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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