Saturday, October 03, 2009

And He Confound the Language of All the Earth

One of the fun things about having a blog is watching the traffic and seeing where people are visiting from. In the past month alone I have had people in 74 countries stop by to see what Willy Or Won't He is about. Though the bulk of the traffic is from English speaking countries there have been visitors whose language may be as exotic as Mongolian. Of course in some cases people may be located in one country and their server in another but it still makes you very aware that there are many languages out there in the Internet world.

In Biblical mythology the Tower of Babel resulted in the Lord causing a confusion of languages - in fact if you read the King James version of the story He was being downright vindictive because the peoples of the earth were making progress and He didn't like it. Perhaps we should take that as a forewarning???? Or perhaps given my own confusion of languages I should have taken it as a lesson.

So why this obsession at this point in time with language. Well I have become involved with doing some work for a magazine called Ballet2000. Published in Nice it is a tri-lingual (Italian, French, English) magazine devoted to the dance. And I help my friend Simonetta by taking certain Italian and French sections of the magazine - mostly reviews and media reports - and turning them into acceptable English. Now it has always been my understanding that for linguistic convolution the French were second to none and I have often stated that fact in a less than subtle fashion. I now publicly apologize to anyone I ever offended with that belief: Italians can take a phrase that resembles a straight road and turn it into a cloverleaf with feeder lanes and additional overpasses! And as for word creation - I know a few writers who could rival Shakespeare (who it is thought added at the least 1700 words to the English language) for inventive use of language. Now mind you there was the little episode where I spent 20 minutes and even sent an e-mail to my friend Marco asking for the meaning of the verb abbagnatare , in a headline, only to realize that it referred not to a verb form but to Elenaora Abbagnato, the prima ballerina. Colour me imbarazzato on that one.

I find it exhausting work - that would be me at the centre of the picture at the right throwing my hands up in despair as I unravel a 12 line sentence. And as each of the past three deadlines have been met I vow that I will never do it again. But it is a challenge and where else would I have learned the word: sussultanti, an adjective taken (or perhaps made up) from the verb sussultare - to make some one flinch or the sudden movement of tectonic plates during an earthquake. Now all I have to do is find some way to work it into a conversation. La penna della mia zia è sussultanti. No just doesn't work!

Confound language!

03 ottobre - Santa Geraldine



we should all speak is just the prettiest launguage

Blake said...

I struggle with English. I can't imagine trying to translate French and Italian into English. They are romantic languages and somehow English seems more barbaric. Maybe it is the way we use it. I have always loved the expressions or turn of phrase in the French language. Really just commenting to let you know that I do read your posts that are not GPV's. Hint, hint. Uncle Purvey.