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

2009
...............................................................................................................................................................

April 30th; Very nice party at Jeremy 2. Go with Magdolna. English academic Christopher explains in a talk how he is setting up a museum of the English language at Winchester, and Mary afterwards gives me advice about the book project as well as showing her impressive ear for the accents round Ireland.
April 29th; Get through day with irritation never far below the surface. Slightly disoriented. A bit like this.

April 28th; The book has a Twitter page now.
April 27th; Start to get interested in Twitter.

April 26th; Outdoor cafe drinks with Nicolas, who explains his two-year-old passion for life coaching, and how he came to study the system of Anthony Robbins. Online friend Sartorialist encourages me as I tidy up the publishing imprint webpage.
April 25th; Teach Olga again. Finish one of the books Mateus recommended I buy in Paris: 'Le pelerinage des bateleurs' ['The pilgrimage of the conjurers'] by Jean-Claude Florney. Again reminded of how ropey my French is. A book rather beautifully illustrated in black, white, and grey, based on the late-17th-century Tarot packs of Jean Noblet and Jean Dodal, this is really a broad chapter-by-chapter guide to each Major Arcana card, with a short note on the royal cards of the Minor Arcana. Florney relates various therapeutic incidents that highlight the role of the main archetypes and confidently makes comparisons between Christian, Jewish, Tibetan, and other mystical traditions. A rather lovely story at the end has a catering girl reduced to tears by the cumulative psychic effect of some six-foot-high Tarot cards. These are in a corridor between the kitchen & guests at table and the incident evokes a nicely French combination of esoteric catharthis and formal dining. The girl breaks down just before the cheese course.
Magdolna drops by late to give me a bunch of blood-purifying bear onions, or ramsons. Apparently today is my name day.

April 24th; Last day of week with children in the Vienna monastery school. My group do their play about the man-eating potted plant & the mad scientist, while the other group do a kind of Viking god drama in which one girl gets to wear lots of wigs - a drama rich in headgear all round in fact. Train back to Budapest with Greg & Nannette. Greg thinks payback karma is just a guilty leftover from Christian theology. Teaching Olga within an hour of returning. My herb seeds have not grown - the water-drip idea did not work.
April 23rd; As usual, lots of strange dreams in my hotel room. The hotel's leafy set of back plots hidden from the street has a lush, secret-garden atmosphere, my window half-darkened by green tree foliage. Wake up this morning at around 5am hearing a peculiar dawn chorus in which several different species of bird seem to be trying to sing along with some lead birds from one species. They get closely into step and this creates a strange echo, as if the birds are trying to lay down a track for an ambient studio album. I also hear a woodpecker hammering into a tree for the second time this week - not bad for the centre of a major city. The only other woodpecker I've ever heard was in Puedi's leafy suburb of Munich.

April 22nd; In small hours last night finished the rather overtitled Frances Yates book 'The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age', and though (as one Amazon reviewer points out) some of her speculation stretches the evidence a bit, her thesis is intriguing. She makes plausible the idea of an Elizabethan cult of pro-imperial, Christian white magic, celebrated by writers like Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, and William Shakespeare, and attacked by writers like Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson. This makes 'King Lear' and 'The Tempest', defending John Dee, into responses to Marlowe's 'Dr Faustus', demonising John Dee, 'The Merchant of Venice' into a response to 'The Jew of Malta', and puts King James' ranting about witchcraft into a wider context. Even 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' makes more sense when Yates pairs it with 'Midsummer Night's Dream' as pieces about Spenserian English fairiehood. Lots of material about Christian Cabala, supposedly central to arranging for the quiet re-acceptance of Jews into England not long after the 1660s Restoration that Yates sees as also partly orchestrated by the same currents of early science, white magic, Rosicrucian networks, and Protestant reform on the Continent and in England. No-one can accuse this book of being short on bold ideas. Thursday's strike by teachers across Austria was cancelled in last-minute talks last night. Hot sun again, as I trudge round Vienna after work seeking inflatable airbeds & stretch fabric.
April 21st; Seems our school used to be a monastery. Meet Martina & her friend Christina for drinks at Naschmarkt after teaching in surprisingly hot sun. Then I set off down Mariahilferstrasse towards the ring road in search of inflateable mattresses and stretch fabric as the sun sets behind the Westbahnhof. Back at the cheap internet cafe I found last night, outside the outer ring road (the Guertel), I get the publishing imprint page to a half-readable state, at least for the next few days. On my way home from this same internet-and-cheap-phone-call bureau last night, just one block inside the Guertel, two very fit-looking blonde girls on the far side of Josefstaedterstrasse squared up to fight out on the pavement: they threw punches, did some kickboxing, a bit of wrestling, all apparently in good humour. The curious, distinctive impression Vienna made on me when I first visited with loyal Londoner Cressida years ago is coming back. This evening an irate black man loudly threatens in English to kill the small Arabic manager at the front desk. Desk manager stays wearily calm.

April 20th; A simple breakfast in a room facing the same park my room overlooks. The school is a bit startling. It appears to be a 100-foot-high white wedding cake of a baroque church set between two low wings that resemble an 18th-century military academy. The three sides frame a large cobbled square with a cluster of outdoor cafe tables grouped on the street edge of the courtyard in the shade of a row of neat trees. Genial teachers and very bouncy children. Our liaison teachers assure us that, though there will be a national Austrian teachers' strike on Thursday, they will still come in to help us out. In hot sun my second class walk me down the street to look at both the neo-gothic town hall and the neo-classical national Parliament building. Vienna Town Hall is slightly bigger.
April 19th; Meet Greg for train to Vienna. We find we are in a magnificent faded hotel called the Pension Baltic, with giant old doors, ornate mirrors, floors done in tiny black and white chequerboard tiles, random sofas in synthetic leather sitting in mysterious, dimly-lit corridors, and a six-foot-long reclining lion in chunky carved wood at the bottom of the curving staircase. The lion has its paws crossed, seems very large and solid, yet an intriguing two-foot-by-eight-inch slot in its back shows it to be a hollow, albeit very-thickly-walled, wooden king of the beasts. I get a double room painted in at least four different shades of tired white. It has a bathroom built against one wall like an indoor outhouse. Big windows face onto an overgrown park in a square full of thick-leafed trees. The bathroom add-on creates a tall niche in one corner of the room, leaving just enough space for an old green-tiled, free-standing stove, square base at 45 degrees to the three sides of the niche.

April 18th; Up late, refreshed, and almost meet Andrea. Usual scramble to get things done before train to Vienna tomorrow. Almost there now - not much longer.
April 17th; Meet Zsofi at the Hungarian Quarterly, bump into Rob by chance and go back to his for a wonderful Lebanese meal featuring a sort of enlarged version of couscous. Apparently his wife Eti cooks experimental dinners with interesting herbs every day. Seduced by the gourmand atmosphere of Rob's kitchen, I drink my 2nd and 3rd coffee of 2009 from his brushed-steel Nespresso space capsules, and inhale magical fragrances of rare teas he has brought back from industrial Gyor. Rob explains that Gyor has a wonderful tea shop run by a man who looks like "an enormous slug". Rob asks me to imagine a 1970s Greek communist with brown lenses in his spectacles and a knowing smirk playing over his face. Rob impersonates the man and the way he squirms and undulates behind his counter, caterpillar-like, half-smiling, eyes half-shut, dreamily murmuring remarks such as "Olives.... what do you think of olives, eh? .....Eh?" I get a vivid image of a giant tastebud slowly weaving & bobbing, a man so devoted to scenting & tasting that he has become a human blob of sensuousness, an amoeba man squeezing his soft sac-like self up against bits of the world to absorb their aromas and flavours through his outer membrane. As our chat moves off taste, Rob mentions Elliot Carter and his polyrhythms. Then he describes his adorable 3.5-year-old daughter Mali sweetly remarking to him one day that "You're a bit stupid, aren't you, Daddy?" and when Rob gamely agrees, sympathetically consoling him with "Well I'm a bit stupid too when I forget to think." This is the toddler who considers the idea of reincarnation, and says she would like to come back as a butterfly, another person or - come to think of it - as herself. Today she looks very sweet with two pigtails plus a pony tail, raising the question of why English has no word like the German/Hungarian word 'copf' {'plait' or 'braid' doesn't really capture it} for each individual ribbon-tied tuft of hair. She and I play with Rob's metronome for a while. After dinner Rob walks me to the tram stop past the perkily named 'Foreplay Cafe', which always seems to be shut. On tram back to Pest I read an excellent Scruton article he printed out.
Then I rush to pick up a package from the post office parcel centre which missed me today, & have genial chat with a woman there who is fascinated by the idea that Britain has no compulsory state identity card, but instead an array of voluntary forms of identification. I explain the idea of a state belonging to its citizens, versus citizens belonging to a state, and she heartily approves.
At night Magdolna drops by for drinks, and we finally solve the problem of playing the Tarkovsky film on DVD she has burned for me by downloading some codecs, whatever they are. I manage to change the subtitle language out of Romanian, but there is no time left to watch the actual film. Magdolna advises me to rig up a hydroponic drip feed with cotton thread for my crate of herb-garden pots, or else the seeds will never grow.

April 16th; Gym with Jim. Beautiful, crisp sunlight on the streets shows life is sharp & powerful. Lesson again with Olga. Get lots done. Recall Robin saying of his busy new floral tablecloth that "women and Arabs like lots of complicated decorative patterns". Time to download stuff about i-phones.
April 15th; Lesson blends into Olga's birthday party, where I get to know lots of sparkling Moldovan students at CEU and a Missouri microfinancier. Later on find how Muhammad's latest business is doing, see Heikki for bowl of soup on his last night in town. Round 1am meet Elisabeth, a linguist from Paris.

April 14th; Georgina drives at high speed so that Ildiko & I can catch a train from Kecskemet to Budapest. Driving fast suits her somehow. Though hot in the sun by day, it is still not quite warm enough by night to do without a coat. I mount this site's Turkish page. Thank you, Duygu!
April 13th; In Robin's garage play with fox terrier Chloe's puppies. They are adorable of course, but strangely shaped, with short, stubby legs, small heads, and large, stocky torsos. They slowly climb over each other in Chloe's basket with eyes closed, sometimes making plaintive trilling sounds when I pick one up. Oddly, no boys from the village come up this year to spray cologne on either Letty or Zsuzsa. Kasper is very annoyed that rain cancels the egg-and-spoon race in the afternoon.

April 12th; Kristos Anesti. Christ is risen. Egg-painting. Fall asleep in the afternoon, and like yesterday wake up at dusk to see a wobbling ball of fire slip below the horizon of the Great Plain. Like Our Man Flint's doorbell of light, the alarm clock of the setting sun lines up perfectly with the skylight in the roof of Robin's studio and the bed up in the studio gallery. Lovely dinner after dark.
April 11th; Meet Ildiko for train down to Robin's in countryside. Due to me staying up until 5am the previous night {too many energy drinks, I suppose} I actually fall asleep on the train while she is talking to me. Doze again during afternoon. After dark, drive with Georgina to Szolnok to a place she usually goes dancing, though tonight everything is shut & dark. A phone call reveals this is because it is Easter Saturday. We wander about Szolnok at night a bit, have an ice cream in an empty shopping centre, and drive back.

April 10th; Jim, Gordon, & Julia at gym. Buy some short strips of silk. Do next bit of clay project. Finally return Tim the books he lent me as his 5-year-old Florence bounces around being sociable. Meet Gretchen, Wayne & lots of other charming people - including two visitors from London - at the bar Mystery Friend 2 & Martin like.
April 9th; Trip to 9th district to see glue experts. Bump into Mariann & her baby on the tram to the train to the island. Meet Benjamin briefly, do other stuff. Magdolna comes over for Baileys & Turkish food, bringing a Tarkovsky film on DVD. In the small hours, find the nicely titled 'Then there's her'.

April 8th; Meet Jim at gym for work-out. Go a bit overboard/underboard with website minimalism.
April 7th; Meet Melinda for tea. Try to persuade her that schools might be harmful.

April 6th; Warm day, too hot for coat. Fail to meet Csilla. Buy wire wool. Find half-uplifting old video, in which the Massives noodle around in what looks a lot like that street behind the Bank of England.
April 5th; Again, morning lesson with Olga. See Bonamy, Catherine, and Gordon, for some pasta and natter. With Martin, Renni, James, Vonni and her English friend Gordon 2, we reconvene for a drink and then a complicated meal full of bits of goose. Vonni & Gordon 2 come back to my flat for rum and advise very soft wire wool to clean pine tabletop.

April 4th; Morning lesson with Olga. Lunch with Bonamy & Catharine, who come back to my flat for tea and to admire my disassembled kitchen table. Evening party at Martin's, where I bump into Hans, and meet several other bouncy people, including opera singer Malesha, and Martin's vigorous schoolfriend Vonni. In the kitchen, Vonni tells me I am a teddy bear. When I say I have no girlfriend right now, she says "I'm not sur-fucking-prised."
April 3rd; Sunshine continues. Gordon alerts me to Bonamy being in town. Drinks with Bonamy, Catharine, Jim, and a buoyant Mr Saracco.

April 2nd; Warm weather. There have been so many false starts to spring this year that only if tomorrow is sunny too, will it be clear that tomorrow's the 3rd, today the 2nd, and yesterday the 1st day of spring. Problems cleaning that table top, sad to report. In evening mix up Magdolna & Olga. Ffffound is more gorgeous than ever. Best viewed to tunes like this. Now my little herb garden is planted, I watch & wait.
April 1st; For lo, it came to pass that Twitter shall beget Twistori. Retro lounge jazz signor Nicola Conte, a sort of Dimitri from Milan: 1 2 3. Contact from Erik. Some fun sound work with Gretchen, Juci, Sophie, Mary, & Stewart 2.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / markgriffith at yahoo.com

back up to top of page