June 29, 2004
Paraphrase of the Moment
You say in your book that you have every sympathy with Sir John Betjeman who remarked toward the end of his life that his greatest regret was not having had enough sex."
--Naim Attallah, interviewing Milton Shulman, in the book "Insights" (I gave a little background about the book when I kisrael'd this other passage previously.)
Vocabulary of the Moment
THE TEN FOREIGN WORDS THAT WERE VOTED HARDEST TO TRANSLATE
1 ilunga [Tshiluba word for a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time; to tolerate it a second time; but never a third time. Note: Tshiluba is a Bantu language spoken in south-eastern Congo, and Zaire]
2 shlimazl [Yiddish for a chronically unlucky person]
3 radioukacz [Polish for a person who worked as a telegraphist for the resistance movements on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain]
4 naa [Japanese word only used in the Kansai area of Japan, to emphasise statements or agree with someone]
5 altahmam [Arabic for a kind of deep sadness]
6 gezellig [Dutch for cosy]
7 saudade [Portuguese for a certain type of longing]
8 selathirupavar [Tamil for a certain type of truancy]
9 pochemuchka [Russian for a person who asks a lot of questions]
10 klloshar [Albanian for loser]
THE TEN ENGLISH WORDS THAT WERE VOTED HARDEST TO TRANSLATE
--from this poll of translators, further linked and discussed here. Not the most convincing list, really, and as someone in the discussion mentions, its been done, with a lot more background about the cultural assumptions and what not, by Howard Rheingold. I think it was a review of that book where I learned about the culture that has the word for "the truth that everyone knows but no one speaks"...
Plea of the Moment
And, if You deem it necessary (or just amusing) to take my mind before You take my body, let's try to keep the progressive dementia noble and epically sad rather than comical. For example: please let the last face I recognize be the photograph of a long-lost high-school girlfriend and not one of the plucky toddlers from the animated show "Rugrats." In my final moments, let me awaken--apparently lucid--in the pre-dawn hours calling out for a kiss on the forehead from a dead great-aunt rather than from the mustachioed black bartender on "The Love Boat."
--Paul Simms, from "A Prayer", a New Yorker Shouts & Murmurs feature. (Probably a short-lived link.) Via Bill.
Politics of the Moment
I will say, the two day schedule jump for the Iraq handover was indeed a pretty slick move overall. (Which doesn't mean I agree with us being there, but hey.) Also, I noticed rightist radio is curiously silent on Cheney's use of the F-word. If it had been as prominent a Democrat saying that, we would NEVER hear the end how it was the "end of civility" and "a new low" and all that crap. Personally, I'm fine with and vaguely amused by him saying it, but I think the likely hypocricy (implicit in the lack of outrage) of the rightwingers is telling.