Saturday, November 28, 2009

Swedish culture and mentality.

I read something today that annoyed me quite a lot. This is nothing spectacular, I'm very easily annoyed, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. In Sweden we have this highly unpopular person or phenomenon called "Blondinbella". She is a 19-year-old girl from Stockholm who has been writing a blog of her own for a couple of years, and who turned it into a company, making quite some money off of it, and who has consequently been seen all over the newspapers and on television. All good, you say? Well it does sound quite ideal! But no...

The problem is that she writes a blog about her life (how dare she?) and about feminine stuff (HOW dare she??). You know, makeup, clothes, fashion... and she gets merchandise from companies who want her to write about them on her blog. Her blog gets an incredible amount of visits, mainly from teenage girls and from jealous Jante-lag infected women and men. This infuriates people something awful. As a result, she gets murder and rape (and mutilation...) threats, stuff thrown on her in public (like a bottle, a skinned mink...?), unpleasant phone calls, and has to live at a fake address, change her phone number all the time, and so on.

But now, how can we blame people? I mean, she's 19, rich and famous. And female! And how dare she become famous for writing about nothing? Of course "girly stuff" qualifies as nothing, since it is of no interest to anyone, the norm of "anyone" of course being male. If this had been a 19-year-old guy writing about sports, there would of course have been no problem at all. If he had received fancy shoes from Nike I'm quite sure no one would have had anything against it. But unfortunately for Blondinbella, she's female. And ugly (really, how can people stand to look at her?), and stupid (I'm not really sure why, but people say so, so I guess they must be right and they must know what they're talking about) and surely not successful, since she's famous for nothing. She therefore deserves to be stalked, ridiculed, threatened, and so on.

Wait, what was that we said about gender equality in Sweden?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Un morceau de Pouchkine.

Tout d'un coup, j'ai très envie d'écrire. La semaine dernière, j'ai eu mal aux mains et je fais donc un peu gaffe maintenant pour ne pas trop écrire. Cela veut donc dire que je ne peux pas utiliser lang-8 pour le moment et que je suis donc limitée à m'exprimer en anglais ou en français, et vu que je n'utilise presque jamais le français de ces jours...

Pendant que je fais plaisir à mes oreilles avec une cavalcade d'Einaudi, je vais essayer d'écrire quelque chose qui ait au moins un peu de sens ou d'intérêt. Ce n'est pas tout à fait facile. Est-ce que quelqu'un a l'impression d'avoir moins à dire dans une langue que dans une autre ? Oublions maintenant la question de différents niveaux de langue ; comparez deux ou trois (ou quatre ou cinq...) de vos meilleures langues, celles que vous connaissez très bien. Réfléchissez un tout petit peu sur la facilité, ou le manque de facilité, avec laquelle (lequel) vous vous exprimez dans cette langue. Ou disons la facilité relative avec laquelle vous trouvez les mots ou qui enchaîne en vous une suite de pensées. Cela m'arrive très facilement en anglais, peut-être tout simplement parce que je l'utilise tout le temps. Le suédois, je ne l'utilise presque pas du tout ; au moins pas dans sa forme pure, et je n'écris presque jamais en suédois pour des raisons évidentes. Mais cela m'inquiète un peu que le français soit si peu accommodant. Manque d'attention peut-être ?

En parlant d'autre chose, aujourd'hui notre professeur de russe nous a apporté trois caisses pleines de livres, de journaux et de disques (russes et parlant de la Russie ). Je me suis trouvé quelques choses, par exemple des cartes de l'URSS et de Moscou, des livrets sur l'Estonie et la Géorgie, des cartes postales de l'Arménie et quelques livres en russe. Celui dont je suis le plus fière, c'est une édition de « Le Cavalier De Bronze » de Pouchkine, avec des commentaires et un glossaire, d'une série appelée "Russian Readers with Explanatory Notes" de 1980. J'en suis très contente - il y a en plus des lithographies et des poèmes à la fin. J'ai aussi trouvé quelques classiques, de courtes histoires, que j'ai malheureusement déjà lues.
Ehm… en parlant de la Russie, je devrais peut-être me mettre à lire quelque chose là-dessus ^^

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nothing of substance.

I get more inclined to sin the closer I get to my exams. I probably should be reviewing something, but I know everything a little bit too well to actually get around to doing it. I think this may be bad.

While searching for something Hungarian to read today, I stumbled upon this blog, where I read this:

"Aki azt hiszi, a tündérkék picik, cukik, pillangószárnyaik vannak és virágot hoznak az ablakodba, az nagyon téved. A mi tündéreink két méter magasak, dagadó izmokkal és mély hanggal... és azok csak a nők..."

Since that was absolutely charming, I just have to decipher the rest. As soon as my conscience is okay with it, I am going to start reading Anne az élet iskolájaban. I have read a page or something like that, and even though I don't understand all that much, it feels rather okay. Understanding "a nyárfák levelei közt" gave me a small thrill and this time I am going to just read.

Otherwise when it comes to reading, I recently finished Отцы и Дети and thought it was time for a Norwegian book, so today I started reading Jeg skal vise dere frykten. It's about time my Norwegian stopped being so colloquial.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


(This post was really much more interesting and better formulated before I wrote it down, but unfortunately it has been traveling around in my head for over a week and bits and pieces got lost whereas other just became muddled.)

When I was still rather new to language learning, I used to have periods when I was extremely motivated and then periods when I wasn't the slightest bit interested in languages. Perhaps this was due to the rather low level I was at in both of my languages (Russian and Arabic), or just due to lack of experience. I really do believe that you learn how to learn, and that I partly did learn after lots of trial and error.

I would really be interested in hearing from you other folks how this works for you personally. Do you ever - or often - lose interest in your languages? I never lose interest anymore. I think the last time I lost interest was last summer; since then I have had no unproductive periods (and since I always used to get quite depressed during such times I guess it's uniquely a good thing, just so that SOMEONE doesn't start talking about how we all need to rest and so on - we don't).

I was engaged in some other things back in the up-and-down days as well; I used to be a very ferocious knitter, and anyone who has ever been into knitting knows that this is (or can be) an extremely time-consuming activity, especially when you are working on 12 simultaneous projects, something that all hard-core knitters naturally do. I also used to go to the gym quite a lot (yes I know, weight lifting and knitting... I have always liked weird combinations) and that is surely a very tiring activity. I do neither of those these days, both due to inability and lack of opportunity/time/money... the positive effect of this has been a concentration of my interest and energy on foreign languages. This concentration could however just as well have been applied to knitting instead. I can very well imagine a situation where it is completely unimaginable to not knit during any free moment of the day (yes, that's how serious you get) since that was practically what I was like when I was not in my language learning mode, just like it is now completely unimaginable for me to not constantly try to improve my languages. It doesn't really require an effort; not doing anything is more of a task than just naturally keeping myself busy. It is usually not worth pointing out such things to people who have no interest in anything and who don't spend ridiculous amounts of time doing something most people wouldn't even think twice about since you just get weird looks. It is much easier to just go along with their "oh, you are so talented with languages"-excuse or the "wow, your knitting is so even, that surely is the result of TALENT and not hard work!". Talent is a lame excuse, and an extremely annoying one when you don't have any.

Oh oh, I almost forgot. I think (know) that the language learning community (dear Skypers/IRCers, dear Forum folks!) has also helped me a lot. I just can't bear seeing other people hard at work, or speaking about being hard at work at least, while just sitting there myself.


The other day Jack sent me a link to a song that was just incredibly beautiful and ever since I have been listening to Ludovico Einaudi. I will provide you with the very same song that he gave me. I have the feeling it was made for my very own little world of classic literary.