bookmark_borderNearest capital

I thought it’d be fun to see how Europe would look if all borders were redrawn so that every point was in the same country as its nearest capital city, so I quickly wrote a wee program to illustrate this.

Some countries don’t look that different, but Italy is completely dismembered, and Scotland, Wales and parts of English all become Irish. (Just in case you’re wondering what happened to Luxembourg, I decided to exclude very small countries.)

The distance calculations are based on the distances on the actual map used, which means the borders are slightly wrong compared to what would happen if they were computed based on the actual Earth Globe.

Update: The Perl program I wrote to generate this is here.


I min barndom elskede jeg Tintin, og som lingvistikstuderende købte jeg ofte Tintin på underlige sprog, når jeg var på ferie.

Jeg glæder mig derfor til at se Tintin-filmen, der snart er på trapperne.

Denne trailer ser i hvert fald lovende ud:

bookmark_borderNews Corp

As a former employee of Collins Dictionaries, which is part of HarperCollins, which is part of News Corp, which owns News International, I’m obviously paying close attention to the unravelling phone-hacking scandal.

Of course I don’t have any inside information – Collins was organisationally too far removed from News International – but it is interesting to see how ruthless Murdoch can be when his interests are threatened. Even if the situation of News of the World had become untenable, one would have thought it would have been better to sell it off rather than shutting it down on the spot.

What will happen now? Will Murdoch get rid of all of News International, as people are hinting today? Perhaps he’ll even chuck in HarperCollins for good measure? Can Murdoch and his kids retain their position within News Corp? It seems News Corp has lost $3.4 billion in market capitalisation today – the big shareholders won’t tolerate that for very long.

It seems more and more likely that all of News International is contaminated, but what about other British newspapers, and what about News Corp’s American titles?

It will be interesting to follow over the next few weeks. I’m just happy I’m not a News Corp employee any more, or I would be lying awake at night wondering whether my job would disappear overnight in the same way as News of the World.

bookmark_borderThe new Transport Museum is great!

We had to take Phyllis’s mum for a hospital appointment today, and instead of waiting at the hospital, we went to the brand-new transport museum, which is now called the Riverside Museum.

It’s a great improvement on the old Transport Museum, which was already a great place to spend an afternoon. There are many more exhibits, and they are presented in a much more interesting way, so we all had a great time (see Anna’s face in the photo!).

The only downside is that the car park is far too small and there is nowhere else to park nearby, so I recommend arriving ten minutes before they open (11am on a Friday).

As almost all other museums in Glasgow, it’s entirely free (although you need to pay to see the Tall Ship next to it).

bookmark_borderBits in Scottish = badge in Danish

Originally uploaded by jemsweb

I’ve struggled with the phonetic realisation of /?/ in Scottish English (i.e., the vowel in words such as bit) for a long time. I keep thinking it should be some sort of [ɪ], but it’s clearly much more open than that.

It helped a bit when a person called Pete commented on John Wells’s Phonetic Blog that it ought to be transcribed as /?/ rather than /ɪ/, but it only really clicked into place this morning.

Anna (often called Bits by Phyllis and the rest of the family) picked up an orange nursery badge. I said in Danish: “Amaia, det er et badge.” Anna exclaimed: “It’s called the same as me! [Danish] /b?æd?s(j)/ – [Scottish English] /b?ts/”

I now need to test this theory, namely that Danes can accurately imitate the pronunciation of Scottish English and Scots /ɪ/ by using a Danish /æ/.

bookmark_borderHTC ChaCha

Originally uploaded by abulhussain

Phyllis has nagged me for some time to get new mobile phones for Complexli, so yesterday I finally called T-Mobile and got the price of our contract reduced by 50% and got two new phones: an HTC Wildfire S for Phyllis and an HTC ChaCha for me.

So far I really like it. The keyboard is very good, much better than what you find on BlackBerries, for instance, and it has a front-facing camera for video conferencing. It also has a Facebook button, which probably will seem quite old-fashioned in a couple of years’ time, but for the time being it’s quite handy.

The downsides seem mainly to be the size of the screen (it’s OK, but some apps are clearly designed for bigger screens), and the battery life, which is sadly quite typical for a smartphone.

All in all I must say that I’m quite a happy bunny!

bookmark_borderCharlotte’s Danish accent

Ice cream
Originally uploaded by PhylB

One of the errors Danes often make when speaking English is to say warm when they mean hot (this is caused by Danish having only one word, varm, that covers both meanings).

My stepdaughter, Charlotte, who is 11 years old and has lived with me since she was 6, claims she doesn’t speak a word of Danish, but it’s often apparent that she definitely has an excellent understanding of spoken Danish, even if she tries to hide it. For instance, if I offer some sweets to the three wee ones (who I only ever speak Danish to), Charlotte will instantly ask for some, too.

However, Charlotte has now twice within a few weeks used warm instead of hot. For instance, today she told Phyllis that it had been “very warm in Saarbrücken”.

I can’t think of any good reason why she should be using warm instead of hot apart from influence from Danish, so I can only conclude that Charlotte is now speaking English with a Danish accent!

I’m sure she’ll be horrified and do her best to undo the damage, so I don’t think I’ll tell her just yet… 🙂