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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.


April 30th; Working late in the Internet cellar correcting someone's thesis about Udmurt. At midnight, some low-key dancing on bar stools marks Hungary joining the EU.

April 29th; Another day in the office translating porn.
April 28th; Another pro-DNA-database story. Nice timing.

April 27th; A drink with Rita, then later with Gordon & Jim.
April 26th; Another ambiguous spring morning. The street saplings have had new soil put in their little disc grilles.

April 25th; My jolly neighbour asks when my name day is. I tell her I don't know. She pops into her kitchen, and comes out saying it is today. Two girls atop the escalator give me a little notebook thingie advertising 'Kill Bill 2'.
April 24th; Over a cappuccino, Steve tells me a former girlfriend of his recently died. Aged 39, her heart simply stopped one night as she relaxed on her sofa. Steve stresses this was two weeks after she learned he has finally fathered a baby. We also discuss memory palaces.

April 23rd; Weather actually hot. More film stuff.
April 22nd; I proofread a haunted-house script vaguely like a cuddlier version of 'Demon Seed'.

April 21st; A website too cool to open on any but the shiniest computers. Today able, for once, to treat Marion to a coffee at Pasareti ter cafe. Glorious sunshine.
April 20th; Dinner at Mihaly's again. His son, Zoltan, tells me he is one of Hungary's thirty-odd grandmasters. He says the English opening is a little safer to play against a computer program. Their elderly brown dog comes and rests his head wistfully in my lap during the meat course.

April 19th; So I'm teaching TW3 & David Frost. Unless...
April 18th; Was about to ask New Scientist about paper cuts. But question already answered.

April 17th 1st meeting with Rob in months. Mariann introduces us to Italian lemon liqueur.
April 16th; In the film producer's office again with his huge, perhaps overly playful, Rottweiler, Johnny.

April 15th; Tiring day. Mariann makes fine soup.
April 14th; Into town with Robin at dusk. At the Molnar utca Italian restaurant, four men play cards a little self-consciously as we order pasta and wait for Istvan.

April 13th; Finished the 'da Vinci code' book, and it rained a lot. Brown's book did make me want to reach the conclusion to see how it all tied up, but obviously fresher for those who didn't read 'Holy blood, Holy Grail' 20 years ago. And for a thriller celebrating the sacred feminine, the portrayal of heroine Sophie as dumb brunette was fairly slack. We are supposed to accept that a celebrated academic "symbologist" and a top cryptographer [Sophie, solving riddles since childhood] fail to spot basic anagrams, or recall that da Vinci made notes in mirror script, or notice that a code number has ten digits in it. Her suggestion that an alphabet be written in two rows arouses murmurs of admiration for her cryptography teachers from another vacuous stereotype, the comedy upper-crust Brit. Sophie, one moment a soignee Parisienne, the next moment cries "You've got to be kidding!", at the prospect of meeting an English knight, like an awestruck American girl-next-door. This rive-droite fille is also apparently traumatised like the most prudish of suburbans for an entire decade at having glimpsed a sexual ritual as late as her university years. As a crack agent in an elite French police force we might also expect young Sophie to know that new-fangled telephones can remember telephone numbers and that messages tend to stay on telephone answering machines until you remove them. Apart from cartoon characters [and not the da Vinci type], the thriller machinery is clunky in general. Bad man turns out good. Good man turns out bad. An armoured truck from a high-tech Swiss bank carries [surprise] a radio-positioning transmitter, a likelihood which crosses the mind of neither the "top" cryptographer nor the "top" academic driving said truck. And this transmitter can be "switched on" remotely, by - er ...radio transmission. ? Another lesson that pioneering pays poorly, and the serious fortunes come from retailing other people's ideas for larger audiences.
April 12th; More egg-painting. Robin & I decide not sprinkle water on any girls. Letty is too ill to receive visitors, but when two smartly-dressed village lads turn up to say their little rhyme, Zsuzsi is delighted to have them spray perfume on her and give them in turn a chocolate egg each.
After dark, Robin & I fetch drinking water from the village well. As we return, we find Zsuszi & her little brother in a cloud of insects under an outside light, contentedly collecting dozens of some hideous local bug to pop them, still buzzing, into a jam jar.

April 11th; Christ is risen, citizens. We decorate eggs with paints & coloured pencils, then have an egg & spoon race with them. Mysteriously, I win.
April 10th; Called 'Big Saturday' here. I start reading the 'da Vinci code' book Annika sent me from Sweden.

April 9th; This morning, Mariann tells me I am like a kinetic gas molecule. Robin meets us at the nearby cakeshop where, it being Good Friday, the weekend assistant and one of the weekday assistants are serving on the same day.
April 8th; Popped into both the embassy and the Illuminati-conspiracy shoeshop in one afternoon.

April 7th; Start work on the ID-card article. Hope it works.
April 6th; Visit gym.

April 5th; A slow Monday, since it's already holiday. The shopping centre has ended its show of naff photographs by famous people [Nicole Kidman, Nick Faldo etc] for charity. Main sign of intelligent life, interestingly, was from Kate Moss, who cunningly offered a cluster of small snaps of friends at Glastonbury instead of one big picture. Perhaps chance or perhaps good advice, but a brighter professional model might notice that (1) there is actually quite some craft to taking good photos, that furthermore (2) she isn't good at it herself, and therefore she is (3) better off not exposing her amateurishness with one large composition. With Moss's possible Socratic exception, all the other famous folks clearly had no idea they had no idea how to take a photo. Not even the vaguest sense that proportion or arranging things in the picture frame are involved. Heidi Klum proudly shows a portrait with a boat going into her head.
April 4th; Mariann takes me to see Lollobrigida, a pair of Croat girls with guitars in a cellar bar, not this Lollobrigida.

April 3rd; Rather quiet. 'Tangled Wing', the nature-versus-nature book Ryan left me mentions lots of interesting studies into people, animals, and our inherited natures. Unfortunately, it has that writing style (both florid and stodgy) that some artistically-rounded scientists from New England inflict on readers: you can feel the Rilke quote coming, hundreds of pages ahead. In one squirm-making passage where he asks his doctor how such an exhausting, small and ugly thing as his baby can be so adorable, we can almost see Robin Williams doing him as a whiskery funny professor, exploding lovably that "that's a cliche from one of my own worst lectures, doctor!" (real quote from book). The overall drift is to emphasise how evidence shows human character to be Darwinian and genetic, without yielding to vulgar sociobiologism. But, from 1982, it already looks quite dated. Margaret Mead is referred to respectfully as a pioneering anthropologist who changed all our views, rather than as the rather gullible girl she has since been claimed to be, who didn't learn the Samoan language and totally fell for Samoan village women's leg-pulling about adolescent sex play. Konner's passages on Sigmund Freud's "eloquent" writing and deep insight also rang a little odd to this reader. Sounded nothing like the dense, rambling pages of ranting text I found in Freud, an emperor whose clothes wear thinner with every passing month. Konner seems to be yet another person who popped in for a year or two to study the !Kung people [must check that ! notation: a clicking sound?]. He was shrewd enough to see that their gentleness is as much to do with poverty & simplicity as any "natural purity". Some good bits. What does 'Tangled Wing' mean, exactly?
April 2nd; The performance all goes a bit wrong - my students got stage fright - but trip back very soothing as we enter the Carpathian microclimate. Everything warmer, yellower and slower through the train window once we had crossed the border.
Further east, check this Russian/Ukrainian girl's diary (pix load a little slowly) of her motorbike journeys through the Chernobyl dead zone.

April 1st; April Fool's Day. A strange mood at breakfast, where I come down to garbled stories about people coming back from bars drunk late last night and a door inside the hotel being broken. Jim gets billed by the police, here quaintly called the 'Gendarmarie' to give them a more villagy feel. Polizei are for cities. Anyway, quaint or not, the Austrian village 'gendarmes' persuade Jim down to the station for what he thinks will be a clarification chat about what happened, get his passport off him, and then charge him more than his week's wages for the repairs to 2 splintered door jambs he has no memory of damaging in a night of several tipsy teachers wandering around trying to get into the locked hotel. At almost six hundred dollars for two inserted wooden strips, one 3" x 1" x 1" and one 7" x 1" x 1", carpentry in Austria is clearly an excellent business to be in. Unless Austria is short of wood?
I cook fudge brownies, twice, with two different classes. My own class insist on taking brownies home for their mothers. A first. Teachers enthuse about the cakes too. Can they taste 3a's goodheartedness?
Later, Siegrid invites us over to her house for an afternoon coffee after teaching, and it boils down to Beata, Leeann and myself moving our hands in passing motions over bottles of Siegrid's Bach flower remedies, paying close attention to our energy fields. Her pear liqueur was like good advocaat, and her wild-cherry liqueur was gorgeous. Before bed I pop into Pischelsdorf's one Internet cafe and update this diary on the one terminal.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact at otherlanguages.org

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