First things first. Here’s the second in our new series of ‘Native-speaker conversations with transcripts’ for you.
This one was recorded by my giggly daughter and her extremely-polite boyfriend (he called me ‘Sir’ at first…)
It’s about, well, ‘You and technology’.
Have a listen, it’s free, so what’s to lose?
The questions are taken from our, also free, page of conversation prompts on the same topic.
You can study the questions and write your own answers, or use them as the basis for a conversation with your Italian teacher, or with another student.
Other conversation prompts are here.
And the recording I published on Monday, along with everything recent can be found on our ‘New’ page.
So business done, what can I say about Malmö that’ll fit on the back of a metaphorical postcard?
It’s in south-east Sweden, on the coast, right opposite Copenhagen, capital of Denmark, where our plane landed.
The airport in Denmark is large, clean and efficient. Signs are in Danish, which looks similar-enough to Swedish that I could work it out (like, say Italian and Spanish), though my wife claimed to understand nothing of it despite being a Swedish native-speaker.
We got a train ticket from the airport station (cards only, no cash) and hopped a train that crossed the famous Øresund Bridge, which is in fact half-bridge, half-tunnel, from Denmark to Sweden.
And ‘Hurrah’, I was finally here, after eighteen months of studying the language!
Our destination, Malmö, was the third stop. Serious-looking police and customs officials roamed the train checking passports and bags (immigration is a big issue in Sweden’s election this autumn…)
Arriving at Malmö station, we had seven hours to kill before we could book into our Airbnb flat, so plenty of time to wander about.
The centre of town has canals and north-European looking buildings, but is not dissimilar in feel from a British city, say Manchester or someplace which may have developed in the eras of trade and industrialisation.
There are lots of boastful red-brick buildings, and it doesn’t feel nearly as ‘old’ as an Italian city.
Being on the coast, there’s the smell of sea in the air, and the sound of seagulls.
The streets are wide, with trams or often pedestrianised, and there are attractive ‘piazzas’, here called ‘torg’.
Bologna has a ‘Piazza Maggiore’ (the biggest piazza, I suppose you could translate it as), while Malmö has a ‘Stortorg‘ (big square). Perhaps they hired the same marketing consultant?
Everywhere we roamed yesterday I tried to practice my Swedish, starting at Malmö’s top falafel place, where we had an affordable lunch which I ordered ON MY OWN from the Egyptian owner.
I asked if we could sit, told him our orders, and asked if they sold beer, to go with the falafel. Alcohol-free only, he shrugged.
Later, in the Pickwick Pub, I had more luck. There, I ordered a beer named after the famous bridge (and TV series) ‘Bron’. The barman told me it’s brewed in Småland, the next region up from Skåne, where we are now.
Everyone seemed happy enough, though a little surprised, to talk to me in Swedish. The default language always seemed to be English. Important then that I spoke first and made the effort.
It does get easier, if you try.
I’ve even been insisting on speaking Swedish with my poor wife, who’s had trouble getting her head around the fact, given that we’ve communicated in English since we met, over twenty years ago.
She says that, once you’re used to speaking a certain language with someone, it’s hard to change.
At our over-priced dinner venue (beer is a shocking price in Sweden), I tried to switch to Italian so that the guys at the next table couldn’t understand I was gossiping about them.
Like my wife, I found it hard to mentally ‘shift gear’ from one language to another. It’s worse when you’re tired, I know, and we had been up since five-thirty in the morning. Today’ll be better!
So, gotta go.
Though it’s raining right now, there’s the castle and museums to see, perhaps with lunch somewhere that has a view of the sea and the famous bridge.
More on Friday, when I’ll be some place on the way from Malmö up to Sweden’s capital, Stockholm.