Saturday, July 23, 2005

Featuring : linguablogs

Visited Language Hat before but didn't realise till checking the blogroll how many others there were. A friend who has quite a few European languages under his belt was mentioning a desire for a bit of Latin: there are three or four Latblogs, e.g. scripio scripsit, who appears to live in the western reaches of the Roman empire in Washington D.C.

Two other lingua tips :

(1) Swearing in Spanish

might not sound like something you direct the children to {1}, except in that they might need some background for Hemingway set books. Took my fancy because I had thought before going there it was partly to do with religion - proved true.
Spain is supposed to be a very religious country. Its history, at least, has showed a high respect to God and Friends in Heaven. However, spanish language is full of expressions that most foreigners would consider rather offensive. Religion is the center of spanish swearing, but quite different from Swedish, where the religious icon to be attacked is The Devil. The Devil, Satan and/or all Hellish creatures are seldom used in spanish swearing. On the contrary, the targets of a Spanyard's anger are God, The Virgin, Jesus and the rest of The Catholic Olympus. Centuries of Inquisition and forty years of National-Catholic Dictatorship haven't been enough to teach spanyards to show respect to their own deitys. We will take a look of some of the expressions that will condemn most spanyards to Hell.

(2) Eunoia {2}


This , reminding us of
George Perec’s, A Void, { 2 } { 3 } did come via language hat but, going back, can't find the link. Googling gave a review of Christian Bök's book (sorry) at:

The Danforth Review

extract of Gilbert Adair's translation of Void.

There is also :
Gadsby [1939] by Ernest Vincent Wright

What gives? Well, it seemed on reading the quote

Writing is inhibiting. Sighing, I sit, scribbling in ink
this pidgin script. I sing with nihilistic witticism,
disciplining signs with trifling gimmicks—impish
hijinks which highlight stick sigils. Isn’t it glib?
Isn’t it chic? I fit childish insights within rigid limits,
writing shtick which might instill priggish misgiv-
ings in critics blind with hindsight. I dismiss nit-
picking criticism which flirts with philistinism. I
bitch; I kibitz—griping whilst criticizing dimwits,
sniping whilst indicting nitwits, dismissing simplis-
tic thinking, in which philippic wit is still illicit.

from “Chapter I” Eunoia

individual writing, necessarily limited by intelligence, creativitity and education, would in a sense fall into the same sort of restrictions as eunoia. More directly: my writing will never be like, say, Blanchot's essays. Though, damn it, in my time I have written some pretty convoluted stuff.

I read (say) Blanchot: don't quite get it all, just bits. That's partly through the limits of my intelligence, partly because I am not trained in the language he uses nor have the classical education to understand where he is coming from. Though I wonder, sometimes, if Blanchot (our example) actually understood all of what he wrote in his (say) philosophy of literature. After all, sometimes when ideas are stretching the limits of what one can understand and say, things do get confused. People make whole careers out of explaining what they think other writers were saying: who themselves might not have been absolutely sure what they were trying to say. Indeed, it may be true, in some cases, the interpretation feeds back to the originator explaining the writing fully for the first time.

Though great praise is put on the clarity of a writer like Orwell, and his insistence on a set of simple rules to prevent one's writing becoming a cliché ridden, metaphorical mess, perhaps he could only write like that and made the rules to fit what he could do....and maybe I like Orwell so much because that's all I can do!

Academic writing of course is a different category from novels. Whereas novelists try this to see what they can come up with, academics by the use of terminology and jargon are being forced to do it, in a what they would consider an unlimited and limiting fashion: that's part of the academic game. In reality it puts the limits on the readers comprehension.

The ideal of this type of experimental writing is to show how the limitations still produce comprehensible language and to demonstrate when this breaks down. Wonder if they do this in schools? There are probably poems with only one vowel in them on school walls throughout the world.


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