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2004-04-30 fika (utc+1)

Comment dit-on Bienvue ! en toutes ces langues? Comme une vache espagnole!

As part of its series of factfiles on the Newbies, the Grauniad has been translating the phrase "Welcome into the warm family of European nations, my esteemed Xish comrade" into the prevailing languages and nationalities of each of them, which I have aggregated for you:


Witamy naszych polskich przyjacil w europejskiej rodzinie


Kalos orisate sti zesti oikogenia ton Evropaikon Ethnon agapite syntrofe apo tin Kypro


Kedves Magyar Baratom! Meleg szeretettel koszontunk az Europai Nepek Csaladjaban!


Mu kallis eesti sober! Tere tulemast Euroopa rahvaste sobralikku perre!


Sveikiname tapus siltos Europines seimos nariu, brangusis drauge lietuvi


Esiet sveicinati Eiropas gimenu saime, dargie Latvijas draugi!


Dobrodosel v prijetno druzino evropskih narodov, spostovani slovenski prijately
Merhba fl-Ewropa, siehbi
(There's a shortage of Maltese translation talent, after all.)


Vitejte do rodiny evropsky ch narodu


Vitaj v priatelskej rodine europskych narodov, moj cteny slovensky priatel
(Comparing this with the Czech, it's fairly clear the former skipped the last bit.)

Only Polandland managed to keep a single diacritic, sadly, but it was a sweet gesture anyway, isn't it?


2004-04-30 samwidge (utc+1)

On the manifest superiority of Swedish bladets

Aftonbladet, for example:

I morgon natt tar andra vrldskriget slut. Efter 64 r och nio mnader r Europa till sist enat. st och vst finns inte lngre. Historiskt r ett missbrukat ord. Det anvnds fr alldeles fr sm hndelser. Men nr tio nya lnder vid midnatt natten till lrdag tar klivet in i EU skrivs historia - p riktigt.

Tomorrow night the Second World War comes to an end. After 64 years and nine months, Europe will at last be united. No more east or west. The word historic is often missused to apply to things of no great importance. But when ten new countries take their place in the EU history really will be made.

In celebration, we at this bladet will be hosting a ceremony in which we formally acknowledge the existence of "Slovenia", although we reserve the right to have our fingers crossed as the oath is sworn.


2004-04-30 morning (utc+1)

Set your phasers to "Tact" and keep an eye out for Roma ("Gypsies")

I've neglected to link assorted articles in the Swedish, Frenchy-French and even UKish* press on the plight of the Slovakian Roma ("Gypsies"), but out in Czechia, where men are still real men unless they're congenitaly idle semi-feral scroungers ("Gypsies") they're having none of your liberal do-gooding nonsenses about immigration:

"Few Czechs mind hard-working and diligent Chinese and Vietnamese", [Czechbladet Lidove Noviny] says, but "Roma do pose a specific problem". Those "from the poor Slovak shanty towns", it argues, "are hopelessly trapped in their social situation" and, having "no working nor civilized habits... are unable to instil them in their children".

But experts, the paper says, "assure the public that they are too apathetic even to move to the Czech Republic".

I have some first stones I would very much like to be casting if my own national press were without sin, which is by no means the case. There is, sadly, no body of empirical evidence that ethnique tolerance is greatly enhanced by a thorough slapping about the face and head with a wet fish, but if I were the EU commisioner for minorities I would currently be arguing vehemently that further field-trials are desperately needed.

* That would be the Grauniad, of course. Filthbladets like the Express and Mail have been doing their very best to whip up raciste paniques about the Hoards Of Gyppo Scroungers that were poised to sweep into our beloved land, until David "Security" Blunkett passed the much needed legislation to prevent it.


2004-04-29 fika (utc+1)


[via Birgitte, tak!]

A horse is a horse, or so I've heard;
To talk to a horse is quite absurd,
But if you need to use a word,
Use proper Danish wovels!


Sprogforsker Anne Fabricius fra RUC har lagt mrke til, at Mary Donaldson bruger typiske danske udtryk, og at hun udtaler nogle ord p engelsk p en mde, som minder om danskernes typiske udtale af engelsk.
I klippet fra rideskolen taler Mary Donaldson til hesten, og her bruger hun flere "danske" vokaler i engelske ord. Det er en uforpligtene snak, og hun leger lidt med sproget, mener Anne Fabricius.

Sprogforsker Anne Fabricius from RUC has noticed that Knudella uses typical Danish expressions, and that she pronounces some words in English in a manner reminiscent of the typical Danish pronunciation of English.
In the klip from the riding school Knudella talks to her horse and she uses several "Danish" wovels in English words. It's informal speech, and she's playing around with language, avers Anne Fabricius.

There's only a fortnight to go, Varied Reader; just two short weeks.


2004-04-29 samwidge (utc+1)


1. Words fail me

A giant sand sculpture of Knudella and some bloke:

Nu dukker Frederik og Mary frem af en kmpe bunke sand p Langelinje i Kbenhavn. Danmarks mest bermte brudepar skabes af 15 kubikmeter sand, og sandskulpturen skal st klar den 5. maj, nr forsvaret hylder de to.

Now Kronprinsfred and Knudella beam down from a giant sandbank at Langelinje [of all places!] in Shoppingharbour. Denmarks most famous bridal couple are sculpted from 15 cubic metres of sand, and the sand sculpture will be opened on the 5th of May when the armed forces salute the couple.

2. Vickan learns where prinsessor come from:

I gr fick kronprinsessan lra sig allt om blommor och bin p RFSU i Stockholm.
- Det var oerhrt intressant, sger hon.

Yesterday the kronprinsess got to learn all about the birds and the bees at RFSU in Stockholm.
"It was immensely interesting," she said.

As a prinsess by birth rather than marriage the production of an heir is only half of her life's work, but even so you'd think someone would have briefed her on what happens when a prins and a prinsess love each other very much...

3. The king was in his counting house, counting up his money...

P 15 r har Victoria, Carl Philip och Madeleine ftt nra 1,5 miljoner kronor av pappa.
Men kungen har rd. I fjol hade han en frmgenhet p 173 359 121 kronor.

For 15 years, Vickan and Madeleine and some bloke have recieved nearly 1.5 million kronor [~0.1 million GBP] from their daddy.
But their daddy is the king! And he can afford it - last year he had a fortune of 173 359 121 kronor.

I already loved Sweden for very many reasons, of course, but giving the king's fortune to the last kronor is one reason more.


2004-04-29 dry (utc+1)

Fill thou the cup and I the can

Martin said to his man, fie, man, fie
Martin said to his man, who's the fool, now
Martin said to his man, Fill thou the cup and I the can
Thou hast well drunken man, who's the fool now?

Licensed in 1588 to Thomas Orwin.

God of the Machine anticipates that Western ("Left") Blogistan is likely to call George W. Bush stupid in the near future, and I, for one, agree that this would be quite inappropriate.

While Mr Bush is no match for the later Reagan, say, as a heavy-weight thinker, "stupid" is hardly the mot juste. I would say, rather, that Mr Bush is a culpably incurious nincompoop who'd be out of his depth in an intellectual puddle. But stupid? Certainly not!

Next week: Ashcroft - liberty-hating theocrat or big fat poopyhead?


2004-04-29 wet (utc+1)

Que sais-je Englished!


Investments est le dernier titre en date publi dans la collection Que sais-je?, des Presses Universitaires de France (PUF), et le premier de la srie en anglais destination des lecteurs franais.

Investments is the latest title to appear in the collection "Que sais-je?" from PUF, and the first title intended for French readers to appear in ze Engleesh.

Qs-j is my favourite foreign imprint, so it's just as well I don't want to study investments.


2004-04-28 regn (utc+1)

Kricket Regnkos

If we'd wanted it rained off we could have had it in Blighty, dash it, but we seem to have run into the rainy season in the Caribbean.

England's fourth one-day match against West Indies was abandoned because of rain just after the scheduled start.

It is the third match of the series to have been hit by the unseasonable bad weather sweeping the Caribbean.

Still, the Noo Zillun tour of England starts in a week or two, weather permitting.


2004-04-28 samwidge (utc+1)

Nobility, slightly nobbled

1. The Margrave of Moravia

The 13th Margrave of Moravia
Was prone to eccentric behaviour:
He'd spice up a stew
With the sole of his shoe
On the grounds that it made the sauce gravier.

2. The Great Voyvod of the Voyvodina

"O, what sort of Voyvod would that be, Mister?
We've Voyvods a-plenty; we've Voyvods to burn;
In this land the Voyvods roam free, Mister;
Which Voyvod d'you want - we are anxious to learn!"

"The Voyvod I'm after is great, Yeoman -
The Voyvod I seek is no Voyvodic whelp!
But the trail has gone cold and it's late, Yeoman;
Here's a shiny gold coin in return for your help."


2004-04-28 morning (utc+1)

Monday review of stuff bonus special edition!

Vita Lampada, isn't it?

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night --
Ten to make and the match to win --
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

The game, of course, is cricket. But hlas, there are among us those who have never played up, played up nor played the game and wouldn't know how to start. For those poor benighted souls, help is at hand: Rob Eastwood's What Is a Googly?: The Mysteries of Cricket Explained does a splendid job of initiating the neophyte spectator into the mysteries of the noble game. It is said that it has not proved to be without pedagogical efficacy in the case of certain persons of the gentler sex and even Americans! Wild as such claims seem, the author's mix of clarity and gentle humour is to be applauded, and this book is the best chance many of these unfortunates are likely to get.

The sand of the desert is sodden red, --
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; --
The Gatling's jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of schoolboy rallies the ranks,
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

Those who already knew all that may prefer to turn to the admirable Social History of English Cricket, by Sir Derek Birley. Cricket, here, serves as a prism in which to scrutinise the social history of England, from the 17th century onwards. Cricket is a very good way to do this, partly because it is cricket (hurrah!) and partly because even from the earliest times it was a game played by teams combining the aristocracy (for whom it was mostly a matter of gambling) and their hired staff of professional gamesters, so you get a ring-side view of class relations throughout history and the running gag of MCC (the game's governing body until late in the 20th century) as a blundering bunch of magnificently blithering toffs and nincompoops, which they certainly were.

In any case my grasp of English history isn't what it might be, so this was an instructive read from that angle, but it's also valuable for its demythologisation of various lost Edens of innocence, fair play and gentlemanly conduct.

This is the word that year by year
While in her place the School is set
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind --
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

-- Sir Henry Newbolt

Till next time, Varied Reader, keep a straight bat and play up! play up! and play the game!


2004-04-27 14:52

Monday review of stuff

A Viking Voyage: In Which an Unlikely Crew of Adventurers Attempts an Epic Journey Tothe New World, Hodding Carter.

I think I was hoping when I bought it that this was going to be like Thor Heyerdahl only with Vikings. It isn't. (It is, however, now out of print in paperback.)

It isn't a very good book, really - as a prose stylist Carter would and probably did make a fine documentary subject, and the scholarship is, um, less than fastidious:

Sagas were skaldic poems, recited to petty kings, earls, and lords by skalds, historian-poets, who lived by their eloquence and wit.


The very first thing to know about the sagas, of course, is that they were prose in a medieval Yoorp where poetry was the only game in town; the very first thing to know about the Iceland of the sagas is that it was a republic. So you can imagine.

Anyway, their are sponsers and adventurers' tiffs and reconciliations and tribulations not especially galore, really, as our hardy latter day vikings cross a modest stretch of sea in a boat in the summer, and if you can't get enough of that kind of thing then this certainly that kind of thing and more than enough of it for anyone else, I should think.

It does, however, answer one question I have been asked a few times:

Before serving the whale, Elias quizzed us, "Do you know what the Vikings ate so that they did not get scurvy?" [...] He obviously wanted to be the one to inform us, but I could not help blurting out that they ate the skins of walruses and beluga, both rich in vitamin C. Arctic explorers in the 19th century had learned about scurvy the hard way, suffering and dying from the disease except when supplied with walrus by the Inuit.


For next week's Monday review of stuff, if there is one, I shall try my level best to discuss something that is not out of print, I promise.


2004-04-27 smawidge (utc+1)

Every few years

I am reminded that I don't actually know any differential geometry, and that that is a bad thing. I do now know latitude from longditude, though.

(I am still working vair vair hard - expect sporadicities.)


2004-04-27 morning (utc+1)

Digital reincarnated the radio star

Chris von Timber is learning German and someone in the comments mentions a directory of streaming radio sites in a gazillion languages. Here it is. (I've gone for the Yoorp page, but there are others.)

Inevitably, none of the 21 (!) stations from "Slovenia" actually work, and not a few from other lands require Microsoft infestations, but that's the InterWebNet for you.


2004-04-26 bah! (utc+1)

Bad universe; no Jaffa cake!

Robert Potts, co-editor of Poetry Review, has noticed that poetry isn't very popular. This is the fault of a diffuse and incoherent set of causes, none of which is him or the poets he endorses, he'll have you know:

Commercial British poetry, fostered by anthologies and writing classes, focuses on autobiographical lyric, increasingly in prosaic cadence and language, offering banal experiences and banal thought. Individualism ("look at me!") and conformity ("relevant to all of us") are elided in safe common denominators. If these poems mention the political, they do so with gestures of wordly-wise impotence, as if outside the problem, or ironised confessions of complicity that seek to defuse the charge. This probably is the legacy of Larkin, defeated and pessimistic, xenophobic and conservative, who spoke so well and so lastingly to and for Middle England. Fifty years on, in a situation of permanent war, what we need is less consolation, and more concentration. But that's a hard idea to sell.

Ritual sneering aside, most of those bearing Modernisme's cudgels spotted even at the outset that art that seeks to alienate and bewilder ("challenge") its audience is apt to find itself in short order without much of an audience to alienate and bewilder ("challenge"). Mr Potts's daring suggestion that he could have his Ivory Tower and eat it if it wasn't for the fact he can't deserves credit, however, for resolutely ignoring all other poetic traditions and their market places.

Is French poesie just leaping off the shelves over there in Franceland? And if not, is it Larkin's fault there, too? I have heard rumours that poesie is still well-regarded in Portugal, and in more than a few eastern and central Yoorpean countries - is this because their publics are very much more anxious to be alienated and bewildered ("challenged"), or is it that poets like the wonderful even in translation Wislawa Szymborska managed to find a way of continuing to write for an audience without degenerating into depressing xenophobia?


2004-04-26 power! (utc)

Things (assorted)

Does not the abyss between protons and the proletariat conceal an unacknowledged metaphysical conception of man?

Benedict Anderson Imagined Communities, p.11 n.

Oh, good grief. We have a visitor today and for the next couple of weeks, so I have much to do.

So, we also just had a spontaneous power cut in the building. Gah!

2004-04-26 samwidge (utc+1)

When I were a lad

we didn't celebrate St Patrick's day in England, on account of not being Irish. I still don't, since I'm still not, and I make a point of not drinking Guiness if I happen to be out on the night.

It's about as Irish as apple pie, anyway:

The worldwide success of St Patrick's Day celebrations is based on events in the US, which were imported back to Ireland and then on to the UK.

"It's all to do with ex-pat communities," says Nick Bish of pub body the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers.

"We're absolutely in favour of a St George's Day holiday, but it would take an ex-pat community to provide the push and I can't think of one that's big enough."

This is all very well so far as it goes, but are Bastille day, the FDRUSAian 4th of July and Norway's 17 maj (which, we should never overlook an opportunity to point out, commemorates the handing over of Norway from Denmark to Sweden) really all ex-pat innovations?

(Incidentally, the Amazon pixie delivered my copy of Imagined Communities today, hoorah!)


2004-04-26 09:51

Less than a week to go!

To the 1st of May ("May 1st") that is, and that is when the New Jumbo EU goes live, so we'll enjoy our nice Tower of Babel articles while the enjoying is good or alternatively look forward to their presumable updrying. Today's one is from the Grauniad:

Here at the Cocobu session - whose proceedings are the setting for a trial run of the full-blown new interpreting regime - not everything is going smoothly. Twenty languages with a three- person team for each means 60 interpreters for this committee meeting. But the Maltese, Slovaks and Poles have downed tools because their booths have no chairs.

("My booth has no chair!"
"Really, how does it sit?"

Oh the hilarity:

Even the driest of eurocrats relishes the true story of the interpreter who struggled with the leaden speech of a German commissioner who had compared the pace of a negotiating session to a hedgehog - and translated it as: "This meeting is slow, ponderous and full of pricks."

And some incision, which is rare:

Globalisation and multinational companies have created expectations that cannot be ignored: if Microsoft can publish its manuals in Catalan, Europe's institutions look a bit flaky if they say they can't.

"A foreign minister or a commissioner may be perfectly Anglophone, but we can't expect that from the specialist in lawnmower sound levels," explains Ian Andersen, a Danish official in the commission's interpretation directorate - upgraded, due to volume of work, from the mere department it used to be. But it is precisely such specialists, the nuts-and-bolts desk officers, who are working away in meetings about basic things such as harmonising how the EU does business or fairly applying its rules for agriculture and the environment. "Our concern," says Andersen, who has been interpreting French, Italian, Swedish and Norwegian into his native tongue for 18 years, "is that people should be able to send their best specialists and not their best linguists."

Of course, Microsoft was a bit shall we say slow off the blocks with the i18n into smaller languages, but Catalan is an odd choice of example since it is not small (the article later quotes estimates of "at least seven million") and it has (as the article also remarks) no official status within the EU. And Micosoft probably doesn't publish 1.4 million pages a year, either.

Still, as an EU citizen and tax-payer, I certainly consider this gravy well-splashed - it's micropeanuts compared to the amount the UK spends subsidising car drivers or farmeurs, after all.


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