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*4
September 21st; Thursday. At 3am (so Friday morning really) outside in light drizzle I pass a cheerful Hungarian couple in their 20s wheeling a clingfilm-wrapped washing machine along on an old-fashioned trolley of the kind the porters let you borrow at college. Giggling on their nest-building high, they chose a good moment to move the white goods - streets completely empty. Things seem to be getting boisterous in Spain. Madrid has stepped in to stop the Catalan provincial government from holding an independence referendum. This early August broadcast of the Russian girl-DJ radio show rather better than usual: #441. Perhaps something to do with her male colleague pogo-ing around in the foreground. Cheery bouncy Slavs!

September 20th; Wednesday. Finish a book kindly lent me by Lorinc's father Mihaly. 'A Murder of Quality' from 1961 is interesting because apparently it was John Le Carre's one departure into the standard detective-story genre from writing spy novels. Seeing George Smiley solve a murder at a public school somewhere like Dorset I was struck by how much in all the books he's simply another Poirot, Marple, Sherlock, Father Brown, just shifted sideways into espionage. All the descriptions of him as ordinary yet shrewd, self-effacing yet sharp, good listener quietly judging others and so on suddenly fall into the classic Amateur Detective mould. I had read about 20 pages during previous days' tram journeys when suddenly all lights go out in the whole building. The staircase and balconies show two people wandering around by the light of their smartphones. Going outside into the rain I find that even the shopping centre is on emergency lighting, with the giant underground supermarket and much of the street in complete darkness. Back in my flat I light three half-burned candles still lodged in the hollows of an egg box from the last time I used them, and settle down to finish the Le Carre book by candlelight. Rain outside grows heavier, and I'm carried back to that odd caravan holiday in Anglesey when I was 8, rain drummed on the roof all day every day for two weeks, and Mother & I read lots of detective novels, her explaining which were well written and which were badly written during our (or at least her) coffee-making breaks. Although the caravan brings back the smell of bottled gas and a match lighting the hob each morning, power cuts and candles back in Manchester during the oil crisis overlap in my memory from the same time. I feel secure, cut off from the internet, in a dark room with three candle flames gently swaying on a chair nearby and the shushing sound of a heavy downpour outside. Le Carre's puzzle grows more enjoyable once Smiley is at the centre of the narrative - although there aren't really any characters as such. He and Brim are the nearest the author gets to proper characters, but they are at least recognisable presences.
What's striking about this end-of-the-1950s book is how obsessed it is with snobbery. Part of this is definitely true to the time, but there is more. Le Carre thinks he's against snobs, but actually he reveals himself through the gentle unprepossessing Smiley as an utter snob. His bland, courteous hero is filled with disguised loathing of other people's social positions and pretensions, whether high or low. The two ex-military men can't even wear a wristwatch to his satisfaction, poor men. The retired-Major dog breeder, Smiley notes with superior amusement, has that mysterious military habit of wearing his watch inside his wrist (actually not mysterious at all) while the Chief Constable almost physically disgusts Smiley with his exaggerated army-style gesture of snapping out his elbow when checking his watch on the outside of his wrist. The whole novel, like many of the time, is fixated on class to a suspicious degree. It's almost as if most of those detective stories were secretly about Britain trying to murder some unbearably embarrassing old relative from its family past.
Despite the way the characters somehow strike a false note, Le Carre's ear for dialogue is quite good: Smiley's quizzing by the sly, sinister Shane woman is nicely done. It goes without saying that the public school is High Anglican, with reintroduced fake Latinisms, and the town is Chapel, with a sternly simple Baptist congregation. The police officer Smiley liaises with is Chapel and so, of course, a good & clever man. The author is good enough at storytelling of course to set us up for surprises with these assumptions to activate plenty of well-handled bait-and-switch plot-twisting towards the end. A curiously bitter Afterword helps locate Le Carre (and many other authors of the time) as a disappointed young moderniser. He was 14 in 1945 but still identifying with utopian breeziness of his parents' generation in the 1920s and 30s. Much is made of the dreadfulness of the war and the dark secrets Smiley must live with, but I started to suspect that this is really something else. For example a kind of mourning for the utilitarian, spick-and-span, dismissive spirit from the 20s, 30s, 40s. A conflicted wish the war had proved the awful shabbiness of tradition and history, where in fact, annoyingly, it proved the opposite, the murderous ruthlessness of the modernisers. This contradiction, this secret desire to still see utopian 1930s ideas as refreshing rather than repressive, perhaps explains why characters like Smiley in books like Le Carre's pivot from politely masked war-weariness into a very well hidden hatred of Britain. His country's crime is not just to still be there, but to have actually been proved right in the war of ideas during their youth. Hence the way tradition and the love of the old seems to faintly nauseate Le Carre heroes. 'Victorian' is several times used as a term of abuse, 'mediaeval' in a positive way (but as long as it refers to something suitably modest and authentic). Smiley and Brim are moved by and gently protective of the silly traditions of the lower-class Nonconformists and their bizarre rituals but are revolted by the silly traditions of the upper-class school Anglicans and their bizarre rituals.
There are moments when characters like Fielding are made to speak lines (about the futility of teaching, the dreadfulness of boarding schools) straight from the narrator. Then notice on the final page of the 2010 Afterword how Le Carre describes what he thinks is wicked about the major public schools yet casually mentions sending his own sons there. "Did I send my own sons to public school? Yes of course I did, so I'm a traitor too, to my principles if not to my class." How charmingly he brushes aside this gaping inconsistency in his world view with fake frankness. Completely without any grasp of how hugely the state-commandeered school system of the 1940s has failed the country and the students whose lives it stunted, he wishes all non-state schools had been taken over by the state in one cleansing sweep of collectivism. He writes he would have tossed his hat in the air with joy at that victory against history and heirarchy. Just a page earlier the despairing anti-Labour speech of his headmaster in 1945 (now proved horribly right) is quoted sarcastically, evoking barbarians at the gates. It still makes him angry. Le Carre seems to have no sense that, using good intelligence fieldcraft Smiley would have been proud of, the barbarians have long been well inside the gates, and he is one of them.
September 19th; Tuesday. Women's brains full of male lovers' DNA. Study claims drop in testosterone sparked beginnings of civilisation. Book review harks back to Darwin's work on evolution of sexiness. Meanwhile China bans BitCoin exchange and coin-mining executives from leaving the country - is Peking scared?

September 18th; Monday. Man beheads woman, but then refuses to stop eating her flesh, so police shoot him. South Africa keeping it real.
September 17th; Sunday. New security hack: Israeli researchers use infrared signals to take control of CCTV cameras.

September 16th; Saturday. More about strange sonic weapons being used in Cuba.
September 15th; Friday. Library scan yields fresh ancient languages.

September 14th; Thursday. Female scholar on Viking warrior women.
September 13th; Wednesday. Chinese village grows QR-code garden.

September 12th; Tuesday. There's hope! Study says cute women prefer ugly men.
September 11th; Monday. Perhaps a reason not to ink.

September 10th; Sunday. I remember two days ago standing in the sun outside my apartment building in my Friday jacket and tie holding up a shoelace. I must have looked like some tedious Beckett character. I was silently pondering if I could spare a moment to go to the shoelace shop (yes there's a "shoe accessory" store three streets away). One of the older, more dignified, ladies in the building (I say hello to her sometimes in the lift) chanced by. She asked me where I was headed, and I told her, deciding against the shop as we talk. Ten minutes later back inside she suddenly rings the doorbell of my flat and gives me a handful of neatly tied shoelaces, muttering something about her husband not needing them any more. Meanwhile, after another interesting morning lesson with Boardgame Orsolya where we touch on help from God, in the late afternoon have a coffee & fruit juice with The Yellow Dress Girl. She tells me I must learn how to wish.
September 9th; Saturday. A couple of days ago I was in the bakery-cafe where the Croatian pirates sometimes take their children. A pigeon flew in and began strutting around under some tables confusedly looking for the way out again. I unsuccessfully try to shoo it out, and one of the waitresses (Flora) casually says "Oh, look it's Feri." She carefully corners Feri (Frank), firmly but gently gathers him into both her hands and helps him out of the doorway. For a second I'm puzzled at her having given him a name, but then I look outside at the square again. In place of several dark-grey pigeon-shaped blobs scanning under tables for pastry crumbs a second before, I suddenly see a range of shades from almost white birds with grey bars and markings to almost-black birds with different tones of mid and dark grey feathers standing out on back and wings.

September 8th; Friday. I finish a book sent to me by kind Amanda, 'The Middle Sea' by John Julius Norwich. He warns us from the outset that his heart sank when he got the commission, but the simple ambition of relating all the most important things that happened in the Mediterranean over the centuries, gives the book a pleasantly modest feel. Interesting breakdown on the unification of Italy, and some fascinating might-have-beens from late mediaeval Sicily. Then in the evening a sudden crushing sense of defeat and exhaustion. Aware that the biggest solar flare in a decade, shot out by an X9-class storm on the 6th, hit Earth's atmosphere today, I wonder if this can affect mood (and if so, why not everybody?)
September 7th; Thursday. Two more classes have students who get sent to different rooms. But the ones who reach me are very jolly & likeable.

September 6th; Wednesday. Early teaching start. Would be interesting to study this. Meanwhile Britain's yeomanry keep up standards: urinating man's loyal girlfriend punches other man for criticising him.
September 5th; Tuesday. First night class at the Technical University. I'm in the designated room on the 8th floor at 6.30pm, no-one else is. Turns out my students got sent to a room on the 6th floor. Once a kind colleague brings us together, introductory lesson quite a success.

September 4th; Monday. Why are women more religious? Every answer here but one.
September 3rd; Sunday. Years after we gave warning, more pessimism about China.

September 2nd; Saturday. Cubans using covert sound weapons?
September 1st; Friday. Japanese newly-weds vacuum-sealed. 'Breathtaking', hur hur.

August 31st; Thursday. At the gym again. After noticing a fuzzy black-and-white photo with names in the changing rooms offering coaching, outside I spot the girl with the kung-fu/water-polo physique supervising another lass among the machines. I ask if she is Adel, the trainer or coach? Posing slightly to show off her gorgeous figure, she keeps a dead straight face and purrs "I'm the hardener". Although that's another normal Hungarian term for gym coach, this cis-male bachelor took due note.
August 30th; Wednesday. Suppose you could pay people to debate fairly?

August 29th; Tuesday. Atmospheric snaps of car races taken with an old camera.
August 28th; Monday. The lawn outside the studio is dotted with small white flowers. Each has five wide petals, forming a spray of almost regular pentagons scattered across the grass. Robin & I peel potatoes and chop onions as Zeno cooks more meals of formidable meatiness. We leave after dusk to drive into Budapest.

August 27th; Sunday. We reached Robin's house just before dusk last night, finding it empty, playing classical music to itself quietly as usual via the kitchen radio. As I went to bed, found a few wasps were once again exploring the area around the bed upstairs in the studio. I'm woken up several times by a moth or butterfly battering its wings against the glass of the windows I haven't opened for it, bringing back memories of undead lepidoptera at Robin's place. Finally at half past four I step into the main house, enjoy an ice-cold bath, and return to the studio to sleep on the downstairs sofa instead. Wake hours later to the mumbling sound of a horde of insects plotting rebellion. Glance upstairs to see the moth has been replaced by a mass of 60 or 70 wasps wandering around the window frames muttering to each other. Chat to Zsuzsi outside, and her horse Solero tries to tug me a bit on his rope. When he fails to topple me over, he stands four-square to gather his dignity, throws his head back, bulges his eyes, and gives me a haughty look down his long equine nose. I upbraid him for being a naughty Dobbin. Zsuzsi meanwhile is trying to spread some kind of anti-mosquito oil into his legs and flanks. She dodges around his moving form grumbling as the chestnut stallion takes his lordly ease strolling about the lawn chewing random plants. Later in the day back in the studio, Robin, barefoot and dressed only in something like a towel, skilfully removes four window frames and persuades the wasps to fly free, dodging their protests. He and Zeno describe to me however how he failed to dodge being stung by a horse fly earlier in the morning, the second sting injecting enough venom that Robin was briefly seeing extra colours pulsing around Zeno's head like an aura.
Zsuzsi several hours after all this gets into a panic about missing the late-afternoon train back to Budapest which her friend Juci is already on, with their tickets, so I leave with her that second to look after the car once she boards the train. We whizz along dusty, lumpy lanes laid with elderly tarmac past sun-baked yellow trees, Zsuzsi accelerating with girly vigour into the bends on the windy roads. We reach a railway station I have never got off or on at, downline of where she should have caught the train. It's called 'Homok' (Sand). A doubtful boy sits in silence with us on the red-painted bench as we wait ten minutes for the train.
Approaching the farm an hour later, Robin demonstrates how you can fool a dustcloud behind a car by feinting to the left and then suddenly switching to the right, so the silly dustcloud decides to take the left turn and part company.
August 26th; Saturday. See Boardgame Orsolya at 11am, at the strange mid-floor cafe, downstairs in the mall from where we used to have our lessons, between the cheap silver jewellery stall and the vast, brightly-lit Spar store. I hear about her latest office manager. Get back to flat with time for a cold bath before Robin appears with his car for a sudden trip to the countryside in hot sun. At one point, we're strolling round an air-chilled provincial supermarket: I with trolley cheerily strike up conversations with various groups of alarmed-looking country folk, Robin in contrast speaking directly to food items on the shelves. "It's amazing actually what I don't buy in supermarkets" he remarks at one point to an array of Greek yoghourts.

August 25th; Friday. Spend a couple of hours trying to find the charming folk a possible primary-school teacher to replace me. Have been trying to slow down time recently, and time seems to be complying. It's been August now for ages.
Today managed some arm training in the cheap techno/rap fitness gym, and note that a girl both curvy yet toned seems to be training a floppy-haired Oxford undergrad who lolls against weights-machine frames while listening to her instructions. Only close up do I see that the male Waugh character with overlong 1930s hair is actually another girl. Trying not to read too much into the tableau, I watch the female trainer with the water-polo/kung-fu physique watching the other female.
August 24th; Thursday. Present my apologies to the charming folk at nearby primary school, half wishing I could indeed teach their doubtless adorable & bouncy 6-year-olds. Teach IKEA Zita for the first time in a few weeks: her new strawberry blonde rinsed cut with hair up, chunky necklace, and (she claims) soft pink pullover which looks beige indoors under the office lights, change her strikingly. She tells me about her holidays. How a sandy beach without shade on one bank of the Tisza was so hot in the sun, people had to shriek out little squeaking songs of pain to dance across the hot sand before diving in the river. She also mentions a hole in the ceiling at her home, tells me about the lions and the miniature pig at the petting zoo, and relates her maintenance woes with her red motor car. Like all women drivers who own a vehicle (or most?) she has a pet name for her little mechanical companion. I am honoured when she shares it with me. An hour later at her flat, sweet Jessica tells me about her good friend Melissa, describing her as a "Microsoft Licensing Whisperer". She then shows me some bits of US television before we visit her favourite restaurant. In order these short but rather lovely snatches are 'Dream of the 90s' ("Portland's a city where young people go to retire!"); Clarifying for me the term 'lumbersexuals' with 'Dream of the 1890s'; Quizzing the restaurant waitress about Colin the chicken; Then checking the farm where Colin was raised. As Jessica & I enter the Obuda restaurant where she loves the traditional fish soup, the man at the front desk says he'll take just one second to decide - and he does. It takes exactly one second. As he leads us to a table past a group of majestically fat Gypsy musicians taking a break, we pass someone telling his dinner companions "-- so while they were working on the regular fission bomb --". Tremendous energy.

August 23rd; Wednesday. Vital news from the future: I can't be the only person who when number bases were introduced in school maths hoped we could have an afternoon of doing sums in Babylonian base 60. Australian archeologists now rediscover its advantages.
August 22nd; Tuesday. Rather wonderful claim that men build technology firms to replace their mothers.

August 21st; Monday. At some point yesterday, had the most extraordinary lucid dream. Some sort of after glow lasted for at least an hour after waking.
August 20th; Sunday. I finish the wonderful 'Confederacy of Dunces' sent to me by kind Amanda. Meant to read it for years, never did, worth the wait. A cartoonish set of characters live in a suburb of New Orleans at some point in the 1960s, and unforgettable comic scenes unfold in the office of a decaying clothing firm, a late-night bar of dubious repute, and a police station where patrolmen 'Mongoloid Mancuso' is punished by his sergeant by being forced to walk the streets in a variety of outlandish disguise costumes. Mancuso's ordeal culminates in several weeks of having to lurk all day in the bus station gentlemen's conveniences struggling through a copy of 'Consolations of Philosophy' by Boethius. Successful farce, alleged by some playwrights to be the hardest kind of genre to write, is usually only seen on stage or occasionally film. This is one of the best examples of farce I've seen rendered as novel. Of course one wonders whether Toole the author was writing himself and his mother into the story, given that his mother doggedly hawked her son's manuscript around after his suicide until it was finally "discovered" and proclaimed a work of genius, as it's now routinely described. Without giving too much of the plot away, more than one character finally achieves liberation from a smothering relationship. Laughed out loud more often than anything I've read for a couple of years.

August 19th; Saturday. Apparently Pornhub reveals that breasts are no longer fashionable. Probably the same researcher that claims internet searches show more women than men enjoying scenes of sexual violence against women.
August 18th; Friday. Nice artwork, but will the articles disappoint?

August 17th; Thursday. More fun ways to confuse self-driving cars. Poor little things.
August 16th; Wednesday. Intelligent mathematician cheerfully asserts that AI won't work because people aren't clusters of algorithms. Uses slightly odd vector analogy to argue this, but heart & mind in right places at least.

August 15th; Tuesday. A couple of nights ago, just last week, I noticed that a late-opening bar I pass on the way to one particular night shop had changed its name a few days before. An alert-looking woman in the doorway confirmed to me she was the new owner. It's now named, in hard-to-read gold squiggly lettering on a white disc, 'My Hollywood Coffe (sic) & Drink Bar' but more memorably was named up until a fortnight ago in chunky capitals '--- Drink Bar' in capitals with the "I" of 'Drink' replaced by a glass of red wine. Rather than being a tall I-like flute glass, they chose the type with a U-like round glass bowl mounted on a stem. This meant that every time I walked under it, I read the sign flickering between 'Drink Bar' and 'Drunk Bar'. No longer.
August 14th; Monday. Meet Levente & Balint for a demo. On the way out someone, at the table-football machine every coders' den has to have, gallantly says my English sounds very good. I say the secret to good English is practise, practise, practise. More laughter.

August 13th; Sunday. Another book about the ex-homeless ex-meth-addict's cat 'The World According to Bob', inspiring and dreary in turns. A lot of phrases like "with the benefit of hindsight" pepper the pages. Perhaps that's how writer/cat-owner James Bowen speaks. This time there are occasional drawings of the cat, giving the tome a slightly prewar feel. Makes me feel churlish to say it, but another depressing read, even with the happy ending. It's a chugger book to feel good about buying but not actually to enjoy reading. It's one long succession of cat-gets-ill, man-gets-ill, man-gets-thumped, cat-defends-man, man-gets-reported stories which don't link up, but trudge along like the writing. It helps some readers perhaps learn how tough busking or selling a homeless magazine on the streets is, but however special that cat is, one of these books is more than enough.
August 12th; Saturday. Out with Robin and his barrister/composer friend, Michael. Adorable waitress. Composer shows me on his laptop how Nyman just copies a melody from Purcell. Michael frankly describes Nyman as a shameless plagiarist.

August 11th; Friday. Article from one of our contributors shows the Russian-hacking claims against President Honey Monster finally falling apart.
August 10th; Thursday. A Russian group prove in principle a way to defend against brute-force faking of blockchain hashes. Quantum, cryptocoin, all the exciting stuff.

August 9th; Wednesday. 2 climate-change articles: 1) German group predicts 50 years of climate cooling from an overlaid set of cycles that meets good retrodiction tests; 2) some physicists check 6 planets (Earth + 5) to arrive at a new human-independent theory for planetary heat which also matches known data.
August 8th; Tuesday. A woman MP in the Labour party claims that left-wing male chauvinists are "the worst". I think I knew that already, but does saying that make me a 'mansplainer'?

August 7th; Monday. I suppose if enough people talk the panpsychist talk, it might start to sound sane.
August 6th; Sunday. Interesting dinner with an Ethereum developer.

August 5th; Saturday. Late afternoon do some Tarot readings for Mate & his girlfriend. In the morning, however, wake out of curiously intense dreams about proliferating trees of possibilities having branches rejoining main storylines, like a kind of basketwork, both bifurcating and regrafting. Had these before a couple of decades ago, but makes slightly more sense this time.
August 4th; Friday. So not only does President Trump have a time machine, now there's a 19th-century book to explain it all. Steven talks me round!

August 3rd; Thursday. Giving her hot-desking office a rest, Zita & I have our lesson inside IKEA itself, sitting at a desk in the business-decor section like a pair of actors. Groups of shoppers pass us, winding through the warehouse on the squiggly this-way path. I suggest how point-of-sale furniture videos could be revolutionised. Earlier that day, hiding from hot sun, a very productive lunchtime coffee with Levente & Balint.
August 2nd; Wednesday. Merriment until after dark on a main street, seated outside a cafe full of detached car seats. Fahad, Levente, Janos keep pressing beers on me, the scoundrels.

August 1st; Tuesday. 1) How Uber drivers game the price algorithms; 2) Scepticism over genetic influence predicts for dislike of science; 3) Now there's a "sunken continent" called 'Zealandia'? 4) Some researchers think sperm counts have halved - at least in some countries; 5) Oh, ancient British genes might be Basque after all.


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.

So?

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

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*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

useful:

.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
.webhost
.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


films

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


...............................................................................................................................................................

July 31st; Monday. Coffee with Agnes-K. Try the Christian Feudalism theory on her.

July 30th; Sunday. Some World Economic Forum level thinking. Bit plodding.
July 29th; Saturday. Old discussion: here's a fungus with 28,000 sexes.

July 28th; Friday. Out late at night with Agnes-K. We chat about games, drama & Kafka. Trams squeal horribly against the rails as they round the corner by our table outside the Bem cinema. It goes on for about an hour. Then, about ten minutes after I suggest we put some baby oil on the tracks, a woman technician wearing a helmet with a torch fixed on it appears and fiddles with the rails using a tool of some sort in two places 20 paces apart. The nasty sound is gone when the trams resume moving.
July 27th; Thursday. Delightful evening at Robin's flat reading Tarot for lots of friends. Startling number of Towers, Devils, 10s of swords, Magicians, and 4s of pentacles cropping up repeatedly in different people's spreads, worrying me that some effect like hand-warmth is getting certain cards picked again and again. Much merriment (and muted anxiety about the cards) all round.

July 26th; Wednesday. If an observer as bright as Luttwak thinks that a Trump dynasty of 16 years might be just getting going, we should take notice. Talking of rather longer dynasties, a calm & measured defence by Theodore Dalrymple of hereditary government. After that, worth being reminded that liberalism & socialism were both sworn in with the Tennis Court Oath.
July 25th; Tuesday. Ripped jeans have come back again this year and last, in force. There are girls with tight-fitting trousers with a simple slit across each knee that opens and closes with each stride, others with holes randomly torn open across each thigh, and a few who have strips hanging down from openings so large the garb is more of a framework than a closed structure. There is of course a tear-my-flimsy-garments-from-my-nubile-body vibe in some cases, but by and large it's still a dull, standard uniform. Or a hint the girl could use some new clothes?

July 24th; Monday. Sharon assures me that this pop video really did turn into this film. Same director.
July 23rd; Sunday. One of the odd things about this apartment block is the automatic lighting on the staircases & landings. I step out at night and the lights snap on. Fair enough. However, bright midday sunshine switches them on too: I assume some kind of contrast effect in the light sensors. There are odd moments when a bright sunny day slowly dims into dusk and the landing lights that have been on all day suddenly switch off rather than on. Another piece on the Grenfell Tower housing block fire of a couple of weeks ago.

July 22nd; Saturday. Another misconceived article about Artificial Intelligence.
July 21st; Friday. Petrograd DJ: show #434. Quite good one.

July 20th; Thursday. Rather touching article from an Irish socialist who went together with Jeremy Corbyn to a Latin American country in the 1980s. Meanwhile, parrot solves murder case in New Zealand. Majorie Cameron, occultist, erotic artist and muse: scroll 3/4 down for her extraordinary line-drawing depiction of an almost-mantis-style coupling. Now I am on Instagram properly, citizens! So worth asking how much would Facebook be worth if it didn't own Instagram?
July 19th; Wednesday. Time for a short intermission.

July 18th; Tuesday. On the inside wrist of one of my language students, I spot three evenly-spaced dots of burned skin in a row, about the size of large peppercorns. They have half healed after perhaps a week. It's as if someone had plunged a hot fork an inch deep into her wrist. I ask what this is, and she cheerfully explains this is a traditional therapy called 'Kambo', involving poisonous frog slime. She says it sometimes brings on vomiting, but makes you feel fantastic for a week afterwards. The previous week was her third session, and the 6-month-old dots burned into her shoulder have almost vanished.
July 17th; Monday. If I have to buy melon in hot weather I buy honeydew melon because the taste is good, and as a bonus the scent lingers in my flat. Even as the rind rots before being thrown out, the fragrance is lovely. The red-fleshed 'water melon' in contrast always seems a bit disappointing, not really tasting or smelling of very much at all.

July 16th; Sunday. Short film making the case that Erdogan covertly organised the failed coup against himself a year ago.
July 15th; Saturday. Yesterday had my first proper haircut in almost two years. Istvan the barber seemed happy to see me. If you don't count the light trim the make-up girls gave me for the filming last month, June.

July 14th; Friday. Bastille Day! Vive la Republique! Two authors point out that 1789 was in fact the dawn of modern fascism, not freedom. First, Our Man in Bucharest. Second, a writer on 1793's revolting mass murder of 300,000 royalists in the Vendee.
July 13th; Thursday. Mysterious history: an intriguing entry about the three hares as a symbol of fertility; claims that author of a 19th-century Polish puzzle text was a secret kabbalist.

July 12th; Wednesday. Monkey sues and bankrupts photographer.
July 11th; Tuesday. Chidren's books can have too many pictures.

July 10th; Monday. Typography matters! Pakistani scandal hinges on Microsoft font.
July 9th; Sunday. Man sentenced leniently for sexually assaulting motorbike.

July 8th; Saturday. Geneticists encode some frames of film inside DNA.
July 7th; Friday. Carefully reasoned argument by a safety inspector pins the Grenfell Tower fire on the way EU climate-change regulations conflicted with national fire-safety regulations.

July 6th; Thursday. Heat here continues with the occasional rain storm. Students continue to randomly cancel. There's a vaccine for heroin now.
July 5th; Wednesday. A woman marries a railway station. A researcher argues that search-engine data shows people routinely lie about sexual preferences: for example he thinks many men would secretly prefer to be with plumper, chubbier girls than their current partner --- but they bow to social pressure? A sex-blind job application process does the opposite of what was intended: more men get hired. Psychologist alleges the men women hate above all are the "harmless men".

July 4th; Tuesday. Unkind Canadian article skewers US national holiday.
July 3rd; Monday. Why is Britain's tax take rising?

July 2nd; Sunday. Finish the book kindly lent me by Bullet last week: 'Where Are The Customers' Yachts?' by Fred Schwed, reprinted from the 1940s. A witty, effortless book about the impossibility of beating the stock-market odds, delivered with light humour, cartoons by Peter Arno (who died in 1968), beautifully blended with some genuinely useful finance tips.
July 1st; Saturday. Research comes out that says that modern concrete still isn't as good as Roman concrete.



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