Imagine riding through dramatic wild landscape on elegant horses for miles and miles ... You're probably not a Turkish woman. The local men are civil but you're not an honorary man. What are you? Turkish being a gender-neutral language, such slippages may possibly be negotiated more easily than in English.
Yes, the Salon du Livre was wonderful and on the Saturday I listened to a conversation between Milton Hatoum and Amin Maalouf about the gift of languages. They both grew up in multi-lingual homes and it was fascinating to hear their thoughts about that. Here's the link to the recording, which is full of interest.
Maalouf spoke appreciatively about translators and their work, so I had to join the queue and thank him on behalf of all of us, after the session.
The bravest people are now in Syria or have just got out... and one of them is a woman called Iman who has been providing the striking graphics that accompany the resistance... Here is the link to A Woman's War, which tells how she first started drawing subversive cartoons - which risked bringing the wrath of the Syrian state down on her and her family.
Reading the wonderful TRANSLITTERATURE that is published by ATLF, I came across this splendidly terse description of the difference between French and German:
…la tendence propre à la langue allemande de tout dire, de décrire le réel dans ses moindres détails (ce que Goldschmidt appelle la névrose obsessionnelle de la langue allemande!) à la différence du français qui joue plus sur l’implicite et la contextualisation...
Thank you, Sibylle Muller (La conversation dans l’atelier, Translittérature, été 2014, no 47, p. 20-21)
Just finished a rousing account of the rise and fall of Afghan war leader Ahmad Shah Massoud by Michael Barry (Massoud: de l’islamisme à la liberté , 2002). He is a lecturer in Islamic Culture at Princeton, and has also written a history of Afghanistan in French.
It's a brilliant account of the terribile occupation of Afghanistan by the Russian army, and the Afghan resistance, which provides fascinating details of the period. It pays tribute to a courageous warrior and the Afghani people, while feeding the French public's interest in for this part of the world, informed by journalists and activists. It also explains why the Taliban destroyed the huge sculptures of the Buddha at Bamian.
True bilingualism is rare, but Michael Barry's book on Massoud is written and published in French, in response to the French people's enduring support for victims of oppression, and capacity for discerning the truth through a barrage of misinformation.
The events of 2011 have put Professor Barry in the limelight, but it's interesting that there is still no English language edition of Massoud: de l’islamisme à la liberté .
The Conservatorium in Amsterdam was full of lively young people, talking Dutch with Spanish, French, German and Italian accents, to mention but a few. Apparently, 53% of students there are Dutch, just enough to tip the linguistic balance in favour of their mother tongue...
After a couple of visits to Holland, I've started lessons in Dutch; this will give me an opportunity to consult the Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal, which contains over 430,000 entries for Dutch words from 1500 to 1921. Yet the last volume was published in 1998 ! More on this later...
Just back from the ITI Scotnet June workshop in Aberdeen, about the challenges of translating cultural references. Dr Jean-Pierre Mailhac spoke fluently about his 17 factor framework for solving these difficulties. However, the gathering made me wonder about the way English is used in Europe - increasingly as a lingua franca, and consequently, 'owned' by people whose first language is not English.
I got a tantalising glimpse of Algerian cinema at Heriot Watt's where the French Media Research group was hosting a conference on 'Media, memory and nostalgia'.
One paper was on Mohammed Chouikh's film of 1993, called Youcef ou la légende du septième dormant. According to Sophie Bolot, the story of a political prisoner who wakes from his amnesia to discover that the Algerian revolution has happened, is based on Plato's legend of the cave. Inside the cave, the shadows that he watches are Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers and he tries to untangle the many cultural references and edited memories - images present the past so vividly , but can they ever be true?
I am delighted to see that this word puzzles regular etymologists as well as me! Here is a webpage dedicated to unravelling this Old English world which we now know as wedlock. http://blog.oup.com/2009/12/wedlock-and-after/
The author, Anatoly Liebermann, thinks that the word developed by analogy with bridelac, which means nuptials... but when did lac turn into lock, and acquire entirely new connotations?
So much fuss and excitement about changing the law so that gay couples can get married - it's a serious issue, but it's the semantics that interest me. Wondering how Dr Johnson defines marriage in his Dictionary of the English Language, I found an enjoyable collection of literary and poetic snippets that brilliantly convey the term's wealth of cultural connotations ...
My next entry will look at his definition of Wedlock!