Tuesday, December 01, 2009

This and That + Interna

I recently learned there's no W in the Swedish language. How eird is that? More generally, living in a country where I don't understand the language has taught me how tiny the actual information content of spoken language is. Like, there's the woman behind me who waves my glove around "Blablablablabla," she says. What I hear is "Did you lose your glove?" Then there's the women at the register looking at my bakery bag. "Blablablablabla," she says. "How many rolls are that?" Is what I hear. I always buy eight, because that's the only number I know how to pronounce. And then there's the guy in the mall "Blablablabla Systembolaget," upon which I point towards the liquor store.

Yes, I learned one or the other word in the past two months, one of which is "Systembolaget," the only place one can buy alcoholic beverages in Sweden and basically the equivalent to Ontario's LCBO. One difference though is that in Sweden the wines are not ordered by country, but by price. More eirdness.

That I've found the closest liquor store however, I should point out, is not the reason for my blogging being a little sparse lately. The actual reason is that I'm sitting on a huge pile of application documents for our postdoc positions. Thank you for your interest in Nordita! This isn't the first time I'm doing this, but reading hundreds of letters of recommendation is invariably as humiliating as debilitating. And sometimes amusing. Here's some gems from letters I came across "he is much better than he looks," "we have shared a common nightmare," and "he spends endless hours on delving about various aspects with a tireless face," which sounds to me like an advertisement for Botox.

Anyway, some other things that I've come across lately is this nice selection of high speed photos of fluids, my mother sends this video for everybody who is Windows-Vista-damaged, and this graph gave me a good laugh. Besides this, I just uploaded a paper, so check the arXiv tomorrow.

29 comments:

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

”One difference though is that in Sweden the wines are not ordered by country, but by price. More eirdness.

Perhaps so, yet it would serve to be easily able to gather valuable social data relating to the effects of affluence or alcohol addiction, so perhaps there’s a method to their madness:-)

Best,

Phil

Johan said...

There are still w's in names of places and people (like my last name, Swanljung). But they sound just like v and are collated with v in alphabetical lists.

When I moved here from Finland I thought sorting wine by prices was pretty strange. But now I get annoyed when I go back. The monopoly is actually pretty good at quality control, which means there's a very strong correlation between price and quality here - which may seem obvious, but is definitely not the case in many countries I've lived in. If you haven't tasted what you're buying in Italy for example, it's a crap shoot (except that cheap wines do always taste cheap). If I'm shopping for wine, I want to compare wines by type and what I'm interested in paying, not country of origin. It makes a lot of sense once you're used to it.

Uncle Al said...

The Severely and Profoundly Gifted are not, as a class, lovable or even likeable. An engraved, inlaid hammer may be pretty... but the goal is to drive nails. If you hire drinking buddies you acquire hangovers.

Retain the best not the nicest. Don't parade them in public. Put them in the back room and let them drive nails. Odd is acceptable, dysfunctional is tolerable, non-productive is a short broad path back outside.

No ws!

Anonymous said...

The triple W of the world-wide-web is a casualty of S.edish?

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

” I recently learned there's no W in the Swedish language. How eird is that? More generally, living in a country where I don't understand the language has taught me how tiny the actual information content of spoken language is.”

I’m then brought to wonder if the Swedish were not perplexed as to what Elmer Fudd meant when he would refer to Bugs as “dat waskily wabbit” :-)

Best,

Phil

Arun said...

I'm a teetotaler; but I imagine any of the glamor of a wine would be lost if you had to buy it from a Systembolaget - which sounds like something from a bad science fiction book :)

Georg said...

Hello Arun,
the idea of that "Systembolaget"
not the "glamor" of wine or any
other alcoholic drink.
More or less all nordic countrys
faced a severe alcoholism turn of
the century and took similar measures
to fight it:
Control of liquors in few state
operated shops and extreme prices.
This worked more or less,
(contrary to US total prohibition)
what they do since Sweden is in EU, I dont know.
Regards
Georg
PS
I think that Bee (maybe knowingly)
said "no w in Swedish language",
which is not the whole truth.
(Emser Depesche :=)
The language, of course, has some w,
but they discarded the unystematic
writing of w or v, I suppose.
Regards
Georg

Bee said...

Hi Johan,

I just find it unnecessarily annoying that when I go grocery shopping I have to go elsewhere to get a wine with dinner. I also just don't like these liquor-stores, you always feel watched and eyed upon as if you're doing something borderline to illegal. What is entirely missing here (as in Ontario) are the specialty stores where you get the really expensive wine and liquor, often together with some small selection of similarly priced (often imported) groceries. It's the places (typically run by Frenchman or Italians) where you go if you're inviting your best friends for dinner (or your husband's boss possibly).

Anyway, in Germany the inexpensive wine can be pretty good, it's worth trying. If you're not into adventures though, the expensive wine is reliably good.

Regarding the W, yes I noticed that Swedes just use the v. There are many words that in German are written with W and in Swedish with V. "Verkstad" for example, the German word is "Werkstatt." Best,

B.

Bee said...

Arun: "Bolaget" I believe means "Company," but yes, it's not a name any PR agent would have recommended. Otoh, maybe that's the point?

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

There must be something wrong with your most recent paper which you mentioned as I appear to understand it for the most part:-) Seriously though, I find it to be written in a very straight forward and comprehensible manner and lends the reader a good overview as to what the current ongoing experiments as well as those in the near future have and continue tell us in terms of the viability of quantum gravity theories and what impact they will have on any new proposals. In fact I find it so comprehensible that perhaps you should consider submitting a version with only slight alteration to a popular magazine such as Discover as to have what so well explained here to be more generally known. Who knows they may even offer to pay a few bucks for it.

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the kind words :-) If only all the people who are still working on DSR would also understand the paper... I should mention though that the first version was considerably less readable. It was Stefan who pointed out to me several argumentations that were not easily to follow. The paper has significantly improved by his help. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Then let me also extend my appreciation to Stefan for such a clear explanation of the current status of experiment as it pertains to QG theory.

Best,

Phil

Thomas Dent said...

Hi B, you still have a little Denglish with
"the such arising nonlocality" (die dadurch auftretende Nonlocalität?)

I would just say "the resulting nonlocality".

Alas, I don't have time today to read more than the abstract.

Bee said...

Thanks... Your suggestion however doesn't quite say what I meant. How about "The locality resulting from this"? or "caused by this"? Best,

B.

Andrew Thomas said...

possibly "the resultant nonlocality"?

Bee said...

Hi Andrew: Sounds good to me, thanks for the suggestion! If I update the paper I'll change that. I also meanwhile noticed some other typos. Best,

B.

Thomas Larsson said...

But Germans pronounce V like F and W like V. Isn't that fery veird?

Bee said...

Is not true. There are some exceptional words where the pronunciation is not as the spelling suggests, but in general W is not V is not F. One word where it's confusing is "Vase" (meaning: vase) which is actually pronounced "Wase." But generally, the "W" is distinctively different from the "V": Wasser (water), Wechsel (change), Windel (diaper) and most of the question words: Was, Wer, Wann, Warum, Wie (what, who, when, why, how) ... It is true that the F is very close to V, but they're not the same. In particular, the V doesn't exist in doubles as the F does (Waffel, Hoffnung, Karaffe). It is however, I do admit, a very common spelling mistake to confuse V with F exactly because they are almost the same, fiel instead of viel (many), fon instead of von (from). But enough on that. I just thought it's funny that the Swedish alphabet is indeed different than the German one, I simply didn't expect that.

Btw, Stefan mentioned that the W was forbidden in Turkey? That's even veirder ;-) Best,

B.

Thomas Larsson said...

OK, you are the German(-in), but there is no way a German (or Swedish) W is similar to an English one. And unlike in English and Swedish, a German V is toneless (if that is correct term).

But many European languages have their quirks. E.g., in Spanish (which I have tried to help my daughter), LL is not the same letter as L. (Upsidedown-!) Isn't that weird! (Perhaps it is also weird that B is pronounced as V).

Johan said...

Bee,

Yeah, I wouldn't mind being able to buy wine where I buy food. But it isn't as bad as it sounds when you describe it! The staff are usually helpful and get lots of training, so many of them are quite knowledgable, too. The people in charge know it can't suck too much or it would be politically unpopular.

Johan

Bee said...

Hi Johann,
No, it isn't too bad. I didn't think I described it as that. The LCBO in Ontario isn't too bad either, it's more that I find alcohol monopolies annoying. Also, alcohol isn't as expensive in Sweden as I had been told. It's still more expensive than Germany or Southern Europe, but not more expensive than Canada or the USA (where they happily charge you $9 for a glass of red wine). Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Thomas,

Yes, I think every language has its weirdnesses. One thing that I find confusing about German eg is that the possibility to make a noun out of a verb, nice as it is, has the result of making it very unclear what the right word to use is. Like, you can take the word "organisieren" (to organize) and make a noun of it (das Organisieren). But then I never know, is it "das Organisieren," "die Organisation" or maybe "die Organisierung?" Similarly, is it "das Ansteigen" or "der Anstieg?" Or maybe, since the word "Steigung" exists, is it "die Ansteigung?" "Die Kondensierung," "die Kondensation," or "das Kondensieren?"

You can see how this gets confusing if you have used the language only sparsely for some years. Die Deutsche Sprachigung is foll konfusionierend ;-) Best,

B.

Uncle Al said...

arxiv:0911.2761 - Another very interesting possibility is that quantum gravity effects fail to be symmetric under the discrete transformations of physics, such as parity (P) or (CP) or time reversal invariance. These might show up in high precision measurements of these effects.

http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/boojum.pdf
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/erotor1.jpg
Massed sector gravitational parity asymmetry test

400+ times the active mass of composition Eotvos experiments. Allowed ~10^(-12) difference/average divergence, 100 times larger than U/Wash Eotvos balance sensitivity.

Somebody should look.

Anonymous said...

Someone did look.

Chirality = 0

Try again, sunshine.

stefan said...

Stefan mentioned that the W was forbidden in Turkey?

I read it in a German newspaper these days, by chance... But this issue is quite political.

According to this reporting, "Illegal letters in Turkey":

In Turkey, using the letters Q, W and X can land you in jail. They’re considered “non-Turkish letters” and article 222 of the Turkish penal code bans their use. The measure is based on a law from the 1920s when Turkey switched its language from the Arabic alphabet to the Latin one. The law was meant to stop the use of the old Arabic script.

Things are getting complicated because the letter "w" appears in the alphabet of the Kurdish minority. And while printing www addresses usually is not prosecuted, Kurdish people can have trouble when they use their "W's": Arrival of spring brings battle over the letter ’W’ (from www.hurriyet.com.tr).

Cheers, Stefan

Thomas Dent said...

OK B, what does
Roslagstullsbacken
mean?

Bee said...

No clue. Does it mean something? I believe the ending "backen" means something like hill or so. And Wikipedia offers "Roslagen is the name of the coastal areas of Uppland province in Sweden, which also constitutes the northern part of the Stockholm archipelago." And finally, the dictionary says "tull" means "customs" (German: Zoll). How's that?

One of the more useful things I learned is that in Swedish, as in German, one can adjoin several words to a new word. That's good to know because it seems to be the reason why Google translate works very badly for Swedish. It often helps to take long words apart into what one believes are single words. Best,

B.

Thomas Larsson said...

It is not a bad translation. In the old days, you had to pay customs to enter the city, at least if you brought goods. The control point on the road to Roslagen was located just below the hill.