söndag, april 24, 2016

9 Surprising Facts About the Swedish Language

Despite being the fifth-largest country in Europe, Sweden is sparsely populated, with less than 10 million inhabitants. Still, despite its modest population, it has greatly influenced the rest of the world, from the catchy tunes of Swedish band ABBA to the world’s largest furniture retailer to the invention of the meatball. 

But beyond “Dancing Queen” and IKEA, what else do you know about Sweden and its language? 
Did you know that there’s no word for “please” in Swedish? 
Or that Swedish wasn’t the official language of Sweden until five years ago? Indeed, Swedish may not have many native speakers, but it’s full of fun and interesting quirks.

1. If you speak Swedish, you can also understand Danish and Norwegian.

Sweden, Denmark, and Norwegian are close geographically, and their languages are similar, as well. Because of this, 
Swedish speakers are able to understand both Danish and Norwegian – so speaking Swedish is like getting three languages for the price of one!

2. Sweden means “our kingdom”.

Sweden got its name from the Svear people around 2,000 years ago. In their language, svear meant “we”, and rike meant “kingdom”. 
Therefore, Sverige – the Swedish word for “Sweden” – translates to “our kingdom”.

3. Articles come after nouns.

In English, articles come before nouns, so we say things like “the dog” or “the cat”. 
In Swedish, however, definite articles (i.e., “the”) come after the noun. 
Therefore, “the dog” is hunden, where hund means “dog” and en is the definite article “the”. Similarly, “the cat” is katten.

4. There are two words for “grandfather”.

Swedish differentiates between your grandfather on your mother’s and your father’s side. 
Your father’s father is your farfar, which literally translates to “father father”. 
Your mother’s father is morfar, which means “mother father”. Of course, the same rule applies for grandmothers, too.

5. There’s no way to say “please”.

So if you want to be polite, you’re going to have to find another way. 
Indeed, there’s no direct translation for “please” in Swedish. Instead, using a respectful tone of voice and saying tack (“thank you”) will adequately convey politeness.

6. It wasn’t the national language of Sweden until 2009.

Until 2009, Sweden did not have a de jure official language. 
In May of that year, however, Swedish was declared as an official language. 
Sweden has also recognized Finnish, Meänkieli (a language related to Finnish), Sami, Romani, and Yiddish as minority languages.

7. Swedish is a co-official language of Finland.

Curiously, Swedish was an official language in Finland before it was in Sweden. 
Though less than 10% of Finland’s population speaks Swedish, the government has declared it as one of the country’s official languages, along with Finnish.

8. “S” is the most common first letter in Swedish words.

More words in Swedish begin with “S” than any other letter. 
Like English, very few words start with “Q” and “X”, which is good to know if you’re thinking about challenging your Swedish friends to a game of Scrabble.

9. Modern Swedish has existed for only 500 years.

Before 1525, Swedish was strongly influenced by Danish. 
But after the revolt of Gustav I Vasa, the government went to great lengths to distinguish Swedish as its own language. 
This marks the genesis of Modern Swedish.

Even if you know all the words to the Mamma Mia! soundtrack, now you also know the various way to refer to your grandparents in Swedish!

Learning Swedish entails much more than simply knowing how to refer to your grandparents. 
Swedish is a beautiful and interesting language, so if you’re thinking about learning it, consider taking personalized courses from a native Swedish speaker. 
Not only will you be able to better understand the labels on your IKEA furniture, but you’ll be able to impress millions of Swedish speakers, 
as well as get a serious head-start on Danish and Norwegian.

torsdag, april 07, 2016

10 Oldest Objects Ever Found

1.Oldest Marijuana Stash (2,700 years old). Totally busted! In 2008, nearly two pounds of still-green plant material were found in a 2,700-year-old grave from China's Gobi Desert, in what was identified as the world's oldest marijuana stash. A barrage of tests proves the marijuana possessed potent psychoactive properties and casts doubt on the theory that the ancients only grew the plant for hemp in order to make clothing, rope and other objects. They apparently were getting high too. Lead author Ethan Russo told Discovery News that the marijuana "is quite similar" to what's grown today. 

2.Oldest Chewing Gum (5,000 years old). In 2007, a 5,000-year-old piece of chewing gum, the oldest ever discovered, was found by a British archaeology student in Finland. The Neolithic gum, made from birch bark tar, had tooth prints in it. "Birch bark tar contains phenols, which are antiseptic compounds. It is generally believed that Neolithic people found that by chewing this stuff if they had gum infections it helped to treat the condition," said Trevor Brown, from the University of Derby. 

3.Oldest Leather Shoe (5,500 years old). "It is astonishing how much this shoe resembles a modern shoe!" said a famous designer. Stuffed with grass, perhaps as an insulator or an early shoe tree, the 5,500-year-old moccasin-like shoe was found exceptionally well preserved—thanks to a surfeit of sheep dung—during a 2010 dig in an Armenian cave. About as big as a current women's size seven (U.S.), the shoe was likely tailor-made for the right foot of its owner. Radiocarbon dated to about 3500 B.C., during Armenia's Copper Age, the prehistoric shoe is compressed in the heel and toe area, likely due to miles upon miles of walking. But the shoe is by no means worn out. 

4.Oldest Musical Instrument (42,000 years old). In 2012, researchers identified what they say are the oldest-known musical instruments in the world: a couple flutes made from bird bone and mammoth ivory, come from a cave in Hohle Fels Cave (Germany) which contains early evidence for the occupation of Europe by modern humans - Homo sapiens. Scientists used carbon dating to show that the flutes were between 42,000 and 43,000 years old. 

5.Oldest Artificial Eye (4,800 years old). According to a 2006 report, iranian archaeologists in "Burnt City" announced the unprecedented discovery of an artificial eyeball, dated to 4800 years ago, in this historic site. The eyeball belonged to a sturdy woman who was between 25 to 30 years of age at the time of death, and its material consisted in natural tar mixed with animal fat has been used in making it. Studies on the eyeball also suggest formation of an abscess in the eyelid due to long-term contact with the eyeball. Moreover, remaining eyelid tissues are still evident on this artificial eyeball. 

6.Oldest Skirt (5,900 years old). In Armenia's Areni-1 cave, the same place where the world's oldest leather shoes were found, a skirt made of reeds and has been dated at 5,900 years old were also found. It is now thought to be the oldest piece of reed clothing discovered to date. The cave has been under investigation by a team of Irish, American and Armenian researchers since 2007. It has yielded numerous fascinating discoveries over the years, including the mummified remains of a goat that may be 5,900 years old, more than 1,000 years older than many of the famous mummified animals found in Egypt. 

7.Oldest Popcorn (6,700 years old). In 2012, researchers have found evidence that societies living along the coast of Peru were eating the air-filled snack about 1,000 years earlier than previously estimated — even predating the use of ceramic pottery. Corn husks, stalks, cobs and tassels (pollen-producing flowers on corn) dating from 6,700 to 3,000 years ago were unearthed at Paredones and Huaca Prieta, two sites on Peru's northern coast, by American and Peruvian researchers. The characteristics of the corncobs suggest that the sites' ancient inhabitants prepared and ate corn in several ways, including making corn flour and popcorn. 

8.Oldest Purse (4,500 years old). "It seems to have been very fashionable at the time," said the archaeologist who uncovered more than a hundred dog teeth arranged close together in a grave in Germany, dated to between 2,500 and 2,200 B.C. According to archaeologists, the teeth were likely decorations for the outer flap of a handbag, the oldest ever found. "Over the years the leather or fabric disappeared, and all that's left is the teeth. They're all pointing in the same direction, so it looks a lot like a modern handbag flap," they said. 

9.Oldest Mattress (77,000 years old). In 2011, archaeologists found, in a cave in South Africa, what they believe is the world's oldest mattress. The mattress, which consists of layers of reeds and rushes, was discovered at the bottom of a pile of bedding made from compacted grasses and leafy plants. The bedding had accumulated at the Sibudu Cave site in KwaZulu-Natal (map) over a period of 39,000 years, with the oldest mats dating to 77,000 years ago. 

10.Oldest Mask (9,000 years old). This stone mask from the pre-ceramic neolithic period dates to 7000 BC and is probably the oldest mask in the world. It can be seen at the Musée Bible et Terre Sainte, in Paris.