Drabkikker terug uit Zweden

En daar ben ik weer, terug van mijn tweede reis in drie weken: de Achtste Internationale Taalkunde-Olympiade in Stockholm. Zo’n 100 briljante scholieren uit grofweg twintig landen kwamen daarheen om taalpuzzels van uitermate pittig niveau op te lossen. Bijvoorbeeld:

Gegeven zijn telwoorden in het Drehu in alfabetische volgorde en hun betekenissen gerangschikt van klein naar groot:

caatr nge caako, caatr nge caangömen, caatr nge caaqaihano, ekaatr nge ekengömen, köniatr nge köniko, köniatr nge könipi, köniatr nge köniqaihano, lueatr nge lue, lueatr nge lueako, lueatr nge luepi

26, 31, 36, 42, 50, 52, 73, 75, 78, 89

(a) Bepaal de juiste correspondenties.

(b) Schrijf in cijfers: köniatr nge eke + caatr nge luepi = ekaatr nge ekako; luengömen + luako = ekeqaihano

(c) Schrijf in het Drehu: 21, 48, 83.

Lost u ‘m even op? U heeft zes uur voor vijf van zulke opgaven.

Maar hiernaast en vooral is zo’n week natuurlijk een puike gelegenheid om contacten op te doen met internationale medepubers en de geneugten van een toffe stad te proeven. Want dat is Stockholm; echt een buitengewoon fraaie plek, met water, pastelkleurige gevels en schemering tot na middernacht. Dankzij de nodige excursies kregen we alle kans om er afdoende indruk van te krijgen. Jammer dat een biertje er 7 euro kost, maar verder hoort men mij niet klagen. Leuk volk ook weer, net als vorig jaar in Wrocław, veel mensen herontmoet, zelfs nog een avondduik in een bergmeer gedaan met de mensen van de organisatie. Het Nederlandse team was weer een heel ander groepje dan vorig jaar, leuk om alle verschillende karakters te ontdekken. En ze zijn allevier in de prijzen gevallen: drie eervolle vermeldingen en een bronzen medaille! Ik doe het ze niet na.

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30 gedachtes over “Drabkikker terug uit Zweden

  1. Tukholma, well, yeah. I suppose it’s ok to visit Stockholm, if you have a good reason, like Kahdeksannet kansainväliset kielitieteen olympialaiset or something…

    Just kidding. I agree with you: Stockholm is a beautiful city, and the Swedes are happy shiny people. It is just a bummer you won’t be coming to Helsinki. After all, Helsinki is a… well, it is a city all right (a metropolis =P with human scale, I’ve heard ), and the Finns are gloomy, introverted people (Finnish Tourist Board applauds). You should take the Martian friend with you and stop by some day.

    Glad you had good time in Ruotsi!


    1. You Finns do nothing but complain! But apparently you’re not one of them; at least you’re doing a really bad job at being gloomy and introverted.

      I know, I feel so sorry I can’t come to Helsinki, I was really looking forward to it myself. I’ll tell my representative to act like me as much as possible; maybe that’ll bring some consolation. You have a great week, and I’m sure we’ll meet again!


  2. I subscribe to almost everything that choir is singing about in Finnish, but in English you gotta looooove everything. Like Sweden for example ;-). At least that’s what they teach us in school.

    Come on, not your fault. I just have to be true to my culture and keep on whining. (And here, children, we add a smiley in order to delude the foreigners to think we are making a joke. Otherwise we’ll scare them and make them travel to neighbouring countries. Like Sweden, for example.) :-)

    Almost forgot to congratulate! Your team did well!


      1. Help, I believe I’ve met my superior in meta-sarcastic irony. You have a good week too! :) <- genuine smiley to indicate that I'm not using an ironic smiley to prevent you from thinking that I am being serious, in which case I would have used a smiley, but in a sarcastic way. Just kidding. Honestly. :)


    1. Aaah! That’s not ironic anymore, that’s downright cryptic! But wait, I’m on safer grounds when it comes to cryptography. Here, have a piece of this:

      See if you can do better than a bunch of sixteen year olds!


        1. Nope! They’re just that clever. But rest assured: I guarantee you I wouldn’t do any better. The only reason I can solve this one is that I made it up myself. Okay, for some hints: 1. The system is logical, not random; 2. How many different flags can you see? Of what countries are they? 2. The message is in a language quite familiar to you, and starts with an S.


      1. Oh! Now I’ve started trying to solve it, even though it might be in Finnish and I won’t know if I’ve found anything, and have to work on my thesis! I’ll stop now. I will.


      2. Nynke, could we solve this together? It’s really getting on my nerves and I have a paper to write, so I feel your pain… To the hints:

        1. Logical: Dirk’s logic? -> How is this a hint? ;-)

        2. Five flags: does this point to the number of letters, or syllables?
        Countries: Finland, Sweden, Faroe Islands, Norway, Denmark, right?

        3. No matter how clever these kids are, I wonder if they could have figured out a message in Finnish. I have no idea how Dirk evaluates my language skills, but since the Olympiads were in Sweden, I’d guess Swedish.

        Since the message starts with an S, could it be that we have to concentrate on the names of the countries in their own languages? -> Suomi, Sverige, Føroyar, Norge, Danmark, did I get these right? Probably not the names of the languages, because D is talking about countries.

        What next? Do the two rows belong together somehow? Could we be looking for five letters/syllables/what ever combination of letters, then two, and five more?

        How annoying is this? My dear husband tells me it’s no good competing with young and clever people who probably practise things like these on a daily basis. Now I really have to figure this out!!!


        1. Logical: Dirk’s logic? -> How is this a hint?

          Heheh. No, real logic.

          Five flags

          Exactly. Now the question to ask here is: what meaningful system can you build out of just five separate symbols?

          Countries: Finland, Sweden, Faroe Islands, Norway, Denmark, right?


          No matter how clever these kids are, I wonder if they could have figured out a message in Finnish.

          No, but you could.

          Could it be that we have to concentrate on the names of the countries in their own languages? -> Suomi, Sverige, Føroyar, Norge, Danmark

          Excellent assumption! Bull’s eye! Now put those in a logical order.

          Could we be looking for five letters/syllables/what ever combination of letters, then two, and five more?

          We just might…

          See? You’re not doing bad at all! That’s the fun of puzzles like these. At first you think: No way I’m going to solve this – oh, wait, this seems to make sense; which means that if I put this here – hey! I can solve this!


      3. I came to see, whether Nynke has had time to finish the puzzle. I can get back to this on Sunday (if my PP is ready by then, sigh).

        Thanks for the encouragement Dirk! I’m sure you mean well, although, seriously, wow! I can count to 5 and recognized a couple of flags! How smart am I, seriously ;-)?!? <- purely rhetorical remark.

        Ok, need to run. Good luck Nynke and the rest of you!


      4. Hmm, Marketta, I get the feeling you’re nearly there already… I’ll get back to it on Saturday. We shall virtually meet again :).


      5. D: Sorry, I shall behave from now on. That was twisted, introverted humour with a huge seed of truth in it ;-). It makes people sometimes feel awkward. Not often understood in real Europe (that’s probably a good thing). If you try to soothe it away, it gives an impression you think the person really is “dumb as a boot” (Finglish) and needs to be comforted. Most of my friends over here would just laugh it away: “kjähkjähkjäh, I hear you, having a blonde moment, ha? Ain’t we all sometimes, ain’t we all…” There are exceptions, and that’s why I should think before I speak/write… Maybe next time :-).

        Nynke: Looking forward to it :-)! If Nynke is your real name, I’m afraid I haven’t had a chance to meet you in person… Anyways, I’m cheering for you! Go and crack the code!

        Now, let us all write :-)!


      6. Ahh. I could see that humour was involved, but I had no idea of the complex sociological structures laying behind it! Wow.

        I love (sorry) your onomatopoeisation (sorry) of Finnish laughter. Is that the standard orthography?


      7. Wicked it is.

        I think the standard would be “hahhah” or “hahhahhaa”. You see “hehheh” in texts too, but if you actually say “hehheh” in a conversation it means “I know you think that was funny, but it was really lame.” If a child, or maybe a young and shy person is laughing, I would write “hihhih”. It has a girlish ring, though. Then the younger generation use “buahahaa/muahahaa” to indicate a burst of laughter. I think “kjähkjähkjäh” or “kjehkjehkjeh” is how Donald Duck (Aku Ankka), a drunken sailor – and loud women laugh. In some contexts it can sound a little mean. Said in short.

        Have a nice day! And you too, Nynke :-)!


    2. Nynke is indeed my real name and our meetings are indeed only here, chez Dirk :).
      Good luck with your paper! Oh, and you too, Dirk! and kjähkjäkjäh rules :)


      1. I dream of a time when ‘good luck with your paper’ will mean ‘have fun scooping up rag pulp with a mould and letting it dry in the evening sun where your beloved awaits you with honeysuckle in her hair and/or a bottle of Laphroaig’. Sigh.


      2. Ah Dirk, you are such a romantic :). And that’s a great bit of prose.

        Marketta, I’m sorry, I didn’t get round to the puzzle today! Got distracted by such things as my thesis, my beloved, and my sister’s birthday… I’ll have a look at it now and some more tomorrow :).


  3. Anyway, voor ik afgeleid raakte ging ik zeggen: welkom terug weer, transitief gefeliciteerd met je leuk-&-aardig-uitziende en goed presterende jongelingen, en het ziet er allemaal erg leuk en relaxt uit op de foto’s! En veel van de foto’s zijn mooi! Cool. Ik ben enigszins jaloers.


    1. Ergatief dank! Het was een erg leuk groepje inderdaad. En een leuke week. Ik zou er ook jaloers op wezen. Maar wéér geen eland, helaas (hetgeen extra ironisch is in het licht van een heel park vol met die beesten midden in de stad).


  4. Hi Marketta!

    I’ve given the puzzle a try, and as so often with Dirk’s codes, I seem to have stranded halfway. I’ll tell you what I did, and maybe you can think of a different variant that actually works…

    Putting the names of the countries in a logical order: I thought alphabetical, so Danmark, Føroyar, Norge, Suomi, Sverige.
    You can combine them in 5×5=25 ways; quite close to the number of letters in an alphabet. I didn’t know which letter to leave out, so I chose to leave out z (and I chose not to worry about ä, ö, å).

    If you number the countries following their alphabetical order (1-5), you can create number codes for each flag combination: 11 up to 55. You can choose to keep the first number equal first (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, then 21, 22 etc) or the second (11, 21, 31 etc). In both systems, 2 Suomi flags would be 44. If you let the numbers run up with the letters of the alphabet, and 44 is s, then 45 or 54 will be t, 51 or 15 u, etc.

    If I filled in the blanks in this way, I got ‘sujgn ji paqas’ in one system, and ‘sevgr vq daqas’ in the other. Clearly there’s something wrong with my method :-S. Except if you happen to study Syriac like Dirk and this actually means something… Which I doubt.

    I hope you can do better!


    1. Argh! To my dismay I have discovered a mistake in my code. Nynke’s approach is exactly correct (the 11, 12, 13 etc. version). However, I accidentally swapped the order of Norway and Føroyar. My list should have had the alphabetically correct order ‘Føroyar = 2; Norway = 3’ but has ended up the other way around. Hence:
      1 Danmark
      2 Norge
      3 Føroyar
      4 Suomi
      5 Sverige
      Now the message should be solvable. My sincerest apologies for the mistake! That’ll teach me not to make up codes in 15 minutes without a thorough double-check.


      1. Aha! Then I know what it is, and Google Translate tells me what it’s supposed to mean. Cute! :)
        Marketta, do you want to work the last bit out for yourself?


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