I know no better quote for the turn of the year than the Robert Louis Stevenson one I posted two years ago, so here it is again:

To look back upon the past year, and see how little we have striven and to what small purpose: and how often we have been cowardly and hung back, or temerarious and rushed unwisely in; and how every day and all day long we have transgressed the law of kindness;—it may seem a paradox, but in the bitterness of these discoveries, a certain consolation resides. Life is not designed to minister to a man’s vanity. He goes upon his long business most of the time with a hanging head, and all the time like a blind child. Full of rewards and pleasures as it is—so that to see the day break or the moon rise, or to meet a friend, or to hear the dinner-call when he is hungry, fills him with surprising joys—this world is yet for him no abiding city. Friendships fall through, health fails, weariness assails him; year after year, he must thumb the hardly varying record of his own weakness and folly. It is a friendly process of detachment. When the time comes that he should go, there need be few illusions left about himself. Here lies one who meant well, tried a little, failed much:—surely that may be his epitaph, of which he need not be ashamed. Nor will he complain at the summons which calls a defeated soldier from the field: defeated, ay, if he were Paul or Marcus Aurelius!—but if there is still one inch of fight in his old spirit, undishonoured. The faith which sustained him in his life-long blindness and life-long disappointment will scarce even be required in this last formality of laying down his arms. Give him a march with his old bones; there, out of the glorious sun-coloured earth, out of the day and the dust and the ecstasy—there goes another Faithful Failure!

And once again I wish you all the very best of years. May 2007 bring us more joy than sorrow and more wisdom than forgetfulness.


  1. ¡Año nuevo, vida nueva!

  2. Kári Tulinius says:

    Gleðilegt nýtt ár!
    Godt nyttår!
    Godt nytår!
    Bonne année!
    Feliz aninovo!
    uh… I used to know how to say it in Basque and Catalan, but early New Year’s morning my brain isn’t at it’s best.
    Happy new year! I hope your blogging remains enjoyable and swell and odd books keep coming your way.

  3. Jack Gibbard says:

    Urte berri on! is the expression Kari Tulinius is looking for, and what I wish him/her and everyone. Bon any, is the Catalan, I think.

  4. Boldog Uj Evet, kivanok!
    Anul Noa Fericit!
    Srecno Novo Godine!
    BaXtalo Nyevo Bersh!

  5. Proserpine says:

    Blwyddyn newydd dda i bawb!
    Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh!

  6. ‘ave ‘appie wun me olde china

  7. Ukiortaami pilluaritsi!
    אַ גוט געבענטשט יאָר
    פרוספירו אנייו נואיבֿו

  8. Ščešľivi novi rok, ľudze mojo!

  9. marie-lucie says:

    Amaa sii k’uuhl!

  10. كل عام وأنتم بخير!
    Aseggwas ameggaz!
    and, of course, akemashite omedetoo gozaimasu!

  11. 旧年中大変お世話になりました。本年もよろしくお願いいたします。
    (Drat, I originally posted this at the wrong thread — the one about starting the year off right:( But maybe it was appropriate after all. Keep up the old spirit! Languagehat 2007 be a poor shadow of itself without those diatribes against idiots!)

  12. Geseende Nuwe Jaar!

  13. David Eddyshaw says:

    Ne fu yuumpaalig!

  14. OK, I give up — what language is that?

  15. David Eddyshaw says:

    Kusaal. The only language really worth learning. Well, Russian, maybe.
    More formally, it would be Barika ne fu yuumpaalig “Blessing with your year-new.” You reply “Naa!”
    It’s a calque, in the sense that new-year greeting isn’t part of the traditional culture, but the “blessing with your X” frame is used is several greetings, so it’s formed on a traditional pattern.

  16. Thanks! Alas, I never learned any Western Oti–Volta languages.

  17. David Eddyshaw says:

    For shame! You can’t always expect to rely on French outside of Ouagadougou, you know.

  18. January First-of-May says:

    Ironically enough, nobody had apparently posted the Russian here, so I might as well:
    С Новым Годом! (what people actually say)
    Счастливого Нового Года! (the more formal version)

    And Счастливого Рождества! because Christmas was yesterday.

  19. For those who feel ambitious, A Grammar of Agolle Kusaal might be helpful.

  20. За много години!
    Честита Нова Година!

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