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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.


May 31st; Finished 'Practical Cheesemaking' by Kathy Biss, while sneezing in bed. A book full of firm common sense instructions for making a range of English cheeses, but the focus is on Cheddars, a variety I dislike. The line drawings and black-and-white photos did not disappoint (any real how-to book has lots of black-and-white photographs), but I was left a bit intimidated. Making cheese properly is clearly rather complicated. You have to measure the acidity a lot, boil all your equipment repeatedly, and look after awkward little pots of microbes called 'starter' and 'rennet'. At certain stages, getting it right to the degree and to the minute is essential. For example, if you stir the curds for more than four minutes (such as for five minutes) after adding rennet, the cheese may be doomed. Then you have to care for the things like babies, pressing them, unwrapping them for hot-water washes the first few days, rewrapping them in bandages with lard. On and on it goes. Protect the fat globules, winter milk not same as summer milk, check what drugs and feed the cows/sheep/goats are on, ask local health officials which ditches to pour the whey into. Gordon Bennet.
May 30th; Walking along a dusty, sunlit back street, I see a large Hungarian man in a pale grey suit stroll out of a doorway. Hands in his pockets, he addresses a parked car, saying "Aaaaagh!". Still with his back to me he then adds, again to no-one in particular, "And maybe then B." As I pass him he turns, sees me and chuckles.
Quiet Sunday in. Finished the
school's copy of Edward Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire', though this thick enough Penguin Classics edition seems to have half the chapters abridged. A lot of fun, though perhaps not quite enough fun to make me seek out the unabridged version.
The alarming tale of the feckless Emperor Justinian and his naively noble general Belisarius (and their two scheming wives Theodora and Antonina) stays with me vividly. The Blues and the Greens whose riots wrecked Constantinople sound a lot like football hooligans. The Eastern Empire's misplaced attack on Persia under the remarkable Emperor Julian "the Apostate" is also quite an episode. I'm not sure if he should get away with suggesting that displaced sects of Paulicians seeded early waves of Protestant dissent in Europe a thousand years later, but his style is such a cunning mix of irony, deprecating caution, mordant wit, and sober restraint, it is hard to call his bluff on overinterpreting. But overall a masterly narrative - fine mix of large social forces and crucial individuals. I tried to read Gibbon's earnest yet wry footnoting which keeps popping in chunks of the Latin and Greek from original sources. Rather embarrassingly, I could make out very few sentences in either. So much for cramming languages into children.

May 29th; A visit to Franc's corner cafe in the 19th district. I meet Csilla & Ildiko. Heavy rain buckets down outside as we discuss the PUP and the Ulster Scots story over cakes & decaffeinated cappuccinos.
May 28th; Finally I manage to not have my class panic in the Friday performance. Went well. Not hung over from last night's merriment at Christian's winery where Bob on guitar and Marek on fiddle had us all dancing Greek folk things, in between intense chat. Franc & I touched on the men-in-love-versus-women-in-love discussion with Daniela & Claudia. Franc waxed ecstatic about a Ducati motorbike he once owned. Today, an uneventful trip back to a cloudy Budapest in Franc's car, after warm farewells from Zistersdorfers. Pest flat feels strangely empty.

May 27th; Yesterday went round Zistersdorf with my class. We dropped in on Jackie's house to see her father's remarkable mural stretching through their garage & kitchen, replete with hermetic symbols picked out in bright, colourful tiles. In their garden, a rather large small castle, in pond with fountains.
Late afternoon, watched some US comedy dubbed into German on my hotel room television. A suburban girl was misusing magical powers to shrink people in size and imprison them in a dolls' house. In a macabre sub-plot, a woman loses her face, and crawls around on her hands and knees, unable to see with her smooth pink head, while her face gives her directions from across the floor like a floppy, talking pancake. At the same time two other German-language channels both had similar-looking shows competing against each other where audience members or actors argue with each other in studio mock-courtrooms, complete with lawyers & magistrates.
Today, cooked twice, once with my children, once with Leeann's class, all delightful and charming. Then out to the pond where Bob organised the treasure hunt. Watching children rushing around among sunlit trees clutching leaves could have let me finally live out my Catcher in the Rye fantasies if I'd ever had any.
May 26th; Woke in hotel room, unsure if was 7am or 7pm. 11 hours later, woke at 6am out of dream about climbing a 50-foot-high wall encrusted with candelabra inside giant hall. By day, Franc's talented class with Armenian bright spark, Manuel.

May 25th; Poem! Annika recommends Democritus.
May 24th; Back in the Austrian classrooms with the giant wooden compasses & protractors.

May 23rd; Long car trip to Zistersdorf with Franc & Bob.
May 22nd; Social evening: Istvan, Robin, Mariann & Ilan.

May 21st; Cracking thunderstorm ends warm, close day.
May 20th; Time to take back our privacy.

May 19th; Invigilating with Jasmina. She tells me about Macedonia afterwards at the Moszkva ter metro station concrete rooftop cafe. Gorgeous sunshine.
May 18th; Apparently, just last week Mihaly was peering over the crater rim of Etna.

May 17th; Tried to explain Jacobs & Lietaer.
May 16th; Ducklings & big reeds on Csepel Island.

May 15th; Four times in the morning I wake out of interesting dreams. 1) Convinced that Arrow's voting result could be extended to constitutions; 2) Something vivid about hi-tech steel mills in Holland; 3) Articulate homosexual saying "I'm not just an 'Asian man'. I'm an 'Asian ear man'."; 4) Forgot this one.
May 14th; Man in bookshop sells me phone recharger.

May 13th; Ian Stewart's 'Termeszet Szamai' ('Nature's Numbers') ends with him making a rousing call for a new kind of maths suitable for things like explaining how big molecules behave. I was boring my friends twenty years ago saying we'd need that, so comforting to be confirmed. Lots about maths in biology: basically how the principle of symmetry-breaking keeps cropping up. As in his other books, Stewart comes back to the strange arithmetic of animal walking styles - the lovely verb 'pronk' describes when an animal (such as, occasionally, young deer) moves forward with all four feet at once in a sort of stiff, four-legged jump. Plenty about flower-petal-numbering. Fewer diagrams than I would have liked.
May 12th; In the gym today, two young Americans chatting among the machines about high-school and college sports. One says to the other: "You know what I really miss about football and wrestling. I miss being able to really fuck somebody up." They shook their heads in quiet, wry nostalgia some seconds, then returned to their work-outs.

May 11th; On the long Saturday as Sanyi drove us back into town (before the 2nd shift) to walk Johnny the Rottweiler, a discussion in the car about what to do if civilisation broke down. Tom reckoned that if he stays in shape, he can run twenty miles or so cross-country, enough to get out of almost any city in an afternoon.
May 10th; Taught. Slept.

May 9th; Off to Tim's in Paty for drinks. We plant shrubs.
May 8th; 17-hour day at film editor's in Go:d, subtitling.

May 7th; Mariann & I play fox and chickens.
May 6th; Wonderful grey stormclouds at 3.30 darken the sky and it rains for two hours. The streets are dry by 6.30 when brilliant yellow sun comes out.

May 5th; Got to the end of Rob's copy of Matt Ridley's 'Nature via Nurture'. Ridley, onetime science writer for The Economist, aims to kill the black-and-white "nature versus nurture" debate with a host of examples about how interdependent they are. Lots of examples of genes that can only be switched on by environmental cues and types of learning from the environment that are gene-driven but still open. The most interesting remark is where he turns one particular typical view on its head: far from genes locking us in at an early age and the environment enabling us to be flexible, Ridley provocatively claims it is environmental influence that defines much of our fate from an early age and our genetic inheritence that gives us freedom. One of many studies he quotes suggests that one cause of male homosexuality can be the hormonal environment of a womb of a mother that has already carried older brothers to term. Or the recent analysis of the WWII Dutch Hunger, when pregant women on starvation rations had underweight baby girls whose grand-daughters two generations later are still being born with lower-than-average weights. So I'm convinced. Shame all these different genes switching on and off have to be called confusing things like nobox7 or cac6b.
May 4th; Jeremy shows me his garage & training shoes.

May 3rd; Lyspeth mistook Marc "We rep everything" Bruder on the phone for me?
Sari bit glum about her cube of drinking straws.
May 2nd; Definitely some aniseed in my toothpaste.

May 1st; Finish translating for Gordon and redoing the Udmurt. With Mariann & her friends see Anything Else, the latest Woody Allen film. A bit sad to note how much older and greyer Allen is. Rather like ageing pop divas, Allen now has a younger stand-in at the heart of the romantic-comedy action, while he is an eccentric older cameo character the hero, Jerry, keeps meeting up with in Central Park. Very smooth dialogue and story-telling, decades of experience show: Allen's paranoid raconteur is well-judged. But some disappointing bits. The sexy, capricious girl just isn't attractive enough to have that much power over Woody's alter ego, Jerry. While Jerry seemed too weak - a little too anxious and guilty - for the good-looking young man he is. And surely even Manhattan (or at least Woody Allen films set in Manhattan) should have moved on from jokes about name-dropping Dostoyevsky, Camus, and Billie Holiday?
Touchingly, Budapesters really do seem to have a spring in their step today about having entered the Franco-German trade cartel. Poor loves.


Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact@otherlanguages.org

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