A student, living comfortably in the deep south (Minnesota, U.S.) experiences the thrills of true northern living, whilst attempting to define the syntactic category of "Subject". It's just one of the things you do for a love of agglutinativity.

maanantaina, heinäkuuta 20, 2009


Well, once again I will be back above 60°N, but this time I'm going to Tromsø to continue my studies in linguistics. You may hear more from me here soon, or maybe I will move elsewhere, but I will be posting photos on Flickr, and if anyone is still keeping up with this blog, you can be sure I'll update where I'm moving my travel blogging to. :)

tiistaina, helmikuuta 20, 2007

It looks like Google has taken over...

Well, I commented on someone's blog, and found out that in fact, Google has taken over another part of the world I inhabit online. I guess I can't complain about this, because it works out in my favor. Flickr, however, is not working out that way, and I apparently need to register a Yahoo account if I'd like to continue using it after March 15th. I'll probably register, but I just feel conflicted. I guess there's more use to it than other things, but it's just irritating to have to create a new account all the time for everything. But I digress.

Y'all are probably wondering what's been happening with me since I returned to the U.S.. Classes are going well, and I'm about to graduate, and what then? Well, perhaps more inhabiting the northern regions, but we'll see about that.

Since returning, I've adjusted to yankee life again. It's weird now that people notice when you get haircuts, or say "hi" to you on the street if they catch you looking, or comment about your socks, even if they don't know you. Bizarre! But, that's life, I guess.

The transit system here sucks to some extents, and I'd forgotten about that. It's inspiring me to maybe work on helping the situation, but in the mean time, here is a list of my woes, as this seems to be the proper outlet (so far):
  1. No one seems to understand that the back door is for exiting, and the front door is for boarding, and will go at great lengths to get out of the busses via the front door, even if they were just sitting in the back of the bus, and were already doing a little backtracking and going back in the direction the bus came
  2. MetroTransit uses up advertising space on promoting themselves (at train stations, say) that they could otherwise use for route maps, and useful bus-announcements
  3. There are bus stops at every frickin' corner
  4. Busses have little prestige, and people are afraid to ride them
  5. It is not cheaper to use the bus if you use it more, unless you are one of those lucky University of Minnesota students
  6. There are not enough express busses that run during the day, and outside of rush hour, so you instead get stuck on a bus that stops every block and anyone who wants to transfer to the next bus on time can forget about it.
    • Particularly an issue when cold. People generally hate walking two blocks, and instead take the bus
  7. No one seems to understand that you are riding the bus, not looking to talk with fellow riders about what you're currently reading
That having been said, I am glad that there is a transit system. I do not grieve that there are no street cars here, because that would make me an elitist bastard (as if the above grievances did not do so already). In reality, I should just break down and pay for driving, and get my liscense, but with gas prices always on the increase (and in fact less in the U.S. than they really truly should be), it seems impractical. So, what to do? Well... That takes time.

Or I could just go back to Finland. I have to say, I like that option, but is it possible? Is it even what I want to do? Will I instead go to Northern Norway? Stay tuned. ... Don't get your hopes up. This is more of a travel blog, and well, travel is a ways off. ;)

Anyway, I am pretty positive about being back though-- I just needed to get that off my chest in this place, because I haven't complained about it here yet. Elsewhere, yes. Life is good, and I'm enjoying myself. Soon I escape my undergraduate experience, and whither then, well... Who knows.

Suomea puhuville: onko Overheard in New York-bloggi tuttu? Onko se niin mahtava, että samanlainen pitäisi olla suomeksi? Klikatkaa vaan tästä linkistä, ja nauttikaa. En ole koskaan lukenut niin parhaista juttuja suomeksi, ja se onkin hyvä resurssi jos tuntuu siltä, että kyllä osaa puhua suomea, vaikka lukeminen on ihan eri juttu. Tarvitsee enemmän helsinginpuhekielisiä sivuja, kun reittiopas.fi:n slangiversio ei vaan ole tarpeeksi.

Tunnisteet: , , ,

torstaina, kesäkuuta 29, 2006

The months have passed

So, I've been quite lazy at updating here, but for some reason it requires a little extra creativity. This'll be brief, but I just wanted to say that I've been uploading photos at least. My mom visited for about 10 days recently, and so there are a few photos of Hämeenlinna and Porvoo (particularly the church, which recently burned down), and then before that of course, I went to Stockholm and Uppsala. Tomorrow I'm going on a brief trip to Tallinn to see a friend one last time, and also because another friend's residence permit expires and she just needs to stay here another 6-7 days before her plane leaves.

A lot of people I know, and the ones I get along with much better are basically leaving. Another friend is going to New Zealand for a year (which sounds awesome) to study. But, it looks like we'll all be back. I'd done a little ranting before here about wanting to try to stay, but then thinking more clearly about that the most simple solution seems to return and finish my degree (and make paying all that for education there worth it), and then maybe apply here for grad. school. I guess there's just something worth it here, that all the whining on Finnish political blogs seem to miss.

In terms of school, that's pretty much all over. I'd taken a Finnish class for the last month to occupy myself, and re-learned some useful constructions for more literary Finnish. They were really one of the few things I'd had left to learn to a point that I'm confident in them, and now I'm not afraid to use them. They're basically just things to make two clauses ("I know the man who ate the apple") and turn them into one ("I know the apple-eaten man.") Obviously, that's a simplified version of it, and it doesn't really work that way in English, because it sounds like the man has been eaten by apples instead (try "mosquito-bitten" for contrast), but I think it's a really cool aspect of literary-- or at least news-paper Finnish.

Thought I'd share this one. While my mom and I were travelling around the area, we ended up in a restaurant in Hämeenlinna, where I'd confused a waitress due to sometimes sounding fluent in Finnish. When she heard us speaking English she asked us, "Where are you from that you speak such fluent English?" Perhaps I should spend more time out of Helsinki, as the Helsinki-folk are more used to hearing foreigners speaking the language.

On a similar note, I'd been wondering what I've actually learned here in terms of language skill, and finally it hit me when I read a friend's email for a going-away party, filled with lots of bizarre onomatopoetic words, and slang, and realized that in context it was all no problem to understand. It seems that this group of people I've been hanging around has done a good job of indoctrinating me with all sorts of strange and non-standard words. Fortunately, it looks like I'm still understandable.

Anyway, time to get some errands taken care of. Check out the photos; and remember if there isn't a post in two weeks there are likely to at least be photos; sometimes I'm not feeling so wordy. Also, in the light of lack of posts, it's highly possible that I'm gone south for a while, so if I don't update again you can imagine I've probably ended up somewhere where it seems a lot of people from this country have gone before.

torstaina, kesäkuuta 01, 2006


And now to Sweden. Be back Monday or Tuesday morning!

perjantaina, huhtikuuta 28, 2006


I don't know if I've mentioned it much, but Karelian is a language I really enjoy. Perhaps even my favourite. I started studying it about a half a year after I'd stumbled upon Finnish, before I'd started studying Finnish at the university. I guess what I like about it is that it's somewhat Finnish structure, but the sound system is a bit more expansive in ways I enjoy. Perhaps this is all a result of having studied Russian through high school, but who knows.

Basically, Finnish has very few sounds. My native language English, has around 22 consonants (depending on the dialect) while Finnish has 12 (or 13 if you count one that's more of a ghostly phenomenon than anything). As for vowels, well, English again has somewhere around 20 (surprise, not 5) much more than Finnish with 8. Perhaps there's something about the vastly different sound of Finnish that inspired me to learn it. Indeed, I'd also been studying Japanese in high school, which had a nice 18 consonants and 5 vowels.

Anyway, what makes Karelian different is that it has some consonants that Finnish (for the most part) lacks, such as those in chair, share, and beige. Sometimes, it even gains an extra vowel in some dialects. Without going too deep, it also has different rules for the sets of vowels that can be combined, and so it's more likely to find three together than it is in Finnish, in which vowels sometimes assimilate in speech if three should end up near eachother.

So, I managed to find out that there was a short week-long Karelian class being taught at the Finno-Ugrian Department (which the university claims I'm a part of with while I'm here studying abroad). The class was short, but in a way it reawakened what I'd known, and taught me new things so suddenly the Karelian gears in my mind have got to cranking. I also managed to meet someone who speaks Karelian through a photocopying snafu, and so we've been exchanging a few text messages in Karelian (the novelty of which will not ever wear off).

If anyone is curious to hear some Karelian click here to see the text, and then follow the speaker icon to the left of the title to hear it read. If things look funny, you might have to install some fonts to view it properly, so the ß displays as š, and the à as č, and so on. Anyway, the article is about the growing of flax, which as far as I have seen is also grown in Canada. There's more texts and sound clips on the site of poetry and so on, but this seems nice and neutral, and it has some triphthongs. There are some phenomena which the orthography doesn't capture, as well, so anyone listening that deeply can have fun trying to figure out what. Notice the Russian influence? ;)

Anyone else feeling more enterprising might try answering the questions at the bottom of the text:

ezim.: Konža pelvaš zavodiu kukkie? Pelvaš kukkiu heińaigah, a kukat ollah heliezet da sinizet.

lauantaina, huhtikuuta 08, 2006

Spring: Season of Light and Syntax

Well, I've heard from some of the readership that I'm being lazy, so I thought I'd at least make a brief update and advertise the existance of yet more photos, which I do actually update with some more startling sort of regularity.

Spring is coming to Finland, though as I keep hearing from some of the locals, it's horrendously late and we're experiencing unseasonably cold temperatures (for more than 40 days, so far). I guess to me this seems warm, but then perhaps my harsh Minnesotan upbringing of camping out on the hot summer nights where the temperature nearly crawls above freezing have affected this.

Implicit in the idea of spring are longer days, which I'm really loving, even though the sun has only come out once in the last two weeks. Now the sun sets around 8:20PM, and a slight glow of twilight can still be detected through the city lights an hour after that. As I mentioned though, I've really only been able to enjoy this once so far, but I expect the next time the sun reveals itself for a whole day it will be lighter for much longer.

Classes are going well, or as well as they can go. I'm taking a Syntax course again, but more or less because it's in Finnish and I'd like that perspective in my understanding of syntax for the purposes of the paper I'm working on writing. Syntax, basically put, is about word order, though it goes a lot deeper than just that. Syntax is necessary for this writing, as a result of the strangely tricky task of trying to figure out what exactly is meant when some word is described as the "subject" of a sentence. It's easy in English, and a number of European languages as a result of linguistic theory having originated within their loving embrace.

Basically, life is continuing as usual in Helsinki, and that's precisely what I want. I'm glad to know that as well-- that I can like just being somewhere even though I'm not doing something amazing all the time. For the most part, I'm doing fine here, and though I do look forward to returning, it's a mixed bag of emotions, as I'd expect it would always be when you're living on two sides of the ocean. So despite this all, I've decided on a departure date, although it might be affected by a music festival going on in July. So, I guess we'll see what happens, but, I will be home in summer for at least a couple years. ;)

torstaina, tammikuuta 19, 2006

Been a while

I'm quite alive and quite well, which I hope has made the rounds. There's no doubt that I shouldn't be, but not writing in a while, who knows what people might start to think. Basically, I've managed not to avoid feeling inspired to write much about anything, perhaps due to the weather or who knows what. It's not like there's been a complete lack of things to do, anyway, as I've been quite busy.

Lets begin by starting with the trip to Lapland, a few weeks ago, which there is photographic evidence of. The trip was quite lovely, and aside from one sometimes annoyingly chatty dutch girl (is this some sort of American in Europe cliché?), the weekend was much quieter than the city could ever hope to be. I guess what mainly interested me about the whole trip was just how quiet the world can be, and how much that can give you the (perhaps very correct) impression that you're the only person around for miles. Going outside, all you could hear would be yourself. Any vehicles on the road would make a noise for kilometers, giving anyone who wouldn't want to be seen (perhaps reindeer, for instance) pleanty of time to escape. As a strange sidenote, I also found my echolocating skills increaced greatly as a result of this, so I would have to use minimal effort producing a tongue click that could provide the necessary echos for me to hear nearby buildings, whereas in the cities it really is only a novelty item requiring a larger amount of effort to make a horrendously noisy sound.

North of the arctic circle, the sun does not rise. It is not completely dark by any means, but what light there is is quite unique and different. The whole of the region is stuck in a period of twilight, or dawn, or dusk. The word for such a thing is called kaamos. The word itself feels like it crawled out of the peat bogs, and mists of the lappish morning, which begins somewhere around 10:30, and ends thereafter at perhaps 2 in the afternoon (at least where we stayed).

Most of the time I was up there, the sky was enshrouded in clouds, leaving me with boring colours in the photographs I did take. The last day I spent there was an explosion of colour, much like Dorothy reaching Oz, in some way. Previous to this, unless you saw a house or two, the whole world seemed to be black and white. The sky didn't help at all, being gray and mudnane. Either way, this last day the sky was an explosion of colours, pinks and blues and yellows-- I've never seen such a thing (well, at least at noon). What more can one say?

So, while up there we managed to see the prerequisite reindeer and tundras, but unfortunately the biggest tundra was covered too much in artificial snow and clouds to get a clear view of.

On a rather strange note however, I spent part of the following day piecing together something rather saddening that I'd managed to avoid overhearing while on the train ride back. It seems that while the train had stopped in the middle of nowhere waiting for whatever reasons (as trains sometimes do), it had actually stopped as a result of running over two italian tourists and some of their dog team. The incident is supposedly related to a large amount of bad judgement on part of those leading the dog team "safari", as they call them. I guess one of the ironies in this is that the region I was staying in is named Kolari, which as I had heard before leaving, can mean one of the following: someone who shovels snow, or some sort of vehicular accident.

* * *

As some of you may know, José came to visit me for the first two weeks of January. José is a long time friend from junior high to college, who had been thinking of going to Japan, but for whatever reasons, ended up coming to Finland. I unfortunately didn't take too many pictures of the visit in general, rather some vaguely nice night photos of southern Helsinki, and some photos of the sea from a brief side-trip we made to Tallinn, in Estonia. Otherwise, you'll have to take my word for it that José enjoyed his visit. We mostly spent the time wandering around Helsinki, and (gasp) going to various bars, which I've subsequently decided I don't exactly like so much.

I also found that my skills in off the cuff translation from Finnish to English could use some work. While I may perfectly well understand what's going on, it may somehow be rather difficult to rephrase this in words more suitable to English ears. José on the other hand (and this must go down on the records, for history's sake) did manage to serve as my translator once while I was buying pants. The store owner spoke Finnish, and no English, but she also spoke Spanish. Since I couldn't use English to ask her something, José was there. The reason I mention this, is because I'm sure it will be an important point of humour when I am a world renowned linguist, speaking 90% of the worlds 8,000 languages, and so on and so forth. Okay, so humour me.

* * *

Classes have started up again this week, and while I haven't made it through the whole week yet, I've enjoyed what I have taken. More Sámi, which is unsurprisingly enjoyable, and then some Finnish courses on Finnish morphology and phonology, and then another class in Finnish on phonetics and phonology. These topics are rather well known to me, except for a few points (which I did find out on Tuesday), so there is actually a miniscule point for me to take these classes, aside from just learning the vocabulary of the field.

Being in a Phonology class again has been somewhat rejuvinating for my interests in linguistics , which had perhaps surprisingly stagnated for the past month or so. I guess I still don't know what I want to do, but my imagination is active again.

So in complete lack of summation, there are some more pictures posted in various places, so go check them out. Until next time, well, happy winter!