otherlanguages.org
. . . Main links

Basque / Dutch / English / Hungarian / Japanese / Swedish

link to i-mode page

#

#

non-alphabetic scripts

#

other links

#

endangered languages

#

sign languages

#

maps

#

songs and music

#

dead languages


*1

#

linguistic philosophy

#

artificial languages

#

AI, speech recognition

#

encryption, steganography

#

language history

#

calligraphy

#

cognitive psychology

#

mathematical linguistics

#

animal communication

#

language list

#

non-language links

2005
...............................................................................................................................................................


June 30th; An afternoon out of the office with the marketing department for lunch and some very relaxing ten-pin bowling. Isaac the Kabbalist drops by as I talk to Mihaela. Later a drink with Rex, hearing more of his ideas about Plato & Socrates. As he gets onto the topic of shame and moral reflection, two girls promoting Miller Lite beer totter into the cafe wearing only high heels and tiny plastic skirts and plastic tops, both transparent at the back to show that neither girl has any underwear on. One girl wears a leather collar round her throat fronted by a metal ring, so the other can lead her with a leash.

June 29th; A gold/euro article of mine up today.
June 28th; On the street last night met Heather with Zdravko. Z, like Olivia, interprets at the FBI college for 3 more weeks. Then he interprets Macedonian for more policemen in Roswell, New Mexico. Today uneventful.

June 27th; Robin helps me catch the 6.12am from Tiszaug. Meet two charming Persian pharmacy students in the dining car from Kecskemet. I've learned to avoid MAV's bacon omlette option (added cubes of salted fat), so breakfast was good. Straight into office.
June 26th; In the small hours, Robin & I watch 'Kill Bill 1' on television. If you are one of those people in cinemas who shouts "Fast forward!" when there is no fighting on screen, this film is for you. What it is closest to is a blend of samurai movie and the singing-dancing-&-fighting films that come out of India. Robin fell asleep several times during the final half-hour of sword combat. At first, the title reminded me of Guy talking about lads kicking the blue lights off tops of parked police cars shouting "Kill the Bill", but for American audiences "Bill" does not mean "police". Bill is a David Carradine character whose assassins leave Uma Thurman's character for dead in a massacre at her own wedding. This is therefore a revenge film, and, once she is out of her coma, 'Kill Bill' is an item on Uma's to-do list - which is why I got a to-do list as a promotional gift some months ago. I was looking forward to a couple of early lines of dialogue Constantine told us about in advance [such as "You'd better shitcan that blasphemy boy, you're in a house of worship."], but it soon became clear how badly Tarantino needs good scripts to work from. In 'Jackie Brown' his filmic inventiveness was tied to a good narrative by veteran storyteller Elmore Leonard. In 'Kill Bill', despite some fresh moments, Tarantino's loving homage to all the kung-fu films he saw in his decade at the video shop felt narcissistic and vacant. This film is a battle between his visual originality and his nostalgia for narrative cliche, and cliche wins.

June 25th; Hot sun has turned the mud lanes through flat fields round Robin's into soft, beige powder. I wet my shirt to stay cool, and cycle to Edina & Geza's in the next village for an afternoon Arabic lesson. Later Robin & Georgina pick me up from there in the old Benz, to go swimming in the lake with the children. Towards dusk we go back, finding trees heavy with fruit down a dusty track. We gorge on white mulberries, black mulberries [the first mulberries I ever saw, last summer with Lilla], pink mulberries and sour cherries, until our fingers are purple, our tongues sore, and our eyes glazed.
June 24th; Caught last train out to Robin's on the Great Plain. Read an odd little free booklet ['Best on the Market'] from Wiley, offering a free chapter from each of ten 1999 business books. The first is by Warren Buffet, the tenth excerpts thoughts of Warren Buffet, and one in the middle quotes the 1930s Investment Sage Who Taught Warren All He Knows [This chapter explains, many times, that in depressions some companies' shares get priced at less than the value of machinery and stock]. Of the other seven, one says aligning your brand with a relevant charity in a thought-out way helps both the firm's brand and the charity, another is called 'Action Management', one is called 'Five Frogs on a Log' ["Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off. How many are left? Answer: five. Why? Because there's a difference between deciding and doing."], and one is called 'Performance Drivers'. This last advocates an approach called the 'Balanced Scorecard' which sounds quite interesting, except that if it was, the sample chapter could have started to explain it. One book excerpt ['The Information Masters': John McKean] is written entirely in Emperor's New Prose, alternating reams of one-line paragraphs -
"They are obsessed with customers.
They are obsessed with information.
They are dangerous.
They are the future.
They are the Information Masters.
But they are the lucky ones." etc.
- with sentences like [sic] "The firms who are well on their way to near information mastery levels have found that their previous efforts to implement segment of one marketing failed because they did not have systemic information competency to adequately execute the promises of segment of one marketing." It would be nice to find a business publisher who knows what commas and hyphens are for, but even more refreshing to find a business author obsessed with readers.

June 23rd; Liverpool Cotton Association still intrigues.
June 22nd; Last night finished Geoffrey Brereton's 'A short History of French Literature'. Tidily breezing through centuries and genres, this is impressive criticism from the 1950s. Brereton makes clear judgements, and is able to grade writers confidently into major, minor but interesting, and many variations in between. He holds back from showing off his own writing, staying with the task at hand. Describing Ecouchard Lebrun, he writes that "Inflated with abstract words and phantom images, it floats or rolls along at roof-top level like a giant carnival balloon." but that "The spectacle of its buoyant pomp is harmless and even exhilarating." Asides like this are dozens of pages apart, and are never allowed to blur the French writers he crisply and courteously sums up.

June 21st; I cycle at gym: Viktor explains Tour de France.
June 20th; Lesson with Olga: whiskyed raspberries.

June 19th; Heather clearly in grip of ferret obsession. Reports seeing two more on leashes today. Coffee & cake with Robin, Constantine, and Peter, who has printed an excellent photo of Robin, Letty & Zsuzsa.
With Esther, Clara & Duygu to see 'Madagascar' at cinema, a 3D computer animation from Dreamworks. These have the flexibility of cartoons and not quite (yet) the solidity of stop-go table-top animation. I was curious to see this film because I woke out of a dream, 11 or 12 years ago in Yorkshire, of a film called 'Zoobreak', in which human actors in animal suits (one British urban accent per species: Scouse lions, Glaswegian polar bears, Geordie stags, Mancunian zebras, Brummie tigers, London... something) riot in a zoo while two of the zebras go over the wall in homage to all the prison-break movies ever made. Lots of scenes of hunched-up leopards smoking roll-ups and playing cards. Hard-faced prison warders with buckets of fish, that sort of thing. This film turned out to be fairly different from that. The US alternative to my cliches was a set of animals representing standard TV sitcom characters (The Extravert, The Jewish Neurotic, The No-Nonsense Ghetto Mama, The Crazy Dreamer). A bit of a yawn there, I'm afraid. The animals leave a zoo in central New York, get caught again, but are then packed into crates to be returned to the wild. This turns out to be a Madagascar filled with lemurs ruled over by a rather charmingly vain lemur king. 3D computer animation still has serious weaknesses, as showed in the rather blob-like human faces and their unconvincing bobbing and swaying walks. It seems to still take budget to make any character look interesting, one at a time. The story was good, with serious thought given to the problem of a comedy lion and a comedy zebra remaining best buddies once back in the wild. Scenes in which hunger transforms every moving creature, including his zebra friend, into walking, talking beef steaks in his eyes, drive a plausible plot twist: Alex the cuddly lion is terrified by his own instincts once he realises that what human keepers used to feed him with were pieces of dead animals. Odd that both this film and mine have one or more zebras responsible for the escape - I suppose the echo of striped prison shirts is just too tempting. Boring that the zebra's voice was a Black Dude and the lion's was a Lovable White Guy. The moments where they sing 'New York, New York' together were a bit sickly (Not unlike the 'Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner' song, which at least has the excuse of being written during the Blitz). Some sharp, witty moments with the penguins and monkeys. Reel to Real's song was a good choice. Not quite special, but decent fun as films go.
June 18th; Heather reports ferret in arms of woman at Keleti station.

June 17th; While she cooks chicken and apple, Heather tells me that in the last couple of days she has seen three ferrets about town, two of them on leashes. Am still unsure of difference between ferrets, weasels and stoats.
June 16th; Morning at the VOIP office, some melon-flavoured tea. Afternoon, some raspberry-flavoured tea. Sunny 4 days in a row: summer at last? Back in London, child sacrifice, a bit like in Hawksmoor.

June 15th; Magna Carta day apparently, though by what calendar? Language Hat links to Patrick who has a list of 2000+ Chinese characters in order of frequency.
June 14th; Damp, chilly weather might be over. Sunny & warm yesterday, sunny & hot today. Watching my bus stop, I sheltered from the sun in the shadow of the flyover where Erzsebet Bridge starts in Pest. In the shade under the bridge, a girl in a long skirt slouched over to make an offer (gambling, not sex). I thanked her, refusing. "It's a joke isn't it?" she said a few minutes later, apropos of nothing. "Joke?" I asked, confused. "Yes, joke. Funny thing. Gag." she explained, glancing at me wearily. "But what kind of joke is there here?" I added, hesitantly. She looked back. "Here?" she sneered lightly. "There's no joke here. This is reality." We both nodded wisely in silence as my bus pulled in.
After putting Prague to bed, Charlie & I go for pizza and beer at Marxim's, and discuss living in exile and suchlike. At midnight, I find that my 2nd gold article is up.

June 13th; Time to canvass those carpet dealers, ho ho.
June 12th; Another day in the map office.

June 11th; Prague book all day. Nice break for milkshake with Stephanie. At dusk walked home through Szent Istvan Park and saw a stocky man playing table tennis in the almost-dark with a small boy, using two concrete ping-pong tables, not one. Lacking a net, they solved the problem by taking a whole table each, so the ball had to clear the gap between the two tables on each bounce.
June 10th; I read about how a Kiss person visits Christ's Hospital to make a television show. Kiss were already relics in the early 80s, so now? The students write a weblog. Aha, Coleridge's school, not Keats'.

June 9th; Woke at 6am out of a vivid dream about building trees with unlikely shapes by grafting together sections of living wood. These trees had living tie bars.
June 8th; Slept 11 hours. Between the two sleeps, wake in the small hours from a vivid dream about Phil Spector.

June 7th; Lunch with Adam & Mihaela.
June 6th; Gold bug now versus Goldbug then.

June 5th; Out having a late drink with Esther, when Robin & Follo (in Hungary for a stag party) run into us. Follo & Valentina's little girl back in Spain now at circus school.
June 4th; In the small hours got to the end of my mother's copy of F.C.Happold's book 'Mysticism', an interesting essay followed by a quite full anthology of readings from everyone from The Cloud of Unknowing author to Sufi poet Rumi to Cressida's favourite, Thomas a Kempis. Even Plotinus has a couple of pages (I'm going to be a while finishing that book). The fitting last sentence of the book is by Reverend Berry's recommendation, the very intellectually French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin. It goes "If by its very nature it did not escape from the time and space which it gathers together, it would not be Omega." A rather grand, sci-fi-flavoured close to an excellent, bracing book. Slightly annoyingly, I've inadvertently scented the whole book with the powerful synthie perfume of the cardboard-cut-out pineapple I used as a bookmark - a gift I later found was promoting a shopping magazine. Full of good segments, and a thoughtful, well-written study by Happold, who was a schoolmaster from the 1930s to the 1960s. Probably a very inspiring one. A discovery for me was mid-19th-century writer Richard Jefferies. His short section from 'The Story of My Heart', mentioning his search for the 'Fourth Idea', was a startling read. Some Islam, some Buddhism, Hinduism, Greek thought and Christianity - perhaps an example of Jewish mysticism would have rounded off this book. Hard to say anything appropriate about this collection, mostly in their own famously inadequate words, of what mystics experience.

June 3rd; A friendly mention from Mr Toad. Despite spotting my amateurish confusion right away, he still recommends my diary! Kiraly.
June 2nd; Nigel & I walk to a park. Later I get to Luton, and fly back to Budapest. Quick and convenient it may be, but flying is a bit sterile & sad. Aeroplanes are like sealed, tubular office buildings with minimal romance or glamour. The lack of a woman to say goodbye to or say hello to at either end (just one of the two would be a start) makes the procedure a bit lonely, too. Trains and ships - however grubby - still seem places in themselves. Places where adventures could happen and people might meet. Trying to meet someone on a plane - or keep in touch with them later - is a bit like trying to strike up friendships in a lift. Everyone is too tired, too tense or too cramped to open up to strangers when they're airborne, breathing plastic air.

June 1st; Now France has rejected the European constitution, today the Dutch also vote (turns out to be also "Against", by a bigger majority than France).

Mark Griffith, site administrator / markgriffith at yahoo.com

back up to top of page