Sunday, 16 November 2008

Several Round Tuits Later

I'm not very good with those round tuit things. I never seem to get any. I have lots of good intentions, but I never seem to follow them up. It's taken 25 years for me to get round to learning Greek, which has been number one on my todo list for all that time.

I'm not entirely sure about the other things on that list, since it'll take at least another round tuit before I actually make one. However, you can get some idea of what it might contain by looking at unread books on my shelves:

  • Italian in Three Months (Hugo Publishing). I bought this in 1992, which is quite a lot of three months ago. Greek's going to take me a lifetime, so I suspect that the Language of Love will remain forever a mystery to me.
  • On The Good Life, Cicero (Penguin Classics). When I got this in 1989 I had actually read Hugo's Latin in Three Months, and was starting to look at Cicero.
  • Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott. I've read the first couple of pages of this about 3 or 4 times in the last 20 years. So I know all about the difference between Anglo-Saxon and Norman names for animals.
  • Garbage Land - On the Secret Trail of Trash, Elizabeth Royle. Bought at Baltimore airport, presumably because my bags didn't weigh enough. I never manage to read much on planes. One day it will become part of that trash trail, probably still unopened.
  • The Maya, Michael D Coe. The Maya are interesting. They left behind writings which have been solved like crossword puzzles by scholars, and they had an amazing culture, including horrible sarcificial ceremonies and stuff. Which is probably about as much as I'll ever know about them.
  • Arctic Dreams - Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape, Barry Lopez. I think I'd been listening to Glenn Gould's old Canadian radio documentaries about the solitude of Northern Canada when I came across this in a second hand bookshop. I did start it, and it's very poetic and fascinating. I should have left it in that shop for someone who might have appreciated it.
  • Step By Step Esperanto, Montagu C Butler. 1989 (I bought a lot of books that year, it seems). What was I thinking? A quick flip through this book will convince you what a sad waste of time Esperanto was. Mr Butler explains that English speakers find it difficult to learn other languages because our vowel sounds are so rubbish, and that Esperanto is the answer to all modern ills. He has little verses slagging off English. What they've got to do with learning a soulless language that no-one uses, I don't know:
We speak of a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
You may find a lone mouse, or a whole nest of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Whey shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
When I speak of a foot and you show me two feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother we NEVER say methren!
  • Τα Πρωτοβρόχια μου [My First Rainfalls], Sofoklis H Andreadis (Published in Manchester). This is one of those books that an author has paid to have printed (nowadays you'd just start a blog), and I got it in Manchester when I was a student there. I bought it because it was in Greek, but it is a book of this guy's poetry. I can't get into poetry. This is another one I should feel guilty about - someone has been through with a biro and corrected various printing errors. A labour of love languishing on my shelf.
That lot should keep me busy, for at least another 10 lifetimes. If any of you feel like learning Esperanto, or reading some trash journalism, you're welcome to borrow these, as long as you return them before I need them.


Anndi said...

Maybe next time I'm sick I could... nah.

Anndi said...

WOOOO!!! I was FIRST!!!

Remush said...

"What they've got to do with learning a soulless language that no-one uses?"
No-one? o-o. I know already more than 100, but your no-one is very likely over 1 000 000
So you should have written nooo-ooone.
BTW the language soul is in the people, not in the language.
Esperanto has many souls in many countries.
But some souls are unaware about the existence of others.
You must feel alone.

Jean Knee said...

how lovely, Remush

Brian, you just have to chuck all those and start with something interesting. Go to the bookstore, write down titles that sound good then order them from the library

Jean Knee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bee said...

Funny, I clicked on Remush and in his about me, it says "Esperantisto". I have to wonder if he googles *Esperanto* on a daily basis.

I studied the Maya and Aztecs once a long time ago. The only thing I remember is that they had flushable toilets with an advanced sewer/irrigation system.

Kat said...

Hehe yeah that reminds me of that Swedish course and Dante's Inferno on my book shelf. THanks for the reminder. LOL.

Dan said...

all those books sound boring, stick to reading blogs.

Hoss said...

Butler's quite right, actually — at least in regard to Esperanto. English speakers tend to have a hard time with the pure vowels, although there are many exceptions. It's kind of like how Dubya might sound if he spoke Italian. Of all the Esperanto speakers I've met from overseas, the Poles, Serbs and Croats tend to have the best pronunciation.

"Step by Step" is a bit antiquated and even stuffy, but it's a very good textbook. For something more modern and flashy, try Lernu.

Tracys Ramblings said...

Aha! Ok, now I figured it out! I must be smarter than the comment thingy!
What did you do to it?
I used to have all kinds of books on my bookshelves that I needed to get to. One was the biography of Einstein. But now those books have been replaced by things like The Hungry Caterpillar and Everyone Poops.

Jean Knee said...

where you at, Brian?

Chris Wood said...

Brian, I think optimistic book buying is a great thing. I still have two books in French to help me read French (now 8 years old), a book on karate (I could hit people with it) and a book on men's fitness, the less said about that the better.

Daniel said...

Regarding Butler: One shouldn't judge a language by one lesson book. If you're into buying books I'd recommend Esperanto: Learning and Using the International Language by Richardson.

If one studies a history of the language it is easy to see that before WWII there was much cause for optimism.

Diva said...

I am quite capable of butchering one language perfectly.

I'm sure Italy and it's inhabitants wouldn't appreciate me learning to butcher theirs :)

Bee said...


Sully Sullivan said...

Mayan culture is unbelievable. You should definitely be making that book a top priority. You'll have to buy new socks because the ones you're wearing will be blown completely off when you find out about all the amazing things they did. For example, Kool-Aid. Yep, they invented that.

Jean Knee said...

Hey Bee, I see where your man Hugh Jackman won sexiest man alive

Bee said...

Awesome jean knee! he is sooo hawt!

Bee said...

you know who is looking good?? That guy from Fringe that used to be on Dawson's creek?

Jean Knee said...

He has his own scratch and sniff page in people magazine

Jean Knee said...

I don't know that guy will have to check

Bee said...

MMMM SCRATCH AND SNIFF?? Where are we sniffing??

Bee said...

Dammit! i have to go! i burnt the pork chops!

Jean Knee said...

my computer is running so donkey slow I couldn't check the guy out.


Brian o vretanos said...

Well, I'm back! It's great to see have some Esperantists online! I suppose what makes me feel it's "soulless" is the fact that it's so regular - the feeling that there aren't any fun nooks and crannies and traditions that you get from other languages. That may be an incorrect assumption, of course.

As for the "pure vowels" thing, as far as I can see, there's a lot of variation in vowel pronounciation. French, German, Dutch and Greek don't seem to have "pure" vowels - the latter, for example, notionally does have 5 vowel sounds, but there are a wide range of pronouciations based on whether the vowel is stressed or not, the specific speaker, and so on.

In all seriousness, I take the point that some people do speak Esperanto - my blog is full of not entirely serious sweeping generalisations, so shouldn't be taken too seriously.


I will put the Mayans top of my Round Tuit list. They certainly do appear to have been an amazing culture.

Everyone Else:

Hello! I'll get round to your blogs sometime in the next day or so!