« Les chats furent créés dans notre monde pour réfuter le dogme que toutes choses furent créées pour servir l’Homme. » — Froquevielle
• “Cats were created in our world to refute the dogma that everything was created to serve mankind.”
I can’t find any more details of “Froquevielle”, which may be a misspelling.
« Tous les chats sont mortels, Socrate est mortel, donc Socrate est un chat. » — Rhinocéros (1959) par Eugène Ionesco (1931-94)
• “All cats are mortal, Socrates is mortal, therefore Socrates is a cat.”
I first came across this quote about cats in French:
« Le plus petit des félins est une œuvre d’art. »
• “The smallest of felines is a work of art.”
It’s widely attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, but I can’t find any proof that he ever said it. Here it is in a fuller Italian version:
« Anche il più piccolo dei felini, il gatto, è un capolavoro. »
• Même le plus petit des félins, le chat, est un chef-d’œuvre.
•• Even the smallest of felines, the cat, is a masterpiece.
It’s a good quote, wherever it comes from. But the attribution to Leonardo reminds of another saying in Italian: Se non è vero, è ben trovato — “If it’s not true, it’s a happy invention.”
French novelist Colette was a firm cat-lover. When she was in the U.S. she saw a cat sitting in the street. She went over to talk to it and the two of them mewed at each other for a friendly minute. Colette turned to her companion and exclaimed, “Enfin! Quelqu’un qui parle français.” (At last! Someone who speaks French!) — viâ Cat Ladies and a book whose title I forget
In 2013, I made a key discovery that disturbed and distressed core members of the non-conformist maverick community on a global basis dot dot dot… In America (or so it appeared) a key lexical marker of non-conformist maverickness was rapidly declining in terms of core usage, thusly:
At the same time, the non-conformist maverick community in Britain had maintained their core commitment to this key lexical marker of etc, thusly:
I expressed my puzzlement at the decline of “in terms of” in America. I couldn’t see a linguistic explanation and should (I now realize) have expressed doubts about the reliability of the data. Yes, in 2020 I’m very happy to report to members of the non-conformist maverick community that they need be disturbed and distressed no longer. The term has turned and it seems Google’s nGram wasn’t working properly at that time-period. Key statistics for core usage of “in terms of” are now in core accordance with key expectations, thusly:
“in terms of” (American English)
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“in terms of” (British English)
Sadly, however, non-conformist mavericks in French- and Spanish-speaking countries seem to have stopped being non-conformist:
“en termes de” (French)
“en términos de” (Spanish)
The title of this incendiary intervention radically referencizes a key catchphrase of core comedian George Formby (1904-61), viz, “turned out nice again”. Formby’s home-county of Lancashire (England) was — and remains — a core hotbed of non-conformist maverickness dot dot dot
• Core discussion around “in terms of”…
Album primo-avrilesque, meaning April-Foolish Album, is a collection of visual jokes published by the French humourist Alphonse Allais (1854-1905) on 1st April 1897. Note that some of the captions can’t be translated fully into English, because they use French idioms that refer to color.
Combat de nègres dans une cave, pendant la nuit
Negroes fighting in a cellar at night
Stupeur de jeunes recrues apercevant pour la première fois ton azur, O Méditerranée!
Astonishment of young naval recruits seeing for the first time your blue, O Mediterranean!
Des souteneurs, encore dans la force de l’âge et le ventre dans l’herbe, boivant de l’absinthe
Pimps, still in the prime of life and with bellies to the grass, drinking absinthe
(Pimps were then known as dos verts or “green-backs”)
Manipulation de l’ocre par des cocus ictériques
Handling of ochre by jaundiced cuckolds
(According to one page I’ve found, coucou is the name given to some yellow wild-flowers, and cuckolds can be yellow with jealousy)
Récolte de la tomate par des cardinaux apoplectiques au bord de la mer Rouge (Effet d’aurore boréale)
Harvesting of tomatoes by apoplectic cardinals on the shore of the Red Sea (effect of the Aurora Borealis)
Ronde de pochards dans le brouillard
Dance of drunks in the fog
(Slang for “drunk” in French is gris, which also means “gray”)
Première communion de jeunes filles chlorotiques par un temps de neige
First communion of anaemic young girls in snowy weather
Marche funèbre, composée pour les funérailles d’un grand homme sourd
Funeral March, composed for the obsequies of a great deaf man
— Croyez-vous aux idées dangereuses ?
— Qu’entendez-vous par là ?
— Croyez-vous que certaines idées soient aussi dangereuses pour certains esprits que le poison pour le corps ?
— Mais, oui, peut-être.
Guy de Maupassant, « Divorce » (1888)
“Do you believe in dangerous ideas?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Do you believe that certain ideas are as dangerous for some minds as poison is for the body?”
“Well, yes, perhaps.”
Papyrocentric Performativity Presents:
• The Sting’s the Thing – A Sting in the Tale, Dave Goulson (Jonathan Cape 2013)
• Two Heads, Two Tongues – Excuse my French! Fluent Français without the Faux Pas, Rachel Best and Jean-Christophe Van Waes (Kyle Books 2013)
• Marred Moon – Void Moon, Michael Connelly (2000)
• ’Vile Vibes – In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile, Dan Davies (Quercus 2014)
• One-Stop Chop-Shop – Toxic Trannies from Kastration Kamp 23: A Sinister Symposium of Academic Assholes Shamelessly Shmoog the Filthiest Films in Cess-Cinema, Dr Miriam B. Stimbers, Dr Samuel P. Salatta, et al (TransToxic Texts 2016)
Or Read a Review at Random: RaRaR
“…par la suggestive lecture d’un ouvrage racontant de lointains voyages…” – J.K. Huysmans, À Rebours (1884).
The language you know best is also the language you know least: your mother tongue, the language you acquired by instinct and speak by intuition. Asking a native speaker to describe English, French or Quechua is rather like asking a fish to describe water. The native speaker, like the fish, knows the answer very intimately, yet in some ways doesn’t know as well as a non-native speaker. In other words, standing outside can help you better understand standing inside: there is good in the gap. What is it like to experience gravity? Like most humans, I’ve known all my life, but I’d know better if I were in orbit or en route to the moon, experiencing the absence of gravity.
And what is it like to be human? We all know and we’ve all read countless stories about other human beings. But in some ways they don’t answer that question as effectively as stories that push humanity to the margins, like Richard Adams’ Watership Down (1972), which is about rabbits, or Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves (also 1972), which is about trisexual aliens in a parallel dimension. There is good in the gap, in stepping outside the familiar and looking back to see the familiar anew.
Continuing reading The Power of Babel…