domingo, agosto 31
Read my interview with the important Brazilian composer here.
sexta-feira, agosto 29
Vem, morena, pros meu braços
Vem, morena, vem dançar
Quero ver tu requebrando
Quero ver tu requebrar
Quero ver tu remexendo
O resfulego da sanfona até que o Sol raiar
Esse teu fungado quente
Bem no pé do meu pescoço
Arrepia o corpo da gente
Faz o veio ficar moço
E o coração de repente
Bota o sangue em alvoroço
Vem , morena, pros meus braços....
Esse teu suor sargado
É gostoso e tem sabor
Pois o teu corpo suado
Com esse cheiro de fulo
Tem um gosto temperado
Dos tempero do amor
quinta-feira, agosto 28
Duos with Kim
I spent this morning playing the duos, op. 11 of Berbiguier, the duos, op. 25, of Kummer,
and the Duo and Mot pour Laura of Sergio Roberto de Oliveira with the excellent flutist Kim Reighley down in Wilmington Delaware. We will play a concert including the Kummer (nos. 1, 3), Mot, Companion Piece by Mark Haggerty, and some music for baroque flutes at The College of New Jersey this fall, and it will be recorded. Date is still TBA.
quarta-feira, agosto 27
The art of the story
Lots of free stories in etext....
Towards a history of literary translation in Brazil
By Paulo Rónai
Translated by Tom Moore
One who some day comes to write the history of literary translation in Brazil will note a phenomenon similar to that of the urbanization of the country. In the great European cities there was a slow and progressive architectural evolution, which allowed the formation of central neighborhoods with esthetic qualities, and stamped each city with its own unmistakable character. The evolution of our Brazilian metropolises was feverish and excessively quick. Neighborhoods with a provincial aspect, unpaved streets, without drains, found their little houses replaced overnight with sky-scrapers, without having passed through any intermediary stages. Elsewhere buildings of four and five stories were demolished far before living out their normal span. Entire streets disappeared to make way for viaducts, tunnels, subterranean passageways. In the blink of an eye we found that in the midst of these radical transformations we had lost exactly that which in other times once justified the creation of a city: a safer and happier life among squares, tree-lined avenues, with newsstands, rambles for the flaneur, with space for living.
terça-feira, agosto 26
are what life is all about. I am just back from dinner and music with Tracy Richardson and Mark Haggerty in Wilmington Delaware. They are both fabulous cooks. Tonight's repast - Ziti with Carbonara sauce. Delicious. And fresh peaches and vanilla ice cream for dessert. All elegantly presented.
Tracy and I rehearsed for Williamsburg (next month). Program:
Bach A major sonata, a nice Franz Benda sonata for flute and obligato cembalo that I hadn't even seen before, let alone heard, and the Handel G major sonata. As well as a movement from Mark's suite, and the variations by Sweelinck on Mein junges Leben hat ein End. And a tired drive home, since I rose this AM at 5:45.
segunda-feira, agosto 25
Renata, my cleaning lady, came this morning to spruce up my little house. She had come by yesterday to get a key and we had a long talk. She is learning English, and usually can get by, but since I understand Czech (her native tongue) if she needs to, she can switch to Czech. Her job gives her insight into the daily life of the American haute bourgeoisie. Some of her thoughts: America is a good place for money, but for Americans, the heart is NOT important. Not like in Europe. American parents don't spend time with their children. Instead the children play computer games. American houses are TOO big for the Americans who live in them, even with the children there, and when they leave, then they will be REALLY too big. Americans are messy (Renata thinks that Laura must be one out of a hundred women that are actually neat....)
I am so happy that she came today!!!!
quarta-feira, agosto 20
Fallacies in translation
By Paulo Rónai
Translated by Tom Moore
One of the fallacies in translation is the illusion that it is possible to learn it by means of treatises on the subject. Now, how would one organize a translation manual, if this art (or trade, if you prefer) is resistant to any sort of systematization? In reality, one learns to translate by translating. This is not to say that the subject should not be contemplated in writing; simply that one should expect from a manual on translation the precision and efficiency of a treatise on optics or geometry.
An example of an attempt at systematization can be found in the book The Art of Translation, by Theodore Savory . In looking at the theoretical possibility of a perfect translation, the writer divides the originals which may be translated into four categories:
1. simple information of a practical nature
2. common literary works the translation of which is only a question of routine
3. literary works which demand an artistic effort on the part of the translator
4. technical and scientific texts.
From his point of view, perfection can be attained in the first category – which
includes reporting in the newspaper, a tourist guide, an annual report etc., and also in the fourth. As far as the second is concerned, there perfection is of no interest to the average reader, who is only interested in the content; and thus the problem is restricted to the third group, that of works of literary art.
terça-feira, agosto 19
Roubado do Centro de Estudo em Filosofia Americana:
A filosofia perde Michael Wrigley
O professor inglês amável, educado e inteligente das áreas da filosofia da mente e da lógica, radicado no Brasil, faleceu esta semana. Há uma década no Brasil, Michael Wrigley não foi aproveitado pelo nosso país como deveria ter sido. Agora é tarde. Não há mais como faze-lo.
Michael escreveu pouco, e o que sabia sobre Ramsey, Wittgenstein e Davidson nem sempre nos foi passado, uma vez que ainda engatinhamos em estudos desses autores e, talvez, por isso mesmo, não pudemos lhe oferecer o público que ele merecia.
Mas o fato do Brasil estar aquém de Michael Wrigley, nunca fez dele alguém que se achasse melhor que os outros. Solícito com os colegas, Michel dava informações preciosas a cada conversa, sem nunca pensar em receber qualquer coisa em troca. Atencioso com os alunos, Michael recebeu alguns dos meus orientandos, que não tinham formação filosófica, com muito carinho. Encaminhou mais que correta e frutiferamente os que já sabiam algo de filosofia. Ensinou o básico para quem precisava do básico. Falou coisas mais complexas quando, em círculos restritos, podia ser devidamente compreendido. Assim foi quando de suas participações nas reuniões da ANPOF e quando assumiu, junto com Martha Christina Martins, a coordenação do grupo de estudos em Wittgenstein na USP, a convite do professor João Virgílio, ex-orientando do professor Luís Henrique Lopes, todos eles conhecedores profundos da obra de Wittgenstein. Tal grupo vem publicando os “Cadernos Wittgenstein”, e certamente não existiria mais se não fosse pelo período em que Michael, gratuitamente e sem qualquer vínculo oficial, se deslocou de Campinas até São Paulo quase que semanalmente para fazer sobreviver o círculo de estudos, uma vez que tanto João Virgílio quanto Luís Henrique se encontravam fora do país ou com serviços para além da conta.
Michael estava há um ano preparando um livro introdutório, a meu pedido, sobre filosofia da mente. A obra ficou inacabada. Mas as idéias ali contidas mostram a genialidade de alguém que, antes de tudo, fazia da filosofia algo simples, por mais complexa que ela fosse – como de fato é.
Conhecedor profundo das teses centrais de Donald Davidson, de quem foi aluno, Michael foi um dos principais revisores do livro do professor Simon Evnine, Donald Davidson, um dos principais estudos introdutórios ao pensamento do filósofo norte-americano, na chamada “segunda fase” de sua obra. Por isso, quisera eu trazer Michael Wrigley, de toda maneira, para o GT-Pragmatismo da ANPOF. Todavia, Michael era ocupado demais, pois não priorizava demandas, atendia a todos como se não fosse o cérebro internacional e brilhante que era. Não deixava de tomar uma cerveja com os amigos. Não deixava de se engalfinhar nos problemas de lógica que seus estudos em Ramsey demandavam. Era mentalmente sagaz, corajoso, audacioso mesmo. Ao mesmo tempo, solitário. Sabia que estava sozinho. Poderia não ter ficado só, pois qualquer universidade no exterior o teria acolhido com honras. Mas ficou no Brasil. Algo nos trópicos o atraía. Talvez a idéia de que pudesse ser feliz a despeito de se estar no Terceiro Mundo – uma idéia que deveria fazer todo professor de filosofia tentar ser mais democrático sem que isso venha a significar aceitar que teses de mestrados e doutorados possam ser textos ridículos, como em geral vemos por aí. Michael ensinou lógica e tolerância, rigor com alegria. Importância sem pedantismo. É preciso mais?
Paulo Ghiraldelli Jr., Jardim Acapulco, 13 de agosto de 2003.
segunda-feira, agosto 18
City of Brotherly Love
In August virtually every one leaves town here in NJ - I must be the only one left. So on the weekend I went to Philadelphia, where this is still something happening. Saturday was rainy, so I walked along Walnut St. and shopped the various clothing stores. Kenneth Cole was interesting - very modern - weird shoes, strange interesting jazz on the muzak, clothes that looked fairly boiola to me....I didn't see anything nice till I got to Banana Republic - two shirts which were $49 off the original tagged price. So they came home with me.
Sunday was a pleasant afternoon in the park at Rittenhouse Sq. - each park bench had one or two people reading books. I made it through about 150 pages of a book on the hat trade in Ecuador (by Tom Miller), before I went to browse at the Barnes and Noble on the square. This weekend I also read "Was it something I said?" by Valerie Block - a "love story" about two not very sympathetic characters.....sad.....
domingo, agosto 17
Hermano and I just came back from Meg´s house, where we ate a fabulous lunch made by Selma. Piemontese rice, shrimp, vegetables, a luscious salad... and a HUGE chocolate cake. Somebody must have told them that I like chocolate.
We got out of there full of presents: shoes, more chocolate... I am getting very spoiled, indeed.
sexta-feira, agosto 15
Tom has complained about my disappearance: hey Laura, where are you?
Mea Culpa, I have been away from Mostly Music, and lots has happened since the last time I wrote. We had a wonderful concert series in SP, (with the participation of many friends, including Tom, Laurie Heimes, Bruno Procopio and all the boys from Camerata Quantz) and we have also been playing all around Rio.
Almost every week now we have had a musical soirée. We are now incorporating another cello (Luciano) and a new soprano (Paloma). Next sunday we will have a new harpsichordist (Clara) and a new lute player (André). So we are slowly becoming a large group...
In the meantime, as you know, Michael died. He was a wonderful friend, and I miss him enormously already. Today I found out that he left a note in his computer, leaving me his collection of Cds and music-related books. I guess I will just have to build a new CD shelf.... He also left me some money (I don´t know how much exactly). His brother Richard called me today, and I was paralyzed upon hearing his voice - just like Michael´s! he seems to be equally sweet and direct. It felt so weird to be getting in touch with his "other" life, and only after his death. Poor Richard, lost in an unknown universe, burying his brother amongst people he never even met, not understanding what people say to him....
This whole situation left me strangely affected; sad, and moved and loved. But mainly, sad. It will be fabulous to get all these new musical guests, all these sounds chosen by my friend. But I can´t quite reconcile myself to the idea that he won´t be around for us to discuss each interpretation, as we so often did.
I don´t believe in God and Heaven. But if I did, I would be wishing that the angels play beautiful music just for you, Michael.
PS: BTW, if you see Mark, send him my love.
By Paulo Rónai
Translated by Tom Moore
Pascal’s dictum, “Le moi est haïssable” applies to no one more aptly than the translator, the modest intermediator of the messages of others. But perhaps his confidences concerning his motivations, his work methods, his difficulties, and the solutions to which he has had recourse can have some interest for his colleagues in his métier, and even for the public in general. Even more so when, as in my case, his practice extends so to speak to all the modalities of translation, and to the greater part of related activities. I want to cover all of them rapidly, to suggest ideas and open perspectives, rather than to draw conclusions or teach some tricks of the trade.
femina nulla bona est, uel, si bona contigit una,
nescio quo fato est res mala facta bona.
I know you are out there...
because the stats say that you have come to visit.
So when you visit, why not say a little hello in the comments? please?
a gente ta tao sozinha....
quinta-feira, agosto 14
Women and shopping
from Luiz's fotolog....
incrível a capacidade das mulheres de comprarem coisas de que não precisam.
TELEMANN: Tafelmusik (from Parts I and II). Florilegium. CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS SA 19102 (74:31).
Ouverture – Suite in E minor. Quatuor in G major. Trio in E-flat major. Conclusion in E minor. Quatuor in d minor.
Can we have too much Telemann? Generations thought so, thought that even a pizzico of Telemann to balance the mounds of Bach was unwarranted. And so the many delights from his pen were little-known and little-recorded. All this by way of prologue to saying that finally, in 2003, the works on this disc must be familiar to any Telemann lover, particularly the two quartets, the latter beloved of recorderists. Does the recording from Florilegium open new vistas on these works? The instruments sound lovely, the ensemble is excellent, but something is lacking. To these ears, it is breath, leisure, play. Too often the music rushes long without a pause, without a space, with no articulation marking the difference between what is a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph in Telemann’s poetry. What is the hurry? It is not the tempos in themselves that are hasty – they are well-chosen, but that there is no attention to inflection.
The recording has many good qualities, but this defect means that it is not at the top. Pity.
POGLIETTI. Ricercars. REUTTER: Toccata. Canzona. STRUNCK. Ricercar. Luca Guglielmi, harpsichord. ORF ALTE MUSIK CD 321 (50:31).
This is a disc that I ought to like, would love to like – but something in me refuses to warm to it. Luca Guglielmi, still in his twenties, with a capable technique, is making his solo debut with a set of works that has not been recorded before, by a composer skilled in keyboard writing who has received a fair amount of attention over the last few years, and so I would love to hail two discoveries. And yet…
Alessandro Poglietti, another Italian whogravitated toward the job opportunities in the Empire (where he must certainly have known Sances, reviewed elsewhere in this issue). He is most well-known today for the Nightingale, a large suite (almost an hour) written for the wedding of Leopold I, and with many depictions of national musics – Czech bagpipes, Dutch recorders, and so forth. That is exactly the sort of whimsy that is not present here. These ricercars are extremely well-behaved, and would certainly not alarm a cleric at mass. But that is not a recommendation for a whole program of them, which will be likely to weary any ear. Even the individual works do not reach out and captivate.
Of documentary interest, but not likely to have broad appeal.
EXTASES BAROQUES. Maria Cristina Kiehr, soprano; Christina Pluhar, triple harp, theorbo, guitar; Sylvie Moquet, viola da gamba, violoncino; Matthias Spaeter, archlute; Jean-Marc Aymes, organ, harpsichord. L’EMPREINTE DIGITALE ED 13119 (63:21)
SANCES: Ardet cor meum. Domine Deus. O bone Jesu. Lettamini in Domine. Audite me. Usurpator tiranno. Altre le vie. Risiede più. Filli mirando il ciel. Misera hor si ch’il pianto. Accenti queruli. KAPSBERGER: Toccata IX. Toccata V. ROSSI: Passacaille.
Giovanni Felice Sances (1600-1679) seems to have begun his career as an exceptional boy soprano in Rome, with operatic roles at age 14. His earliest published works date to the early 1630s, at which time he was in Padua. Shortly thereafter he moved to Vienna, and spent the rest of a long and successful career at the imperial court, finally becoming choirmaster at almost seventy years of age. Virtually all of his output is vocal, with published books of both cantatas and motets for one to three voices with continuo, as well as many unpublished choral works.The motets and cantatas recorded here belong to the early baroque, with notable use of repetitive bass patterns, the emphasis being rather on the latter, tuneful, part of the “recitar cantando” in the new style. Like Purcell, Sances is able to create a compelling musical fabric over a simple framework.
Kiehr’s voice in this 1994 is dark, with a timbre approaching that of a countertenor, but at the same time light in body, with very little vibrato (the sort of sound Quantz might advocate for the flute).
Her diction is excellent (all the more important as there is no booklet, at least in this release), her pitch superb, her coloratura clear - exceptional singing.
BACH Six partitas, BWV 825-830. Kenneth Weiss, harpsichord. SATIRINO SR011 (67:33, 69:47).
In his note to this disc Weiss points out that the six partitas could never be assimilated by a listener in one concert or in one listening session, that indeed they have “too much protein, too much confectionery”. This is indeed the problem with each individual partita, or even movement. Bach creates inexorable structures, architecture (Weiss’s protein), rather than speech, in a sense, so that the player cannot help but be carried along by it without ever a pause for reflection or breath. And hung on this structure is an amazing filigree of decoration (Weiss’s confection), all of it crying out to be inflected, so that each melodic moment has its due. But no, it must fit in with the structure. The two elements are at cross purposes – a dish can be a meat course, or a dessert, but not both at the same time.
When I began to listen here I was impressed by the ability of Weiss to create nuance for each gesture, with impressive control of shape and phrasing, especially in the opening of the first partita. But overall it seems that Bach’s structure wins out, so that the listener has the sense of a great machine that has but to be turned on, and the music spills out. Would slower tempos help? Perhaps here and there – the Rondeaux of the second partita rushes along in one, despite its 16th note triplets. But in general what I miss is either more French character (sweetness) or Italian (caprice) to moderate the great man’s innate and heavy Germanity. Does it say something that the cover art is a mountainous scene in black and white without a speck of humanity to be seen?
The Limits of Poetic Translation
By Paulo Rónai
Translated by Tom Moore
The untranslatability of poetry is a cliché which I do not intend to revisit in these lines. This does mean, of course that poetry should not be translated: it is still better to see that “stuffed sunbeam” of which Heine spoke, than to see no sunbeam at all, and remain deaf for ever to the message of poems written in languages which we do not understand. “Poetry is what gets lost in translation” said Robert Frost in another now-famous formulation, and here again I do not entirely agree.
red the rest here
Dia da marmota
what would Phil's reaction have been if at some indefinite time after he finally made it to Feb. 3, with the love of a good woman, he mysteriously woke up one morning and it was that same Feb. 2 again?
quarta-feira, agosto 13
Wodehouse, Jeeves and the Songs of Songs. Translating another PRonai essay on translation. Another batch of discs to review for Goldberg: Pahud is a god of the flute (Telemann flute concertos). A nice disc of Dolle viol music.
An excellent stage work by Boismortier (French Baroque music is fabulous!!!)
A fine disc of Telemann trio sonatas. And dinner - a delicious salad at Cuba Libre. Ah, and, Bia, I finally watched Groundhog Day. Very well done....
Five years ago
I was in Brazil for the first time, and five years ago last night was the first time that I performed with Laura, on the little stage at IBEU in Copacabana (Aug. 12, 1998).
What a lot has happened since then!
Gather ye rosebuds...
Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend
Before we too into the dust descend;
Dust into dust, and under dust, to lie;
Sans wine, sans song, sans singer and – sans end!
Omar Khayyam, trans. Edward Fitzgerald
“Ah, vem, vivamos mais que a Vida, vem,
Antes que em pó nos deponham também,
Pó sobre pó, e sob o pó, pousados,
Sem Cor, sem Sol, sem Som, sem Sonho – sem!”
Edward Fitzgerald, trans. Augusto de Campos
terça-feira, agosto 12
By Marcos Santarrita
Translated by Tom Moore
The expression traduttore, traditore (translator, traitor) is well-known, and practically a proverb – more a witticism than a verity. The most famous translation, the Vulgate, the translation of the Bible into Latin by St. Jerome, is still current, with the force of law, after 1500 years. For a large part of the Modern Age, many of the Greek and Roman classics which shaped the Western mind were translations of translations –from the original into Arabic, and from the Arabic into Latin or other European languages.
segunda-feira, agosto 11
My review of the most recent novel by this carioca writer is at the Brazilmax website
sábado, agosto 9
sexta-feira, agosto 8
The Comédie Humaine in Brazil: history of an edition
By Paulo Ronai
Translated by Tom Moore
It has gotten to be an old story, that of the Brazilian edition of Balzac’s Comédie Humaine published by Editora Globo (1946-1955), which I had the honor of directing. I have already had occasion to refer to it twice previously in print. The seventeen volumes of the collection occupy considerable space on the bookshelves of our libraries, having nourished the spirit and excited the imagination of thousands of readers. “I consider this editorial enterprise one of the most important ever in the history of Brazil” wrote Erico Verissimo. And Eugênio Gomes, another connoisseur of books, who would later direct the Biblioteca Nacional of Rio de Janeiro went even farther: “I do not believe that Balzac has found anywhere, outside of France, a more appropriate frame for his greatness.”
The story begins in 1943.
Read the rest here
"What would you do if you were stuck in one place and everything was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?"
-Phil, Groundhog Day
Ronai on Zweig on Balzac
quinta-feira, agosto 7
quarta-feira, agosto 6
New projects in the pipeline
The ATA (American Translators Association) Chronicle will be publishing my translations of two essays on translation by Marcos Santarrita (novelist and translator himself).
And the Flutist Quarterly will publish my article on the 19th-century French flutist Remusat.
terça-feira, agosto 5
segunda-feira, agosto 4
Word of the day
The word is grugunzar, that is to meditate, ponder, rack one's brains, something I do a great deal of.
Alas, this word is not current - seems to almost not to appear on the web. More's the pity.
Virtues and Virtualities of the Catholic Language
By Paulo Ronai
Translated by Tom Moore
Many people of this most loyal and heroic city of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro must know some aspect of the protean personality of my friend Charles Astor, but few will have managed to breach the wall of modesty behind which he is so well able to hide the imposing ensemble of his multifarious qualities. A noted teacher of parachuting and acrobatic gymnastics, one of the most competent of antiquarians, cryptographer emeritus, a worthy storyteller, lucid essayist, in addition to these many endowments he adds broad erudition and universal curiosity. As he is also helpful by vocation, once he hears that one of his friends has sat down to study some preposterous subject he will put at their disposition all of the treasures of his erudition and library.
It was thus that, knowing that I was entangled in investigations into artificial languages, he recently offered me a rare and valuable old book, a plan for a universal language by Dr. Alberto Liptay, a copy made still more valuable by the dedication from the author to the editor-in-chief of the daily O Pa?s, inscribed in 1892, when he passed through Rio de Janeiro aboard the cruiser Presidente Pinto.
For quite some time I had been intrigued by the name of this polygraph, a name which without the shadow of a doubt was of Hungarian origin. Though there are no explicit references to this fact, allusions to the Magyar tongue make it more than plausible. Coming from the distant banks of the Danube, how would Dr. Liptay have come to be doctor for the Chilean Navy and attached to the Naval Commision of chile in Paris, after taking an active part in the military expedition against Peru? These few facts make one imagine one of those romantic biographies in which a flame, suddenly snuffed out in the Old World, unexpectedly is lit once more in the New after mysterious vicissitudes.
"During his marches through the ancient Empire of the Incas, the author was much preoccupied with a rational solution to the cosmoglottic problem, which indeed constituted the substance of his philosophical reflections, which were more than once interrupted by the whistling of enemy bullets." While the "peacemaking dvision of the victorious Chilean Army" was resting after having clambered up ravines at an altitude of 14,000 feet, Dr. Liptay, separated for months from civilized humanity, with no news from the rest of the world, with no one with whom he could exchange ideas, passed part of the icy nights which were interspersed among the torrid days mentally organizing a new language, to which he gave the name Catholic Language, and whose exposition is the topic of the book with which we are concerned.
Already in the preface he explains the reason for the name, which is to be taken not in the religious sense, but rather in the primitive sense of the Greek katholikos, that is, "general, universal". Discovering to his displeasure that in Germany and Austria, with the first waves of anti-Semitism, the adjective was taking on an exclusive and sectarian meaning, he retained it only in the title of the French and Spanish eiditons of the work, preferring to give the German edition the title Die Gemeinsprache der Kulturvoelkern (The Common Tongue of the Cultured Peoples).
The fact that it begins from a rather chimerical premise does not lessen the interest of this work: eighty years ago it was much easier to believe that human language tends to simplification and unification, and that the sluggishness of progress was due simply to the lack of a universal tongue. The Catholic Language was intended to fill this lacuna. Without expecting to replace the national languages, it proposed to to fulfill along and above them the same role that fell to literary Italian, la bella lingua, among the dialects of the Italian peninsula. Its expansion, in the thinking of the author, depended on the creation of an international linguistic union, similar to the postal-telegraphic union, or that for weights and measures. The unique originality of the project, the epigraph tells us, is the absolute exclusion of all originality. A friendly confession after so many projects with no other merit than being extravagantly original. Prior to expounding it, the author judged it necessary to proclaim the merits of a common world language, noticeable above all in the ever more frequent international congresses, and exhorted humanity to replace the linguistic anarchy of polyglottism with monoglottism. As could be foreseen, he then moves on to analyze the projects of his predecessors, commenting on them with undeniable acuity.
Among them he singles out the philosophical language of Padre Sotos Ochando, bold in its conception, but completely impractical; the Ideografia fo Sinibald Mas, ambassador of Spain to China, which requires the citizens of the world to learn 2600 agreed-upon signs without rational explication; Volapük, simple in grammar, but which dogmatically sacrificed the easy identification of the vocabulary to their brevity and pronunciability; Dr. Steiner’s Pasilingua, which consisted of a neutral grammar, applicable to any language, but which, rather than resolving the problem of vocabulary made it worse; Kosmos, by the linguist Lauda, an insufficiently simplified Latin; the Lingua Internacia – that is, Esperanto, then in its primordial stage -, ingenious in grammar, and arbitrary and fantastic in its lexicon; Saint-Max’s Bopal, a simple plagiarism of Volapük; and finally Julius Lott’s Lingua Internazional, which he accords the great merit of the greatest attention to the formation of the vocabulary, including in it what is common to the principal languages and excluding every thing that is pure idiosyncrasy or fantastic caprice.
This critical examination allows specialists in the subject to foresee the essential characteristics of the Catholic Language. Before, however, addressing them, Dr. Liptay, in yet another preamble (half of the book is made up of introductions), demonstrating a notable knowledge of linguistics, proceeds to a rapid examination of existing natural languages, in search of an international stock for his vocabulary, and also, of practical suggestions that their structure might offer to the language to be created.
What is most surprising in the laying out of the project is the conciliatory tone of the author, without that apodictic dogmatism peculiar to almost all his predecessors. Throughout the book he gives the impression of having a cordial chat with his readers, from whom he is ready to hear suggestions and criticism. Instead of imposing his invention, he seeks to have it accepted by persuasion and prides himself on explaining the reasons for each solution he has adopted.
His language is based on the grammatical and lexical inheritance from ancient Latium, such as it was preserved in the Romance languages. The alphabet adopted is that of Latin, with its imperfections eliminated. To each letter must correspond a unique sound; hence the condemnation of the letter c, due to its ambivalent pronunciation.
It will be replaced either by k, or by s. But as this would cause excessive modifications in the appearance of a large number of international words, and hence, raise objections, the cautious reformer limits himself to provisionally retaining the c as it is used in the neo-Latin languages, until the time should be propitious for its replacement by k or s. For the rest, the pronunciation of each letter would be that which it has in the majority of the neo-Latin languages, and in English, taking an average, so to speak. Hence the rejection of everything that only appears in one of these languages: the mute e, the French u, the poorly articulated vowels of English, etc.
According to the designer, the universal language should be “discovered and not invented”, or in other words, compiled from existing languages, living and dead. This is especially the case in relation to the lexicon: there are thousands of word in universal use. All that is required is to bring them together in order to obtain a language which is new, rational, simple and easy to learn.
Beginning from French (since he is writing for the French), Liptay makes an inventory of large contingents of international words: some 350 ending in –al, half a thousand in –eur, more than a thousand in –on, -tion and –sion, five hundred in –ant and –ent, as many more in –able and –ible, some 150 in –isme, 200 in –iste, 500 in –ique, as many in –té, and so forth. Adding to them some 2,000 words of varied origin, but in general use (such as alcohol, café, gas, sport, club, mathematics etc.), he arrives at a total of no less than ten thousand “catholic words”, a respectable quantity when we consider that most people go through their lives never needing even half of this stock.
This may be true, but it so happens that precisely the most common and least dispensable words are not to be found in it: indispensable nouns such as those that denote relationship, food, clothing, objects of daily use, as well as “relational” words (pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions). This fact did not escape the sagacious Dr. Liptay, who confronts the difficulty gallantly.
In constructing his basic nouns he achieves an important economy through the abolition of grammatical gender, each time that it does not coincide with natural gender. In the cases in which they coincide the procedure is the following: the radical represents the noun in its pure state, without indication of gender or sex; if there is a necessity to give this indication, -o or –a is added to the sexless radical. Thus hom signifies “any human being” , homo, “man”, and homa, “woman”; in the same way, frat, “descendent of the same parents, frato, brother, and frata, “sister”. This triplicity is also adopted in the “names of agents”: professor, professor, and professora, and in those of the followers of a doctrine or party: socialist, socialisto, socialista. And naturally the names of animals also benefit. The most surprising thing is to see it applied in a rather original way to the names of objects: capelo is “a man’s hat”, capela, “a woman’s hat”, while capel is the generic term. Better yet, digito is “a man’s finger”, and digita “a woman’s finger”.
With an eye toward simplification, all declensions are suppressed, and the functions of the former cases taken over, when necessary, by prepositions. The plural is always formed with s. The only somewhat illogical category is that of pronouns: here the retention of the traditional forms is aimed at easier recognition. In the chapter concerning verbs we come upon a contradiction: while the future, imperfect, pluperfect, and the future perfect have only one form (amó, amá, ami, amu, amao), with the specification of the person entrusted to the preceding personal pronoun, the present displays six different forms, that is a conjugation according to the inventor, or rather, the discoverer of the Catholic Language, (amo, ama, ame, amos, amas, ames). But even here, he anticipates criticism, and acata-a in an extremely sensible way: those who may find these endings difficult are authorized to not inflect the present, and to limit themselves to using the appropriate pronouns. The subjunctive is only distinguished from the indicative through the prefixing of the conjunctions si or qe.
As far as the imperative is concerned, as well as the other moods, and all of the syntax in general, they have not been elaborated by Dr. Liptay, awaiting the reactions of the critics. In his view, the various academies, philosophical societies, and local universities should constitute a sort of supreme academy, which, once the idea of the necessity of an international language has been accepted, would choose from among the existing projects the one which is most rational and easiest to learn. Should the Catholic Language be chosen, he “would gladly devote what remains of life to elaborating the vocabulary and completing the grammar of this language.”
In this clause one has the explanation for why the Catholic Language did not win out. In reality, its creator was becoming ever more exhausted as his lucubrations progressed. A man with a spirit entirely at ease in the digressions of the amateur philologist, he was the first to tire of the aridity of a methodical exposition. Hence the jests with which, now and then, he interrupts his more serious expositions. Thus, after explaining why he has retained the use of the article in his language, he adds: “In fact, the creation of the article has its reason for being, since it serves to specify the noun, to individualize it, to…I don’t know what all else! The reader will know better than I, and, if he does not know, then here are the both of us in the dark; but, in spite of this shameful ignorance, the existence of the article is an indisputable fact in almost all the civilized languages.”
No one more than he sensed that the book was becoming overlong, and when all of a sudden he begins his final chapter, he himself lets out a sigh of relief: “Thank God, finally!” the reader will doubtless say, nor can we blame him, since, unhappily, he is quite right!”
Dr. Liptay’s invention shows excellently well that the difficulty is not in thinking out an international language, no matter how logical and rational it may be, but rather to put it into practice. For this purpose one should not count on the enthusiasm of those who eventually adopt it. The inventor of an artificial language must elaborate down to the smallest details not only the grammar and basic vocabulary, but also the rules of derivation; and further, he needs to set the language in motion, to write entire books in the language, to test it with various translations. Half a life is not enough for the task; even two are not too much, as the example of Dr. Zamenhof shows.
sexta-feira, agosto 1
A blog ringing in the empty air
This has become a Zen blog
here is a blog-koan:
what is the sound of one blog blogging?
Does a blog blog if there is no one there to read it?
if you are out there, kindly say hello....
Greek for Chinese to Read
By Paulo R?nai
Translated by Tom Moore
Czech or Chinese
Learn it with ease
Basque or Bantu
The greatest obstacle to the comparative study of the various projects for a universal auxiliary language is the near-inaccessibility of the material. In fact, the majority of such projects are to be known through booklets with short print runs, which soon turn into bibliographical rarities, since they are almost never reprinted. Except for the case of Esperanto, public libraries are of little assistance. In addition to periodic checks of the used book stores, what has most facilitated my research has been the generous cooperation of friends, who helped out with my curiosity. Thus for example, were it not for the valued friendship of Ara?jo Ribeiro – the Brazilian who learned Swedish in order to translate Selma Lagerl?f, and to whose Benedictine dedication we will one day owe a monumental dictionary of English technical terms - , I would never have made the acquaintance of one of the most original projects, the Interglossa of Lancelot Hogben.
The name of this English biologist is not unknown in Brazil. Modernizador da divulgacao cientifica, two of his books have been translated into Portuguese (the Wonderful World of Mathematics and Man and Science). Another demonstation of his vast curiosity is his collaboration on and editing of the Loom of Language, by F. Bodmer, published here, as are the other two, by Editora Globo.
In spite of its explosively modern content, the work in which Hogben lays out his plan for an auxiliary language draws our attention with a particularly baroque title: Interglossa. A draft of an auxiliary for a democratic world order, being an attempt to apply semantic principles to language design (Harmondswort, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1943).
The work designated by such a curious circumlocution puts the attention and intelligence of the average reader to a severe test. It is not a manual intended for the general public, but rather a essay intentionally written for interlinguists, that is, specialists in the subject of auxiliary languages. It is to them that the author submits his own system; even should it not come to be adopted, he would consider himself well-recompensed for the effort if they were to accept some of his suggestions.
Inimical to all traditional grammar, Hogben is certainly one of the most radical of all the interlinguists. He begins from the proposition that an international language is primarily of interest to scientists, and especially those from the East, who need an easy means of access to the conquests of Western science. All projects prior to his, which were always based on one or more European languages, were aimed solely at Western scholars. But of course the structure of the “Aryan” languages (that is, the Indo-Germanic and the Finno-Ugric languages) is not at all natural for a Japanese, a Chinese, or an African. In order to benefit these, an international language should be of the isolating, rather than the agglutinative, type, in contrast to all the previous attempts at universal languages.
Obviously those who construct universal languages seek the maximum of economy, whether in terms of grammar or vocabulary. In the grammatical area, they let go of resources whose superfluity is made obvious by one or more natural languages.
Latin and Russian do not need an article: thus, Monsignor Schleyer, Father Monte Rosso and Prof. Magyar abandoned it in Volapük, Neo-Latinus, and Romanid respectively. Hungarian gets by very well without grammatical gender (which is also almost non-existent in English); and Ido and Interlingua renounced this frill. But from this point of view no planner went as far as Hogben, who admitted no type of inflexion, and rejected both declension and conjugation. And more: he ignores the traditional division into grammatical categories or classes of words. In Interglossa, the same word can serve not only as noun, adjective and adverb, but also as verb, preposition and conjunction. At the bottom of this there is a recollection of English, which can use practically any noun as an adjective, as long as it appears before another noun, as in the expression home affairs, midnight mass, dog days, etc., and where a word like love can take on the value of a noun, adjective or verb, depending on the context (e.g. my love; a love affair; I love you).
Thus, in Interglossa the sentence consists of the simple juxtaposition of invariable elements. What allows one to distinguish their relationships is the strict observance of an inviolable order of placement, as well as the interpolation of some “empty” words and punctuation marks, entrusted with isolating the semantic groups of the subject, the predicate, the direct object, and so forth. The initial capitals of the nouns (borrowed from German), has no other purpose.
Like Ogden, the inventor of Basic English, Lancelot Hogben also reduce the verbs to a minimum, which are no more than twenty, and are called “operators”. Thus, for example, verbs which signify feelings – such as to hate, to love, to envy – become unnecessary, since they are replaced by the operator esthe (that is, to feel) followed by the respective abstract noun: hate, love, envy (that is, by their Interglossic equivalents), which Hogben calls amplifiers. The designation noun is reserved for concrete nouns. Also part of the system are some “pseudonyms”, which correspond to our personal pronouns, but which also fulfill nominal and adjectival functions; various “articles”, that is, words which indicate number or label a nominal group; finally, some “particles” which, without modifying the order of the words, allow an interrogatory or negative to be given to the sentence, or give to the unique and invariable verb and temporal or modal value.
But let us look at a simple sentence in Interglossa: an pre acte grapho auto nomino in bibli. It is just as well that Hogben has warned us: a sentence in Interglossa can not be understood at first glance, as it generally is in other auxiliary languages. (This disadvantage would be compensated by the greater facility of expression that it provides its users.) One needs, in fact, to have learned that an (abbreviated from andro) is the “pseudonym” equivalent to “he”; that the “particle” pre indicates action in the past, and that the “verboid” acte (from actio or actus) followed by the “amplifier” grapho means “to write”, in order to puzzle out the meaning of the sentence: “He wrote his own name in the book.”
This example will suffice to let it be seen that the lexicon of Interglossa is not drawn from any living language. Hogben discovered that there is already an international lexicon, that one simply needs to gather it togther. It is present in the plethora of scientific terms that are more and more making their way into daily speech on every continent. Words like thermometer, philosophy, hierarchy, homogeneous, cartography each contain two Greek roots, and one simply needs to learn their etymology once and one will never forget their meaning. The total number of scientific words – close to a thousand – that any person with an average level of culture uses regularly constitutes the vocabulary for Interglossa, and is sufficient for the perfect construction of any proposition.
Pronounced in general like Italian, but written like French and Italian (philo, charta, thermo, rather than filo, carta, termo) in order to facilitate the recognition of the international roots, Interglossa, in the final analysis, gives one the impression of a strange Asiatic or African dialect with grafts from Greek and a little Latin.
But, since he has not had recourse – in contrast to Esperanto, Basic English, or Interlingua – to the word-stock of a modern language, Hogben escapes the danger of inheriting the ambiguities of meaning and indeterminacies inherent to living words, inseparable from idiomatic expressions, and turns of phrase shot through with illogic.
To the advantages of Interglossa should be added the fact that each word is assigned a number, which allows the transcription of any text by means of numerals.
And it lends itself extremely well to graphic representation by means of schematic figures (isotypes), as some “illustrations” in the volume in question demonstrate.
The volume announces the forthcoming publication of an English-Interglossa dictionary, as well as a manual intended for the public. I do not know if appeared, nor whether measures were taken to recommend that Interglossa be adopted internationally. At any rate, I do not believe that even much more accessible exposition would entice many adherents to the novel language, which is too far from our habits of speaking and writing. But studying it led me to realize how fortuitous and illogical are our most firmly rooted linguistic convictions, and sowed doubts as to whether the Indo-Germanic system of expression which we imbibe along with our mother’s milk is really the most appropriate for the faithful expression of thought.
Let us recognize the credit that is due to Hogben in having approached the linguistic reality with an open mind, one not influenced by historico-philological considerations. A good example of what our language would be had it been designed by scientists is the system he proposes for the verbal expression of numbers. Only ten words would suffice (similar to the ten numerals in mathematics) for the expression of any number. In accordance with mathematical practice, “two-three-four” (that is, the Interglossic equivalents) would signify 234. It would be sufficient to append the numeral to the noun in order to indicated the order of collocation (as we do with Louis XIV, Chapter Six), and put an end to ordinal numbers. Multiplicatives and names of fractions would be avoid by the adoption of algebraic practice: bi latero tri (2x3) and bi supero tri (2/3), indicating “two times three” and “two-thirds”. This is one of the many examples of economy of vocabulary offered to us by the strange, but ingenious lucubration of Lancelot Hogben.