Mostly Music
quarta-feira, junho 25
O jeito é: ou nos conformamos com a falta de algumas
coisas na nossa vida ou lutar para realizar todas as
nossas loucuras...


if god were a woman...(Mario Benedetti)


¿Y si Dios fuera una mujer?

Juan Gelman

¿y si dios fuera mujer?

pregunta juan sin inmutarse

vaya vaya si dios fuera mujer

es posible que agnósticos y ateos

no dijéramos no con la cabeza

y dijéramos sí con las entrañas

tal vez nos acercáramos a su divina


para besar sus pies no de bronce

su pubis no de piedra

sus pechos no de mármol

sus labios no de yeso

si dios fuera mujer la abrazaríamos

para arrancarla de su lontananza

y no habría que jurar

hasta que la muerte nos separe

ya que sería inmortal por antonomasia

y en vez de transmitirnos sida o pánico

nos contagiaría su inmortalidad

si dios fuera mujer no se instalaría

lejana en el reino de los cielos

sino que nos aguardaría en el zaguán del


con sus brazos no cerrados

su rosa no de plástico

y su amor no de ángeles

ay dios mío dios mío

si hasta siempre y desde siempre

fueras una mujer

qué lindo escándalo sería

qué venturosa espléndida imposible

prodigiosa blasfemia

sexta-feira, junho 20

Beginnings of the fight against Babel

By Paulo Rónai
Translated by Tom Moore

If it had not been for that ill-fated attempt to build a skyscraper before the permit had been approved, then perhaps humanity would have avoided endless complications. But then “the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of men had built and said: Behold the people is one, and all have the same tongue; and this is what they are beginning to do; and now there will be no end to all that they will try to do. Let us go down and confound their tongue so that one shall not understand the other.”
Confusion came, in fact, and it was complete; and although today linguists call into question the primitive unity of human language, men throughout the ages have been nostalgic for the time in which “all the earth spoke the same language and the same tongue”.
Indeed, the amount of work that the multiplicity of languages has caused us is frightening. How much time and effort spent simply to know what it is that our neighbor wants to say to us! (And the worst of it is that he sometimes just wants to challenge or annoy us).
It has already been said that if the Romans had had to study Latin declensions, they would never have found time to found the Empire. Who knows how many useful things have not been done throughout the world because of the necessity of learning languages?
Philologists abandoned long ago as a hopeless quest the attempt to reconstruct the primitive lingua mater, noting that all languages, even the most ancient, had already come down to us in a highly developed state, in which little or nothing can be seen of a common ancestor, if there was one.
To neutralize the pernicious effects of Babel, all that could be done was to create a new means to bring together the peoples with their different languages. The idea arose when Latin, a “dead language” which for a thousand years had done what no living language would later manage to do – to be the international language of all the intellectuals in Europe -, began to lose ground in its battle with the vulgar tongues, at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
The impressive history of the efforts devoted to the construction of a universal auxiliary language constitutes one of the most curious adventures of the human spirit in its struggle to liberate itself from the irrational, and to organize in a sensible way the world of ideas and their expression. An antipoetic effort, at its core, but one which, through the audacity of the undertaking, becomes a true poem, in which the heroic and the burlesque appear together more than once, and whose chapters it is worth recording.
Now, you will say, rather than constructing an auxiliary language, wouldn’t it be simpler to adopt one of the languages which already exist? “No”, answer the partisans of a universal language, “since the other peoples would envy and fear the favord nation”, ‘since it is quite understandable that the people whose language was chosen as international would in a short time achieve such supremacy over all the other peoples that it would oppress them and swallow them up.’ What is more, contemporary history, which we have had the unhappiness of experiencing in the first person, is producing the opposite phenomenon: the political power of a nation results in the adoption of its language as an auxiliary language by all the less powerful peoples in its orbit. Hence the ever-increasing loss of prestige of French in international relations in favor of English (or American, rather), and of Russian in the East. If the course of events should provoke a conflict, the result would fatally settle the question of the auxiliary language: the winner would not even need to impose its language, since all the peoples would hasten to adopt it in their own best interest.
Faith in the advent of an artificial auxiliary language presupposes confidence in the possibility of peaceful international solutions. It is true that the apostolate of the artificial solution began in an epoch in which world wars were not foreseen, and only beneficial results were expected from technological progress. Hence the refusal, certainly quite understandable, to adopt the language of any nation, unless it were to be, as someone already proposed, that of a small people, completely devoid of imperial notions, like the Norwegians, and which, on top of it, had an easy syntax.
Why not resuscitate, then, one of the dead languages, preferably Latin, which as we have already said, carried out the ardous task of transmitting international though to the satisfaction of all over a millennium?
Because, say the experts, Latin would need to be painstakingly adapted and broadened in order to serve the thousand new demands of modern life. To redo it without simplifying its intricate grammar would be folly; but on the other hand, to reduce it a simple kitchen Latin would be a sacrilege, a utilitarian degradation no less odious than “transforming the Parthenon into an airport”. We will see however, that the ghost of this poorly-buried cadavaer will return to haunt us.
Having thus eliminated the living and the dead languages, the only remaining possibility are those not yet born and waiting to be created, that is, artificial languages, which are more numerous than you might think: some stillborn, others ephemeral, a few deceased after a promising youth, and only one, Esperanto, which has arrived at the ripe old age of ???. Few of the others left their dreamlike state to join, for a time, our imperfect natural languages.
Before turning to the artificial languages, however, let us not the rather curious idea of making do without a new language, or even without languages in general, without however giving up the notion of being universally understood. The idea is not as bizarre as it seems at first, since languages do not constitute the only means which humanity has for expressing itself. All the city-dwellers in the world understand the language of red, green and yellow lights, just as motorists of every nationality slow down (or should slow down, at least) when they see triangular signs indicating curves. Thanks to the Dewey Decimal Classification, for every librarian the number 884 indicates “Greek lyric poetry” and 546 “inorganic chemistry”. And all ship captains use the code of maritime signals.
(We are simply listing those systems which have been universally adopted; but if we wished to not those more restricted in their use, we could fill reams of paper, remembering, of course, the two Marseillais in the story, who traveling by train, amused themselves by sharing numbers with each other, each greeted with gales of laughter. The foreigner who was viewing this strange scene asked them for an explanation, whereupon he learned that Marius and César knew a large number of amusing stories from Marseilles; all they needed was to hear the number for each one to break out laughing.)
These three stystems are relatively new, dating respectively from 1931, 1895, and 1864.Many years earlier, in 1797, Major Maimieux of the Prussian infantry invented a Pasigraphy or New Science and Art of Writing and Printing in a Language that can be Understood without the Necessity of Translation , “a sort of universal language, which is written, but not spoken, i.e. the art of writing in the language which one knows, so that it can be read and understood in any other unknown language, as long as the reader knows his own language and knows this way of writing.” The major invented a certain number of different characters, admitting that each principal idea could be symbolized by a radical composed of certain number of letters, so that accessory ideas would be represented by signs placed outside the body of the radical, like exponents in mathematics. It was “simply” necessary to put together a complete and systematic nomenclature for all possible ideas. The plan, welcomed with great enthusiasm by many illustrious savants of the peiord, who promised their collaboration, never went further than several sample pages.
Even without having fleshed out his first invention, Major Maimieux announced another, pasilalia (the “art of saying everything”), with which, in making pronouncable the signs from his pasigraphy, he already appears as one of the many creators of universal languages. We will see how the logical classification of ideas constitutes the basis of an important group of planned languages.
In compensation, there was also an attempt at a complete classification of signs, whether letters or not, which could be written or carved into flat surfaces. Walter Shepherd’s Glossary of Graphic Signs and Symbols allows anyone to identify in a few seconds each of the three thousand signs listed.
It seems that the author of pasigraphy, just as, before him, those of the first attempts at a universal written language, and after him, his imitators – Hourwitz, inventor of polygraphy or “the art of corresponding by means of a dictionary of all the languages, even those for which not even the alphabets are known” , and Father Matraya, creator of genigraphy, based on the Peruvian quipos , was inspired by a very ancient system of communication and one which had demonstrated its practicality through many centuries of use: the syllabic-ideographic writing of the Chinese literary language, in which each sign correponds to a syllable and an idea. This writing “is the means by which the Chinese, who speak completely different and mutually incomprehensible dialects, have the sense of belonging to the same people. Thanks to the existence of a written language, independent of spoken tongues, it is understood by all the Chinese, except for those few who are illiterate; in the same way, the other peoples of East Asia which adopted Chinese writing, the Koreans, Japanese, and Vietnamese, can make themselves understood with the Chinese without knowledge of the spoken language.”
Thus these “barbarous” Chinese, which European missionaries were going to “civilize”, possessed perfectly practical and widely-used international written language, which when reported by these same missionaries, amazed the greatest European minds, including that of Leibniz, who was quite preoccupied in neutralizing the ill effects of Babel.
It would not be surprising, then, if – given the present expansionist tendencies of Chinese politics – the philologists of Beijing were not working right now on a simplification of Chinese in order to make it tomorrow’s international cultural medium.

terça-feira, junho 17


Last night I drove up Rt. 1 to Barnes and Noble (the only spot with any life on a monday night, and the closest bookstore to Trenton - pitiful that the State Capital has no bookstore), and picked up two volumes. Right now I am reading Pagan Holiday - On the Trail of Ancient Roman Tourists (orig. title Route 66 A.D.) by Tony Perrottet. He is an excellent travel companion - witty and informed, and his apercus about Rome and Naples jibe with what I remember from my trip there in 1984 (he even has a three-months pregnant wife with him on the journey, as did I). The other book is the most recent novel by Connie Willis, a science-fiction whose earlier work I enjoyed a great deal...I am rather out of the habit of reading science-fiction...something that seems like it belonged to a different person.

Tony Perrottet
segunda-feira, junho 16

Jean Louis Steurman
J. S. BACH Golberg Variations, BWV 988. Jean Louis Steuerman (pn). ACTES SUD AT 34112 (73:29)

Black background, focus on a few piano keys, white and mustard lettering: the cover is simple, tasteful, sober and discreet. Much the same can be said about the performance. The very first musical phrase reveals qualities that shine through the whole CD: a tender serenity, a noble touch, a controlled flexibility. Being a rather radical partisan of period instruments, my first choice of keyboard for Bach would never be the piano. And yet I have to confess that this recording kept my attention up to the very last note, and made me wish for more.
The Goldberg Variations is considered one of Bach’s “difficult” works. Partly due to its length, it is very rarely played in public and remains an intimate piece, a musician’s delight, the kind of music one plays for oneself. Perhaps exactly because of that, it exerts a special fascination for keyboard players, as a technical challenge to be overcome, but much more as an experience that will deepen their emotional grasp. Steuerman himself, in the CD’s liner notes, declares “I had a sense that this music would change the world for me, with the promise of an exhilarating experience if only I could learn its complex score”.
And learn it he did. His playing demonstrates a long-cherished intimacy with every single turn of phrase. The melancholic theme is enunciated straightforwardly, trills calmly performed, not as a nervous ornamental frill, but rather as a means to caress a specific note. This very direct yet gentle style creates a marvelous effect, a feeling of tranquil acceptance, of being aware of the inevitability of sorrow. After that, each Variation stands out for its particular character, unfailingly perceived and masterfully brought to life.
There is a fabulous array of emotional shades here: unwavering energy, pleading cries, unrestrained joy, light insouciance, courageous despair. As in a kaleidoscope, these different colored fragments are re-combined with every new movement. When at last the theme reappears, it sounds almost exhausted after so many adventures, sadly distraught and quiet. And yet, behind the slower tempo and quieter dynamics, one senses a tinge of triumphant pride. Steuerman manages to guide us through this maze of musical intentions without ever sounding limp or rushed - reflective moods are pensive but never dead, and fast passages sound like fluid cascades of notes, lines always clear, perpetually disentangling themselves, never blurring the main idea.
If at first I might have wished for a more extravagant conception, one with broader gestures or a freer rhythmic drive, ultimately I was entirely convinced by this very elegant and accomplished performance. Finally, it would be unfair not to praise the exceedingly careful production, apparent not only in the beautifully designed booklet with poetic texts, but also in the very fine sound engineering that registers the subtlest changes in dynamic and timbre. This is a CD that I will enjoy for many years to come.

sexta-feira, junho 13

A Linguistic Tragicomedy

By Paulo Ronai
Translated by Tom Moore

For the Brazilian who has not yet traveled outside his country it will be difficult to understand the obsessive energy with which the idea of an international language haunts and torments a European brain. One trip through Europe would suffice to make him develop a passionate interest in the matter. And if by chance he is lacking in means for such a trip, he can content himself in opening with us an ingenious little book intended for those lucky ones with no impediments to their undertaking such an attractive and instructive expedition.
Throughout the ages there have been little conversational guides for travelers to use. But no matter how compact they might be, the tourist wishing to criss-cross the Old World in all directions would never have enough pockets (even including those in his vest and overcoat) to carry with him the guides he would need.
Mr. Archibald Lyall, a linguist endowed with good sense, had the brilliant idea of bringing together an enormous number of these little books in a single volume of only three hundred pages. To accomplish this feat he reduced each language to its quintessence: thirty sentences and eight hundred words. He certainly does not mean to insinuate that this is sufficient for the exchange of ideas with the natives of various countries; but it will enable the traveler to ask for and receive information, to know how much something costs, to buy a sandwich or a few liters of gasoline. With a malicious wink the author observes that the majority of people do not make use of a larger number of words and phrases even when at home in their own country.
It is clear that the sentences and vocabulary chosen by Mr. Lyall were chosen with great care and correspond to the real necessities of the tourist in the street, the hotel, the restaurant, the taxi, the post office. He must have made use of competent collaborators for each language, since – at least those of which we have knowledge – there are almost no errors.And what is more, he offers a short synopsis of each one of the languages included, in which he quite laconically sums up their fundamental characteristics.
One who, like us, pages through this useful little book not as a tourist but rather in an (unhappily) disinterested manner, simply to dream a little, will certainly find food for thought, and will come away from his reading with the general impression of an insoluble linguistic drama.
“What Europe most needs” said a sagacious and bilious observer “are about fifty more dead languages”. And we might almost agree with him in seeing that Mr. Lyall considers it indispensable to supply our traveler with keys for no less than twenty-five languages. You may say that he has included Esperanto, and since it is spoken on the shores of the Mediterranean, Arabic; but on the other hand, he paid no attention whatsoever to Catalan, Provençal, Basque, Gaelic, Ladino, Yiddish, Ukrainian, Slovak, Slovene et quibusdam aliis, not to mention dialects! And they are, by and large, old languages, with strong cultural traditions, that is, resistant to any attempts at simplification or unification.
Another not very heartening conclusion: it is in the immediate necessities of expression in a language that the knowledge of others is less helpful, even if they are closely related. To make a request, French, Italian, Romanian, and Portuguese, in spite of being related, make use of quite different formulas (donnez-moi, s’il vous plaît; mi dia, per piacere; te rog adumi; faça o favor de me dar), and if their requests are fulfilled, they will express thanks with totally distinct formulas (merci, grazie, va multumesc, obrigado). How can it be, that four daughters of the Germanic branch – English, German, Dutch, and Swedish can call matches by four names that have nothing to do with each other (matches, Streichhoelzer, lucifers, tandstickor) and can have four disparate ways of walking (to walk, spazieren, wandelen, promenera)?
The aspiring polyglot will also note with surprise and a certain disappointment how small the number of truly international words is in the daily lexicon. Among the eight hundred words in the book there are not even a half dozen used in each one of the twenty-five languages listed. Kilometer and museum are – not taking into account the differences in spelling- kilometer and museum everywhere. But Turkish continues to call the restaurant a lokante; Hungarian still uses t?virat instead of telegram; Finnish is obstinate in talking on the puhelin, not the telephone; German, just to be that way; listens to the Rundfunk, and not the radio; and we Brazilians insist on calling correio what is the post everywhere else. But where this variety approaches the level of absurdity is in the terms used for that particular spot where every tourist must go periodically, and which, as we come and go, could certainly be indicated with the same euphemism in every tongue.
As far as foreign terms are concerned, certain languages – Russian, in particular – show great liberality in welcoming them in, where as others, such as German, and Hungarian and Finnish even more so, refuse to accept them, or when they seem themselves forced to do so, drown them in the national lexicon to such an extent that they become unrecognizable.
Mr Lyall’s lists also allowed me to discover that there are not only ultranational and xenophobic languages; there are jealous and vindictive ones as well. This is the case for modern Greek, which seems to bear a grudge against Latin for having supplanted it two thousand years ago in international communications, and thus obstinately opposes neologisms from Latin roots. Though every other country has adopted such nouns as republic, bus, passport, visa, in the land of Homer these have not managed to overthrow dhimocrat?a, leophore?on, dhiavat?rion and epithe?risis; and - unless Mr. Lyall is pulling our leg – a self-respecting greek does not say consulate, but rather proxeneion!
What tempers somewhat the effect of such disheartening information is the unintended humor of other information. In order to better serve the tourist, the scrupulous author felt obliged to transcribe the pronunciation of the sentences in other languages into the English alphabet!
Reading such a book will make us palpably understand how fortunate is the linguistic unity of our immense Brazil. Just imagine if our maç? (apple) could be called pomme in S?o Paulo, mela in Vitoria, manzana in Belo Horizonte, marul in Brasilia, apple in Curitiba, aeblet in Florian?polis, i?bloko in Recife, alma in Manaus, obylis in Belém, m?lon in Salvador and so forth; and you will give thanks to Providence that you do not need to take Mr. Lyall’s little book with you when you take the ferry to Niteroi.


the more things change the more they stay the same

While looking at a footnote from Paulo Ronai's Babel/Antibabel, I found that the author of the work cited (Debabelization by C.K. Ogden) also wrote the following (London: Allen & Unwin, 1915)

Militarism versus feminism, an enquiry and a policy demonstrating that militarism involves the subjection of women.
quinta-feira, junho 12
Gosto do meu corpo quando está com teu
Corpo. Tá tão muito nova coisa.
Musculos melhor e nervos mais.
Gosto do teu corpo. Gosto da que faz,
Gosto dos comos dele. Gosto sentir a espinha
Do teu corpo e dos ossos, e a firmalisura que
Treme e que beijarei
Mais e mais e mais;
Gosto beijar esse e aquele de você,
Gosto, cariciar devagarzinho o fuzz elêtrico teu,
E o-que-é vem
Sobre a carne que abre…e olhos grandes migalhas-amores

E pode ser que gosto da sensação de
Baixo de mim você tão muito nova



We can know few, if any, of the composers of the sixteenth century as well as Orlando di Lasso (1532?-1594). Orlando di Lasso has been widely admired as a composer by twentieth and twenty-first musicians since the publication of his (in-)complete works in the later nineteenth century, one of the first Renaissance composers to be so honored. The edition by Haberl and Sandberger began in 1894 (Haberl had begun the edition of the totemic Palestrina in 1863), so that by the early years of the twentieth century a substantial part, if not all, of his extensive body of work could be studied and performed by musicians. What is unique for Lasso, however, is the volume and character of the surviving letters from his pen, a total of fifty-seven such in the modern edition, dating from 1573 to 1591, which give us a remarkable insight into his personality and his relationship with his master, the Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm.
Lasso was already internationally renowned by the time he was in his early thirties, and his earliest biography, by Samuel van Quickelberg, appeared in the Prosopographia heroum atque illustrium virorum totius Germaniae (Depiction of the heroes and illustrious men of all Germany) published in Basel in 1566. It was translated into German in the Teutscher Nation Heldenbuch (Hero-book of the German Nation, also Basel, 1578). According to Burton’s Silva Rhetorica (rhetoric.byu.edu) a prosopographia (from prosopon, face or person) is a “vivid description of someone's face or character”, and both the Prosopographia and the Heldenbuch include both portraits and text about their subjects. Lasso must certainly have been one of the most vivid characters. His companions seem to be parish priests, abbots, etc., robed, hooded, with faces turned discreetly away from the viewer. Lasso, in contrast, is dressed in the latest style, his tailored clothes close-fitting, with a ruff, what seems to be a gold chain or two around his neck, bearing a cameo, his eyes wide-open, looking as if he is about to speak. Although he is only in his thirties, his hairline has receded considerably (the charitable artist has given him a little more hair than he has in the portait – age 28 – in a tenor part-book of the Songs of the Sibylls.)
According to Quickelberg’s biography (many of the other biographies in the volume are not signed), Orlando di Lasso was born in 1530 in Berga (Mons, in the region of Hainaut, in present-day Belgium), went to a boarding school where he lived with other choirboys, and pleased particularly because of his fine voice, was stolen away from the school three times by potential employers, and twice brought back to the school by his “diligent and honest” parents. The life of a choirboy could be a dangerous one, since then as now, they might be molested or abused by the musicians and clerics who had them in their charge. Recent scholarship has exonerated the English composer John Shepherd, and hung the misdeeds previously blackening his name on a Richard Shepper – keeping a schoolboy in chains (punishment for the adult – no dining privileges for a week). And closer to home, Nicolas Gombert, from La Gorgue in southern Flanders, Master of the Children for the traveling chapel of Emperor Charles V, was sent to the galleys for violating a boy in the Emperor’s service.
In fact the third time that Lasso left the choir school, in the early 1540’s, it was with Ferrante Gonzaga, who knew Gombert from their mutual service to the Emperor, both having served him from a young age (a letter sent by Gombert to Gonzaga in 1547, after the former’s term in the galleys is in the Pierpont Morgan Libray in New York). Gonzaga was a younger son in the ducal family from Mantua, an able general, and served as viceroy in Sicily from 1533-1546, moving to Milan as governor in 1546. It would have been about this time that Lasso’s voice changed (after six years in Gonzaga’s service, when he would have been about sixteen – late by contemporary standards, but normal for earlier centuries). At eighteen he went to Naples and stayed for three years with the Marquis della Terza. Next he moved on to Rome, where he took over the music at St. John Lateran.
His parents fell ill, and Lasso left Rome to visit them. They were dead before he arrived in Belgium, and Quickelberg says that Lasso went to first to England, then to France with the Neapolitan bass Giulio Cesare Brancaccio, later to be well-known as part of the glittering ensemble of madrigalists at the Este court in Ferrara. This would have been in 1554 or 1555, during the brief reign of Mary I, when the Catholic religion was briefly restored, and elaborate religious music was back in vogue (e.g. the seven-voice mass for Christmas “Puer natus est nobis” by Tallis, probably written in hopes of a royal heir from the marriage of Mary and Philip of Spain). Perhaps the young pair of musicians had scented professional opportunities.in the air. Then they went to Antwerp, where in 1555 Lasso published a collection showing off his professional skills – madrigals, villanescas, chansons, and motets. If this collection was to serve as a portfolio for prospective employers, it seems to have worked, for he was hired to join the musical establishment at the court of Duke Albrecht of Bavaria in Munich the next year in 1556. According to Quickelberg, Albrecht was a particular lover of music, and Lasso made himself beloved of the Duke not only because of his suavissimas compositiones, but most particularly because of his iucundissimos mores, apophtegmatum et iocorum ubertatem, and linguarum peritiam – his merry manner, his cornucopia of witticisms and jokes, and his skill in languages. These are exactly the qualities that are especially evident in Lasso’s letters to Duke Wilhelm in the early 1570s.
Albrecht’s son, Wilhelm, was born in 1548, thus considerably younger than Lasso (eight years old to Lasso’s mid-twenties in 1556). By his teens he went to study at the University of Ingolstadt, and his festive wedding with Renée of Lorraine took place in 1568. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Wilhelm “made a reputation by his strong religious opinions and devotion to the Faith, and was called "the Pious". He may have been a fervent adherent of the Counter-Reformation, but the portrait we see in Lasso’s letters is a rather more earthy one. There is a marvelous portrait of Lasso from 1570 in the Mielichkodex held in the Staatsbibliothek in Munich, where the composer is garbed in black, looking serious, with almost a sneer on his face. This is the “public” Lasso. The private Lasso is another matter entirely, full of humor, puns, jests, scatological, earthy. One can only imagine the private glee that the Duke and he must have shared in hearing mass with an ordinary by Lasso based on filthy French chansons - the most outrageous example being the Missa “Entre Vous Filles” on a song by Clemens Non Papa.

Entre vous filles de quinze ans,
Ne venez plus à la fontaine,
Car trop aves les yeulx frians
Tetin poingnant bouche riant connin mouflant
Le cueur plus gay qu'une mistaine
Entre vous filles de quinze ans,
Ne venez plus à la fontaine!

You girls, fifteen years old,
Don’t come to get water at the fountain,
Because you have darling eyes,
Pert breasts, laughing mouths, warm little cunny
Hearts gayer than a dream
You girls, fifteen years old,
Don’t come to get water at the fountain!

Any listener who knew the original song would have recognized the music instantly, even though the choir might have been singing “Kyrie”, and recalled the original text. It would likely have been widely known, since the first publication was in 1541, four decades before Lasso’s mass appeared in 1581 (in a volume including a mass based on the more respectable love song Il me suffit by Sermisy (from 1528), and one based on Lasso’s own motet setting a passage from the erotic Song of Songs.
The passages from the letters from Orlando to Wilhelm which are translated below will give a sense of the merry moods, the almost manic wit, the breadth of skill in languages (French, Italian, Latin, German, even Spanish), the punning, and most of all the easy friendship between the poltron and patron
- the court jester and his master. We are not used to thinking of eminent composers as fools (in the best sense of the word), and particularly not composers of the Renaissance, the zenith of the development of sacred music. Who could imagine Palestrina thus, or Byrd? But for Lasso, earth and sky are part of a single garment without seam. In that sense he is perhaps the most “catholic” of composers, encompassing almost all the genres of his time.

[July 1572, to Duke Wilhelm of Bavaria]

….Quant au rest nos sommes arives a erding, … puis partis sommes de gran matin: sans avoir beu nè eau ne vin, la pluie nous a fait compagnie, Jusque a minichen la Jolie, ce soir icj en mon Jardin, nous disputerons sans latin et seron Joieux par mon ame, en beuuant pour mon maistre guillaume, was weiter wirt werden. E.f.G. sera remboursé de monsieur vostre aumonier del totum in totis per totas De ore prudentis procedit mel: ego certissime plus scriberem, sed pour autant quil est quasi temps de aller as vesperas, et non possum intromittere de faire une petite visitation, au pays bas de ma femme, pour l’honneur de monsieur de fon cotu, car trop y? que naj foutu, c’est une chose naturelle: car elle sent bien les grouselle, je men voj droit monter sur elle….

As far as the rest is concerned, we have arrived at Erding….for we left first thing in the morning, without having drunk nor water nor wine, the rain kept us company all the way to Munich the fair, this evening in my garden we will argue without Latin, and be merry, by my soul, as we drink to my master Guillaume. Your Grace will be reimbursed by your almoner for the whole in all things for all things. Honey proceedeth from the mouth of the prudent. I would most certainly write more, excepting that it is almost time to go to vespers, and I cannot shirk from making a little visitation to the low-lands of my wife, to honor Monsieur Cucked Funt, for it is already too long since I fucked. It’s something natural, she loves to feel my balls banging, I am going to climb on her right away….

[19 August 1572, to Duke Wilhelm of Bavaria]

Tréhaut Trepuisssant Jouissant: monsieur mon maistre a jamais

….Je prie le Createur qu’il meine et rameine vostre Excellence en baviere sain et dispos en tous propos, et quil aporte a madame, un petit filz dedans sa lame, je le desire sur mon ame….

Ma femme mon petit rudolfe e monsieur mon personnage basions en toutte humile les mains de vostre Excellence et de madame la princesse: encore qu’elle n’ait mal au fesse, Dieu nous conserve en liesse…
De votre Excellence tréshumble serviteur Orlando di La-Sol

Most High, Most Puissant, Most Randy: my lord for aye
…I ask my Creator that he keep and preserve your Excellence in Bavaria, and that he bring milady a little child in her mud, I heartily wish it…

My wife, my little Rudolf, and Mr. My very own self all humbly kiss the hands of your Excellence and milady the Princess: and hope that her fanny is well, God save us…
From the most humble servant of your Excellence, Orlando di La-Sol

Most High, Most Puissant – not surprising forms of address for a duke. But jouissant? Jouisser means to enjoy in a general sense, but nowadays (and presumably when Lasso was writing) it also means specifically to enjoy sex – to have an orgasm. But then since Lasso goes on to wish the Duke that the Creator see fit to grant his lady a little child her in her “netherlands”, and hopes that the princess is not unwell there, perhaps not surprising.

[7 October 1572]

Monsieur mon prince, mon duc, mon seigneur, mon maistre, va del resto, salus et gaudio…

….Ma potta del gran turco, é possibil ch’el mio patron, possa star senza il suo poltron, parlo de me et de moj, no lo credete fate voj, se ti puo star senza mi, mi no vo star senza tj, Je parle come un couillon, mais cest la conclusion, jour et nuit pour vous prion, en bonne devotion, tourné maistre a la maison, garde bien la clef du con, car sans elle rien de bon: ici fais fin a ma leçon….

Monsieur my prince, my duke, my lord, my master, and all the rest, health and joy…

But by the Grand Turk’s cunt, is it possible that my patron can be without his fool, I’m talking about me, myself and I, I can’t believe it, if you can be without me, I don’t want to be without you, I’m talking like a jerk, that’s all, day and night we pray for you, devotedly, come back home, master, look after your cunt-key, because without it there’s no fun: this is the end of my lesson….

[1572, to duke Wilhelm in Dachau]

….Si madame sa femme bien se porte / Je ne m’en plains ni déconforte / S’elle a a la pance bien enflee / C’est signe que l’aves bien pressee / S’elle sent son enfant remuer / Cela vient du cul remuer / C’est la sentence de Janobbo / En disant Bon di meser gobbo…

If madame your wife is well, I am not complaining; if her belly is swollen, it shows that you banged her well; if she feels the baby moving, that comes from waggling her butt; That’s what Janobbo has to say, in wishing you a good day….

[11 September 1573, to Duke Wilhelm]

…Enquant a la musique que votre Excellence m’escrit quelle va petit a petit, cela va fort bien Signor si, perche si dice in italiano, pian piano, si va luntano, …..

As far as the music goes, about which your Excellence wrote me, it’s coming along little by little, quite well, Signor, because as we say in Italian, slowly, slowly, and you’ll go far.

Wilhelm was asking about the lavish edition of motets entitled Patrocinium Musices, with his picture on the cover, published in Venice…..?

[16 February 1574, to Duke Wilhelm]

….io lasso saber a vuestra Excellentia si come per la gratias de dios todos las compagnias tanbien los cavallos é la mercedes de los asinos se portent mediocrement asses fort bien, et equitamus apud locum vocatis clausa, sed pian pianino, jusques an dem herbergum, ubi alle nacht ich lass ein guetten drunck umbergen pro sanitate pincipem nostrum galantissium…..

[20 February 1574, to Duke Wilhelm]
…qua in Trento se dice publicamente ch’el signor duca di ferrara inferrar? la principessa maximiliana, idio il voglia…

here in Trent it is said publicly that the Signor Duke of Ferrara will chain down (inferrare) the princess Maximiliana, God willing….

Another bad pun….

[7 April, 1575]

…...suplicando a v.E. a humiliarsi ad legendum illam se ben non é, santa scrittura, nu musica in tablatatura, ognun cerca la sua ventura….non ho hauuto pacientia, di non haver fatto motto al mio benignissimo e dolcissimo patrone, ancor chio no sia ch’un poltrone, tuttj non potemo esser gran signorj ne bisogna de mediocrj et de I minorj, io mi contento di mia sorte laudar vo dio sino a la morte…

begging your Excellency to read this, even if it is not Holy Scripture, or music in tablature, every man seeks his own fortune…I had not the patience to not ???to my most benign and sweetest patron, even if I am no more than a fool, we can’t all be great lords, we need some mediocre folk and worse, I am happy with my station and will praise the Lord until I die…

[20 june 1575]

monsieur: signor, meser, si, a la fe: patron, de mi poltron

per cento é quaranta, che tutta notte canta, volte, …..Excellentia, con la mia sapientia, pien di scientia, d’esperientia con vehementia, venga il cancaro a la pestilentia, volendo io cominciar a scriver con prudentia, mi soprariva una cadentia…

Monsieur, Singnor, Master, by my faith: my patron, from me, fool

….Excellence, with my knowledge, full of science, experience, with vehemence, come plague and pestilence, wishing to begin with prudence, I am missing a cadence???

And finally, to give a sense of Lasso with his public face on…

[25 June 1585, to Prince August, Duke of Saxony]

….since the bearer of this letter, Leonardus Lechnerus Athesinus, a well-known good composer and musician, is without employment at present, and I understand that your highness’s music is without a Kapell-Meister at present, thus I have most submissively and with the best intention sent the above-named to you….I have no doubt that your Grace will find that the bearer well-practiced in every thing pertaining to a Kapell-Meister….so that your Grace will not only be most pleased with him, but could not wish to have him better….

As can be seen from the above, Lasso was fluent in most, if not all, of the languages of Western Europe, and it is also evident that although Lasso was working in Germany at a German court, he rarely writes to his master the Duke in German. Lasso was a European who continued to create in pan-European genres after moving to Munich. These were essentially the chanson, the madrigal, and music for the church.
Lasso’s style in the chanson is essentially conservative, harkening more to the styles and taste of the 1530s and 1540s, rather than reflecting the innovations of the French composers of that latter part of the century such as Le Jeune and Bertrand, where the chanson is moving towards a more elevated and artistically ambitious form influenced by the seriousness of the madrigal. Lasso’s choice of text in the chanson also reflects the bawdy tastes of an earlier day (for example, the nun of the order of Ave Maria who fell in love with a Pater…you know how the story ends), with Clement Marot (who died when Lasso was an adolescent) the most popular poet.
Lasso’s madrigals are also essentially conservative both in style and in choice of poet, Petrarch being far and away the most present in his works. Although Lasso was most capable of manipulating chromatic harmonies to great effect (witness his Prophetiae Sibyllarum) the madrigals are essentially contrapuntal, diatonic, and not soloistic in the way that works written with the style of Ferrara in mind came to be. There are chromatic harmonies present, but they are used as special effects (for example where the composer moves from B-flat to E major in the space of a measure on the text doglios’e misera in the Petrarch sestina Si com’al chiaro giorno).
Although Lasso wrote dozens of chansons and madrigals (and even two books of German lieder, which are not among his best works), it is perhaps in his sacred music where his sheer fecundity is most daunting, with almost seventy masses, dozens of magnificats, hundreds of motets. One of my own favorites among the masses, as fine as anything by Byrd, and finer than anything by Palestrina, is the Missa Sesquialtera, never published (it survives in a single manuscript at the Austrian National Library, dated 1579), and apparently written for a wedding. The level of rhythmic play, and at the same sensitivity to the declamation of the text, is simply astounding – Lasso must have written this piece for a real connoisseur to enjoy (the title comes from the word for the proportion three in the time of two). No adventurous group has yet recorded this masterpiece alas.


e.e. cummings


Thy fingers make early flowers
of all things.
thy hair mostly the hours love:
a smoothness which
(though love be a day)
do not fear,we will go amaying.

thy whitest feet crisply are straying.
thy moist eyes are at kisses playing,
whose strangeness much
(though love be a day)
for which girl art thou flowers bringing?

To be thy lips is a sweet thing
and small.
Death,thee i call rich beyond wishing
if this thou catch,
else missing.
(though love be a day
and life be nothing,it shall not stop kissing).


it may not always be so; and i say
that if your lips, which i have loved, should touch
another's, and your dear strong fingers clutch
his heart, as mine in time not far away;
if on another's face your sweet hair lay
in such silence as i know, or such
great writhing words as, uttering overmuch,
stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;

if this should be, i say if this should be--
you of my heart, send me a little word;
that i may go unto him, and take his hands,
saying, Accept all happiness from me.
Then shall i turn my face and hear one bird
sing terribly afar in the lost lands

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric furr, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh...And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill
of under me you so quite new

4. she being Brand

-new;and you
know consequently a
little stiff i was
careful of her and(having

thoroughly oiled the universal
joint tested my gas felt of
her radiator made sure her springs were O.

K.)i went right to it flooded-the-carburetor cranked her

up,slipped the
clutch(and then somehow got into reverse she
kicked what
the hell)next
minute i was back in neutral tried and

again slo-wly;bare,ly nudg. ing (my

lev-er Right-
oh and her gears being in
A 1 shape passed
from low through
second-in-to-high like
grasedlightning)just as we turned the corner of Divinity

avenue i touched the accelerator and give

her the juice,good


was the first ride and believe i we was
happy to see how nice she acted right up to
the last minute coming back down by the Public
Gardens i slammed on

brakes Bothatonce and

brought allofher tremB
to a:dead.


if i love You
(thickness means
worlds inhabited by roamingly
stern bright faeries

if you love
me) distance is mind carefully
luminous with innumerable gnomes
Of complete dream

if we love each (shyly)
other, what clouds do or Silently
Flowers resembles beauty
less than our breathing

sábado, junho 7

Great folks

Just returned from a very pleasant jaunt to Philadelphia, where I went to Windworks on S. 22nd street, which is a two-person shop doing maintenance, repairs etc. on woodwinds. Beverly is the clarinet specialist, Lindsay the flute specialist. Lindsay checked the seal on the pads on my Yamaha and reported they were in great shape. In July I will bring it down for oiling, general tune-up etc. She thought it played very well. She also looked at the wrongheaded work done by another shop on my Barlassina and Billoro, said it was a beautifully made instrument (I'm planning to send it to California to an expert in older instruments this time). She loved the right-hand g-sharp key, and took several photos of the instrument. The three of us had a great chat. B has a PhD in philosophy, L a PhD in sociology...There was hot coffee, sugar wafers....a piano in the shop....a real treasure....
they were -sooooo- nice that they must really be Cariocas at heart.
I also hoofed it to the Presser shop on Chestnut (in the rain) to pick up some scores for flute...lots of modern music....the French editions are -ABSURDLY- expensive....French flutists and composers must all be rich....
and so back to Trenton.....
I LOVE Philadelphia.......

sexta-feira, junho 6




By Paulo Ronai
Translated by Tom Moore

The title of this essay means “one humanity, one language”, and served as the slogan for the first artificial language which came to be tested and actually functioned after so many projects which had remained on the drawing board. This was Volapük, invented in 1879 by the German prelate Johann Martin Schleyer, prelate in Litzelstetten. Attracted to the study of languages, of which, according to his followers, he learned no fewer than eighty-three, the new Mezzofanti had become increasingly preoccupied with the problem of international communications, had produced a universal alphabet for the transcription of foreign names, and during one sleepless night, miraculously inspired and in order to promote human brotherhood, created a new language, which held an intermediate position among aprioristic languages, as it was partly invented, and partly derived.
The name volapük itself, “world language”, was intended to reveal, in addition to a desire for universality, the principal source of the vocabulary, since vol and pük come respectively from world and speak, since English was “spoken by one hundred million individuals”: but the founder also borrowed a certain number of words from Latin, French, German and other languages, with the manifest intention of accentuating the language’s universal character. He gave his word-stock a curious treatment, however. In order to make pronunciation easier for everyone, he suppressed consonantal groups; to make it pleasing to the old, the young, and the Chinese, he eliminated the sound R; with an aim toward systematization, he began all nouns with a consonant, putting an L at the beginning of those which had begun with a vowel in their language of origin; and finally, he reduced all radicals to monosyllables. If we add that he generally took as a base the pronunciation and not the written form of the words which he borrowed (a strange principle, especially when dealing with English words, which are only international in their spelling), one will easily understand that the vocabulary which he thus obtained was in fact entirely unrecognizable, and why a page of Volapük gives the disheartening impression of infant babbling or Polynesian patois. As an example, take the simple sentence: Yelatins binoms fol: nifatim, flolatim, hitatim e flukatim (‘There are four seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall’).
In words like sel, nuf, fom, lil, it is just as difficult to rediscover the English originals (sale, roof, from, and ear), as the Latin, German and French models for nim, lit, and ficul (animal, Licht, difficulté). The inventor of the new language, was mistaken, then, in supposing it universal simply because he had sought its roots in different languages; it would have been if students might have been able to identify them by their appearance, having recourse, if necessary, to a few fixed rules for deriving vocabulary.
Such rules, however, are completely lacking in Volapük: for Mons. Schleyer proceeded in a most arbitrary manner in putting together his lexicon. It would happen that the international root, after having been appropriately purified, produced a monosyllable to which another meaning had already been assigned; the creator of the language replaced it with another without as much as saying boo. Thus the radical from the word ferro would normally produce fel; but this monosyllable (taken from the German Feld) was already reserved for “field”. The remaining similar monosyllables fil, fol, and ful, were likewise taken. He then modified the initial consonant; but gel, hel, jel, and kel already had been assigned. In this way he arrived at lel, which luckily was unoccupied: let it signify “ferro”, and have done with it.
Contrariwise to what you might think, the good priest of Litzelstetten was in fact happy with the unrecognizability and strange appearance of his vocabulary, since he reckoned that he had thus given his language a non-national character. This “minor” defect was, moreover, in his view, compensated for by the advantages of a grammar free from exceptions and very rich in inflections, the most complete grammar das que ja houve (of those there had yet been?), with an infinite capacity for derivation and combination, allowing one simple word to express innumerable things.
These complexities and such did not prevent Volapük from expanding vertiginously. By 1888 there were more or less a million Volapükists throughout the word, with two-hundred-eighty-three societies and twenty-five journals devoted to spreading the use of the language. By this point three-hundred-sixteen manuals of Volapük had been published, and Rev. Schleyer’s grammar had been translated into twenty-four languages. The author of a little German-Volapük dictionary relates with astonishment that, contrary to all expectations, they had sold out twelve printings of his book in four months. There were three congresses of Volapük, in 1884, 1887, and 1889; at the last of these, which took place in Paris with the participation of delegates from thirteen countries, only Volapük was spoken.
Julius Lott, who describes himself as “teacher of the univeral tongue” in the frontispiece of a manual of Volapük , does not exaggerate in noting, in favor of the language, that in 1889 its expansion as a foreign language in Europe was greater than that of the majority of the national languages.
Curious evidence of the universal popularity of the language can be found in the unreservedly romantic novella by M?r J?kai, entitled Csalavér , in which the most popular Hungarian writer at the end of the nineteenth century narrates the adventures of a group of exiles on their way to Siberia. Attacked by a Kirghiz tribe, which takes them as slave labor to the inaccessible silver mines of the Konsogol mountains, they escape by deciphering an inscription in Volapük discovered on a wall in the mine, and which shows them their escape route. From there on, with a plot that becomes ever more fantastic, the fugitives reach a land hidden in the mountains, whose inhabitants, speaking Volapük, have arrived at such a high level of scientific progress that they have managed to resolve all their biological problems by the simple inhalation of gases. But when the new arrivals teach them the forgotten flavor of natural life, the inhabitants of Volapükland give up their excesses in technological evolution, and their president declares in conclusion: Gletikum fog ka bal notal de bal votik notel meg, which according to J?kai, means the following: “The only fool greater than one scientist is another scientist.”
Nothing better demonstrates the extraordinary expansion of Volapük than its various disciples in far-away Brazil. J.P. de Sousa Pinto adapted Schleyer’s Abbreviated Grammar and published it in Portuguese in 1888 in Porto Alegre. In the same city and year the restless spirit of C. von Koseritz launched A L?ngua Universal Volapuque em Três Liç?es. Another foreigner based in Brazil, the Swede Canuto Thormann, gave free classes in Volapük in S?o Paulo and composed a Glamat Volapüka, published in 1890, and divided into chapters on lotograf, subsat, ponop, velib, ladvelib, plapod, linetelek (orthography, noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, preposition, and interjection).
(This director of the Thormann School of Santos and the Commercial School of S?o Paulo is an interesting character. In the little magazines he published in complicated Portuguese he champions instruction in manual labor and physical educatio. In addition he authored methods for learning languages and was a foe do sistema do inspetores de disciplina. His efforts in favor of Volapük found no support in official circles, which led him to suspend publication, after the third issue, of the monthly pamphlet in which he propagandized against everyone. Potagov Basilena binom Tael Volapuka! (The Brazilian Post Office is the enemy of Volapük!), he exclaimed, embittered, in his farewell article. “How I would have liked to continue to publish every month! But to be obliged to pay o porte duplo – I can’t do it, seeing that I am not rich!”
It was at this moment of success that the unexpected decline of Volapük began, such a fulminating decline that within a few short years there were no longer Volapük societies or newspapers. Books in Volapük disappeared, and Father Schleyer’s grammar was no longer translated. A single newspaperlet managed to make it into the new century, while in Konstanz the flame of the Bureau Central de Volapuque slowly went out, accompanying the melancholy dwindling away of its creator.
The spectacular collapse of Volapük, after such a rapid and unprecedented rise, is the strangest fact in the history of universal languages. The explanation which F. Bodmer offers in The Loom of Language seems, at first sight, to be reasonable: “Volapük vanished more quickly than it had spread. When its supporters met in Paris for the Third Congress, the committee decided that the deliberations should take place exclusively in the new language. This frivolous decision, which revealed the difficulties inherent in its study and in its use, was like a death knoll.”
It does not, however, coincide with the testimony of others specialists. At the congress in Paris, according to H. Sweet, “everyone spoke Volapük, even the garçons, and the victory of the new language seemed assured.” “Everyone was understood without difficulty”, one reads in another creditable reference work, “as the differences in pronunciation were insignificant.”
We must conclude that the new language, with all its defects, proved itself to be practicable. But as it expanded, it obtained the support of professional linguists, in search of a universal language, who did not take long to discover its flaws, and who then wanted to fix them. The founder wanted to create the world’s most perfect language and was proud of the richness of its grammatical system: the verb in Volapük could take 505,440 forms! Now its more enlightened adepts thought that, rather than taking advantage of all the grammatical resources of languages both living and dead, an international language should seek to reduce them to the indispensable minimum. “I judge, in fact, that the perfection of an international language should consist not in the multiplicity of forms, but in its simplicity, and that every grammatical trait which cannot be found in each of the four principal languages of Europe, French, English, German and Russian, should be rigorously eliminated as useless and superfluous.” The author of these lines, Prof. Kerckhoffs, head of the French volapuquists and a rather more clear-sighted linguist than Rev. Schleyer, did not limit himself to theoretical considerations. A year later, in the grammar which served as introduction to his Dicctionnaire volapük-français et français- volapük he decidamente proposed the simplification of countless rules, demanding the suppression of the declension of numerals, infinitives, adverbs and prepositions.
Even if such simplifications had been accepted, the “world language” would have remained full of inconsistencies that are tolerated in a natural language, the product of thousands of random processes, but not to be expected in an artificial language that expects to be accepted by reason of its logic and good-sense. It was senseless to retain parallel processes of expression, e.g. a complicated declension, which could be replaced by the use of prepositions; both a synthetic and analytic passive voice, and so on. Mons. Schleyer sought to invent another suffix for each category of word; for example, -el to mark “one who looks after something” , and –al to indicate “some who looks after something with more intensity”. Thus, from the nouns jaf, ted and tik (respectively “creation”, “business” and “thought”) are derived jafel, tedel and tikel (“God”, “businessperson”, and “deep thinker”. This examples suffices to show the fragility of the Scheylerian classification into “logical categories”. Coutruat and Léau hit the nail on the head in observing, a propos words such as colerip (“cholera”), that the luxury of suffixes serves no purpose: either the student knows the radical – in which case, why disfigure it? – or does not, in which case, it does not help much to know that it denotes a disease.
More and more, Father Schleyer, recognizing the existence of concepts belonging to no fixed category, invented a dozen suffixes which did not correspond to any fixed order of ideas: among them, for example, -ed, which served to derive concepts as different from each other as pened, “letter” (from pen, pen) and filed, “blaze” (from fil, “fire”; or –op, suffix of “determinate location”, which is found in kafop “coffee-shop”, and gotop “belly”, derived respectively from kaf , “coffee” and got “intestines”.
Another congenital defect of Volapük was its kilometrically long words; a verbal form would have such a complex appearance, so full of additions, prefixes, suffixes and affixes, that the founder of the language had to adopt the lamentable expedient of printing the radical in italics in order to distinguish it from the accessory elements.
The process of composition inherent to the language came to produce, in fact, a strange infirmity, unknown in other tongues: the proliferation of isomers, that is, words which could be dissected in various ways, and which thus had completely different meanings. In this way, lemel means “ocean” when broken down into le-mel and “buyer” when broken down into lem-el; the stress does not help here, since all words are oxytones.
Philologists of Volapük discovered ever more flaws in their tool. In vain had Mons. Schleyer pointed to English as his principal source: Volapük exhaled through all its pores the German of its creator. The most illogical characteristics of German had been faithfully transplanted: there existed, for example, a prefix to slavishly translate the preverb ver-, the meaning of which is absolutely indefinable. The compound words of German had been carried over just as slavishly.
Some critics went as far as calling into question the linguistic competence of the founder. Mons. Schleyer had proscribed the letter and sound r, because the Chinese could not pronounce it, substituting l for it; unhappily, this latter sound – precisely the most frequent consonant in Volapük – is unpronouncable by the Japanese. In this way, the majority of the radicals, which were so clear in their original form, had been deformed for no reason.
It was also noted that, on the other hand, the English, Italians, Spanish, and Russians, much closer than the Chinese, should have merited equal consideration: now now none of these people know how to pronounce the French u, a sound found in the name of the language itself.
The non-German Volapükists found it hard to accept the Germanic slant of the father of the tongue that had caused him to reject the most interational words; instead of thermometer, understood throughout the world, he had preferred vamamfel!
All these criticisms led the third congress to constitute a commission to carry out the necessary reforms. This, however, deeply wounded the inventor; it was his language, and no one was to touch it without his permission. But the commission, which did not take this point of view, only granted Mons. Schleyer a plural vote without veto rights; and when the founder, annoyed, left the commission, it simply decided to give up on Volapük and to construct an entirely new language, the Neutral Language.
Various refugees from Volapükism remade the language themselves using other names: Prof. Bauer from Zagreb invented Spelin; Fieweger, from Breslau, Dil (having the indelicacy of publishing a grammar of this byproduct in Volapük); the engineer Dormoy, of Tours, Balta; Von Arnim, from Oppeln, Weltparl. Even Lott, who had shouted with such enthusiasm Volapuk e datuval oma lifsomsos, lifomsod, lifomsoz! (Live, thrive and prosper Volapük and its inventor!” would not linger long before constructing his Internacional Language or Mundolingüe a few months later.
If the inventors of these languages repaired some of the grammatical peculiarities of Volapük, they aggravated the problem of the vocabulary, since they went looking for their radicals in part in the natural languages, in part in Volapük, which in this way came to increase the dead weight of words to be memorized.
Thus Volapük, in the final analysis, came to notably exacerbate the problem of the international language. It had, however, the value of showing that there was a widespread desire to study an artificial language, and that learning one was possible. And while it lay dying, having been dilacerated by schism, the object of jests and jokes, it was pointed the way to its happier rival, Esperanto.
As a curiosity we not that the word Volapük gained honorary citizenship in Brazilian letters thanks to Carlos Drummond de Andrade’s verse “? preciso estudar volapuque” (we must study Volapük), which belongs to his famous “Poema da Necessidade”, which thus became “the flower which blooms monotonously on the tomb” of Mons. Schleyer. The image is that of the erudite professor Heitor Martins, who took the trouble of translating the poet of our great bard – into Volapük! Here is the first strophe and its translation:

? preciso casar Jo?o, Zesüdos komat?n Joani
? preciso suportar Antônio zesüdos lület?n Antonii,
? preciso odiar Melqu?ades, zesüdos het?n Melkiadii,
? preciso substituir n?s todos. Zesüdos pladl?n obsis valikis.

We must marry John,
We must put up with Antonio
We must hate Melchiades
We must all be replaced.

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