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euskara {basque}
magyar {hungarian}
nederlands/vlaams {dutch}
sami
suomi

other links : i ii iii

Can you translate the next 300 words into Hindi, or Korean?; if so, please contact me and there will be rejoicing.

2004
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November 30th; Note to self: more pineapple yoghourt.
November 29th; Dusan eventually finds me at teahouse.

November 28th; Translate Edina's talk about 'valyog'.
November 27th; Find Scott at Nicole's delicious Thanksgiving feast.

November 26th; I get muddled about times, but end up having a wonderful evening at Carolyn & Gabor's wedding reception at Kisbuda Gyongye. Too many pretty girls to mention, though Jenny must be included by name. Staff looked a little weary by the point we formed a Viva-Espana-style conga line to thread round the whole restaurant at 1am, but basic order was maintained.
November 25th; Defy ID. Much better. At last, game on.

November 24th; Low-angled sunshine. As our 7 bus and its shadow both cross Erzsebet Bridge, my silhouette on the blur of white railings is clearly waving at me. We do this discreetly, so as not to alarm other passengers.
November 23rd; Finish first proof of Berlin guide.

November 22nd; Mustn't forget Moscow. Accompany Eva to job interview.
November 21st; After a short Saturday back in Pest faded into 15 hours of sleep, awake on Sunday from gorgeous dreams about sunlight streaming into hidden libraries in imaginary Oxford colleges. As usual after that much sleep, wake totally convinced my imagination is stronger than reality: often a good cue to get up and find breakfast. Lengthy tea, beer & chat with Esther at cafe as dusk falls.

November 20th; 851 bus to airport Sheremetyevo 2 works, even in pre-dawn sleet.
November 19th; Snow here for the whole winter now apparently. After days, I get through on hotel phone to Eszter on the other side of Moscow. See woman feeding plate of scraps to the glum dogs that hang around the hotel towers trying to stay out of the wind.

November 18th; Out late with Ab again. We meet Marina and Tatjana, then we go to a strip club with them where we meet Tatjana's husband, who is not pleased. Marina, seemingly a connoisseur of strip joints, accompanies us to another one as we leave man and wife at the first place to sort out their marital differences.
November 17th; Trouble with mobile phone. The vast Rossiya Hotel looming behind little golden-onion-dome chapels along Varvarka ulitsa makes an extraordinary vista.

November 16th; Meet two friendly Burda editors, before I pop down to view the rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer, and fail to find any glue in GUM.
November 15th; The Metro station for Moscow's Revolution Square has along one platform hall an extraordinary row of arches with bronze-ish metallic statues of communist heroes on each side of each arch. However, since these mighty proletarian fighters & toilers had to be cast (of course) at twice human scale; and since it's an underground railway, making the arches only 8 feet tall at the sides; and since the people's heroes must naturally get 2-foot-high plinths worthy of any Roman senator - what you get are 10-foot figures squashed into 6-foot heights. This means they must all awkwardly crouch or half-kneel, looking appropriately crushed by the weight of the tunnel roof. Their cramped, furtive postures makes them resemble trapped 1930s Atlases interrupted during a particularly difficult crap.

November 14th; Central Moscow is full of clubs, bars, brightly-lit shops apparently open almost all the time, like the medium-sized bookshop (packed with customers) that closes at 1am also on Sundays. People doing things. Walking [even running] on escalators.
November 13th; So here I am on the 14th floor of the 28-floor Building Beta in the Izmaylovo Touristic Complex: really quite cosy. In fact I'm in a hotel within a hotel {my separate reception is on floor 14 too}. The inner hotel, like a parasitic organism, lives inside the greater body of Building Beta. Building Gamma/Delta seems to be where most of the action is, though (sports club, shops, a 24-hour Internet cafe, clocks showing the time in London and Novosibirsk). At some point last night I saw most of 'Wild Orchid' on the hotel-room television, dubbed into Russian. Mickey Rourke spends much of the film wearing a smart jacket with no shirt underneath, while some gorgeous girl pouts and pants under his slightly creepy gaze. It's about awkward Anglos having their inhibitions broken down by the throbbing sensuality of Brazil, only they're American Anglos in 1990. I could imagine British actors from the 1940s doing the same story. Odd.

November 12th; At Budapest airport, a gentle, bespectacled guard tells me the X-ray has found "big scissors" in my bag, and duly we discover my 3-inch-blade pair. Reluctantly, since I am through the valve of passport control, the scissors must go in a big, white rubbish box, never to return. On the plane itself, there is a startling, refreshing change of tone. Russians, all through the aeroplane, doing un-Budapest things like laughing, chatting, being friendly. Aeroflot's inflight magazines were crisp & well-designed, a visual world away from the aphasic clutter of Horizon, whose clunky look the editorial office I worked in during the 90s used to struggle (unsuccessfully) to improve, while Malev struggled against us (successfully) to make it uglier again. Everywhere the bold, square Cyrillic alphabet makes everything written look emphatic. Except in one Aeroflot mag where, among all the Russian lettering, a photograph of Piers Brosnan is labelled in big Latin letters: 'Pierce Brosnan'. If the bag-scanning boys had let me take my paper scissors on board, I would have done, of course.
At Moscow airport the three men in front of me have some trouble standing up. One at the window has been murmuring to himself in a sing-song voice for a time, while the one in the middle is rolling his head around oddly in silence. At disembarkment, he becomes very relaxed indeed and three times crumples onto the floor as we queue to get off. A strict official lady tells me in Russian not to bother helping Mr Floppy, but everyone seems good-naturedly unsurprised by his wish to rest on the cabin floor for a while longer.
At Moscow airport it is grey and drizzly with a damp wind outside, already dusk at 4pm. A big cheerful man with a broken nose and a long black leather coat meets me at Arrivals, and exclaims "Minus Dva!" with expressive hand signals (he felt I should put my overcoat on) as we stride across carparks to reach his surprisingly fast black car. We enter Moscow as evening falls, and Eszter & her friend Anna meet me with chocolate wafer cake and a pasta/meatball dish. After a rather unpleasant five minutes when I accidentally set off Eszter's truly frightening alarm system after she has left the building, she shows me to the Metro station where I set off to find Ab. The Moscow Metro system feels a lot like being inside a vast 1940s radiogramme, with lots of plywood panelling, battered copper, Art-Deco-motifed marble and an overall scheme of brown, cream and white. A lack of printed ads, contrasting with a curious habit of audio advertising local shops over the tannoy system, adds to the Stalinist Radio Age mood. Whereas being at street level with the expansive Ab and his friend Sergei feels more like a memorable night inside a club-DJ turntable set. We drive around through a blur of Las-Vegas-style sheets of neon rippling over the outsides of buildings. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.
November 11th; Translate some EU telex about radio-jamming to round off a long day.

November 10th; Dinner at Erik's. He mentions 'Reason'
November 9th; Did South Africa class for Miklos. Promised links as follows: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7.

November 8th; So I have one of those colds I remember from Manchester: your head is full of hot, peppery soup which sometimes turns to something like beefstock gel and then back to soup; your throat hurts; you have a constant tickle in the chest; and with each cough comes a spasm of head pain a lot like being rapped on the back of the skull with a toffee hammer. Lovely. At teatime, Miklos sends his son & the gormless Geza round to retrieve his bed from Heather's - apparently it's the bed in the room I'm in. No-one thinks to ask if I need it to sleep on, though in fact I don't.
November 7th; After a horrible night of coughing, a pleasantly sunny day, and a strange 3/4-hour wandering round Tesco in Kecskemet as Robin, Letty, Zsusza, Bela & I repeatedly lose each other, I get back to Pest. Some time in the sickly night, finished Marion's book from the 1960s about how pupils and teachers talk in classrooms. Oddly familiar - did I read it once before, many years ago? 'Language, the learner and the school' by Douglas Barnes, James Britton, Harold Rosen and the sinisterly-named proto-quango "the L.A.T.E." is a collection of four articles in the probably long-defunct 'Penguin papers in education' series. The basic themes are that (1) language in the classroom is an issue across subject boundaries, not just for English teachers, that (2) children are introduced to formal English while understanding it starting from their informal, emotional English from family life, that (3) teachers speak for much more classroom time than they realise, and (4) rarely let children talk their own way into new concepts, closing down discussion too soon.

November 6th; Oak smoke rolls across foggy puszta. I meet the new puppy, Lupus, which is already rather larger than many dogs. Robin now has a goat too, which smells exactly like French goat's cheese. Perhaps not such a surprise, on reflection.
November 5th; Morning at the Russian Embassy asking for visa. On the train to Robin's I curl up for a quick doze across two seats opposite a girl doing the same across her two seats. She has a translated Updike novel, one of the Rabbit series, face down on the ledge. From the Hungarian title, 'Nyulketrec' (Rabbit Hutch), I can't tell which one it is, so after our doze I ask her. She says the first: 'Rabbit, Run'. I know Updike's point is that Rabbit can't run from himself, but still - can we wear our defeatism a little more lightly?
Around midday, saw a girl with ...EN SIX (I suppose the first word is TEN) in 4-inch letters printed on her trousers across her buttocks. Then later in Lakitelek, continuing my pool tutorial with Robin at the pool hall, a girl with something like a licence number (?RS 326) in 3-inch letters across her buttocks.

November 4th; The fat man in the small car in the handicapped parking space shouted at me again this morning on my way to work. He is still angry I have not yet ransomed my bicycle back from the smoking, shuffling woman or her allies.
November 3rd; Met a cheery 95-year-old man on tram 6.

November 2nd; With Robin & Istvan to the Corinthia hotel for a US election-result event, where we meet Politics Judit in her element in the wild boar & roast nuts area of the mega-buffet. Lots of other delightful people, including 2 Americans who voted for Nader, and 2 who voted for Badnarik, one of whom whimsically both congratulates me on how he wrote me up on his website and describes Tom Daschle as the American version of Blackrod.
November 1st; to celebrate Hungary's slightly gloomy Day of the Dead, Robin hauls his fly-zapping UV (or UI - for ultraibolya - as they charmingly call it here) lamp into his studio at dusk to lure some insects to their crackling doom while I lacquer my shoes in the semi-darkness. For some reason, the August aural illusion of leaves rustling in the wind just in the corner of the studio next to the sofa where there is no window has gone totally, though there now are lots of yellow leaves rustling outside. If it was a sound being thrown from the long windows at the other end of the studio, or coming through a kind of accidental aural lens inside the mixed-materials wall behind the sofa, I can't think why it no longer works. Perhaps depended on the warmth of the wall or the soil somehow?

Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact at otherlanguages.org

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