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

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.


December 31st; Robin, Constantine & I modestly welcome in the New Year with a glass of unicum and a television documentary about Canaris.
December 30th; Pretty quiet out here.

December 29th; Constantine & I walk to the village shop, frosty air filled with mixed woodsmoke aromas.
December 28th; Robin still in bed. I teach Letty how to play Klondike patience, though using two packs, not one.

December 27th; Robin ill, stays in bed. Letty & Zsuzsa play chinese checkers with me.
December 26th; Boxing Day. I make mince pies.

December 25th; Christmas Day. Robin's copy of 'Astro-archeology' by John Michell is a refreshingly short and clear illustrated account of various pioneers investigating whether neolithic stone circles were intended to track sun, moon & stars to mark the celestial calendar. Michell records how three centuries of archeologists repeatedly dismissed claims by outsiders from William Stukely through Norman Lockyer up to Alexander Thom that sites like Stonehenge, Silbury Hill, Castle Rigg and Le Menec were Druid observatories built to mark solstices and equinoxes. Neolithic astronomy is now right in the standard picture.
December 24th; Well, at least some people are courteous enough to reply to me. Robin, Constantine & I end up celebrating the eve of the nativity by watching 'Zabriskie Point' on telly, and reflecting on innocence, love & materialism. Clearer than ever that Antonioni was thrilled & inspired by the fresh 60s mood, yet not taken in. Fine camera shots, perfectly caught sense of space & hope, good score - wooden acting, middling dialogue, bit slow.

December 23rd; Out gathering firewood by the river. As night falls, with rich colours along the horizon, Robin & I secure a sapling against quite bitter wind.
December 22nd; Indoor day. Lovely Persian-tutorial site.

December 21st; After delays, Constantine, Robin & I make it out of town to the country by car with Letty & Zsuzsa.
December 20th; A complex afternoon culminating with a visit to a Mucsarnok opening, then a sort of trial-by-dead-language with Zeno & Krisztina in Muvesz coffee house. Zeno excitedly extols the virtues of wine, makes me promise to relearn my Latin, the true European language, questions my position on God, and urgently challenges me to debate any century in the history of philosophy with him. We draw a bit of a blank when I nervously suggest Anselm. Krisztina sweetly pays for our drinks.

December 19th; I bobble around a bookshop & WestEndCity shopping centre, & meet no-one.
December 18th; Japanese artists at the Ludwig. Robin, Constantine, Istvan, Wayne, Goran & I go on to the Knoll Gallery, to see Emese's light sculptures. Judit joins us at a Kertesz-utca restaurant {'M'} with arrogantly small portions, and shows us the scar across her throat.

December 17th; I wake up somehow healed. My waking thought is that each day has a 'push hour', when you try to get the day's crucial things done. And today works.
December 16th; Sudden crushing darkness hits me in the evening. Aching, bitter self-pity.

December 15th; Read 'Babel orokeben' by Istvan Totfalusi, an old general-interest book introducing linguistics in a basic, cheerful way for schools. Lovely early-70s period piece (so feels more like an early-60s book from Britain) with black-and-white photographs of schoolboys in Wokingham struggling with an early school computer, lots of spools of Joe-90-style magnetic ribbon, stern-looking linguists' portraits from earlier centuries, chunky grids of type in other scripts, and touchingly crude cartoons of vowel-wielding cavemen. For a Hungarian book, an understandable, but not excessive amount of space given to the Finno-Ugric languages in the middle sections. Ends with a rousing vision of a future, centuries ahead, where giant, humming translation machines occupy whole floors of Corbusier-type glass towers, the world has settled on one language, and Esperanto had an honoured place in bringing the new age to fruition. Though the intermediary chapters move over topics like a logically perfect language with a light touch, the great coming age still has a World Language supposedly better at expressing emotion, abstract argument, and everything in between than any language hitherto.
Plus... Chatting with a statistical surrealist.

December 14th; A Sunday so low-key it almost wasn't there. Esther & I do some drawing in the kitchen. I turned the heating up when I found her sitting in her overcoat.
December 13th; So you can get a hangover from pezsgo. Rob & I meet in the Goethe Institut for coffee.

December 12th; At last a printer Robin & I can work with? In the evening, the cast party for the Seress film. Mici says she'll send me her Sapir-Whorf essay, Rita & I fail to get into Capella, Zita weighs up options, and David tells me he is working with an inspirational speaker.
December 11th; Esther takes me out to a small village by train to meet our now-reclusive young witch friend, Edit, and her adorable three-year-old daughter, Emoke. After a fine chicken soup and an hour trying to configure the Apple, Edit says my green 'heart' aura is about three inches thick with my yellow 'strength' aura another inch on top of that. Esther has more of both, though. On the train back, Esther gives me some useful advice on how Libra women such as herself think.

December 10th; Cough starting to leave me. Why do shops here not have floor wax?
December 9th; Up late translating stuff about Istvan Szabo (who was Mr Choi's all-time favourite film director, of course) for Gyorgyi's film-theory journal.

December 8th; After yesterday's big clean while Esther & Wayne cooked pasta & tuna, another dull, middling Monday. Where did I put the book 'Cheese' Nina sent me?
December 7th; Some strangeness surrounding Mikulas this year. A traditionally Continental pre-Christmas Father Christmas turned up on Friday while I was teaching Sara to present us each with a miniature chocolate version of himself. Eerily, though, the stumbling visitor had no face, his white fluffy beard covering the front of his head from neck to forehead. At home I completely failed to notice Esther's Saint Nicholas gift to me for two days, hiding in the shoe section of the hallway. Meanwhile, at the Internet cafe round the corner, a generous stocking of nuts and chocolates was left for me by a "girl with long brown hair" said the genial proprietor, himself dressed in red with white beard for that couple of days. The only women who know I go there/here (or would think of including a sachet of cappuccino) all deny responsibility. Hmmm.
All supposedly based on the colours of the mushroom the Lapplanders used to get high on (hence flying reindeer etc)? Makes me admire the stubborn Dutch, clinging to their yellow-robed Sinterklaas who turns up on a steamship with an African boy in jester's clothes to help him distribute oranges. Especially the steamship detail.

December 6th; I nip round the corner to the mysterious socks & underpants wholesaler on the next block with the mirrored door, where you have to press a buzzer to be let in. A rather dishy blonde sends me away, explaining that simply because OPEN is written in large letters on the door doesn't actually mean they are really open. But I can come back tomorrow, Sunday morning, from seven a.m. - so almost like a real shop then.
December 5th; Sitting upright in bed (yes, in bed - that's how ill I am) so as not to keep Esther awake next door with my coughing, I read the school's copy of 'Hidden Histories of Science'. The book is five essays about how science often advances erratically with backward steps and social influences. Stephen Jay Gould's essay about misleadingly teleological "ladders and cones" in pictures of plants and animals in earth's deep past and in "march-of-progress" diagrams of evolution could illustrate the whole book's thesis. In other words scientific advance is not so much inevitable and orderly as messy and filled with squabbles and misunderstandings. Pictured backwards from where we are it looks much neater and more heroic than it was.
Since the book repeatedly boasts about how lucid and readable it is, I don't feel too wicked saying it was a bit dull in parts. It starts off with the slightly bossy Jonathan Miller talking about how a string of disputes held understanding of "enabling unconscious" back for over a century, in favour of more mystical, such as Freudian, views of what the unconscious mind might do. Nice essay in the middle about the role of viruses in cancer. It closes with Oliver Sacks describing how he repeatedly found neurological conditions (Tourette's syndrome, geometric pattern illusions seen by migraine headache sufferers, phantom limbs - he might have also mentioned synaesthesia recently rehabilitated by Simon Baron-Cohen) had vanished from textbooks and academic journals for a century: noted and described by Victorian doctors, dismissed and forgotten by 20th-century doctors. Sacks uses the image of a 'scotoma', a blind spot or an overlooked area, to describe the way some topics disappear from the literature and become apparently invisible to medical practitioners for decades or even centuries. Miller obviously does something similarly mimetic with his history of unconsciousness. What struck me about Sacks' stories of going back through hospital library books to look for references to some neurological condition, and finding that no-one had taken out a certain book since before World War I, is that Sacks was simply doing what was his job. And so is almost unique. Indeed, it would seem that roughly one person a century actually does the job they are paid to do in most fields. Not quite the conclusion I expected a book like this to lead me to. The most subversive thing about it is this truth that, in science too, conscientiousness earns you resentment and opposition from others. Far from effort and honesty being rewarded, the conscientious minority clearly need large reserves of stamina to soak up the punishment they get from others for doing their jobs properly.

December 4th; With Ryan to Al Amir. I burble on about sentential logic, sign-language and a book on philosophy of regret, to reconcile ethics & time.
December 3rd; Still coughing. Richard back in touch.

December 2nd; In the evening I visit the Turkish restaurant, and chance upon the multi-talented Sandor tucking into a shish kebab with tsaziki. Of course, he greets me in Turkish.
December 1st; After standing in for Georgina in an intriguing 8 a.m. meeting with the wary old fox Tiszainoka has for a village mayor, I cycle with Robin to the next village to meet The Sexy Dentist. One bicycle has no gears, the other has no brakes, so we swap over half-way. Finding the dentist out for the day, we repair to Tiszakurt's pub where I watch a Bavarian soap opera on the television and he manages to secure a surprisingly convincing lager-and-lime shandy. Then we pop in on his upholsterer, and get drawn into a long and deep discussion about stuffing materials and seam-stitching. Robin's short-cut on the way back has us cycling through an extremely muddy field.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact@otherlanguages.org

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