. . . Language stuff

intro page in
English / Euskara / Hollands / magyarul / Portugues-Brasileiro / Romana / Svenska / Turkie


dictionaries, translation


other alphabets

non-alphabetic scripts


other links


endangered languages


sign languages




songs and music


dead languages



linguistic philosophy


artificial languages


AI, speech recognition


encryption, steganography


language history




cognitive psychology


mathematical linguistics


animal communication


language list


non-language links

to links pages [1] [2] [3] [4] /
phone texts to 00 36 30 301 0712 & 00 44 794 792 6614

@ / links / languages? / pins / archive / book




October 5th; Monday. Interesting article about Churchill's prewar career in terms of his close friendship with F.E. Smith. A nice overview of several competing weather-prediction models. A disappointing, unimpressive set of illustrations from 1900 of what life would be like in 2000, very much projecting their world forward, with clothing styles virtually unchanged. The idea the future would have small flying machines and helicopters everywhere was common back then: everyone knew they were coming. Mechanised agriculture another obvious thing to expect. The eccentric images of people dancing with underwater creatures at the end show the artist got bored with the task and couldn't even come up with the agreed number of images.

October 4th; Sunday. With almost all shops closed every Sunday since early this year, I've started wondering if this was some kind of apology from Hungary's Peronist government to the small corner shops so damaged by the creation of the tobacco retail monopoly in mid-2013. One of the scruffy but useful 24-hour shops near me had to close within six months of losing the right to sell cigarettes, one of their main staples. Other of the shops which used to be on every block open day and night selling tea, coffee, sugar, cigarettes, alcohol, a few other basics, seem to have disappeared too since the official tobacco outlets arrived. Closing the major supermarkets but not the small stores each Sunday might be an attempt to make up for that. A simple change like losing the all-night corner shops can tip the balance of pros and cons a city offers.
October 3rd; Saturday. Must be about 3 or 4 years now that the Hungarian personal pronouns have been painted in giant crisp-edged sanserif letters on both sides of each leg of the ugly concrete flyover bridge at Nyugati. Each letter is in different pastel colours, and it is quite odd riding the tram under the flyover looking at the huge words for You, We, They, I passing by in ten-foot-high letters. Some artist must have been paid to do it: it's far too slick and symmetrical for graffiti. Further out on the same tram ride, over the river, I now struggle to remember when an ugly 1960s 8-or-9-storey office block, wider than high, was pulled down. At least 2 years ago now I think. It was one of the ministries. The demolition created a huge empty space on one side of the main road, dotted with parked cars but mainly empty yellow gravel & sand going back a deep block to some 19th-century buildings. Through the space, that used to be blocked by that dull boxy government office, golden sun pours across that tramline. The effect in the afternoons is wonderful. It completely changes the mood of that district. It makes me wonder what the feeling will be like when most of the jerry-built 20th-century structures in major cities across the world are wiped off the street map to open up similar sunlit spaces. When their puritanical, angry, utilitarian plainness finally gets taken out of the way of surviving older buildings. When someone clears the room to rebuild some of the foolishly removed pre-20th-century houses and boulevards, allows the creation of newer classical/traditional/vernacular structures. When unembarrassedly decorative, historically literate architecture returns. It's going to be strange, liberating, lyrical when it comes.
I don't think much of this list of names for emotions we don't have names for in English, but one or two strike a chord. No. 2, for example, 'Opia', is one I've been experiencing more of recently out and about in Budapest. Accidentally meeting eyes with someone, looking into the other's soul fleetingly, can be an extraordinary moment. That 'satori' that mother described having once on Deansgate in Manchester was this kind. The predominant emotion on both sides in that quick second of locking glances seems to be a kind of astonished sense of unity: Are we together?

October 2nd; Friday. Three days ago got a haircut and felt a bit bad merely asking for a mere trim when all hands were on deck tending to the more complex haircare needs of two rather glamorous Russian molls. One striking thing about Hungarian versus Slav girls is the different sense of colour. Even when they get it wrong, Slavs like a bright shade or two. One of the Russians was all in body-tight black showing her curves except for a curious cardigan/robe/shawl-thing in the most gorgeous powder blue. I'm not sure it really suited but it was dramatic and it stood out. Her Russian friend was in a frilly body-hugging cream/beige skirt/frock-thing that showed off her curves with no other touch of colour except for suede boots in an almost alarming apple green. Both Russians had some idea of taste, had chosen just one intense thing to stand out, and weren't afraid of colour. Whereas Hungarian girls with those figures tend to wear a low-key mix of browns, greys, white, black, creams - almost as if afraid any bright shade will take attention away from their legginess or slim waists, almost as if colour blind and dressing deliberately to hide it. More likely, the two cultures have different definitions of taste. In the same way that the one time I visited Athens absolutely everyone was wearing either a white shirt with black trousers or black skirt, or a black shirt with black trousers or skirt. That austere monochrome was their idea of good taste. Meanwhile, one writer thinks US politics is changing, while another suggests that people are too dim to make democracy work.
October 1st; Thursday. An intriguing map of Europe in 1500. Apart from France, England, Spain, elsewhere things look rather different to today's continent. A huge Lithuania, a patchwork of small Irish clan kingdoms, and two territories: 'Hungary Bohemia' versus 'Bohemia Hungary'?

September 30th; Wednesday. Things are getting odd. Knitted animal dissections.
September 29th; Tuesday. Russian radio DJ show more voicey/soulful: #347.

September 28th; Monday. More on that story about a drug-company boss jacking up the price of a life-saving medicine here. Oh and Twitter predicts bourse movements?
September 27th; Sunday. MIT now has a super-fast camera. Not so different from Britain's dullest men.

September 26th; Saturday. The KGB was good at spotting American spies in the field? Well, I didn't find it so hard.
September 25th; Friday. Book on Britain's dullest men. Collecting vacuum cleaners & measuring the heights of hills, they sound like early scientists.

September 24th; Thursday. A couple of days ago saw that the last black crosses of tape have gone from the wall-sized ground-floor windows of the office block on the corner. A woman was cleaning the floor in there with a strangely small rag.
September 23rd; Wednesday. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

September 22nd; Tuesday. Heikki, back in CH from Morocco, gives me vital assistance, and Akos helps me over the technical hurdles.
September 21st; Monday. Chocolate Lego!

September 20th; Sunday. Art critic Brian Sewell died yesterday. Here he is slating Hirst and Emin. And this is Sewell's poignant account of his own sexuality and unhappy discoveries about his father.
September 19th; Saturday. A historian of WW2 I'd not heard of called Snyder sees Hitler as a "racial anarchist", not an extreme nationalist. 1st article has Snyder outlining Hitler as an ecological thinker, putting lebensraum in centre place. 2nd article is an Atlantic Monthly interview with Snyder. 3rd article is an attack on Snyder, both for equating Hitler & Stalin, and for criticising the Russian defensive militias which harried the German invasion while the Red Army was still retreating. 4th article is our man in Bucharest weighing up Snyder and the 3rd article's criticisms.

September 18th; Friday. Slavoj Zizek grapples with Europe's Syrian migrant crisis. Poor love still clings to 'global capitalism' to hold his views together.
September 17th; Thursday. Typographer who designed Univers dies. Woman & pussy mirror gazes.

September 16th; Wednesday. Two recent Russian radio shows, #341 and #344, and an everyday tale of Russian toddlers tunnelling out of the grounds of a nursery to go shopping for sports cars.
September 15th; Tuesday. A couple of days ago found on the 4/6 tram/villamos a large purple Hello Kitty watch laid out along the side of one seat. No little girl around, woman opposite me denied knowledge. Any distraught small child's parents in Budapest should contact me here. Confusingly, the watch features Kitty being Catwoman: trigger warning? Since Lorinc's kind gift of his old snail-on-speed wristwatch fell out of my pocket a month or two back, I've been coping without a dedicated timepiece. Not sure if a nagy lila Hello Kitty in black leather suits even my eclectic look, however.
Been for a while mulling over the strange pride with which Hungarian shop assistants (or owners) tell you they're out of stock in some item. It's almost a kind of relief in their voice, a reassurance that things are under control. No, we don't have that item in, thank goodness sir! One nearly slipped in last week but we caught it at the last minute and sent it back! They almost tell you they don't have a particular thing in the shop the same way a restauranteur would protest that there are certainly no mice in our kitchen you'll be glad to know! I used to half-think this might be an attempt to assert order - the absence of that thing is a small scrap of certainty. However there's rarely any offer to try to get one, even more rarely a suggestion of where else Mr Customer could get one today. The non-presence of the item in the shop is clearly & smugly stated rather as if not having the item was some kind of accomplishment, and there's an extra edge on top of this. We don't have it, all right? So - You - Can - Leave - Now. Over time I've come down on the side that sees this as a passive-aggressive way of expressing anger at the customer, anger at working in a shop, anger at not being rich yet, anger at the petulant demands of someone they wish would just go away and stop requiring them to exert effort. There's a kind of bitter shame at having to work at all here I think. I've caught a few Hungarian friends letting slip astonishing remarks like "those people used to be our servants" or "we used to have other people doing this kind of stuff for us" (said with a strange laugh) - and this is not from a nation that recently had an empire, except some neighbouring peoples the Austrians let them oversee between 1867 and World War 1. It's as if there's a residual nomad arrogance echoing down the centuries which regards other nationalities as there to do menial chores for the noble-warrior Lords of the Horse.
One part of the anti-semitism here seems to be something like disgust at the way Jews actually try to please customers, make an effort to keep them coming back. As opposed to treating customers with proper contempt as people who should feel lucky & well-treated to be permitted to leave with their wallets intact. I guess this is because the noble-warrior thing to do would be to simply rob them, perhaps then throwing them out into the dusty street with a jolly sword-twirling laugh. We should be ever grateful they let us leave unmolested! It should go without saying that there are many exceptions, but there is something odd about a large number of Hungarians' relationship with the workplace, as if they are granting employers a generous concession just by turning up each day. Telling customers something isn't in the shop seems to give them a strange satisfaction, as if this is how the power relation should be. As if for a brief moment while frustrating someone's hope of obtaining some small item they can feel a little bit dominant. Dominance does seem like a synonym for respect sometimes. As if they feel we should be frightened of them, and they're quietly seething that we aren't. A couple of Hungarian women I've known seem with amazing frankness to see their marriage to a foreign man as a process whereby he works as hard as she requires him to and she gets as much money off him as possible. When a local woman is blocked from exploiting I've seen once or twice a reaction of intense rage, as if she's the one being violated. One Hungarian woman I knew who was badgering her husband for months to raise the rent on a house he owned where the tenant was a middle-aged woman, in private with me (she wanted me too to urge her husband to raise the rent) suddenly switched into a strange snarling voice, rasping "That bitch is taking my money!" Startled by her venom, I quietly pointed out that it wasn't her house or her money, and her husband's tenant wasn't taking it, but giving her less than she'd like. She then gave me a weird blank look, as if I was a broken food blender. This is the context in which growing rich gradually by sincerely serving buyers appears to be for many people here, even some owners, a bitter humiliation. Bad customer service in Britain or anywhere else shares some of this sullen spirit of course, but it's subtly different. In England I sense the rude shop assistant or waiter would just rather be doing some other kind of work and doesn't necessarily feel the very concept of being employed as an assault on their dignity. British college students often do part-time jobs working in bars or building sites, whereas there is something in the astonished horror among Hungarian friends when they see me doing menial labour (like a week of cleaning office windows) to pay a bill which makes me think something deeper is going on here. Something resembling the way many Arabs, another nation of onetime nomadic raiders, see work: as intolerably servile. Something you should have a wife or a rich husband - or slaves - to do for you. It's not just an effect of communism because you can immediately feel a perceptible shift of attitude over any border, whether into Slovakia or Poland or Croatia or Ukraine. I don't think it's about being invaded either: Polish stores don't have this attitude, and Poland's been literally wiped off the map by invaders a couple of times in recent centuries.
The number of Hungarian shops & offices like this does seem to be slowly falling over time. From how it used to be, a huge majority, by now it might even be down to about half. Some retail outlets near me I pop into a lot have genuinely sweet helpful staff (though of course this is a self-selecting group, since unlike many Hungarian shoppers I avoid going into the other places where they make their distaste for customers clear). I sometimes even wonder if I'm just being invited to play along and do a bit of jocular rudeness myself. As if everything would go with the flow if I could only be a bit arsier and talk more waz. Hungarians don't always like it when I do, but sometimes I've found a bit of caustic humour is just what they appreciate. I'm probably supposed to spend the entire day flirting with the women and being matey with the men. The right kind of waz perhaps.

September 14th; Monday. Steady Harry lays some euros on me before he goes off for a swim. Recent world events include Elizabeth 2 Windsor becoming Britain's longest-ever reigning monarch (and she's had a tricky innings) a couple of days ago, and Jeremy Corbyn (The Geography Teacher) becoming leader of the Labour party I think yesterday or Saturday. Today Mr Corbyn appoints a Shadow Chancellor who (at first hearing) sounds a spectacularly ill-judged choice, but what would I know? It was a few nights ago that Your Man Henry took me for a drink in the 7th district while trying to sharpen my thinking on markets. How to create solutions to people's problems instead of selling pre-defined products, that sort of thing. And a few late afternoons past, I took a tram along the crescent/korut at the golden hour when the sun has almost slipped below the rooftops. Just the upper fringes of buildings glow with intense autumn evening light, almost buttery. Going across the big junction at Blaha Lujza, there was a glimpse down the long, fairly broad Rakoczi street, blocks on both sides sunk in cool shadow. Yet the Eastern railway terminus was visible down at the end half a mile away almost due east, hovering in a magical disc of yellow light. The grand station edifice was bathed in full sunset under a darkening sky, standing free of nearby buildings, outside their shadow.
September 13th; Sunday. Read to the end of a text I found in Robin's library (sadly this slightly battered almost-190-year-old copy runs out on page 436 with some end pages missing), 'Pinnock's Improved Edition of Dr Goldsmith's History of Greece' and enjoyed much. This text abridged to suit schoolchildren in the 1820s (A foreword vaguely implies this entailed taking out more explicit details of Greek scandal & sexuality) charges through the couple of centuries from Pericles to Alexander. Some of the emphasis struck me as odd. The Greek gods are mixed with other gods with Latin names, so the Roman Jupiter is frequently mentioned (without comment) alongside other gods under their Greek names. Numbers of men in battle are exhaustively given for both sides in every military engagement ("two thousand horse, twelve thousand foot, one thousand archers" and so on), yet there are almost no dates. In a couple of places early on a date since the beginning of the world is given (by Bishop Ussher's 17th-century calculation?) and in a couple of places a date before the birth of Jesus as we might be used to, and in a couple of other places a date according to contemporary dating, years into or since this or that emperor's or king's reign. This means the book contains accounts of almost 100 battles in close numerical detail yet fewer than ten dates. That was frustrating. Thank goodness, Goldsmith's history partly makes up for this by proceeding in chronological order, giving a glimpse of who else was alive when Pericles was, who else when Socrates was, who else when Aristotle was tutor to Philip of Macedon's boy Alexander, and so on. The English is very clear and close to today's language. One or two terms might not be obvious to some readers now: invest, meaning to lay siege to a town or fortress, reduce, meaning to conquer or take control of. Some very small & mild spelling differences, 'negociation' and 'havock' for example.

September 12th; Saturday. Read three mini-books, all kindly lent to me by young Lorinc. All 3 are heavily abridged Sherlock Holmes stories or collections with restricted vocabularies aimed at foreign learners of English. While reading the Victorian characters of 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' talking about everything measured in metres was daft, that one was the closest to feeling like a normal book. This was despite the style (this thing happened, that thing happened, another thing happened) which is naturally forced on these language-learner texts by the format. Though I enjoyed a couple of Sherlock Holmes collections when small, I'm not sure if I ever read the Baskerville tale in its original version. Wondered some years ago if it might be possible to write something new and actually good under such tight constraints, and if anyone would buy it if I bothered.
September 11th; Friday. Rheumatology Kata, back from summer, cancelled her English lesson yesterday because her cupboard at the hospital is broken and she has to nurse it back to health first. A few days ago while bored I made a couple of boxes out of card, perhaps a sign of returning tidiness. Here's quite a nice summing-up article about the enhanced security promise of quantum computing.

September 10th; Thursday. Things getting odder and odder among The Daughters of Wolves. With uncanny prescience, Kerrie warned me they might go mental. My Hungarian-border-migrant-fence article should be in the Salisbury Review print edition tomorrow.
September 9th; Wednesday. Worthwhile, thoughtful article on meritocracy & inherited talent by Toby Young. Had no idea he was son of Michael Young, coiner of the word "meritocracy", originally meant as a negative term of course.

September 8th; Tuesday. Some African music with disorienting juju-goth video.
September 7th; Monday. Pop in on Ilan's flat for coffee & dates. Interesting natter about furniture.

September 6th; Sunday. More gloomy skies. Finish a book borrowed from Robin called 'The German Issue / Semiotext-e' from 1982, which is vaguely depressing in its own right. A sort of analytical, left-of-centre mosaic of texts, it describes a subculture - unfortunately still alive - where modern art, socialist politics, student agitators, and full-on terrorists are all regarded as enmeshed in some essentially noble, commendable joint project of social transformation. What more dates this "semiotext" is the brooding presence of the Berlin Wall, the curious GDR-surrounded enclave of West Berlin, and the grey reality of the Soviet-dominated East Bloc countries. Though the writers are very different from each other, almost all take for granted that "fascism" is something totally and utterly different from "socialism", that whatever seemed to have gone wrong in the communist countries the left-of-centre perspective on society was still worthwhile, indeed urgently important to clarify & develop, and criticising everything about bourgeois West German life was the natural starting point for anything positive. Events of the late 1960s and 70s hang in the background, with special emphasis on the Baader-Meinhof Red Army Faction group and communes of students occupying empty buildings in Berlin and Frankfurt. A few bits of anarchist activity in Zurich get a look in. Aside from quite a lot of irritating content, the presentation is incredibly annoying, with a split-page format that makes the whole thing extremely hard to read (doubtless the editors had a formal justification for this, perhaps the text being hard to read "mirroring the natural contradictions of linear culture" - something like that). The upper half of each page is in a serifed font, the lower half in a sanserif font, separating articles that start and end independently on different pages, so to read everything means constantly flipping forward and backward 3 or 4 pages again and again and again. The two halves of each page are separated by grainy monochrome photographs of things like graffiti-daubed sections of the Berlin Wall, rows of parked cars, the occasional firearm, shelves of German sausages, you get the idea. The editing is appalling, with typos, spelling mistakes, and blocks of text on at least 6 pages in the wrong positions, creating articles where parts are confusingly out of sequence - as if the layout wasn't already tiring enough. Although the fact that moderately intelligent people took (even worse, still take) this overall melange of non-ideas in this kind of format seriously is depressing, there are some very good articles scattered in amongst the trash. Early on an interesting interview with the Bulgarian installation artist Christo about his project to wrap the Reichstag building reveals one of the few genuinely supple and open minds in the book. An interview where a German journalist after the war tries (unsuccessfully) to get a British bomber pilot to admit that he could have spared parts of some towns is interesting, and a sharp-eyed garbage-truck driver discusses how the East Germans force West Berlin to pay high prices to dump rubbish outside the city boundary, frontier officials and truck drivers doing daily business without speaking a single word to each other. A cheerful transvestite relates his life in the brothels and night clubs of the 40s and 50s, an assassin analyses his botched shooting of a government minister, a confusing but intriguing chat with German artist de jour Joseph Beuys, an interview with Walter Abisch about his wonderful novel 'How German Is It' (one of the other rare flexible minds on display in this collection), one of the Baader-Meinhof gang explains what started to disgust him about their beliefs, some smart-alec twaddle from Foucault and Baudrillard - there are a few genuine bargains among 100+ pieces of jumble. A few sample double pages pp 44-45; pp 58-59; pp 130-131; pp 214-215; pp 298-299.
September 5th; Saturday. Cool overcast weather. Walk over to Keleti station to interview some of the not-so-desperate-looking refugees camped out in front of the station. One cheeky redhead from Syria sitting in a group that have planted themselves on the ground right in front of the main steps into the station tells me they're a bit tired of talking to journalists. Three sweet Iranians tell me they got a taxi from the border. They all look quite well-fed and all seem to have money for snacks & drinks while they wait out their stalemate with Hungary's authorities.

September 4th; Friday. During our lesson Boardgame Orsolya describes cutting her wrist accidentally on a glass cupboard top last week and needing to visit hospital casualty at night to get stitches. It takes me to point out to her that the hospital staff first putting iodine into the cut (painful) and then wrenching her ring off her finger with soap and thread (very painful) before giving her local anaesthetic and then inserting stitches is just typical arsehole behaviour from healthcare professionals. Absolutely no reason not to lead with the anaesthetic. She is surprised when I tell her that an incredible half century between 1799 and the 1840s elapsed when surgeons wouldn't use already well-understood anaesthetics like ether on patients during operations. Doctors do like helping people get better, but there is another side to them (less discussed) that also enjoys the power and watching patients suffer a bit.
September 3rd; Thursday. Slightly suspect story of an AI bot telling a human in conversation it will put people in a "people zoo". Feel I've heard this one before. Most likely programmed in, another sneaky attempt to raise more research funds.

September 2nd; Wednesday. More excitement at the friendly stencil printers north up the metro line in Ujpest. Plus an anniversary (yesterday, September 1st, into today) of the Carrington Event, a solar storm in 1859 so huge & fierce that people in Spain or New England could read newspapers by the Northern Lights (visible even in Cuba and the Sahara) and telegraph operators worldwide were getting electrical shocks. Were another solar discharge like that to hit our planet's much denser mesh of interconnected electronics today, it might wipe that photo of you vomiting at Christmas off all the computers on earth.
September 1st; Tuesday. Fine driving from Robin gets us all to Kecskemet, getting me in particular to the bookbinder in the city library building 15 minutes before it closes. A curious find in another library, one in Birmingham. Either a section of the Qu'ran so old it confirms current texts as canonical, or so old it raises the possibility that some of the scriptures predate Mohammad's lifetime.

Recent weblog entries continued:

Who can translate the next 300 words into Korean or Hindi? Contact us and there will be revelry.

Languages dying out each week - who cares?

We do - otherlanguages.org is gradually building a reference resource for over five thousand linguistic minorities and stateless languages worldwide.

Thousands of unique language communities are becoming extinct. Out of the world's five to six thousand languages, we hardly know what we're losing, what literatures, philosophies, ways of thinking, are disappearing right now.


We may soon regret the extinction of thousands of entire linguistic cultures even more than we regret the needless extinction of many animals and plants.

The planet is increasingly dominated by a handful of major-language monocultures like Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, Indonesian, Urdu, Spanish, Portuguese, English, Swahili, Russian, Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Bengali - all beautiful and fascinating languages.

But so are the 5,000 others.

These are groups of people?

Linguistic minorities are communities of ordinary people whose native tongue is not their country's main official language. Swedish speakers in Finland, French speakers in Canada, Hungarian speakers in Slovakia - and hundreds more - are linguistic minorities.

And totally stateless languages are the native languages of some of the world's most intriguing, little-known, cultures. Like the Lapps inside the Arctic Circle, the Sards in Sardinia, Ainus in Japan. Cherokee in the US, Scots Gaelic in Britain, Friesian in the Netherlands, Zulu in South Africa. There are only a couple of hundred recognised sovereign states and territories, so 5,000 languages - more depending on how you count - are the native tongues of linguistically stateless people.

How could I help?

You don't need to learn an endangered language - any more than go to live in the rainforest to help slow its destruction.

A good start is to just tell friends about websites like this.

Broader public interest makes it easier for linguists to raise funds and organise people to learn these languages while there's time.

That's right. There are people who love languages and are happy to learn them on behalf of the rest of us, but they need support, just like zoologists, botanists, or historians.

Fewer languages still sounds good to me

Depends what you think languages are for. They're not just a tool for business. We never said you should learn three or four thousand rare languages - or even one. And which ones we make children learn in school, or whether we should force children to learn languages at all, is another question.

Typical scene in a European city; Chances are, folk here speak some sort of foreign language *5

A century ago - before we understood ecology, and when we cared less about wilderness, most educated people would have laughed at the idea of worrying about plants or animals going extinct. Now we understand how important species diversity is for our own futures, we are more humble, and more worried.

In the same way, linguistic triumphalism by English-speakers who hated studying foreign grammar at school is dangerously ignorant as well as arrogant. Few of us know what we are losing, week by week. How many people realise these languages have scientific value?

Scientific value?

You can think of these languages across the planet as beautiful cathedrals or precious archeological sites we are watching being destroyed. That should be motive enough.

But these five thousand languages may also hold clues to the structure of the human mind. Subtle differences and similarities

Wireless radio can be a great comfort to those unable to leave the textbooks in which they live *6
between languages are helping archeologists and anthropologists to understand what happened in the hundreds of centuries of human history before written history. And that is one of our best chances of understanding how human brains developed over the thousands of centuries leading up to that.

Study of the mind and study of language go hand in hand these days. The world's most marginal languages are actually precious jigsaw pieces from an overall picture of who we are and how our species thinks and evolves. Every tiny language adds another brightly-coloured clue to this academic detective story.

Yet researchers have hardly started sifting through this tantalising evidence, and language extinction is washing it away right in front of us.

And worst of all, most people have no idea that there is this fantastic profusion of cultures across our world, let alone that they are in danger of extinction. Even just more people learning that there are still five thousand living languages in the world today (most of us would answer five hundred or fifty) is already a huge help.

We English-speakers hardly notice English - it's like air for us. But every other language is also an atmosphere for an entire cultural world, and each of these worlds has people whose home it is. Each language encapsulates a unique way of talking and thinking about life. Just try some time in a foreign prison, being forced to cope in another language, and you'll realise how much your own language is your identity. That's true for everyone.

Minority languages are a human-rights issue?

One of the most basic.

Dozens of millions of people worldwide suffer persecution from national governments for speaking their mother tongue - in their own motherland.

Many 'ethnic' feuds puzzling to outsiders had as their basis an attempt to destroy a linguistic community. Would the Northern Ireland dispute be quite so bitter if we English had not so nearly stamped out the Irish Gaelic language, for example? Almost nowhere in the world does a language community as small as the few thousand Rheto-Romanic speakers - the fourth official language of Switzerland - get the protection of a national government. Next time you see some Swiss Francs, check both sides of the banknote.

But outside exceptional countries like Switzerland or the Netherlands, speakers of non-official languages have a much less protected experience.

Speakers of minority languages are often seen as a threat by both the governments and the other residents of the countries where they were born, grew up, and try to live ordinary lives.

They experience discrimination in the job and education markets of their homelands, often having no choice but to pursue education in the major language of the host state: a deliberate government policy usually aimed at gradually absorbing them into the majority culture of that country.

Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow, of course *7

Most governments are privately gleeful each time another small separate culture within their borders is snuffed out by a dwindling population or a deliberately centralising education system.

The United Nations is no help. It is an association of a couple of hundred sovereign states based on exclusive control of territory, almost all of them anxious to smother any distinct group or tradition that in any way might blur or smudge the hard-won borders around those pieces of territory.

The usual approach by sovereign states is to deny their linguistic minorities even exist.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact at otherlanguages.org

back up to top of page

*1 image from , with thanks
*2 "Al-Araby" in written Arabic (read more)
*3 "What?" in American Sign Language; image from , with thanks
*4 "Big" in written Chinese  (read more); image from , with thanks
*5 image from , with thanks
*6 image from , with thanks
*7 image from 'B?ume', with thanks to  Bruno P. Kramer, and Franckh-Kosmos Verlag


.languages of the world
.Internet free speech
.weights & measures
.5000 English words
.2000+ Chinese char.s
.persian/english dictionary
.currency rates 1 2 3 4 5
.country domain names
.language-learning 1 2
.find old websites
.fine HTML tutorial
.minimalist websites

reviews: ................. books {...or films here}

1 metrologie historique
2 postmodernism & the other
3 disaster (news on sunday)
4 money unmade (russian barter in the 1990s)
5 the sleepwalkers
6 e
7 the kruschev era
8 the end of science
9 don't you want me?
10 the carpet wars
11 zelator
12 life of thomas more
13 faber book of science
14 gilgamesh
15 out of it
16 guns, germs & steel
17 words & rules
18 figure in the landscape
19 life without genes
20 bede's history of the english
21 the nothing that is
22 zoology
23 journey by moonlight
24 heavenly serbia
25 ratkay endre
26 the handmaid's tale
27 the selective eye
28 a megismerese epitokovei
29 intention
30 thirty nine steps
31 princess
32 the pyramids
33 the etruscans
34 moonchild
35 paradise news
36 culture of time & space 1880 to 1918
37 szimmetria
38 babel orokeben
39 astro-archeology
40 a history of islamic spain
41 high gothic
42 among the believers
43 the renaissance
44 augustine
45 mcvicar
46 atomised
47 tangled wing
48 da vinci code
49 nature via nurture
50 termeszet szamai
51 decline & fall of roman empire
52 practical cheesemaking
53 the sufis
54 fra angelico at san marco
55 the cryptographer
56 they have a word for it
57 szamok valosan innen & tul
58 artistic theory in italy 1450 to 1600
59 darwin's black box
60 indiai ejszaka
61 cleopatra: histories, dreams & distortions
63 what mad pursuit
64 language, the learner & the school
65 writing the romantic comedy
66 the blank slate
67 dougal & the blue cat
68 diego velasquez
69 horse nonsense
70 a certain chemistry
71 deterring democracy
72 textiles
73 thief of time
74 bloodsucking fiends
75 right ho, jeeves
76 generativ grammatika
77 1st time i got paid for it
78 galapagos
79 othello
80 understanding media
81 mysticism
82 short history of french literature
83 best on the market
84 art of seeing
85 culture & imperialism
86 food of the gods
87 arabic-islamic cities
88 the alchemist
89 verbal learning & memory
90 building a successful software business
91 don't make me think!
92 memory
93 the u.s. & the arab world
94 hard times
95 spells for teenage witches
97 the pig that wants to be eaten
98 encyclopaedia of stupidity
99 seventy eight degrees of wisdom: part i
100 beach watching
101 the ancient greeks
102 brainstorms
103 seventy eight degrees of wisdom: part ii
104 utopia
105 technical writing for engineers & scientists
106 alphabet versus goddess
107 writing on drugs
108 news from somewhere
109 isp survival guide
110 petrus hispanus mester logikajabol
111 art of seduction
112 stet
113 penguin by design
114 the sense of being stared at
115 the golden ratio
116 dinamikus emlekezet
117 margins of reality
118 hopjoy was here
119 bump in the night
120 box of delights
121 color atlas of immunology
122 fashionistas
123 pi in the sky
124 a new kind of fool
125 one man's meat
126 greek fire
127 the buddha in daily life
128 beginner's dutch
129 private life of the brain
130 solar ethics
131 pedant in the kitchen
132 knots
133 the planets within
134 encyclopaedia of ancient & mediaeval history
135 consilience
136 the age of scandal
137 fashion: the 20th century
138 the tipping point
139 design literacy
140 the silent partner
141 hamlet
142 1421
143 the 1890s
144 godel's proof
145 rosencrantz & guildenstern are dead
146 beyond reason
147 little book of music theory
148 q-basic
149 alone of all her sex
150 social studies
151 eternal darkness
152 drawn from memory
154 a guide to elegance
155 medea & other plays
156 the future of money
157 cheese
158 grammars of creation
159 aquarian conspiracy
160 the climate crisis
161 true fiction
162 the making of memory
163 why most things fail
164 genetikai abece
165 finding fulfilment
166 genome
167 the broken estate
168 inigo jones
169 flashman & the dragon
170 from bauhaus to our house
171 100 great paintings
172 kis spanyol nyelvtan
173 the historian
174 tomorrow's gold
175 charting made easy
176 life after life
177 spanyol igei vonzatok
178 the eclipse of art
179 fire in the mind
180 the human body
181 out of control
182 possession
183 simplified chinese characters
184 the generation of 1914
185 intellectuals
186 world of late antiquity
187 riddle & knight
188 informacio kultusza
189 napoleon of notting hill
190 secrets: palm-reading
191 meet yourself as you really are
192 cat's abc
193 intro to spanish poetry
194 rise of christian europe
195 philip's guide to electric living
196 sins for father knox
197 celtic twilight
198 myths of love
199 snobbery with violence
200 just like tomorrow
201 7 basic plots
202 experiment with time
203 vile bodies
204 icons & images: 60s
205 fisher king
206 new jerusalem
207 born on a blue day
208 surveillir & punir
209 trial of socrates
210 how to catch fairies
211 conversations on consciousness
212 mind performance hacks
213 conscience of the eye
214 beau brummell
215 evolution
216 the outsider
217 raja yoga
218 rise of political lying
219 occidentalism
220 colossus
221 secret teachings of jesus
222 blue murder
223 nostrodamus the next 50 years
224 homage to catalonia
225 charity ends at home
226 palace of dreams
227 discovering book collecting
228 beyond the outsider
229 the last barrier
230 that hideous strength
231 indian sculpture
232 small world
233 evolution & healing
234 in search of memory
235 campo santo
236 llewellyn's 2007 tarot reader
237 dream of rome
238 why buildings fall down
239 the empty space
240 england made me
241 greek science in antiquity
242 science, a l'usage des non-scientifiques
243 utmutato tarot
243 hunt for zero point
244 william wilberforce
245 viktor schauberger
246 untouchable
247 the vitamin murders
248 straw dogs
249 elizabeth's spymaster
250 the hard life
251 the god delusion
252 the intellectual
253 undercover economist
254 quirkology
255 chasing mammon
256 early mesopotamia & iran
257 the strange death of david kelly
258 the pilgrimage
259 origin of wealth
260 maxims
261 the finishing school
262 the shepherd's calendar
263 islamic patterns
264 lost world of the kalahari
265 german short stories 1
266 electricity
267 liber null & psychonaut
268 born to rebel
269 wittgenstein's poker
270 will the boat sink the water?
271 romeo & juliet
272 why beautiful people have more daughters
273 the crossing place
274 the turkish diplomat's daughter
275 missionary position
276 lust in translation
277 teaching as a subversive activity
278 how german is it
279 empires of the word
280 warped passages
281 the power of now
282 ponder on this
283 sword of no-sword
284 narcissism
285 blink
286 shock of the old
287 basque history of the world
288 truth: a guide
289 who shot jfk?
290 newtonian casino
291 power & greed
292 the world without us
293 5-minute nlp
294 concise guide to alchemy
295 evidence in camera
296 4-hour work week
297 the rosicrucian enlightenment
298 de-architecture
299 how to lie with maps
300 a book of english essays
301 a time of gifts
302 the occult philosophy in the elizabethan age
303 le pelerinage des bateleurs
304 alchemy & alchemists
305 greenmantle
306 the hero with 1000 faces
307 goethe's parable
308 rhedeyek es fraterek
309 letter to a christian nation
310 the tryst
311 7 experiments that could change the world
312 mill on the floss
313 metastases of enjoyment
314 the isles
315 between the woods and the water
316 secrets of the great pyramid
317 life in the french country house
318 the china study
319 tarot: theory & practice
320 the roger scruton reader
321 alchemy & mysticism
322 picasso's mask
323 the rule of four
324 triumph of the political class
325 arts of darkness
326 neuroscience & philosophy
327 the art of memory
328 mind wide open
329 mud, blood, & poppycock
330 society of the spectacle
331 lila
332 de imaginibus
333 electronics
334 giordano bruno & the embassy affair
335 temporary autonomous zone
336 the human touch
337 the fascination of evil
338 the king of oil
339 dowsing
340 the book of j
341 the west and the rest
342 story of my life
343 plain tales from the hills
344 under the influence
345 modern culture
346 50 mots clefs d'esoterisme
347 giordano bruno & the hermetic tradition
348 development, geography & economic theory
349 das kapital: a biography
350 strange days indeed
351 hegel: a very short introduction
352 reflections on the revolution in france
353 history of sexuality: an introduction
354 why we buy
355 origins of virtue
356 the holographic universe
357 a dead man in deptford
358 obsolete
359 137
360 in your face
361 7 spies who changed the world
362 the noetic universe
363 why beauty is truth
364 imagery in healing
365 the craftsman's handbook
366 futurism
367 in the cards
368 dmso
369 les hommes et leurs genes
370 the franchise affair
371 the decision book
372 les harmonies de la nature a l'epreuve de la biologie
373 kibernetika
374 zuleika dobson
375 l'empire de nombres
376 circus philosophicus
377 some girls
378 number
379 island
380 how to get your ideas adopted
381 drive
382 emergence
383 rfid : la police totale
384 the tempest
385 aspects of wagner
386 view over atlantis
387 world atlas of mysteries
388 art of the dogon
389 genesis machines
390 the sirius mystery
391 the cult of the fact
392 anastasia
393 ringing cedars of russia
394 a whiff of death
395 spirit level delusion
396 wavewatcher's companion
397 the kybalion
398 elegance
399 death in a scarlet coat
400 architecture without architects


1 k-pax
2 very annie mary
3 wasabi
4 gosford park
5 arany varos
6 minority report
7 amelie
8 bridget jones' diary
9 arccal a fo:ldnek
10 monsters' ball
11 cube
12 man with no past
13 talk to her
14 szerelemtol sujtva
15 bowling for columbine
16 matrix3
17 zoolander
18 anything else
19 farenheit 9/11
20 8 & 1/2 women
21 madagascar
22 kill bill 1
23 dude, where's my car?
24 the woman in green
25 the hunger
24 nightwatch
25 de battre son coeur s'est arrete
26 wicker man
27 v for vendetta
28 courage the cowardly dog
29 casino royale
30 power of nightmares
31 charlie's angels
32 full throttle
33 foxy brown
34 paths of glory
35 airplane
36 between iraq & a hard place
37 mutiny on the bounty
38 flashmob the opera
39 octopussy
40 bakkerman
41 kiterunner


August 31st; Monday. Zsuzsi kindly drives me to nearby Kunszentmarton where she has to wait an hour in an airless government building to get "her papers in order", while I wander the heat of the high street in search of cheap magnetic compasses and plastic funnels. Then I eat an ice cream in a cool empty cafe full of mirrors while the sun bakes the empty street outside. Apparently seeing your own doppelganger is dangerous. These sound more like out-of-body experiences than seeing doppelgangers, but nonetheless not hard to imagine they're very distressing if you're not expecting one.
August 30th; Sunday. I take a train out in the thick warmth to meet Robin and family on the Great Plain. Have to wait an hour at a town called Szajol, where the railway station, though large and recently renovated with new concrete ramps and tunnels, has no sandwich bar or cafe. I ask the two motionless men in the air-conditioned signal room staring at their computer screens why not. They say it's not reasonable to expect a cafe to be open at that hour (half past eight in the evening), so I point out there's no cafe here at any other time of any other day either. Two other men in overalls outside in the dark laboriously watering around 20 plants in cement pots have no idea. This is the effect a large state sector has on people, as if sitting with a small till next to a fridge of canned drinks and a glass box of 8 overpriced sandwiches (the form these bars usually take) would be an enormous imposition on one of these employees. From those able to travel further afield, a nice touch of history from Our Man in Bucharest, who recently visited another part of the Balkans: Four Englishmen in Albania.

August 29th; Saturday. Seems that Louis XIV invented France's dominance of fashion, a success right until today. A sort of pre-Industrial Revolution by Minister Colbert pushing rich French people to buy more local goods and fewer imports.
August 28th; Friday. In Britain, a whiskery true believer from the olden days of British socialism looks set to become leader of the Labour party. He's called Jeremy Corbyn, and it's widely said his leadership will keep Labour out of government for many a year to come. Mr Corbyn's colourful, ill-matched ties promise a sort of minor-key sartorial reprise of the much-missed Norman St. John Stevas.

August 27th; Thursday. Here in my part of Budapest, a certain tension simmers among The Daughters Of Wolves (such as petty power struggles over how cold this one can set the air-conditioning to punish that one). Best not to go into detail. But appropriately enough, a well-known magazine writer in Britain has kindly sent me his review of Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. So it's thunderbirds are go on our forthcoming collection of vampire articles.
August 26th; Wednesday. Pornographic political cartoons from the 1780s, defaming "Austrian bitch" Marie Antoinette. Not really the social-justice narrative some revolutionary apologists still claim.

August 25th; Tuesday. Lovely egg-shaped squeezee street map (of Budapest, indeed). But is it real? Darkly suspect these are pretend images showing how it could look if we paid Denes to make one.
August 24th; Monday. Mr Dentist inserts 2nd new filling. An unmistakeably 1960s tune: Scott Fagan's 'In My Head'. Fascinating to look at that rumpled hair and fresh-but-lost face in the photo. It's as if every generation of young US Americans find themselves cut loose, roaming round their spacious half-continent, not quite sure how they got there.

August 23rd; Sunday. The evergreen question of why & when the chicks go wild.
August 22nd; Saturday. 5-day-old filling falls out. My split thumbnail on the other hand (accident with some scissors) seems nicely stabilised by the disc of thin metal I cut from a vitamin B6 pill sheet, superglued onto the split and sanded down smooth. And now, a mildly novel answer to where all the aliens are.

August 21st; Friday. How many drowning children should you rescue?
August 20th; Thursday. The Day of The Hand. I can still hear Nina firmly & Dutchly declaring in the crowd, gathered there to gaze on the glass-boxed right royal hand of Saint Istvan many years ago this day, that pouring hot lead into people's ears didn't sound very Christian or saintly to her. The Hand was of course Exhibit A supporting her claim that "Hungary is a cross between Twin Peaks and The Addams Family".

August 19th; Wednesday. Having had kind Mr Dentist two days ago replace my front filling which fell out on the last day of painting with Heikki, and now fully recovered from my eerie brush with hyponatremia in the heat of July, this week I have the mildly irritating condition of blocked ears, just as happened last summer. My new habit of taking 3 or 4 cold baths a day is probably to blame, doubtless encouraging my ears to become waxier, or something stylish like that. Everyone sounds muffled, and I keep having to ask people to repeat themselves. Tonight join Robin & Sara at a small Italian-run pizza shop on Nagymezo street called Pizzica. When I nibble the corner of one of Robin's slices like a large mouse I discover it has deliciously light pastry. Cuisine of a southern Italian region, apparently. 3 days ago heard 4 people on the underground train talking some strange language. I asked what they were speaking. Neapolitan! they declared in chorus.
August 18th; Tuesday. Having gone into some detail about how surly most Hungarian customer service is a few days ago, it seems only fair to mention the honourable exceptions. Out looking for a recharger a couple of weeks ago I was treated in a couple of shops to men waving a hand at some expensive all-in-one device, sneering in my direction as if they loathed me body & soul. Until I entered a mobile-phone accessories store where two amiable techies rapidly diagnosed my problem and offered me a cheap recharger, tested it, then suggesting an even cheaper option for me to also consider. They kept apologising for their new colour scheme and website being still in their early days. Hello again, Balu GSM! Meanwhile, there is that new Spanish perfume stall in the shopping centre. Those sales ladies shminked up with the strange go-faster-stripes make-up vanished almost as soon as I mentioned them. They were replaced by standard non-weird-looking girls. Perhaps there exist crack advance units of special-forces sales bitches, flown in to establish new business beach-heads early on in difficult campaigns. Ready to move on & hand over to the normals once base camp is up & running? Just a few days ago in the supermarket in the basement exactly beneath (almost to the nearest foot) that perfume stall, an extraordinary sight greeted me. I was looking around for one of the smaller red plastic baskets. A male employee had collected all of them in one place, in the middle of an aisle. He had built them all into one single stack. The stack of baskets made a tower taller than any person. The plastic edges fitted so flush under their own weight that in the first two seconds I thought I was looking at a smooth four-cornered column of solid red plastic, leaping vertically out of the floor like a time-lapse photo.

August 17th; Monday. A couple of nights ago went out for a lovely evening with Zoe & Mark, not too squiffy: Les Murray came up, alongside more scandalous topics.
- To go home and wear shorts forever
   in the enormous paddocks, in that warm climate,
adding a sweater when winter soaks the grass,
   to camp out along the river bends
for good, wearing shorts, with a pocketknife,
   a fishing line and matches ---

August 16th; Sunday. People now angry with much-praised boss who cut his own wage so as to pay staff more.

August 15th; Saturday. KGB spies saw Tony Benn as a fantasist.
August 14th; Friday. More evidence that torture doesn't get good info.

August 13th; Thursday. You think there are no new colours to see?
August 12th; Wednesday. A new type of irregular pentagon that tiles the 2D plane has been discovered, although it isn't aperiodic, which would have been more fun.

August 11th; Tuesday. Someone suggests that fears AI might kill us all reveal our self-hate. While this observation is psychologically spot on, it isn't actually evidence AI won't kill us all, something the wise & witty sceptic appears to have overlooked. Of course, the danger is more likely to be large software systems no-one understands than genuinely intelligent software systems, which I'm increasingly unconvinced can be built. Mind you (gedditt??), machine intelligence gets people going, and danger is danger, intelligent or not. So if this is how a big topic at least gets discussed, it might not matter.
August 10th; Monday. Weather continues to be hot & stifling. Essentially it's like being inside the airless closet containing the boiler and some shelves in the house I grew up in which was called the "airing cupboard", although it was really the warming & drying cupboard. A wet towel placed in there would be hot to touch and bone dry within minutes. Being outside on Budapest's streets at the moment feels like being inside that cupboard all day. The cheap fitness gym a few streets back into the poorer bulk of the district plays these days what sounds like one or at most two techno/club/house/rap mix tapes or radio channels as we labour away on the black metal machines. These soundtracks have helped me to recall just how much I always disliked Eminem: his special blend of whining and ranting angrily expresses self-righteous self-pity. The black signs for 'Brutal Nutrition' (as in nutrients that will make you into a brute) painted at a jaunty 30-degree tilt on the yellow brick walls in a packing-crate-stencil font have gone (one remains in a back corridor). A fresh layer of yellow paint has simplified the look a bit. This yellow is distinctly yolkier than before, throwing the tired custard-powder yellow of the fake-leather cushions on the exercise machines into a sharper contrast now. The gym is in the ground floor of a ten-storey apartment of council flats (the Hungarian expression 'panel building' captures the shoddy kit-assembly feel of 1960s and 70s architecture better than English) and most people in these streets live in one. What's interesting is that many of these buildings (and mine, albeit a newer, smarter five-storey 1990s structure) appear to be sheathed in polystyrene in turn coated with something like sandpaper. In one or two places low down around child shoulder height on the street the outer rough-textured render (often that bricky mid-orange popular as a sandpaper colouring) has been punctured and ripped off to reveal a kind of small pit eight or ten inches across. These little caves go down into a two or three inch deep layer of - yes it really seems to be white polystyrene - gouged out by some curious infant. One or two of these pits on other buildings are a bit larger, and show that below the packing foam layer is a normal brick or concrete wall. Considering how poor and bored most people in this district are, it's remarkable how little of this damage there is, and how the existing gouged holes don't grow larger over months or years. Irritated British children in low-income families surrounded by a material like that would have acres of it stripped off within days. People round here seem to lack the energy or initiative to do proper vandalism.

August 9th; Sunday. Have almost given up on the well-stocked greengrocer's just past Corvin metro partway to the river that offers a big range of fresh & tasty fruit & vegetables, though not cheap, because their staff are so consistently rude, sighing heavily and glaring at shoppers whenever anyone asks them to do anything. Even in a country with customer-service standards as low as Hungary, people know them. When I neutrally mention the shop's location to Hungarians, they will say in their flat, calm voices "Oh you mean the greengrocer's with very rude staff?" putting only the slightest weight on the 'very' along with a fractional flicker of the eyebrows before a brief bored glance into space. Once Hungarians confirm they know the shop, the subject is closed, no further comment being judged useful. Simply another rude retailer, another wearying detail in their low-key lives. Meanwhile, the office block on the corner built a couple of years ago, still has big crosses of black tape in ground-floor sheet glass windows on either side of the entrance lobby, with men sitting around looking at bags of cement and boxes of rubbish. Upper storeys look a bit smarter (or it's harder to see if they are still unrented). However, there are clearly some firms in there renting some space, because small groups of 4 or 5 office workers now gather on the pavement at certain times during the day for their cigarette breaks. A smartly-decorated lobby with a internally-lit red reception desk made out of glass adds a touch of professionalism mid-block between the two unfinished street-level spaces with the black-crossed glass walls. I sometimes walk past the lobby at night and see a sad fat man watching television by himself lit only by the screen and the glowing red reception counter.
August 8th; Saturday. Old TV documentary on 15th-century painter Hieronymus Bosch.

August 7th; Friday. Aeon magazine on several topics: (1) Hume, Einstein, & Ritz on cause and effect; (2) Most violent people feel morally driven to commit the violence (of course): the final paragraph is laughable, but it's good to see social scientists get to the obvious eventually, even if it takes them a century; (3) The restlessly busy David Deutsch has a nifty idea about how life emerges.
August 6th; Thursday. It became a routine so quickly in just one week am now already missing (as aching arms recover) the chatty breakfasts with Heikki, and our days of ceiling-rollering the cream paint. Catch-phrases included "Why did you leave the organisation?" & "These monks were narrow."

August 5th; Wednesday. That very warm weather is creeping back, or perhaps building up momentum again is a better way of putting it. No longer summery yet cool like last week. Lots of rest. Could Saudi Arabia's day in the sun be finally ending? To coin a phrase?
August 4th; Tuesday. Final day painting his flat with Heikki. Magdolna sends over some spaghetti & tomato sauce for our lunch from across the landing. One interesting discovery when working with cream wall paint close to the colour of the underlying off-white: it matters where the sun is. At certain times of day (like evening, especially up near the ceiling where there are shadows) it's impossible to see where you have painted. At other times (like in the cooler {bluer?} light of morning up until lunchtime), the gaps show up clearly. Part of it is angle of course, which windows the light is coming in through - still, I wonder if anyone has ever developed a lamp (perhaps with filters) painters can use to show up easily where there are different subtle shades of a colour? In our rolling six-day seminar we haven't so much set the world to rights as roughly agreed very hazy outlines on where to start.

August 3rd; Monday. Back to old camera angle, Russian-girl-DJ's radio show: #340.
August 2nd; Sunday. More wall & ceiling painting with Heikki. As well as our decorating singsongs, we chat about all manner of other topics, from Finnish/Swedish evangelical cults to clan politics. Multilingual Heikki has a fantastic memory: I mention the Portuguese Nobel Prize winner and he names him at once, even though he hasn't read the man's sci-fi novel about Iberia floating away like a big raft. (Neither have I, of course.) He can quote English, Finnish, Swedish & French writers as we range through our multi-room-painting talkathon: tape skirting boards, paper floors, paint non-woodwork, strip off tape & paper.

August 1st; Saturday. Dr V. planned a parallel Greek banking system. Not so odd.

page top

diary entries by month

July 2015 / June 2015 / May 2015 / April 2015 / March 2015 / February 2015 / January 2015 /

December 2014 / November 2014 / October 2014 / September 2014 / August 2014 / July 2014 / June 2014 / May 2014 / April 2014 / March 2014 / February 2014 / January 2014 /

December 2013 / November 2013 / October 2013 / September 2013 / August 2013 / July 2013 / June 2013 / May 2013 / April 2013 / March 2013 / February 2013 / January 2013 /

December 2012 / November 2012 / October 2012 / September 2012 / August 2012 / July 2012 / June 2012 / May 2012 / April 2012 / March 2012 / February 2012 / January 2012 /

December 2011 / November 2011 / October 2011 / September 2011 / August 2011 / July 2011 / June 2011 / May 2011 / April 2011 / March 2011 / February 2011 / January 2011 /

December 2010 / November 2010 / October 2010 / September 2010 / August 2010 / July 2010 / June 2010 / May 2010 / April 2010 / March 2010 / February 2010 / January 2010 /

December 2009 / November 2009 / October 2009 / September 2009 / August 2009 / July 2009 / June 2009 / May 2009 / April 2009 / March 2009 / February 2009 / January 2009 /

December 2008 / November 2008 / October 2008 / September 2008 / August 2008 / July 2008 / June 2008 / May 2008 / April 2008 / March 2008 / February 2008 / January 2008 /

December 2007 / November 2007 / October 2007 / September 2007 / August 2007 / July 2007 / June 2007 / May 2007 / April 2007 / March 2007 / February 2007 / January 2007 /

December 2006 / November 2006 / October 2006 / September 2006 / August 2006 / July 2006 / June 2006 / May 2006 / April 2006 / March 2006 / February 2006 / January 2006 /

December 2005 / November 2005 / October 2005 / September 2005 / August 2005 / July 2005 / June 2005 / May 2005 / April 2005 / March 2005 / February 2005 / January 2005 /

December 2004 / November 2004 / October 2004 / September 2004 / August 2004 / July 2004 / June 2004 / May 2004 / April 2004 / March 2004 / February 2004 / January 2004 /

December 2003 / November 2003 / October 2003 / September 2003 / August 2003 / July 2003 / June 2003 / May 2003 / April 2003 / March 2003 / February 2003 / January 2003 /

December 2002 / November 2002 / October 2002 / September 2002 / August 2002 / July 2002 / May/June 2002