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.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

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."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

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