Malmo Travel Blog

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Talking to a Swede over dinner about living in Belgium.

"Do you speak French or Dutch?"
"No, I am trying to learn, but I am no good at languages and only speak English"
"Ah, me too"
"Except you can speak Swedish as well of English"
"Of course"
"And how is your Danish and Norweigen?"
"I can understand it, but I am not great at speaking it"
"You are too modest, calling yourself bad at languages. You Swedes are all super-people, tall, thin, beautiful multilinguals living in a socialist paradish"
"Yes we know, but it is nice to be told"

The most interesting talk so far has been one which tried to answer the question of whether adult pancreatic beta cells divided in humans. They looked at the Carbon-14 content of the DNA, which is a reflection of the atmospheric Carbon-14 levels when the cells divided. Since atmospheric Carbon-14 levels were tiny before the US and USSR started testing atomic weapons, they were able to divide beta-cells into those that divided before the 50s (low Carbon-14) and those after the 50s (high Carbon-14 due to breathing in mildly radioactive air). By looking at people of different ages, they were able to show that human beta cells stop dividing once you reach the age of 30, giving profound consequences for potential diabetes therapies.

Possibly my favourite moment during a talk was when a PI said "surprinsgly, we did a control".
lamadude says:
What my scandinavian friends have told me (so blame them if I'm wrong ;-) is that swedish, danish and norwegian are so similar that, if you know which words are typical in your language, you can avoid them and speak a form of standard "scandinavian" that everyone can pretty much understand.
Also there seems to be a running joke that the Danish can't even understand each other :-)

I think it's a bit similar as the situation with Dutch and Afrikaans. The languages are so similar that somebody who speaks dutch will automatically be able to understand most of an Afrikaans conversation. I have some South African friends, and I write to them in Dutch and they reply in Afrikaans, no problem. (understanding is always easier than speaking)
Posted on: Jun 10, 2009
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