- puhua (speak) – puhuda (blow)
- katsoa (watch) – katsuda (touch)
- ylpeä (proud) – ülbe (arrogant)
- konkurssi (bankruptcy) – konkurss (competition)
- huone (room) – hoone (building)
- halpa (cheap) – halb (bad)
- vaimo (wife) – vaim (ghost, spirit)
- pulma (problem) – pulm (wedding)
- sulhanen (groom) – sulane (servant)
- piimä (sour milk) – piim (milk)
- raiskaamaan (rape) – raiskama (fritter, waste)
- etelä (south) – edel (south-west)
- lounas (south-west) – lõuna (south)
- hallitus (government) – hallitus (mould)
It took me longer than I expected, but I finally managed to finish the second Harry Potter book in German. What was different from the Finnish book was that in the German version, almost all of the characters have retained their original names, even muggles are called Muggeln.
The next book will Harry Potter e o Prisioneiro de Azkaban. I hope to get it as soon as I move to Portugal in the beginning of next week.
Two and half months ago I made a promise to go through the Harry Potter series and read each book in a different language. I’m happy to announce that I have just completed the first one in Finnish and yesterday ordered Harry Potter und die Kammer des Schreckens from Amazon.de.
In the beginning, when I encountered a word that I did not understand then I mostly turned to Google Translate to try to translate it. I was amazed how much Harry Potter specific vocabulary Google Translate actually recognizes! For example, Google Translate knows that Tylypahka is Hogwarts, huispaus is Quidditch and Rohkelikko is Gryffindor. For all other words there is Potterwiki.
Viking Line offered me a cruise from Helisnki to Stockholm and back for just 2 euros, so I decided to take advantage of that and at the same time try to get as much work done as possible. I already had 12 completely distraction free hours on the boat, so what I needed were places to work at in Stockholm. During the the 6 hours on the shore I managed visit 4 different places and here are the results:
The Coffee Place
Bought: Latte Machiato – 38 SEK
Wifi: No public wireless, but apparently I could have asked for a password from the cashier.
Power socket: at least one.
Overall: The Coffee was good, although maybe a bit expensive. Interior nice and chairs reasonably good for working.
Wifi: Traditionally good free wireless.
Power socket: No. At least I could not find one.
Overall: No point in commenting the food. The place itself is big enough and crowded enough so that you can work there and probably stay unnoticed for hours. Also, seemed to be surprisingly clean for McDonald’s.
Bought: Snickers – 50 SEK. (Really sweet coffee with different syrups and whipped cream, similar to Snickers candy bar)
Power sockets: Plenty on the second floor.
Overall: Good place if you do not need internet access. Second floor provides enough privacy and has a power connector next to each table.
Stockholm Kebab House 3 HB
Bought: Kebab + Coke = 44 SEK
Wifi: Technically yes, but it was actually someone’s open home connection (SSID: Thomson90CD5C). Don’t rely on that.
Power socket: Yes.
Overall: Plastic seats not very comfortable and the staff will probably notice you if you stay for a longer time (considering that you would be literally sitting in front of them the whole time).
After living in Estonia my whole life, it is still difficult to get used to the fact that in most of the other countries every café or a restaurant does not necessarily have a free wireless internet. Luckily, in the really center, Stockholm seems to have municipal public wireless, but you need to get an account beforehand to be able to use it.
A few days ago I was in a local Prisma when I stumbled upon a Finnish edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I opened it on a random page and it seemed quite easy to read, so I decided to buy it. Just to practice my Finnish and also maybe understand a bit, what’s all the fuzz about Harry Potter anyway.
On the way home I thought that if I’m already starting with the first book, then maybe I should read the other ones also. But just that it would not be too easy (according to Amazon the reading level is ages 9 -12), I should read each book in a different language.
After some thought, this is the current plan:
- Harry Potter ja viisasten kivi (in Finnish)
- Harry Potter und die Kammer des Schreckens (in German)
- Harry Potter e o Prisioneiro de Azkaban (in Portuguese)
- Harry Potter ja tulepeeker (in Estonian)
- Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (in English)
- Harry Potter y el misterio del príncipe (in Spanish)
- Garri Potter i Dary Smerti (in Russian)
I have now began reading the Finnish book and it seems to be doable. At the moment, I am not too worried about the other ones also, except maybe for the last book, which I am currently planning to read in Russian. So I am giving myself the freedom to change the language of that one, should I start learning any additional language before that time.
Just to keep the pressure on, I promise to announce the completion of each book on this blog.
I have now been learning Finnish for 2 months and, because of its similarity to Estonian, also making some progress. Yesterday I attended a Finnish sauna event, where I was the only foreigner and I managed to communicate for a few hours almost exclusively in Finnish. Obviously, I made a lot of mistakes and I still have to work on my comprehension skills, but it’s a beginning.
During the time I have been learning I’ve found a few useful tools that have made the learning process a lot more efficient for me:
- Google Translate – It looks like statistical machine translation actually works! At least when you apply it in a limited setting. For me it has proven to be useful in at least three different ways. First, it’s definitely one of the most comprehensive dictionaries. I have found that Google Translate very often nows many strange slang words and phrases that cannot be found in traditional dictionaries. Secondly, if I do not know the basic form of the word then I can just type in the one that I found in the text and Google will translate it anyway. Finally, Google Translate is extremely fast and it very often gives me the answer before I finish typing.
- Another very useful tool is Google Search itself. Sometimes I need to verify whether the phrase that I am planning to use or what Google Translate has given me is actually used in Finnish. The easiest way is to Google for it! If there are many responses for the exact same phrase then it’s probably grammatically correct. In addition, if the search term was not correct, then google will do the stemming for me and I might find the correct phrase from one of the results.
- Finally, two extremely useful sites are Wiktionary and Verbix. Wiktionary has the declension tables for most of the nouns in all 15 cases. Verbix does for verbs what Wiktionary does for nouns – it shows how the verb changes in all possible tenses, modes and other grammatical structures for which I am not sure how they are called.
Like probably most of the people learning languages, I am not especially fond of memorizing vocabulary. Furthermore, because my background is in Computer Science, I also tend to liken learning natural languages to learning programming languages and in programming I have never had to explicitly memorize anything – I have always learned the things that I needed to know through usage.
Today I started to think that now that Google Translate can translate words for me almost instantaneously (instead of relatively slow paper dictionary), it theoretically might make sense not to explicitly learn any words and just translate everything I do not know on the fly. Eventually I should easily remember the words that occur most often and also know their context. I have no idea how much less effective would it be compared to creating flash cards, for example, but it would be nice if somebody studied it.
I am currently studying Systems Biology at Aalto University in Finland and as a consequence I am also trying to learn the Finnish language. Sometimes it can be very confusing, because although Estonian and Finnish are quite similar, there are also many false friends – similar words that mean completely different things.
The best pair that I have found so far are words for south and south-west. In Estonian south-west is edel, south is lõuna and lunch or noon is also lõuna. So in Estonian at lunch time (12 o’clock, lõuna ajal) the sun is in the south (lõunas), which is very nice and logical.
The Finnish word for lunch is also lounas, but the words for south and south-west have been switched, so that now etelä means south and lounas means south-west. As a result in Finnish at lunch time (lounaan aikana), the sun is in etelä (south) and will only reach lounas (south-west) in a couple of hours, depending on the season. Alternative explanation is of course that Finns do have lunch when the sun is in lounas and this time just varies heavily depending on whether it is currently summer or winter.
Estonia has decided that starting from the next year, owning a kaur.pri.ee domain is going to to cost me at least 285 EEK (~20 EUR) a year. As a result, I a have moved my home page (and this blog) to kauralasoo.net. The old address still works, but it redirects back to here.
For everybody who is following me via RSS – the new URL is http://kauralasoo.net/feed/.
Another very interesting week has passed. So here are three new snippets from Deutschland.
Buying from the Internet
One of the things that I really like about being in Heidelberg is that it is located in Germany, which means that it is big enough market for companies like Amazon or Google to actually care about it. A few days ago I bought my first MP3-album from Amazon.de. This is something I have always wanted to do, because download versions are usually cheaper, shipping takes time and I do not have a CD-player anyways. Unfortunately, I had to come to Germany to achieve this, because neither Amazon nor iTunes sell their music in Estonia. (As a side note: I used my Estonian credit card for payment, so theoretically a VPN connection or proxy should also work).
So why did I mention Google? Well because if you have an Android phone (like I do) and do not live in one of the few selected countries then you cannot download (or even see) paid apps from the Android Market. I have not tried to buy anything from there yet, but it’s pleasing to at least see that paid apps also exist.
The food at the supermarket does not seem to be much more expensive than in Estonia. Some things cost more but some things are actually cheaper. On average, I think that I am probably spending about 20-30% more on food. And now that I have even found kodujuust (cottage cheese, korner Frischkäse in German) there’s not much left to complain about. Still looking for proper hapukoor (sour cream) though …
Oh, and the food at EMBL is just great
I have actually encountered much less bureaucracy than I would have expected. Most probably the administrative staff at EMBL is doing a great job at hiding it from me. I just had to do first register my arrival at a local Bürgeramt and then a week later go to the Ausländerbehörde to get my Bescheinigung. The only interesting part here was when sent an e-mail in English to the Ausländerbehörde to set an appointment. They replied me in just a few hours, in German. Luckily I know some German so that I was able to continue the conversation in that language. It turned out that I actually did not need the appointment and could just go there the next day.
I have also added some new pictures to the Picasa album.
In January I applied for ISCB Student Council internship at Schneider Lab at EMBL (Eurpean Molecular Biology Laboratory) Heidelberg. Luckily I was selected and now I am spending the first days of the five months in Heidelberg, Germany. So what have I noticed so far?
Heidelberg is a nice small town near Frankfurt. As somebody said, it’s just like Tartu but only in Germany. It has a university, very beautiful small houses and picturesque narrow streets in the old town.
EMBL campus and the guesthouse where I am staying are a few kilometers away from the city center. The distance itself is not very noteworthy and would actually be totally walkable in normal (Estonian) circumstances. The problem is, however, that this part of the town is on top of a hill (or a mountain, by Estonian standards) which is about 300 meters high. I walked up here on the first day, but from now on I will probably mostly be preferring buses .
Getting it was acutally pretty easy. Turns out that somebody from Sparkasse-Heidelberg comes to EMBL every Tuesday. I just had to meet him, fill in some forms and the bank card should be arriving by mail in a few days. They seem to be quite small bank mostly operating in Heidelberg and their online banking is only in German, but I think I’ll survive that.
Pre-paid SIM Card
This turned out to be more complicated than I expected. In Estonia, you would just buy a SIM card, insert it into your phone and start talking. In Germany, they first ask for your ZIP code when you are trying to buy the card. Then you have to activate it by either calling or filling in a web form in which they ask for your name, exact address, birth datw, e-mail and your passport or national identity card number. Finally, somebody has to manually verify that information. This means that when you fill in the form in the evening then your phone won’t start to work before the next day.
Some pictures can be seen here.
In the next episodes: Working Permit, The Double Helix and Food.