G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Monday, June 10, 2013

Does Usain Bolt Understand French? Majority of Us Don't

Harry Shearer:

"When you want your euphemising to be particularly opaque, you go French."

French moralist Nicolas Chamfort:

 “A man should swallow a toad every morning to be sure of not meeting with anything more revolting in the day ahead.”

Patrick West, June 5 2013:

" If you consider that the English and the French spent a good part of 800 years at war with each other, it’s not surprising that relations between the two peoples and their cultures remain awkward. The latest manifestation of this came last week. We learned that many people in France have been up in arms about plans to allow English to be used to teach science courses in its universities. The British, in turn, have found such fury and indignation hilarious...

...Everyone in the world - except Dutch and Scandinavian footballers - learns American English because it is today’s lingua franca. It’s the principal means for disseminating ideas and getting work, as Latin used to be. As Luc Ferry of Le Figaro, writing approvingly of the new French legislation, noted last week: ‘Si Descartes n’avait pas écrit en latin, come le feront encore après lui Leibniz ou Spinoza, il n’aurait jamais été lu dans le monde entier.’ People stopped using French when that country went into decline and lost influence in the nineteenth century, and it was the same story for British English in the twentieth. But neither language has disappeared, and neither is ‘threatened’ by American English. It’s also worth remembering that as America declines, so will its influence and the importance of its language. No empire lasts for ever."
On the rainy evening of June 9 2013, on TV, I saw closing parts of Men's final at French open and then stayed on for the presentation ceremony.

Usain Bolt presented the trophies. But I wonder if he understood anything that was spoken around him in Spanish and French for a large part of the ceremony.

Shouldn't just every one try speak English as a courtesy to not just millions of TV viewers around the world but the chief guest?

Sure, you can translate each line into French for the stadium spectators and French-only TV viewers around the world.

Do French think this will popularise their great language? In India, I meet a lot of young people learning German and Japanese but hardly any one learning French.

I don't get angry at this, I am just amused.

Artist: Helen E. Hokinson, The New Yorker, September 2 1944