Saturday, March 31, 2007

Language confusion

As I suspected, being away from this place i.e. south of US for three weeks and being back in the mother country with its own language, has brought me back into “sorry, could you repeat that please” when it comes to fast conversation in loud pubs (or more work related conversations as well to be honest). I guess it will be better in a couple of days although it is a little frustrating to realise that my grammar has been deteriorating as well as the vocabulary. I am, I is or what is it really in some sentences?

Reading the latest Ian Rankin book have been a great help though. Not only that I picked up Scottish slang, or as I was told today ‘British’ slang really, like Geordie (someone from Newcastle, England) but also because it is a really good book. The naming of the dead is the title of it. Rankin lets the book deal with a week in July in 2005 and I realised that I completely forgot that the G8 meeting took place in vicinity of Edinburgh right before and during the bombings of London. Interesting that I forgot that, of course not the bombing but the meeting at the same dates. Can’t help but wonder just a little why the papers back home never made a though of connecting the two? Maybe because it was none? Or maybe because they just did not see the importance?

To go back to my original thought though, language and the trouble there is with switching between two of them all the time. Not really trouble but rather a quite interesting observation (introspective) from my own experience. It is true it took me about three weeks to start dreaming in English when I first moved here last summer. It only took me two days going back “home” to start dreaming in my own language. And now, being back here for four days, I am back to dreaming in English. I guess it is hard to explain how I would know the distinction but apart from sometimes remembering dialogue when I wake up, I wake up with a question in my mind… and right now the question has been in English. A little confusing every now and then. Especially when it feels kind of silly to write a diary in one specific language when dreaming and thinking in sometimes one or the other language is so switching and volatile. (Again, not really sure one can phrase it like that in correct English.)

Furthermore, I tried to explain things back home and realised it went much faster to say it in English – specifically when referring to things happened to me over here – although I should be able to find nuances very good in a language I have been speaking for over 25 years. Strange. Or maybe not? It is just that it can be a little unsettling sometimes to realise not only that I am living in another country on the other side of the world but also that sometimes it is easier and more accurate to express my feelings and thoughts in English. I also know that this is one of those things most of the people I socialise with here do not understand or can comprehend since they never have had that experience.

Well, end of rant for today. I really need to unpack my bags for real and put them away.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

milk and evidence for something "we have known a long time"

Being from Northern Europe means I have always drunk milk. Not only since I was a child but also even nowadays. Although I must admit I still find some of my friends’ habits of drinking milk to food when they are about 35 years a little unsettling. Not too strange, just a fair bit odd ;) Anyway, PNAS has an article about the research done of prevalence of genes connected to lactose intolerance and northern Europeans… Of course they have added in some studies of people drinking milk in Asia and Africa as well and have discovered that the tolerance of lactose has emerged several times in various places. Interesting indeed.

Personally I find it fun that “something we have always known back home” is now a fact and ‘proven scientifically’. As stated in the review of the article in New Scientist (PNAS is not online yet…) :
“Thomas also notes that the low levels of sunlight in northern Europe during winter mean that people have lowered levels of vitamin D in their bodies, and therefore have difficulty absorbing calcium. Milk solves this problem by providing them with both calcium and some vitamin D.”

This is also a problem when people move to our very beautiful, yet scarcely populated countries up north. People born in these countries are use to eat supplements when young, very small children always get supplement of vitamin A and D (back in the days it was the famous cod-liver oil but nowadays it actually tastes a little better) as a complement. Note though, that these supplements are not added in the food (baby formula or baby food) but rather giving on its own since you then can control the actual amount the child will ingest. (Usually 2 drops a day keeps the doctor away…) If not born in these countries this might be a little hard to know… and especially since most people moving there really don’t understand how little and bad sun we get. Not enough vitamin D to keep you happy, strong and as healthy as those sun drenched countries closer to the equator.

Enough of this navel gazing (again I feel a suspicious thought of this not being an actual word… but belly button staring seems even more silly to be honest – any English native that can help me out??)