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2003-08-08 17:34 (UTC+1)

Modern Monarchy's Morganatic Mayhem!

The text of the Vanity Fayre special does have its moments, though. It is written by Prince Michael of Greece, who is willing to defend absolute monarchy and inexplicably keen to show off the full extent of his intellect:

The House of Denmark, to which he [George I of Greece] belonged, was not originally really Danish, for its roots were steeped in Germanic mythology.


And it turns out that "morganatic" is the correct term for a marriage of an Royal Personnage to a Person of Unroyalness, although my shorter OED (My! Shorter! OED! Hoorah!) claims that its from medieval Latin matrimonium ad morganaticam, in which "the wife and childrens, if any, are entitled to no share in the husbands possessions beyond the 'morning gift'", and doesn't note that this is no longer the case, possibly because it wasn't yet no longer the case back then.

And there's a jolly fold-out family tree of the once-great interweavology of the once-great Royle Hices of Yooorp for those dynastical trainspotter moments, and let's face it we all have them and it's nothing to be ashamed of, whatever Mr Pope says.

And it clears up that Mrtha Louise only gave up the title "Her Royal Highness", while it's still OK to call her a prinsess, hoorah, so I have lately improved my opinion of it a good deal.


2003-08-08 15:58 (UTC+1)

European Tact Week, belated entry

It's taken me an awfully long time to grok in fullness that some of the countries in Yoorp are fairly new, and that countries can come and go and borders can move. (Yes, yes, I know; Silly Engleesh!)

Germany is currently trying to pick a list of the 10 greatest Germans (with You Know Who having been excluded from voting, just in case), and an Austrian gentleperson is seizing the opportunity for a spot of tact:

Austria's ambassador to Germany, Christian Prosl, has said that because Salzburg is in modern-day Austria, Mozart is Austrian, and has complained over the composer's inclusion in the list.

The thing is, there was a language called German before there was a state called Germany (these are Engleesh names, but parallel constructions exist), and there was a de facto supra-national German ethnicity that went with it. Bringing the two into closer alignment was explicitly stated as a motivation for some of the last century's unhilarities, in fact.

So the question, almost as fascinating as cheese labelling but not quite, is whether someone who would presumably have qualified as German in the sense prevailing in Mr Mozart's time still qualifies as German in an age that has adopted a definition of Germanness based on a subsequent nation-state.

And if you're snaffling up Freud, why not go all the way and make a grab for Kafka and cheer up the Czechs as well?

The BBC don't mention Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche or Heidegger as being contenders, although Claudia Schiffer ("pictured", ho ho) and Boris Becker are, but I haven't actually looked for the full skinny.


2003-08-08 13:58 (UTC+1)

[KBS] The experts weigh in

To remind us why we bother, then, what better than a semiotic autopsy on the affair no one except me is calling Knudellagate:

Jeg kan kun tolke dronning Margrethes udtalelse sdan, at der kommer en forlovelse meget snart, selv om udtalelsen ikke er officiel. Katten er lukket ud af skken, siger forfatteren og journalisten Merete Wilkenschildt.

["I'd interpret queen Margrethe's remarks thuswisely: that an engagement is coming really soon, although the announcement isn't official. The kat's out of the bag," said author and journalist Merete Wilkenschildt.]

That's much more like it, is it not, Varied Reader? A nation will surely sleep soundly tonight with the thought, "If it's good enough for author and journalist Merete Wilkenschildt, it's good enough for me."


2003-08-08 13:21 (UTC+1)

Vanity Fair Kunglighet Special

"To be Young and Royal: A Special 57-Page Portfolio" mostly amounts to stiffly posed photos.

There's no way I could resist such a thing, of course, but it's the most persuasive case I've seen for a good while for being someone who could resist such a thing - this kind of material just doesn't work for me in ze Engleesh.

If you also can't resist, be sure you have enough snarkage for the whole class.


2003-08-08 10:05 (UTC+1)

Karl Marx: History's greatest science-fiction writer

Could somebody please write this essay and give me all the credit - I'm just an an ideas person. Thanks.


2003-08-07 15:52 (UTC+1)


Polyglots! Ever wanted a really extensive collection of really quite hard grammar tests?

Look no further.

I am apparently "Advanced Intermediate" in both French (70-something%) and Swedish (85%), making the Swedish at long last my Official Language Of Secondness. (Actually, I am definitely better at Swedish syntax, but my French vocabulary is way ahead.)

The tests are rigorous enough that for me to try to fake competence in Italian or Latin would only end in humiliation, but if you think your Japanese, Chinese or Irish are up to the job (or you happen to have a taste for humiliation) then help yourself.

[via Anna Louise, tack.]


2003-08-07 13:56 (UTC+1)

[KBS] A nation's joy, and the heartache of the prinsessor who never were.

Oh man oh man oh man but the Berlingske Tidende has gone Kronprinsess Knudella crazy! One would almost think that they knew this was coming and had prepared in advance, or something.

Relish their portrait of Her Blivende Herselfness (snippet: Mary Elizabeth - kan det blive mere kongeligt? "Mary Elizabeth - could it be more regal?") by all means, but spare a thought for Kronprinsfred's exes, of which they have an immensely tasteful fotoseries (which is javascripted, sadly, to the point of unlinkability but easy enough to find). He's not "Prins" Albert of "Monaco", our Kronprinsfred (and thank heavens for that), but he's not done badly for himself over the years.

Drama and romance and fotos, oh my! (Note that there's another fotoseries chronicling the Knudella wcourtship and I recognise every single one of them, good grief.)

(I'll try to blog something non-prinsessly tomorrow, but really.)

[via Birgitte, tack]


2003-08-07 12:38 (UTC+1)

Knudellabrllopsagaupdate: The home straight.

[Anna Louise's tip off, hurrah!]

Squeezing the last drops of drama from the drama like the drama-Queen that Kronprinsfred's mummy - the dramatically-accomplished Queen of Denmark - is, she is at the dropping heavy hints stage:

En forlovelse mellem Mary Donaldson og kronprins Frederik er nrt forestende.

Det bekrftede dronning Margrethe indirekte p et pressemde i formiddag p slottet Chteau de Cax i Frankrig, hvor regentparret for tiden ferierer.

[An engagement between Knudella ("Mary") Donaldson and Kronprinsfred is practically understood.

Queen Margrethe [who is Kronprinsfred's mummy] confirmed this indirectly at a press-conference this morning at the Chteau de Cax in France, where her French husband likes to strut around like he's some kind of bigshot to make up for the fact that he gets no respect in Denmark the royal couple are on holiday.]

Sorry about that, our translation staff seems to have acquired a bit of an attitude lately.

If you close your eyes can you almost hear the distant tinkling of wedding bells through the still, heavy, hot and humid air? Don't expect any sense from me until this is officially official.


2003-08-07 10:12 (UTC+1)

When I were a lad we had to make our own entertainment, tha' knows

So. Imagine, then, the solemn and indeed majestic dignity as the 12 golden mullets slowly ascend the flagpole, and the full European Parliament stands to attention and belts out the canonically aphasic adaptation of Mr Beethoven's classic arrangement of Mr Schiller's Ode to joy,

La, La, La, La, la-la-la,
La La La La, Laaaaaaa Lala,
La, La, La, La la-la-la,
La La La La Laaaaaa Lala

[Schiller, trans. Von Karajan]

Not a dry eye in the house, I'd wager.

Some traditionalists might try to sneak in the German:

Freude schne Gtterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium
Ich betrete hm hm -trunken
hm hm hm hm Heiligtum
Deine Zauber binden wieder
was die Mode streng geteilt
alle Menschen werden Brder
(?wo dein sanften Flgel weilt?)

[Schiller, adapted Birgitte]

Note how the new humming sections undercut what might otherwise be an oppressive and cloying sentimentality by obliquely reminding - even enacting - that lofty visions neglect details and specifics at the risk of appearing foolish and incoherent. A clear improvement on Schiller's text, I would say.

Or we could try the Swedish drinking song approach:

Snapsvisor vill ingen sjunga,
som har vett i skallen sin.
Hellre spara d din lunga
och hll ut din flaska gin.

I think you'll agree that I've surpassed something with a translation of this that still fits the music:

Nobody sings drinking songs
If brains, not sawdust, fill his head
Don't waste your breathe on sing-alongs,
Let's have another gin instead!

[Birgitte has pointed out that the sentiment of the original was towards pouring the gin away rather than into a glass, so my translation is clearly as big an improvement as her own version of Mr Schiller's composition, hoorah!]

(The gin and tonic, like stilton cheese and cricket, is of course a sure proof that God is an Englishment, but don't tell anyone I said so, OK?)


2003-08-06 14:52 (UTC+1)

Europe, not-quite endless

Olivi Bino's L'Europa difficile. Storia politica dell'integrazione europea 1948-2000 has been translated into French as L'Europe difficile : Histoire politique de l'intgration europenne, and it is the latter version that I picked up in Oxfam. It's dauntingly long, and pretty openly federalist in the introduction (which is all I've read, so far). There is no Engleesh translation.

Instead, why not amaze your friends by learning all the words to the EU anthem?

In 1972, the Council of Europe (the same body that designed the European flag) adopted Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" theme as its own anthem. The well-known conductor Herbert Von Karajan was asked to write three instrumental arrangements - for solo piano, for wind instruments and for symphony orchestra. Without words, in the universal language of music, this anthem expresses the ideals of freedom, peace and solidarity for which Europe stands.

Or spot the deliberate mistakes in some misrenderings of the EU flag's 12 gloriously perfect golden mullets.

(Has anyone got any skateboarding duck stories? My spicy brain is bedrownd in a silly seasoning marinade, what with the heat.)


2003-08-06 10:55


Last year the Grauniad had a feature article on the meeja silly season that sets in in the dog days of summer (viz now). This year we are contenting ourselves with demonstrations, such as this from BT (via Birgitte, tack) on the saga of Kronprinsfred's perpetually immanent engagement to his lovely Tasmanian bestly belovd:

Den forlovelse, resten af landet venter p, vil nemlig vre en mindre katastrofe for politikerne. Efter den ddeste sommer i dansk politik i mands minde vil politikerne nu have din opmrksomhed igen. Samtidig!

The engagement that the rest of the country yearns for will be a minor catastrophe for politicians. After the deadest summer in Danish politics in living memory, politicians now want to regain the limelight again. Simultaneously!

Simultaneously, that is, with the Knudellafever that will of course sweep the nation like a new sensation just as soon as official notice is given, and quite right too.

( Nom d'un pipe, Jacques, en Danemark on attend une rentre difficile, n'est-ce pas? Bah, ouais. La jolie Tasmanienne, quoi ? )

Sweepstakewisely, I will content myself with the remark that the current Point de Vue (where it's silly season all year round, hoorah) has a headline Victoria de Sude et Daniel Westling: Bientt Fiancs ?


2003-08-05 14:37 (UTC+1)

Pregnant prinsess's zoo-romp immanent

[via Anna Louise, tack.]

I slutten av august lper kronprinsesse Mette-Marit blant sjiraffer og apekatter i dyreparken i Kristiansand.

At the end of August kronprinsess Mette-Marit will run around with a mixture of giraffes and apekatter in the zoo in Kristiansand.

As you do, obviously. (My Norwegish is currently out of callibration so I dare not risk a point-mining expedition on this one.)


2003-08-05 12:35 (UTC+1)

Food-flavoured eatables, yum yum.

The Great British Banger, hoorah:

The secret of the successful "economy" sausage these [post-BSE] days lies not so much in strange offals but in fat and protein engineering. Pig rind is an essential ingredient in the protein engineer's toolbox. Frozen, imported, chopped to a slurry and soaked with hot water, it produces a bargain blancmange which can make up 30-35% of the sausage and still be called meat. Manufacturers' handbooks recommend rind emulsion because its high protein content boosts the nitrogen counts which are the basis for tests to determine the meat content of products.

Oh, that's nasty. Perhaps you'd like to calm down with some soothing chocolate? EC Directive 2000/36 was defanged on its way through the legislative process in another victory for the UKish population, if you believe the (UK's) Food "Standards" Authority:

In a hard fought battle the UK secured the right to continue to make milk chocolate to its own traditional recipe, which contains less cocoa and has a higher milk content and is the taste preferred by UK consumers.
  • When sold elsewhere in the EU such milk chocolate will have to be labelled as 'family milk chocolate' in order to help distinguish it from milk chocolate made in the rest of Europe.

UK chocolate: it's like chocolate, only less so! Thank you, FSA, whoever you are!


2003-08-05 10:12 (UTC+1)

Europe, endless

Kraftwerk have a new album out. Ten years in the making, apparently it sounds like Kraftwerk, hoorah!

I appear to be unequal to the struggle against enrolling in more and further educations. The Open University's European Studies programme is a clearly a cunning scheme to deprive me of all my spare money and time, even if there is no option to study Scandewegian and a shocking lack of a level three course on The Role of Prinsessor in Modern Yoorp (they could even put Gender Studies stuff in and I'd still take it - I would read Judith Butler for the prinsessor, and this is not a small thing to say for sure.)

Also, an article on Yoorp's pension deficit. It's narrativised to the point of structural incoherence, but that's what we von Bladet's do best:

  1. The Yoorpean population is aging as people neglect the ancient art of Making Babies. (It is also urbanising, which the article foolishly thinks is the same thing.)
  2. Much of Yoorp funds its payment of pensions to Persons Of Chronology via taxes on the currently working.
  3. More Pensionable Persons Of Chronology and fewer persons of working age is a trend that is going to lead to a funding crisis, and sooner rather than later.
  4. Much of Yoorp takes immigrants begrudgingly, and fails to integrate them into the taxable work-force and then moans about them being a drain on the welfare system in general, and especially their habit of producing the next generation of potentially taxable workers.
  5. We may conclude that Yoorpeans are racist half-wits whose keenest desire is that their societies should self-destruct.

Stop that, Yoorp, and I'm only saying that because I love you.


2003-08-04 15:18 (UTC)

The Hopi sense of linkage

An encyclopedia article on Native Ameriquean Languages, (via Language Hat), which is well worth your time. Other articles deal with assorted Amerindian language families, for the Reader of Substantialer Leisure.

Or how about a survey of "Human Language Technology", state of the art as recently as 1997? C'mon, they've got Lauri Karttunen on computational morphology, how can you possibly resist? ("Because lexical transducers are bidirectional. they are generally non-deterministic in both directions.")



2003-08-04 11:36 (UTC+1)


Have you ever wondered how the immanent enlargement will affect our beloved EU flag? I know I have, but it turns out that it won't:

The BBC suggested that the EU is being forced to redesign its emblem as a result of its forthcoming enlargement. This is untrue: the number of stars on the EU emblem has never been representative of the number of Member States. There are 12 stars on the emblem and, currently, 15 Member States. The number of stars is fixed at 12 because this is a number that traditionally symbolises perfection and completeness.

This must be one of the many traditional symbolisms into which's mysteries I have sadly not been inducted. If you know what twelveness and perfection have to do with each other I'd be very glad if you told me, especially if there is a lack of connection with Mr Pope and his hate-mongering middle-eastern death-cultistes who are not inconsiderably out of favour hos von Bladet.


2003-08-04 10:59 (UTC+1)

The sun is shining again

and the sky is substantially clearer than my head. With hindsight, skipping lunch yesterday in favour of much Guiness and a packet of peanuts still seems like a pretty good idea, but it is not a decision that has been without consequences.

Also, I have seen Nan Tow's Tump, said to be the largest tump in the Midgely Wood district, and a long barrow which's name I have forgot, but which is also the largest something in somewhere and thus very impressive.

And some of a Formula One race, which is a dull thing they do with cars, and some of England's heroic capitulation to Seth Effricka in the cricket, which reminded me just how good it is to watch, especially in pubs. (I do not have a TV, you may recall, so I am at the mercy of circumstances in these matters.)


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