph exercise where you are supposed to find the topic on as many paragraphs as possible in five minutes and note it down. I find that incredibly boring a stressful. I have been doing the other ones though, and yesterday I read the book "The Evilyn Wood Seven-Day Speed Reading Program”. I think these two books are excellent together. You can read the second one through quickly and pick up a lot of things that you also find in the first book, but the first book is more structured like a course that you follow by doing this and that every day. Today I am going to start trying out some of the hand movements from the second book. Wide reading it yesterday, I read perhaps half of it, or a third, by reading two lines at once. I'm not sure if this is quicker or not, but I intend to do some tests today. Like all techniques, this one also needs practicing, and I haven't done that much practicing with it yet, so it may still be slower.

New records? I have managed Swedish fiction at a good recall rate of 740 words a minute (833 as well, but then I wasn't satisfied with my recall) , and somehow English nonfiction at 884... O_o I think I am rather comfortable with 500 now.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Spot on.


Swedes are very often subject to an inferiority complex towards English. I guess this is pretty common in many countries where English is seen as something new and cool compared to the native language. But really, do the politicians have to engage in this as well? The article is about the spreading of English all around Sweden, for example by giving instances in Stockholm English names. I will translate some of my favorite quotes.

"You can start to wonder if our pathetic Stockholm politicians have time to do anything else than hang around at Google translate."

"Young people use English words even when there are perfectly good Swedish ones, perhaps because they haven't read enough Swedish literature in order to master and play around with their native tongue."

"... instead a lot of politicians act precisely like those teenagers who think that Swedish is just sooo boring."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Speed-reading update.

I have been trying to follow the book in the designated pace and although I can show some more impressive numbers already, I’m not sure I’ve become a better reader just yet. :) I'm experiencing some slight problems with the main technique, which is to use your hand as a pacer as you go down the lines. That is, your hand should stop you from looking back and forcing you to continue ahead. For me, this is rather painful, even though I use a pen instead to minimize the movement. Because of this, I don't practice as much as I probably should. After today's exercises, I do seem to have improved my reading of easier material. The book tells you what sort of material you should use for different exercises, and right now you are supposed to use easier material, so I am using historical Swedish fiction, a book called "Livläkarens besök" by Per Olov Enquist, which deals with Denmark. The first time I read in this book, I managed 350 words per minute, while making an effort. I did not make a great effort for my 240 words of English nonfiction. Now, when reading this easier book and making an effort, I'm at 530 words per minute.

There is of course a great difference between reading in a relaxed manner and reading while making an effort to speed things up. I am Evidently not only interested in reading fast, I also want to understand what I read and I am definitely interested in actually remembering it. Right now, I don't see how those things are supposed to improve by reading faster, but I guess that will come later in the book. This is, after all, just lesson four or something like that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Overheard Swedish conversations.

Tjuvlyssnat is an excellent site for colloquial FUNNY Swedish. I love this one:

Buss 176, Stenhamra

Två fjortistjejer sitter på bussen och diskuterar en kille.
Tjej 1: Asså, typ igår kväll när jag pratade med Jesper på MSN så skrev han värsta weird!
Tjej 2: Asså, typ som på bilddagboken då eller?
Tjej 1: Ah! Han skriver som värsta läraren! Han skrev med stor bokstav i början på varje ord! Typ: Hej Jessika. Asså! Han skrev hej med stort H och Jessika med stort J! Så jäkla störande, kändes som om det var ett jävla prov.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Charming ladies back in the days.

I have spoken about Peer Gynt earlier on this blog, but now I have actually started reading it together with my boyfriend. Parts of it are just excellent.

-- Peer is trying to seduce the woman in green, the daughter of the mountain king. --

(En grennkledd kvinne går i lien. Peer Gynt folger efter under alle slags forelskede fakter.)

DEN GRØNNKLEDDE (stanser og vender seg). Ег det sant?

PEER GYNT (skjærer med fingeren over strupen). Så sant som jeg heter Peer; -
Så sant som du er en deilig kvinne!
Vil du ha meg? Du skal se hvor fint jeg meg ter;
Du skal hverken trede veven eller spinne.
Mat skal du få så du er ferdig å sprekke.
Aldri skal jeg deg i håret trekke – (I'm never going to pull your hair)

DEN GRØNNKLEDDE. Ikke slå meg heller? (And not beat me either?)

PEER GYNT. Nei, var det likt?
Vi kongssønner slår ikke kvinnfolk og slikt.

DEN GRØNNKLEDDE. Ег du kongssønn?


DEN GRØNNKLEDDE. Jeg ег Dovrekongens datter.

PEER GYNT. Er du det? Se, se; det treffer jo godt.

DEN GRØNNKLEDDE. Inne i Ronden har far min sitt slott.

PEER GYNT. Da har mor min et større så vidt jeg fatter.

DEN GRØNNKLEDDE. Kjenner du far min? Han heter kong Brose.

PEER GYNT. Kjenner du mor min? Hun heter dronning Åse.

DEN GRØNNKLEDDE. Når far min er sint, så sprekker fjelle.

PEER GYNT. De raper bare mor min tar på å skjelle.

This is some of the accompanying music by Grieg.

-- Peer is talking to the Mountain King who has agreed to give him his daughter. The King wants Peer to lay off his Christian clothing and wear a tail. --

DOVREGUBBEN. Demest må du kaste dine kristenmannskleder ;
Ti det skal du vite til vårt Dovres heder:
Her er allting fjellvirket, ingenting fra dalen,
unntagen silkesløyfen ytterst på halen.

PEER GYNT (vred). Jeg har ingen hale!

DOVREGUBBEN. Så kanst du få.
Hofftroll, bind ham min søndagshale på.

PEER GYNT. Nei, om du får! Vil I gjøre meg
Til nar?

DOVREGUBBEN. Beil aldri til datter min med
Baken bar. (Never propose to my daugther with a bare rear end.)

PEER GYNT. Gjøre menneske til dyr!

DOVREGUBBEN. Min sønn, du feiler;
Jeg gjør deg bare til en høvelig beiler.
Du skal få en branngul sløyfe å bære.
Og det gjelder her for den høyeste ære.

PEER GYNT (betenksomt).
Der sies jo mennesket er kun et fnug.
Og litt får en lempes efter skikk og brug.
Bind vekk!

DOVREGUBBEN. Du est еn medgjørlig fyr.

HOFFTROLLET. Prøv nu hvor fint du каn svanse
Og svinge !

PEER GYNT (arrig).
Hå, vil I ennu til mere meg tvinge?
Krever I også min kristenmanns-tro? (Do you also demand my Christian faith?)

DOVREGUBBEN. Nei, den kan du gjerne beholde
I ro.
Troen går fritt; den legges ingen toll på;
Det er skorpen og snittet en skal kjenne et troll på.
Ваге vi er ens i lader og kledsel,
Kan du gjerne kalle tro hva vi kaller redsel. (As long as we are the same in manners and dress you are free to call faith what we call fear.)

Reading somewhat faster.

I have always been concerned about my reading rate. I have always wanted to improve it, I have always been very jealous of rapid readers. I did actually read rather fast when I was 15 and mainly read fantasy; back then I had way more confidence when it came to my intellectual capacities than I do now and I often read one book in a day. I even had more confidence when it came to my language abilities, which is quite funny since I was merely bilingual back then.

When I was 16 or 17, my boyfriend at the time gave me a speed-reading book. By that respectable age, I was already a nervous wreck when it came to my reading speed. I was almost a bit reluctant to start the book since I was convinced I would just fail at it – which I also did. It’s hard to say why exactly (except for bad attitude) because I worked rather hard with it (the method included making texts with columns and increasing your eye span ), but I think that in the end the whole thing is made me feel stressed and reluctant about reading which was really not the point to begin with… however, Thom recommended this site to me and on it you can find another speed-reading book. Since I do a lot of reading and since I am soon to become a student at the University of Oslo I thought it would be too silly to not even give it a try. So that’s exactly what I’ll do and I will evaluate the progress here on my blog.

My starting point seems to be a good one, my reading speed is rather average and according to the book I should be able to make a lot of progress. In case anyone was wondering, I can manage 240 words per minute when reading English nonfiction at the moment. I know very well that I do a lot of conscious regression when reading, but I’ve always felt incapable of stopping this bad habit. I did not, however, know that you should be sitting up all the time! I don't even have a desk to sit at, nor a normal table, so I'm not sure what I'll do about that.

Oh well, here we go!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Nonfiction books.

Not everyone likes to read fiction, something which can be very unfortunate of course, but that's just the way it is. It seems that a lot of the people who do not like great literature can on the other hand enjoy some science fiction or fantasy, so even if they cannot be made to read Dostoyevsky, they may accept Douglas Adams (and why not in a Russian English edition with pictures?) or Terry Pratchett, just to take some examples. However, if you are into a bigger language, such as Russian, you can use reading extensively in your studies without ever touching any filthy fiction, and without having to go to Russia in order to find books (even though that is much nicer than reading something off a screen).

AvaxHome is here to save us, or them, since I for one do not mind fiction. At this extraordinary, albeit ugly and slightly impractical, site, you can find books about everything. For Russian, that is actually true: cooking, airplanes, programming, maths, physics, chess, makeup, history, literature, languages, aviation, health... this could continue forever. I haven't browsed the site for other languages that very much, but I suppose that their categories aren't that bad either.

These are the books I found today while going through the feeds in my RSS reader:

Неизвестный СССР. Противостояние народа и власти 1953-1985 (The unknown USSR. The opposition of the people and the authorities 1953-1985)
Сказания о начале славянской письменности (The story of the beginning of the Slavic written language.)
Русские обряды и традиции - Народная кукла (Russian ceremonies and traditions -the folk doll)
Быт и нравы Древней Руси (Way of life and customs of the ancient Rus')
Русские руны (Russian runes)

All this is excellent, now I just have to find some time in order to read them.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Saami music.

The Saami languages are some of the most awesome sounding languages in the world, in my opinion. They are also quite hidden away and rarely heard outside of Scandinavia (and perhaps Russia, but I'm not sure how big a part the Saamis are of Russian society). Anyway, Norway has a quite famous Saami singer, Mari Boine, who has made some quite awesome songs and I thought I'd share her with you.

My all time favourite:

And here's another Saami artist (Swedish) for those of you who like pretty blondes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A song we all grew up with.

In Sweden, that is. Ah, such a classic. (With lyrics.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Français et autres.

J'ai trouvé deux choses qui pourraient être intéressantes pour ceux qui apprennent le français, mais aussi pour ceux qui apprennent d'autres langues. D'abord, une collection de liens pour la prononciation française, la liaison, les fautes habituelles des anglophones (vous êtes assez chanceux en fait, nous qui avons des « petites » langues maternelles n'avons pas très souvent accès à de telles listes), la phonologie générale, des exercices... Je vais aller les regarder d'un peu plus près un de ces jours. Comme d'habitude. C'est donc ici.

Le deuxième lien, c'est pour un machin qui prononce des mots en une variété de langues avec une variété de voix. Je ne sais pas encore si c'est toujours exact, mais si vous trouvez des choses bizarres, dites-moi. Et voilà.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Yandex is great, you can make your own wordlists while using their dictionary, and then test yourself on the words.

Ваш результат: 5/5.
Ваш уровень — Мудрый Каа.

Иностранные слова для вас – легкая добыча. Еще бы, охота на кроликов и мышей сделала вас точным и сообразительным. Да пребудет с вами сила.

Friday, July 3, 2009


So, this is my first Hungarian recording, inspired by Cathy.
It was damned hard, I so am not used to speaking this language -_-

Comment | Copy This

L'arabe et moi.

Il n'y a pas très longtemps, j'ai voulu organiser mes documents hongrois. Ces derniers ans, j'ai un peu perdu mon sens d'organisation : je mets mes papiers un peu partout sans ordre, dans des tas qui grandissent sans cesse. Auparavant, en revenant de la France, je tenais tout en ordre, dans des classeurs bien structurés. Donc, l'autre jour, j'ai de nouveau senti le besoin de retrouver cet esprit maniaque de ma jeunesse. Je suis allée regarder dans ma bibliothèque afin de trouver quelque chose correspondant à mes besoins, et je me suis dit que vu l'échec qui était mes études de l'arabe, mon beau classeur d'arabe pourrait bien sûr devenir classeur de hongrois ! J'ouvre le classeur et je suis immédiatement déprimée. Là-dedans se trouvent des centaines de feuilles pleines de notes (beaucoup plus que dans mon classeur de russe que je n'utilise plus depuis deux ans), d'explications, de conjugaisons, etc. Je me souviens vaguement d'un travail énorme sur cette langue, et qu'en est-il du résultat aujourd'hui ? Absolument rien, peut-être même moins que rien. Comment est-ce même possible ?

L'arabe et moi. Histoire d'échec, d'amour malheureux... Mon problème avec l'arabe, c'est en fait que je veux l'aimer, mais je n'y arrive pas vraiment. Ce n'est donc pas super étonnant que j'ai arrêté de l'étudier il y a deux ans, tandis que j'ai continué avec le russe (après une pause de six mois, mon premier temps en Norvège avec trois boulots et un nouveau copain), dont je ne me lasse jamais. J'aime la langue arabe en soi, c'est une langue très intéressant grammaticalement. Je n'aime pas, par contre, le son de la langue, ni vraiment la culture arabe. Si j'avais été un homme, j'aurais déjà été capable de parler la langue, mais malheureusement, je n'en suis pas un... Alors quand j'ai vu toutes ces feuilles, je me suis dit pour de vrai, « si je recommençais... ? » et je n'y pense pas pour la première fois ; cette idée me vient en esprit quelquefois chaque an. Quand j'écoute Mira Awad j'ai vraiment envie de l'apprendre ; quand j'entends mes clients au travail, ce n'est plus le cas... Et d'ailleurs, pourquoi faut-il toujours que je m'intéresse aux langues les plus compliquées ? L'arabe, me semble-t-il, ne me paraîtrait plus aussi difficile maintenant qu'à l'époque, quand je ne savais pas encore très bien la grammaire russe, mais quand-même...