Monday, November 29, 2010

hockey pool week 7 AND 8

After some misunderstandings and snafus (I still don't know my mac as well as I would think) I hereby present Hockey pool week 7 and week 8!

(As is obvious with the slope I lost momentum for week 7) but more importantly the winner was Gerty-Z with a whooping 40 points! WOW! The rest of us lined up as follows; Ricardipus, Cath, Lavaland, Bob, TomJoe, SM and me as a last place holder....

Week 8, ended yesterday and ScientistMother stands as winner with 35 points!! Congrats! The rest of us lined up as followed; Lavaland, Cath, Gerty, Riciadipus, me, Bob and Tom as the last place holder for the week...

Now, I have to go and cry in the corner since I forgot to change my picks for this week and therefore probably will have some less points again.... darn!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

tale of two languages

One of the questions I have gotten since I moved to post doc city* is "do you think in your own language and then translate in your head". And I try to explain that it took about a month (give or take**) being surrounded by new language before I dreamt and thought in that language and that there is a certain strangeness in the thoughts. What I mean with that? 

I mean I think in English most of the time. I describe my feelings in terms of English. Not when I speak to my old friends back home, or my family - since I speak mother tongue with them but it's sometimes like I have to translate my thoughts back into mother tongue since I have them in English (currently since I live here). Sometimes it's difficult to translate them into the "same" word and that is a bit odd. I mean, I'm not surprised when I fail to explain my feeling in English, when I know what I mean deep down, but having trouble explaining the English expression into mother tongue? Quite annoying.

It's sometimes confusing. And there is a disconnect. The feelings I describe in English isn't always as "feely" as they would be in Swedish. As to describe it, it's sometimes more like watching a movie and knowing what they say but it's not connecting as much inside as it would be if it was in Swedish. Like the experience when someone calls you a bad word in "not-your-mother-tongue" or having to curse in another language***.

I made a mistake in teaching my coworkers some of the worst words (in my language) when I started my post doc. They laughed and thought it funny and for some short time, they said them to my jokingly in the lab. I had to tell them that it wasn't going to work anymore since it wasn't a joke to me when I heard the words. Funny enough, when they said the equivalent words in English I didn't really care. They were sort of uncomfortable though... if I said their words... The test did work and we all decided to stop trying to be "funny".

Anyhow, it's interesting that it's like having two different lives - one in mother language and one in second language.

And then the kicker. 

Sometimes I wake up and feel strange about my dreams. I have recollections about them being about my friends back home, the ones I've known for several years, and it's been very normal... but yet, something is odd. And then I realise that the problem is that my old friends were speaking English, and the voice over in the dream was in English as well. It doesn't make sense, since when I think about them all is in description in Swedish. And even if I can correctly translate words, they don't really mean the same...

Part of this was something I thought about when thinking about science since a lot of lingo back home is still in English (after all, we are not Icelandic or French where they make a new word but we use the English word most times and "make it Swedish") and that makes a challenge to talk about certain aspects of science in Swedish while most people know the English word anyway. Partly it was about my feelings and why it's harder to grasp certain things when they are spoken in English. Interpret people and their actions and words are hard to start with. Doing the same things in another language, a whole another problem.

It's like the second one of disconnect... I spoke to a friend back home a bit back whose mother is really ill. It was one of those times when I realised, yet again, that "I'm sorry" and "jag är så ledsen för din skull" aren't connecting the same within my heart. The latter version really hits home. I guess that is one of the reasons I sometimes rehash conversations in my head and translate them to really "feel" what was said and felt. It's just not the same when I speak my new language. It's like the defense if down in my ow language, whereas it is still a sort of wall in front of my heart in English.

I guess I could try and explain it better if I state that it could be the same that I usually need to read poems out aloud in order to feel the words. Or, I am just like a child trying to learn how to read? In any event, I need to hear the words as I read them in order to feel the emotion behind them (plus, it makes me read slower when I read aloud so maybe that is the reason?)

If nothing else, read the poems and words out loud from here and see if they make more sense... or more emotional?

Then there are those poems I read as a young woman, the ones I would like some of my newer friends to read and see if they like them as much as I do.... although I am not sure the read the same in English (the ones that exist that is). Partly maybe since poems are so hard to translate, considering the words and the context that makes the whole thing hard to make the same beautiful poem. I guess it might be the same in general when you translate although I tend to think poems are extra hard to make "right".

If interested, Edith Södergran and Karin Boye are two excellent poets whom I am not sure are found in English but are quite the quintesse of poets (imho). They are mostly on the dark side, or at least some of their romantic ones and others questioning life, but maybe that is quite the thing with poets? Emotions, mostly the bittersweet ones... but yet so eloquently written and perfectly describing the feelings and motions in order to make it easier to us who doesn't have the elegance of expression to know what to strive for? Or just expressing them?

*another country with another language than my mother tongue, and the question arise (sometimes after people ask if perhaps we speak English in my country) when established that I do have another language as my first one...

** it all depends on if I'm surrounded with only the new language or if I speak my native one a lot every day... if that makes sense? Even if I read the new paper every day, and talk to my family often, it's not the same as speaking it every morning and on and off during the day.

*** cursing has been shown to me being one of those things that doesn't connect as much inside when someone calls me a bad word. I mean, I get upset - don't get me wrong there - but the same context in native language is way more upsetting. When I was younger I spent some time in France, speaking French and almost ended up in a really bad situation since I said some very rude words that really didn't mean that much to me.... partly since it was another language. Safe to say, that wasn't true for Same thing that been explained to me by people who work with immigrants in my own country and their use of foul words in Sweden, since it doesn't connect that same way to them when they say that. In short, it's easier to curse in another language since it doesn't speak to you the same as if you were to say it in your native language.