Sunday, 20 January 2008

Crazy old people and snow play

Well, I was accosted by my first crazy old person last night, who told me that I shouldn't leave it too late to have kids, and that I'll get cancer if I spend too long on the internet. :) love it. Also, this follows the preceding night where I actually got to roll around in the snow for a quarter of an hour. It's much harder work than you'd think, because there was about a foot of snow, and you just sink into it, meaning no matter which way you want to roll, it's a steep upwards journey. Just so as you know.

Friday, 18 January 2008

chip, chip, chipping away

it's one of those days when my head feels like it's going to explode. Transcription of the recordings I made in Denmark is going well, much faster than I had thought, but it's so hard to hear what the Vestjyske people are saying - just bunches of vowels interspersed with glottal stops. A famous sentence in this dialect is: "A æ u å æ ø i æ å, æ a", meaning ‘I'm out on the isle in the river, am I’. Go figure. There's lots of snow outside, plus some sunshine today, and we're having our first guests for dinner on Saturday night, and I should hear about playing basketball with a women's team soon (instead of the blokes I've been training with...) So, just regular life for a bit. Missing everyone lots, and starting to appreciate the extra effort required to start up a new life in a new country!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

from a little place at the edge of danmark...

I'm now sitting in my hotel room in Danmark, after two days of fieldwork together with other NORMS linguists. It was an exciting trip over, with the other Icelander here (Ási, where the Á is pronounced 'ow' as in 'how', so it sounds like 'mousey' without the 'm') picking me up from home, running 2 red lights on our way to the flybus down to the plane (first time for early-morning Icelandic ever - not a complete debacle, but there's 'room for improvement' :D); listening to a lovely selection of Icelandic music from Ási's ipod (Björk sounds really great singing weirdo Icelandic jazz!, and others just sound a bit mental singing crazy folk songs :) ) and chatting in Icelandic (apparently I have a vague Norwegian accent); having an hour to kill in Copenhagen before our train left and using the time to sprint, in a steady drizzle, with (very full) wheely suitcase in tow, across town to a Chinese restaurant, and back again, where Ási listened to my directions (yes, in Icelandic!) 3 times in a row, even though I continued to suggest dead-ends (this is the person teaching me Icelandic at the moment - he has to be THE most patient person I have ever met!!); getting on board the train and discovering that the [insert eye-rolling type adjective here] ticket guy had given us seats that were not only not next to each other, but in entirely separate carriages!!, which we just ignored and sat in the 'non-reserved' seats for the 3 hour trip, while I knitted and we conversed in Icelandic; arrived an hour later than we were supposed to at the pickup point, and my phone doesn't get any signal here, thank goodness Ási's did; got picked up from Århus train station in a minibus for the 2 hour trip to the other side of Denmark, during which time we ate too much chocolate but continued to speak loads of Icelandic... Yes, I have spoken more Icelandic on this fieldwork trip than I have in the entire time I've been in Iceland!!

Arrived, got assigned a room, had dinner (thank goodness I remembered to order vegetarian - I can face meat sometimes, but not in the quantities it gets served in here!!), skyped luce, discovered I didn't bring toothpaste and had to borrow some, got my gear ready for the next day, then crashed.

Day 1 started with an introduction by a sociolinguist to the Vestjysk dialect, followed by lunch and then our first trip into the field. About 40 people were gathered at a school, plied with cake and coffee, and us linguists were set loose among them: "Hi, you look like a nice person. I'm from Australia. Would you like to answer some questions about your dialect?" So far I've only had one rejection, so that's nice :) I had to talk Danish to the Vestjyske people, so I'm somewhat 'language blanded' with Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian (there are 4 others who speak Norwegian here), English and German. It turns out that, of the 13 of us, we speak regularly (number after / indicates not often): Icelandic (5/6), Norwegian (5, of which 3 Østlandsk, and 3 not-Østlandsk, since 1 seems bidialectal), Danish (3), Swedish (2), English (2/4 - I'm counted post-slash!), German (2/3), Faroese (1/2), Finnish (1/2), 'Nordic' (2). In other words, I'm having an absolute ball!!

Came home, had dinner, had a debriefing session which I found very useful, went for a run in the dark (only ran off the road once!) with the supernatural-sounding zhooming of the windmills for accompaniment, and one of those 'you know you're in the country' smells at one paddock, and went to bed.

Alarm didn't go off on Day 2, but it turns out Ási was looking out for me, so I got a phone call saying 'We're in the bus! Get dressed!' at 8:45. Luckily I'd prepared everything the night before, so I grabbed some bread and cheese and sped outside. Since I was still cozy-warm from bed, I didn't put my jacket on, just a short-sleeved shirt. Øystein was a little worried I'd be cold, which got me worried we were going to be outside all day, because both he and Ási were rugged up with beanies on like they were going for a hike in the mountains! (Don't know where Pål thought they'd get the mountains from actually...) Drove through Paris and Rom to get to the data collection place, apparently we go through London tomorrow. Data collection went really well, I think I've found stuff out, only wish I had more time. Ási and I tried to buy toothpaste and postcards, but the country store 'didn't take foreign cards'. Sorry guys!

Just one more collection tomorrow, then a bit of an outing to the museum. Hopefully I get up in time tomorrow, and can have more exciting linguistic adventures, as opposed to the not-waking-up-in-time kind.

Sorry for the super-long post, but this feels like a massive adventure, and adventures need to be documented in detail!!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Happy New Year from Reykjavík!!

This video shows just how mental the Reykjavikians are :) ... (Sorry, the camera work is not fantastic).