Thursday, April 30, 2009
Knackered? Miffed? Read This.
Those of you who travel generously to places where the languages you already speak, are spoken, are bound to have encountered certain lexemes or syntactic structures that are unknown to you. That's the beauty of language, after all. Changes are actuated quickly and language always changes. It's one of the things we can basically always trust in: language changes regardless of our input. I quite like the caprice of language. Since it can get unpredictable, it'll always be interesting. If only more things were as interesting as language, but I digress.
If you ask a Bavarian: "Wie ist es Dir?", s/he will get the point and will most likely say: "Gut, gut, selbe[r]?" While 'Wie ist es Dir?' is quite an old saying, actually it's a modern German rendering of a question that Parzival asks his uncle Anfortas in the medieval narrative Parzival, but again, I digress. I suppose, deep down my desire for context always manages to rear its head somehow. But back to the topic.
If you're a Brit visiting the South of the US, let's say Louisiana, you'll notice that people are fixing to do this and that. No, they're not fixing or repairing things, per se. They're simply getting ready to embark on a task.
I illustrate: "Bobbie Sue, I'm fixing to go over to the mechanic and see about the car." One can imagine how the different layers of meaning can inform one another in a number of ways here.
Having said this, do read Roger Cohen's article on The Times. If you're philology-enamored, you will be entertained.
This article was perhaps the best thing I read today. It's the end of the day and I'm quite knackered myself, [hint: if you don't know this means, read the article!]
A bit says:
"A poet friend, Vincent Katz, was over for dinner the other night and asked me with a twinkle in his eye if I was “knackered.” Katz came to poetry via rock ’n roll, and to Oxford via the University of Chicago, and along the way he picked up some English vernacular.
Katz read classics at St. John’s College (viewed as a too-beautiful refuge of sporty underachievers by my own Balliol) and he summed up the experience this way: “I began to realize (what I should have known all along) that I was living in a completely different culture. It was just as alien to me as France would have been, or Spain, or Italy, or Germany. There is the illusion that we speak the same language, but we really don’t.”
Read it all here.
graph per http://www.class.csupomona.edu/colorfulflags/Webpage/Images/wheelconcept.jpg