The Delights of Old Phrasebooks.

The Economist has a pungent piece (archived) titled “Phrasebooks are dying out” but really about the oddities to be found in them. Some excerpts:

The phrasebook had looked so helpful. When Eric Newby, a writer, set out to walk in the Hindu Kush in 1956, he knew he would be visiting places no Englishman had been since 1891. Nonetheless, he was hopeful of communicating. In his bag he carried “Notes on the Bashgali Language”, a phrasebook published in Calcutta in 1902. Opening it one afternoon in the high Himalayas, his hopes faded. Whereas most guidebooks explain how to order a small glass of red wine or a coffee, this offered phrases of more opaque utility.

Ini ash ptul p’mich e manchi mrisht waria’m” ran one which, it explained, meant: “I saw a corpse in a field this morning.” That was followed by “Tu tott baglo piltia” (“Thy father fell into the river”); “I non angur ai; tu ta duts angur ai” (“I have nine fingers; you have ten”); and “Ia chitt bitto tu jarlom” (“I have an intention to kill you”). Some struck a more conversational tone, such as “Tu chi se biss gur biti?” (“How long have you had a goitre?”). But on the whole the book left him with “a disturbing impression” of Bashgali life. […]

Newby thought his phrasebook was revealing about the Bashgalis; in truth such books reveal much more about their English-speaking authors. To sift through old phrasebooks is to study an unparalleled source on the assumptions made by Britons abroad. It is an archaeology of othering.

Two things quickly become clear. The first is that travel was seen as a troublesome, even perilous, pursuit. The other is that the now familiar form of the genre—books offering sentences that are practically and predictably useful—took some time to develop. The 1900 English-Welsh phrasebook “for the use of Travellers and Students” offers “Have you any apples?” and “Where is the butter market?” before adding the more unexpected: “They have cut off his arm.”

The savour of national stereotypes can be tasted on almost every page. J.B. Leek’s 1928 English-Italian Conversation Handbook shows that Italy has long been seen as a land of aesthetic indulgence. A section on hair care (“Shave my mustachio/ Kindly twist up my mustachio/ A little pomade on my mustachio”) follows a lengthy section on food. “Give me a bottle…of red wine/ of white wine/ of claret/ of Burgundy…” it runs. “Give me some Brie cheese/ some Camembert/ some Gruyère…”

The consequences of eating are of abiding interest to British travellers of old. After the food, Leek’s Italian offers the regretful: “I feel qualmish, sick.” No destination is without its particular intestinal anxiety. “After vomiting his food,” explains one physiologically intriguing entry in an old Korean manual, “his constipation was relieved.” A 1903 medical phrasebook for Luganda, a Bantu language, offers the unexplained but authoritative: “Keep everything you vomit.”

To judge by these publications, the Briton abroad must have cut a strange figure. Many position themselves as aids to conversation. The 1909 “Manual of Palestinian Arabic”, for example, explains that its sample sentences “will, it is hoped, be useful to the traveller in his hotel” and “may conceivably be of use in daily life”. The word “conceivably” is working very hard in that sentence. The book’s phrases include: “We reached the precipice and saw him fall down”; “He died before we found him”; and the gnomic “Gargle twice daily.” Conversation will have hung heavy in the foyers of Jerusalem.

Books from the colonial era are unintentionally telling. History books tend to concentrate on the obvious moments of imperial brutality—on war and rebellion. Phrasebooks offer the chance to eavesdrop on quieter colonial cruelties in the drawing rooms of empire. “Hold your tongue!” barks one phrase in a 1908 “Hindustani Self-Taught” manual. “Beat that lazy boy” snaps an entry in another guide. […]

The fading genre of the phrasebook is unlikely to be missed. But something will be lost when it is gone. Poetry, Robert Frost supposedly said, is what gets lost in translation. Read these books’ dislocated phrases and poetry can be found in it, too. “Owing to the road being slippery I nearly fell / Ten years ago / Come here,” runs one T.S. Eliotish section in a 1894 Tai-Khamti Grammar. The last words go to entries in an English-Kashmiri manual: “I am now composing a grammar/ I don’t exactly comprehend this…/ It is time to conclude.”

If you are like me, you will want to peruse J. Davidson’s Notes on the Bas̳h̳galī (Kāfir) Language; a substantial preview is available at Google Books, as is the entirety of Sten Konow’s Bashgali Dictionary: An Analysis of Colonel J. Davidson’s Notes on the Bashgali Language (Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1913). Needless to say, The Economist omits all the fancy diacritics, but I can’t really blame them. Thanks, Hans!

Comments

  1. David Eddyshaw says

    “They have cut off his arm.”

    Comes up all the time. You can’t get far in everyday Welsh without knowing basic expressions like this.

    Reminds me of the point that, of all places in the world, you are most likely to actually want to say “My postilion has been struck by lightning” in the savanna zone of West Africa.

    [Mostly flat with few trees, lots of thunderstorms in season, deaths from lightning by no means unheard of (two in the field behind our house when we lived in Ghana); “postilion” = Hausa karen mota “motor dog”, who loads the passengers’ effects into the lorry and then sits on top during the journey.]

  2. I’m surprised that they missed any reference to “My hovercraft is full of eels”.

    (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirty_Hungarian_Phrasebook)

  3. Chris Booth says

    Sentences like these are still popular: my elementary Norwegian lessons on Duolingo gave me phrases like “Hjelp! Ulven spiser meg.” (“Help! The wolf is eating me.”)
    Or maybe this is indeed a vital phrase to know when travelling in certain parts of Darkest Norway?

  4. David Eddyshaw says

    On the face of it, this would seem like a superfluous statement of the obvious, but perhaps the hardy Norwegians would simply assume that the traveller was merely playing with the wolf, in a Norwegian manner, without this “drowning not waving” cue? Or assume, that in an appropriately Nordic Ibsenite manner, he had chosen this method of ending his miserable existence, and would not welcome intervention by well-meaning bystanders?

  5. “My hovercraft is full of eels”

    Discussed here in 2018. I still chuckle at “a few eels short of a hovercraft.”

  6. “English as She is Spoke” aside, I checked my copy of “Arabic for the Beginner in Archaeology,” by Najua Husseini and Paul W. Lapp, Jerusalem, 1963. Not a cringe to be had, so the genre can be done well.

  7. I’m reminded of Gahan Wilson’s parody phrasebook in an old National Lampoon, of which I remember Chznashk dwak ekaki bor shlek, “I think those men are lepers.”

  8. J.W. Brewer says

    At one point I actually had compiled a list (which I unfortunately can’t now lay my hands on) of the top 10 most entertaining example sentences each from two post-WW2 L2 intro texts (one for Swahili and the other for Malay) that were clearly written for a target audience of young Britons becoming entry level functionaries in the imperial/colonial civil service and thus taking up the White Man’s Burden ™ in the waning days of Empire.

  9. I almost took part in compiling one.
    Now I regret that I didn’t, else I could grumble at everyone here:)

  10. Trond Engen says

    Chris Booth: Sentences like these are still popular: my elementary Norwegian lessons on Duolingo gave me phrases like “Hjelp! Ulven spiser meg.” (“Help! The wolf is eating me.”)

    There are different concerns here. Phrasebooks are supposed to contain useful phrases for daily life without much explanation of grammar or vocabulary. Educational programs like Duolingo are supposed to train grammar and vocubalary, and contain a set of example sentences for that purpose. Some use a neat pedagogical trick called “making it memorable”, and one way to achieve that with example sentences is to parody old phrasebooks and/or the cultural prejudice of the students. See Shock workers and loafers.

    That said, it’s not a very good example sentence. I first thought the reason was simple pragmatics, that nobody says that in that situation, but that just makes it more memorable. I think it’s aspectual with the verb. The present sense of spise apparently can’t take that near future meaning without further aid. Hjelp! Nå spiser ulven meg! works better, paradoxically. But change the verb and the example works: “Hjelp! Ulven tar meg!”

    Or maybe this is indeed a vital phrase to know when travelling in certain parts of Darkest Norway?

    Government instruction. Everybody visiting the country should recognize this call, frequently uttered by kindergarteners and elderly people. Nobody who has ever come over a still lukewarm tricycle or walking frame will ever forget it.

    No, rather the wolf population is kept at bay by an aggressive environment of local farmers and a brittle political compromise on the allowed habitat and roaming space. Maybe

    David E.: On the face of it, this would seem like a superfluous statement of the obvious, but perhaps the hardy Norwegians would simply assume that the traveller was merely playing with the wolf, in a Norwegian manner, without this “drowning not waving” cue? Or assume, that in an appropriately Nordic Ibsenite manner, he had chosen this method of ending his miserable existence, and would not welcome intervention by well-meaning bystanders?

    That’s not Norwegian, it’s Finnish. Not necessarily as a choice, but rather because that a mere immediate threat of excruciating death does not warrant such extreme measures as talking.

  11. John Cowan says

    “Does it hurt?”

    “About like suffocating a wolf with my nutsack.”

    He must have been saving up that sentence for some time.

  12. The Economist piece pokes fine fun at the anglo-parochialism of many authors, but gives no sign of awareness that phrasebooks are not written only by and for anglophones. Anglocentrist, heal thyself!

    My own favourite is O Inglês Tal Qual Se Fala, still in print and widely sold, with such helpfully transliterated examples as “Bring mi tu txíkân fróm de máa’ket!” and “Ué’âr áa de txill’drenzz haetz?”

  13. My school French textbook featured a family with a pet monkey. We were all surprised on our exchange visits to find a notable lack of pet monkeys.

    Years later, I realised this was so we could practice the nasal in singe as opposed to using the bleeding obvious vin. The idea a French family might drink wine would have caused all sorts of xenophobia!

  14. David Eddyshaw says

    The school textbooks my wife had for teaching French in Ghana featured an Ivoirean family (showing an admirable desire to localise the material to at least the correct region.) Sadly, I don’t think even they had a pet monkey. They were a bit bourgeois, though.

  15. Un bon singe brun?

  16. David Eddyshaw says

    Most Ghanaians have no trouble with nasal vowels, on account of having them in their L1s, so I suppose the need for French monkeys is less.

  17. I’m not sure what the need for parsnips is in Welsh Duolingo, but someone certainly decided it needed to be met. The dragons are more understandable.

  18. Trond Engen says

    Me: The present sense of spise apparently can’t take that near future meaning without further aid. Hjelp! Nå spiser ulven meg! works better, paradoxically.

    Or turning to the passive (and an indefinite (amount of) wolf): Hjelp! Jeg blir spist (av (en) ulv).

  19. AntC: My school French textbook featured a family with a pet monkey. We were all surprised on our exchange visits to find a notable lack of pet monkeys.
    Years later, I realised this was so we could practice the nasal in singe as opposed to using the bleeding obvious vin.

    A bit surprising if that was the reason. After all, French has plenty of other words with that sound, e.g. bien, rien, main, matin, besoin, cinq, vient.

  20. at “Nikki the monkey”

    Note the leading-edge slide projector and reel-to-reel tape.

    Times I’ve needed singe: zero. Times I could show it off: once – there’s a painting by “Douanier” Roussea in the Musée d’Orsay. Times I’ve needed vin in actual France: frequent.

    (If the bizarreness was to lodge in memory, as claimed above, I remembered the textbook author was Gilbert, the teacher Mr Gates.Whatever I was supposed to learn about the grammar I forgot immediately after ‘O’ levels: it’s anyway utterly useless for ordering actual vin.)

  21. what the need for parsnips is in Welsh Duolingo

    Well, I learned that parsnips are a thing from there, as I had never before encountered that abomination of a vegetable in my miserable life.

  22. Duolingo and the recent discussion of Norwegian consiousness reminded me this video.

    Someone posted it on a site where language learners post (and I read) essays for correction in the Russian section. He wanted the subtitles to be translated to as many langauges as possible.

  23. Trond, is wildlife one of Norwegian stereotypes of what are stereotypes about Norwegia?

    The Russian meta-stereotype is : bears on streets of cities, vodka, balalaika. Or so do say Russians who complain about stereotypes.

    Of these I think bears are actually associated with Russia (but I am not sure about streets: actual bears on actual Russian streets happen, and gypsies with bears were a common sight in many countries, but I do not hear about it from foreigners), and vodka. The only foreigner to ever mention a balalaika owns one…

    Once a Columbian very masterfully tricked me into joining a drunk party by raising a za zdoroviye* toast. I mechanically informed him that it is a Hollywood Russian toast and not a Russian Russian toast, and he said he knows, and soon I was drunk.

    * or is it na zdoroviye? I remember that one of those phrases is what I actually hear in movies, and the other I heard from Russians joking about movies. I used to correct them too, but I forgot which one is what:(

  24. I think with the Columbian it is already the next level of meta.

  25. David Eddyshaw says
  26. @drasvi: It’s the other way round; na zdorovye is the stereotype.
    I guess the balalaika stereotype was more potent in the 60s ( at 0:19 (warning: excess sentimentality), at 2:08 ).

  27. The Russian meta-stereotype is : bears on streets of cities, vodka, balalaika. Or so do say Russians who complain about stereotypes.

    And развесистая клюква.

  28. @DE, what Russians (or at least Muscovites – I don’t know if there is any variation) actually use is either за твоё/ваше здоровье (за “for” is the preposition found in any toast, выпить за “to drink to”, literally “to drink (once, successfully, perfective) for”), or simply “your health!”.

    Obviously, you use za when you use the verb, also you use za when you speak in a slower and more thoughtful/self-conscious manner. It sounds like saying that you are drinking to my health. Твоё здоровье!, is more casual and sounds as quoting a fixed expression (which means that you drinking to my health, of which fact the speaker may be aware of or not).

    на здоровье is another possible responce to “thank you” (apart of пожалуйста).

    In modern Russian we do not omit “your” and “to health” still sounds weird even with the correct preposition. What health? Health in general? Like, there are peace-loving people and there are health-loving people, and you’re one of them?

    На здоровье, in turn, is used without personal pronouns, but in different sitiations.

  29. But I don’t remember what Russians said in Tolstoy’s times.

    Also when I typed “raised a toast” I googled a phrase raising a toast (without quotemarks) to check if this verb is actually used with toasts. One of the links goes: ‘As Dickson notes above, toasts can involve just a single word; indeed, in ancient times, it was common to simply raise a glass “To health!”

  30. I don’t know how come that in two identical phrases in one case “health” sounds crazy without a pronoun and in the other it gets immediately and instincitvely attributed.

    Possibly, на здоровье is not trunkated

    *[I give it to you]/[this present is]/[what you are thinking me for is] for your health

    but rather

    […] to you, for health. тебе на здоровье.

    Where “to you” sets the scope, and generalised health becomes a generalised health in the context of you.

  31. (I used “I give it to you” because it has dative in English – but it is not what I feel here.

    In Russian dative is used in phrases like пойдёт тебе на пользу, “it will do you good”, lit “it will-go to-you for good/benefit”. So the implication I feel is “may it go to-you for health”)

  32. J.W. Brewer says

    I am aware of a student drinking song (American) in whose lyrics is embedded the Russian or mock-Russian toast “za pravu,” glossed as “To Truth!” Leaving aside the fact that (per wiktionary) it ought to be “za pravdu” (assuming this is the usage where Зa takes the accusative?), is this an attested or at least plausible toast among actual Russophones? I believe it was at the time of the song’s composition (late 1950’s?) used as a toast in Anglophone drinking contexts by an American student known to the lyricist who claimed to know Russian better than most of his drinking companions.

  33. Russians drink to anything and everything, and I’m sure they’ve drunk to truth, but do you have a cite for that drinking song? In other words, are you sure the mistaken “pravu” was in the original song and is not misremembered by you or whoever passed it on to you?

  34. “I’m sure they’ve drunk to truth,”

    Нет повода не выпить!

  35. J.W. Brewer says

    The lyrics do not appear to be online. Printed copies exist and I may have one somewhere in the house but it’s the sort of song (campus-specific and group-specific on that campus) largely transmitted orally from one generation of students to the next, so an error could easily have crept into the transmission chain (primarily from non-Russophone to non-Russophone) sometime between original composition and when I first heard it perhaps 25 years later. In addition, I doubt printed copies of the lyrics from the ’70’s or ’80’s were carefully checked against a first edition to guard against the risk of textual corruption by copyists lacking fluency in Russian …

    But I take it that you are confirming that Зa пра́вду is at a minimum a plausible Russian toast, i.e. not ungrammatical, unidiomatic or weird-sounding?

  36. January First-of-May says

    But I don’t remember what Russians said in Tolstoy’s times.

    За здравие, I’d imagine.
    (This is the customary form of a prayer for someone’s health, Church Slavonic still being relevant in churchy contexts, but I think I’ve encountered it referring to a toast as well.)

  37. @JWB, *за права sounds identical to за право “for the right!”.

    The latter is still strange (in English too).

    PS. oops, sorry, you wrote za pravU, which clearly implies *prava

  38. À votre santé?

  39. J.W. Brewer says

    @drasvi, actually the phrase “for the right” appears in a different line in the same verse, albeit in French (“pour* le droit”), so now there’s an intriguing hypothesis here about a different possible original meaning and different subsequent corruption of the Russian text! The reputed original student lyricist (I mean, maybe he wrote the whole thing from scratch or maybe he edited/redacted the final text out of a bunch of different lines proposed by different then-students during one or more drinking bouts … I wasn’t there) died a few years ago at age 81, so he can’t be asked.

    *The line contains a bad multilingual pun, paralleling the French proposition “pour” with the English verb “pour,” the latter being salient in a student-drinking-bout context.

  40. Before googling it: I never heard it and it sounds wrong to me.

    Прав- is found in
    – an adjective (short прав, права, право) “right” (not wrong and not left)
    – a verb прав[-ить] “to right, to govern [a boat or a state] etc.”.
    Правда – “truth”, with an abstract/mass noun suffix -da. Likely, “right-ness” but we don’t feel this meaning here.

    There are short and long forms of adjectives. Short forms can be used predicatively, in archaic Russian also attributively. Long forms can be substantivated: правая, правый, правое “the righ one”.

    “праву” occurs in Russian as accusative of the feminine short form. As it is ACC, it can’t be (and is not in your example) predicative. It can happen as an attribute in archaic Russian in a phrase “right [something]-ACC” (like: “I see your right hand”), maybe also as an archaic substantivated form “right one”. Not the meaning we need.

    But: other Slavic langauges and dialects easily can have (unknown to me) feminine noun *права
    Wiktionary only gives Macedonian права “(geom.) straight line”.

    Russian has управа, приправа, переправа with different prefixes, but they are closely associated with verbs (приправлять etc.).

  41. PlasticPaddy says

    Так выпьем за то, чтоб говорить друг другу правду!

    © https://tosty.ru/pro-pravdu/page/2/

  42. @JWB, then we have solved it!

    Funnily, I first wrote my second comment, then I forgot that it was -u (I am sleepy) and though “wait, why am I typing this long and useless description, when the solution is simple?”, then posted my first comment and then I remembered -u.

    I even thought about deleting it, but [insert the least of reasons not to delete ‘wrong’ comments].

  43. UPD, правда can also be “straight-ness”, cf. Macedonian.

    In modern Russian straight is “прям-” cf. “прямая” in geometry, and “прямота” (directness, as a quality of a person or a speech).
    But cf. кривда, where крив- is “not straight”. It means in the dialect where кривда came from правда was understood as straightness.

  44. Так выпьем за то, чтоб говорить друг другу правду!

    А рядом у соседних столиков
    Лакеи сонные торчат,
    И пьяницы с глазами кроликов
    «In vino veritas!» кричат.
    […]

    В моей душе лежит сокровище,
    И ключ поручен только мне!
    Ты право, пьяное чудовище!
    Я знаю: истина в вине.

    –Александр Блок, Незнакомка

  45. back to the phrasebooks, my traditional grumbling:

    (1) I am not hostile to phrasebooks:/ They might not be too useful, but I like them.
    The one in whose compilation I did not take part hardly would be very “useful” (it was dialectal Arabic), rather maybe it could make people a bit less disconnected from the local langauge (and maybe some would return home and learn the langauge).
    (2) again this “how barbarian our ancestors were as opposed to civilised beautiful us”. (3) inter-cultrual contact is an objectively tricky thing.

  46. J.W. Brewer says

    @drasvi, if for some reason you wanted to offer a toast to capital-T Truth (an abstraction, a mass noun, etc.) at a Russophone drinking bout, what’s the idiomatic phrasing you would use to do so? Not in Tolstoyan times, but in Khrushchevian ones, or possibly in diaspora/emigre circles of the Khrushchev era whose Russian might have preserved some features that had become archaic in the Old Country during the time of the Bolshevik Yoke.

  47. @JWB, simple “за правду!”.

    Or “за истину!”

    правда is opposed to dishonesty, also it is what a side in a conflict (often both…) belives is on their side.

    истина is about sceintists, religious thinkers etc. It is used in prhases like “truth finds-self in argument” (less literally, “is found in an argument”) – but in this case an argument is understood as a collaborative attempt to approach it by people all of whom are initially wrong.

    Convesely, a friend of my freinds worked in a nespaper and an old man who looked like a fairy-tale character (with a long beard and a staff) came to their office. The guy asked why did he came and the old man said: за правдой. He meant he wants the truth to be told (by the newspaper to the public).

    I would understand a toast за истину! as referring to sceintific truth, or religious truth etc.

  48. (of if he wanted to know the truth, he would also have said “за правдой” (lit. “for [to get] truth” – similarly you go to the shop за [what you want to buy]-INSTR). But with a newspaper it is more likely that he wanted it to be told to people).

  49. there is also the declaration of intellectual relativism:
    у каждого своя правда “each has his own truth”

    Here it is the truth of one’s life.

    My anti-Putin friend was quite irritated to hear it from his pro-Putin freind. What was meant is that we both have some valid personal reasons to have our opinions. Why my friend was irritated : it does not leave a place for a reasonable compromise in case of an actual conflict of interests – or for finding the truth when (as we belive) there is not a conflict of interests.

  50. In my employer’s “Alma Mater” song, every verse ends with the line:

    Here’s a health, Carolina, forever to thee!

    I think that sounds extremely tacky, but it may have been more natural when the lyrics were written in 1911. The OED has no citations from after 1855 for the relevant meaning of health (“a salutation or wish expressed for a person’s welfare or prosperity; a toast drunk in a person’s honour”), although that’s probably just because it hasn’t been updated. Since Shakespeare uses the sense (in The Taming of the Shrew), it would be unlikely to be marked as obsolete even if it had fallen out of vernacular use. However, the corresponding intransitive verb (“to drink a health or healths. Also to health it“) is listed as obsolete, with no citations after 1696. (I do find the last attestation the OED lists, “I prefer this exercise to ranting, railing, healthing,” quite charming though.)

  51. A complete version of the Notes can be found on Archive, I linked the page with the phraselist.

    Note the italicised words in each phrase:

    He is a very able man.
    Chitrāl is above Broz (i.e., up stream).

    it is a dictionary.

  52. Thanks for finding that!

  53. Trond Engen says

    drasvi: Trond, is wildlife one of Norwegian stereotypes of what are stereotypes about Norwegia?

    Yes, this is the right question.

    No, not as such, but specific animals for sure. Our most cherished stereotypic stereotyp is polar bears in the streets. I actually thought yesterday that Hjelp, jeg blir spist av isbjørn!” would work better than the wolf sentence* for what I now understand is that reason. Other animals that can be found in every Norwegian cheap souvenir shack arts & crafts shop are moose and reindeer.

    * The polar bear sentence is less (or more) funny when you know that it may actually become useful. Tourists on Svalbard disregarding warnings have been killed and eaten by polar bears.

  54. Norwegia
    Let’s think it was Polish:/

  55. Or Interlingua. We’re all really speaking Interlingua around here.

  56. David Eddyshaw says

    Not at all. All my comments (including this one) are in Greater Welsh.

  57. @LH, the problem is W. I expected -Way or -Vegia:/

  58. German Duolingo is full of animals. Beer-drinking bears, guinea pigs who work in offices, lions and mice who attend the cinema together, pet snails specially imported from Austria, and many more.

    In contrast, French Duolingo doesn’t seem to have any animals at all.

  59. In French Duolingo, I keep coming across a cow who likes to watch trains. But yeah, very seldom do animals appear.

  60. Trond, thank you!

    Among my freinds, only those who live in Sarov see polar bears. But thanks to the prohibition of tests, they do not nuke poor animals. Just make loud noice. And another more peaceful freind visited Novaya Zemlya this year.
    So our bears are different.

    Moose live in Moscow.

  61. And yes, that video has polar bears….

  62. Trond Engen says

    Yes, moose are all over the place. We even had one running down our street one Sunday morning not long after we moved in. But now they say the moose are losing ground to the deer as the climate is warming.

  63. Spanish Duolingo has a lot of animals too. Welsh has lots of vegetables.

  64. David Eddyshaw says

    Welsh has lots of vegetables

    But does it teach you how to say “They have cut off his arm”?
    It’s no use knowing lots of words for vegetables if you’re not prepared for everyday conversation.

  65. J.W. Brewer says

    I don’t know about “They have cut off his arm” but the Routledge intro grammar of Modern Welsh, which is somewhere on my disorganized bookshelves, does have a lot of excellent example sentences, including something like “They like to kid themselves that they’re still Socialists.”

  66. David Eddyshaw says

    I can’t think of any reason for saying that in Wales …

    Perhaps in a geography lesson.

    (I mean, it’s not exactly ungrammatical in Welsh, just pragmatically awkward and culturally inappropriate.)

  67. Example sentences in my 1960 Teach Yourself Welsh include “He has a heavy cough,” “They were very sorry to hear about his toothache,” and “He went without paying and without anyone seeing him.” I perhaps derived a distorted picture of Welsh life from it.

  68. David Eddyshaw says

    It’s like saying je ne bois pas de vin in French; it’s grammatical, technically, it’s just that no L1 speaker would ever actually say it.

    The Teach Yourself Welsh examples sound much more representative of actual Welsh life. In fact, my teeth don’t seem quite right, now you mention it. It must be all those leeks I had for dinner. I don’t think I boiled them for long enough. (I blame the cat, though Sioni bach shouldn’t have been teasing it.)

  69. My Hippocrene “Sorbian (Wendish)-English English-Sorbian (Wendish) Concise Dictionary” (2000), has, on the English-Sorbian (Wendish) side, the sentence “Što je z Kevínom?” = “What’s wrong with Kevin?” as an example sentence under both of the headings for “what” and “with”.

    A personal favorite of the phrasebook genre is this Deuce of Clubs page; several of the sentences from which (gravy, soup, Gulf Stream) have become inside jokes in my household.

  70. I’m still looking for some phrasebook with the phrase “I, like the rest of my people, am happy but quick to anger.”

  71. David Eddyshaw says

    “I detest the spirit of intolerance by which this sect is dominated.”

    I say that all the time.

    “Please stop this kind of dancing at once.”

    And I say that all the time! Have I become what I hate?

  72. “I, like the rest of my people, am happy but quick to anger.”
    must be a Finnish phrasebook…

  73. Another plausible context is dating. Just without “the rest of my people” unless you want your victim to date all of them.

  74. Canadian meta-stereotypes. I think I linked to them before, but they are as good as ever.

  75. Here’s a 1921 Hebrew-English phrasebook. The Hebrew is absurdly obsolete. Most of the conversations are useful but occasionally they veer off into the weird.

    — It’s now twenty minutes to twelve.
    — Are you sure of that?
    — No doubt.
    — We have two clocks in the house. Neither of them keeps good time.
    — One is always slow. The other is always fast.
    — There is no peace between them.
    — They don’t speak the truth.
    — I don’t tell time by these two clocks.
    — I tell time by my (pocket) watch.

  76. A few years back on Duolingo I saw both El presidente destruirá nuestro país and Der Präsident hat kleine Hände, but i haven’t seen anything like that lately. That sort of thing didn’t make it into the Welsh.

  77. 1123. In the summer time bears are very rare in my country.

    Norway!

    1129, read: The Bashgālis say it is not good for men to read books. Priests should read books, and no one else.

    Women!

  78. J.W. Brewer says

    Just to follow up with my earlier dialogue with drasvi about that student drinking song with a garbled Russian toast. One non-Hattic informant of mine emailed me a scanned version of the song’s lyrics (typewritten not typeset, it looks like) from circa 1961, which read “za pravu.” So the Anglophone corruption or misapprehension of whatever the Russian original was supposed to be goes back to the beginning of the song’s history rather than being a subsequent drift. But a second non-Hattic informant tells me that at least over the last 15-20 years it has become conventional (perhaps because of the increasing frequency of L1 Russophones being around when the song is sung, as a consequence of emigration to the USA from the former USSR changing the demographics of the university’s applicant pool over time) for newer cohorts of undergraduates (mostly still innocent of any personal knowledge of Russian) to sing the line with “za pravdu.” The tantalizing possibility that “za pravu” was originally a garbling of “za pravo” rather than of “za pravdu” does not appear to have been previously considered. Yet a third non-Hattic informant who oversaw the printing of the lyrics in a new edition circa 1979 tells me he knew enough Russian at the time (albeit not as a native speaker) to know or at least suspect that “za pravu” was not grammatical Russian but did not consider it his role to meddle with the Textus Receptus.

  79. How long have you had that goitre?…
    Newby’s guide was an eccentric but by no means unique example of a neglected literary genre: the phrasebook…
    Newby thought his phrasebook was revealing about the Bashgalis; in truth such books reveal much more about their English-speaking authors.

    This is the wrong straw man to set up. I wouldn’t lump Davidson’s Notes on the Bashgalī (Kāfir) Language of 1902 in with phrasebooks for European tourists. Rather, it is Davidson’s presentation of raw field work conducted with two Nuristani informants under what must have been very difficult conditions in Chitral. From reading the account of his field work in his preface, I can imagine Davidson speaking back and forth with his collaborator Taman Khān in Urdu and some Chitrali, and Taman Khān speaking back and forth with the Kati (Bashgali) informants Shēr Malik and Gul Mīr in Chitrali, while Davidson notes down the Kati sentences they produce. Davidson explains in his preface that he was a colonial administrator stationed for two years in Chitral, to the east of the Nuristani-speaking area:

    The leisure at my disposal did not permit of my makiing the grammar any more complete than it is, the material for preparing these papers being collected during the intervals of more important duties. Efforts were made, without success, to elucidate many principles of grammar other than those now produced. It was impossible to obtain from the Kāfirs employed, with any degree of certainty, information regarding many points on which it was sought. As I am not a linguist, it seemed to me that the leisure available for this work would be utilised better in procuring a large number of sentence on every day topics and in simple form, than in endeavouring to solve grammatical intracacies which, with men such as the Kāfirs, might have taken up a great deal of time with possibly very small result.

    One can imagine that conditions were very difficult in Chitral at this time, and Davidson had a good many other calls upon him. In 1896, Abdur Rahman Khan began the forced Islamicization of Nuristan and suppressed the traditional religion of the region. This occurred during the period in which Robinson was stationed in Chitral, if I calculate correctly from the information he gives us. I can even imagine that Shēr Malik and Gul Mīr were refugees from this conflict. In his preface, Davidson writes about his purpose in recording these sentences in Kati (Bashgali):

    It seems desirable that the language, as it is now, used should be mastered, for the Afghān rule must result in its becoming largely modified. As a consequence of the conversion of the Kāfirs to Mahomedanism, which will take place to a large extent within a few years, very many of their manners, customs, and religious and social ceremonies will undergo a great change. Indeed it is hardly to much to predict that, as no written records exist of the Kāfir languages, in a few years, the new rulers of the country will have swept into oblivion the very names of some of their ceremonies, deities, and customs, so that these will be lost to all possibility of research. Thus the Persian words rōza, fast ; khudā, God ; bihisht, Heaven ; dūzakh, Hell, have been grafted into the languages, and are largely used.

    If Davidson’s collection of sentences dwells upon grim topics, it doubtless reflects daily life there—it is a report from a region convulsed by conflict, where life was characterized by great hardship. The person dead in the field may have been shot by bandits or the forces of one government or another, or died of exposure while collecting fuel. It’s easy to lose a finger when the temperature regularly drops below −15° C in winter, or your jezail explodes in your hands. Shēr Malik and Gul Mīr may have fled to Chitral because somebody intended to kill them. And because of the iodine-poor soils of mountainous regions, goitre is apparently still a widespread problem in Pakistan and Afghanistan today.

    I don’t doubt that there are many silly phrasebooks out there that were written for tourists and contain bewildering sentences about postillions being struck by lightning, but Robinson’s Notes isn’t one of them.

    The word Davidson writes as Kati gur ‘goitre’ looks like it might the reflex Old Indic gaḍu-.

  80. 1129, read: The Bashgālis say it is not good for men to read books. Priests should read books, and no one else.

    I was all excited by this—did the priests of the traditional religion of Nuristan have books of some sort? I had never heard that before. In fact, here priest is translating mullah, so the Qur’an and Islamic texts must be meant. In the other sentences in Davidson’s Notes, it is the word utā that has been translated priest, and that is the priest of the traditional Nuristani religion. It has been preposed that Kati wutō, utō ‘high priest’ is a borrowing of a Middle Indic *hottaa-, from Vedic hótr̥ka-, hótraka- ‘assistant of the hótr̥-priest. (There are many borrowings from Middle Indic in the religious sphere in the Nuristani languages.)

  81. The spam filter ate my comment while I was editing it. I meant, Kati gur looks like it might be related to Sanskrit gaḍu-.

  82. “Here’s a 1921 Hebrew-English phrasebook. The Hebrew is absurdly obsolete.”

    If it had been published today, for use today, one could indeed fault it for being, with some exceptions, “absurdly obsolete,” whereas now this publication of a hundred years ago is properly describable as delectably vintage.

  83. It is indeed delectably vintage. But its language was in large part imaginary wishful thinking even for its day. It had taken a while for the language reformers to realize that spoken Hebrew had already fledged.

  84. “Kati”

    Xerîb, I too assumed that it must be what WP calls Kati (I don’t know much about nomenclature and classification of Nuristani varieties, so I started from WP), on geographical grounds.
    But personal pronouns on p. 10 are different from pronouns on the corresponding page of Wikipedia.
    I haven’t checked their sources yet, hopefully they comment on Davidson’s Nuristani.

    Davidson (right above the passage about Islamisation) mentions legends that once they knew writing. Not the first time I hear it about some ethnicity in a region where writing is practiced for millenia.

    Anyway, given this situation, Quran can’t be their first and only encounter with the art of writing. And there is another aspect to it: Quran is in Arabic (cf. Nubians who do write, just not in Nubian).
    I have nothing clever to add here, but the topic is interesting.

    We have many firm unmotivated beliefs about writing (roughly: writing is books, especially our holy books, in past learned people knew it, now schoolchildren do) which don’t seem to match the reality at all (the Russian example that ruins this picture, is, of course, Novgorod bark SMSes letters). For this reason both different literate cultures and attitudes in cultures adjacent to literate cultures – like here – are interesting.

    P.S. and it is difficult to derive anythign from this one phrase. I don’t even know if it represents “Nuristani” attitude to Arabic-Persian-Muslim-book culture or an Afghan peasant’s attitude to writing or what.

  85. james scott’s The Art of Not Being Governed has some interesting sections on literacy and writing in upland southeast asia that might be relevant to thinking about how it operates in nuristan, as another traditionally non-state territory / cultural ‘fracture zone’.

  86. Priests should read books, and no one else.

    Book-mucking and ‘puter-rubbing, and that be naught for true men.

    на здоровье is another possible responce to “thank you”

    That’s the way I think of it, as = AmE You’re welcome. This is doubtless because I do not drink (and so would never survive socially in Russia, it seems); indeed, I subsist entirely on water vapor, like a lichen.

  87. Strand’s nuristan.info does not even mention Davidson in the bibliography:/ His review from 1973 (jstor, pirates) mentions the book only in this context:

    Several minor errors in Kachru’s bibliography and footnotes further detract from his presentation. Thus in the bibliography Colonel John Davidson’s “Notes on the Bashgali (Kafir) Language” is entered under a nonexistent “Davidson, J. and B.” (p. 302).

    One has an impression that the book was simply inaccessible to many researchers.

  88. Strand’s classification is:

    kâmk’ata-vari [4]
      kâtʹa-vari (Kati)
        Eastern kâtʹa-vari
        Western kâtʹa-vari
              ktʹi vřâ·i vari
      mumvʹiri (“The mumʹo speak an essentially Eastern kâtʹa-vari dialect that incorporates features of kâmvʹiri.”, between Eastern kâtʹa-vari and kâmvʹiri)
      kâmvʹiri (to the south of Eastern kâtʹa-vari)

    map 1, map 2

    So Davidson must have described Strand’s kâmvʹiri… or Strand’s Eastern kâtʹa-vari. Or both, if his informants spoke different dialects:)

  89. Describing the women’s head dress and its appurtenances he says, ‘‘ I have seen on the brass thimbles short Buglish expressions such as ‘For a good girl.’ These were the only printed or written words I ever found in Kafiriatan”

    P.S. Buglish: an OCR error. English. But I’ll leave it as is, it’s funny.

  90. David Marjanović says

    my employer’s “Alma Mater” song

    …huh. The entire German-speaking area seems to have nothing but Gaudeamus igitur.

    Der Präsident hat kleine Hände

    That, BTW, was incomprehensible before Rubio told the world about it. Over here it’s the length of a man’s nose that is supposed to be correlated. (Maybe the width, too; I wouldn’t know.)

  91. That, BTW, was incomprehensible

    Sure, but the collective filthy unconscious can make the connection, no matter what body part was mentioned.

  92. @David Marjanović: “Gaudeamus Igitur” is* performed at the Harvard University graduation and some of their alumni events. That’s the only place I’ve actually heard it in the English-speaking world.

    * Or was, but Harvard isn’t likely to change that, are they?

  93. J.W. Brewer says

    @Brett. All that is solid [is at risk of] melt[ing] into air. I’m not going to work out the possible details of the potentially viral social-media post that, to a certain audience, would make Harvard’s elimination of Gaudeamus Igitur seem like an urgent matter of justice and harm-avoidance, but you can’t rule it out a priori.

    FWIW I see from the online version of the 2022 Yale commencement program that the extremely Puritan-centric hymn that was sung at commencement for many many generations through and after my own B.A.-acquisition was not on the program, although hilariously enough an entirely different (and notably more secular) set of words was sung to the exact same tune. And they hedged their bets by including an overtly theistic hymn said to have been sung (albeit not continuously) at commencements dating back to 1718.

    *Generally known by its first line “O God, beneath thy guiding hand,” with lyrics composed in 1833 by the Rev’d Leonard Bacon, Class of 1820.

  94. although hilariously enough an entirely different (and notably more secular) set of words was sung to the exact same tune.” – one of early Putin’s moves was canceling 7th november as a state holyday and returning the anthem of USSR. Supposedly he just likes the tune, also it was supposed to comfort disappointed communists. What I did not like: (1) I find the tune itself ugly (2) removing “Stalin” from the anthem already used to seem… yes, hilarious to me. And now they use the anthem of USSR (“union unbreakable of free republics…”) for Russia and see no problem here, because they can change the words again

  95. David Eddyshaw says

    I imagine that Putin might find the Internationale (used as the Soviet anthem before 1944) a bit near the knuckle.

    Довольно королям в угоду
    Дурманить нас в чаду войны!
    Война тиранам! Мир Народу!
    Бастуйте, армии сыны!
    Когда ж тираны нас заставят
    В бою геройски пасть за них –
    Убийцы, в вас тогда направим
    Мы жерла пушек боевых!

    (Now that’s a catchy tune.)

  96. J.W. Brewer says

    I should note, FWIW, that part of the context of my kvetching re the university authorities coming up with new and different words to be set to the same tune ought to be that the tune itself is older than the words I knew as a young man. To be specific, the tune, commonly known as “Duke Street,” was according to the internet first published in a collection entitled “Select Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes” in 1793, a full 40 years before Bacon wrote the lyrics that I associate with the tune. The 1793 publication did not credit a composer, but the tune was subsequently/posthumously credited to John Warrington Dixon (1710?-1793, allegedly a Presbyterian who lived in Lancashire), who “is believed to have died in a stagecoach accident.” It’s a good tune.

  97. Well, we still sang „Die Wacht am Rhein” at the 2022 Yale commencement, albeit with the new words.

  98. January First-of-May says

    And now they use the anthem of USSR (“union unbreakable of free republics…”) for Russia and see no problem here, because they can change the words again

    I like to joke that the modern Russian anthem is incredibly generic; you could replace Russia with Canada and it would fit about as well, and you could replace Russia with America and it would slightly break the meter but would work just as well otherwise.
    (There aren’t really any other countries that would fit the geographic references. Norway at a stretch? But the rest of it is almost universally generic.)

  99. Китай нерушимый китайцев свободных / сплотила навеки великая [Хань?]
    Да здравствует созданный волей народов / единый могучий китайский Китай!

    Or simply: …да здравствует созданный волей китайцев китайский китайский китайский Китай!

  100. китайский китайский китайский Китай!
    It seems that would be entirely in line with Xi Jiping thought.

  101. J.W. Brewer says

    Re genericity of anthems, someone could take one of the various extant Russian translations of “O, Canada,” swap in “Rossiya” for “Canada,” and poll some Russians (w/o disclosing the source of the text) about what they thought of it as wording for a proposed new anthem …

    https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%93%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%BD_%D0%9A%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B0%D0%B4%D1%8B

  102. John Cowan says

    Smith College also uses “Gaudeamus igitur”, per WP.

  103. Trond Engen says

    I always liked the melody of the Soviet anthem*. It was a redeeming effect of Soviet victories in sports. I also liked the East German tune, incidentally. The anthems of the rest of the Eastern Block I don’t think I ever learned. Not quite the same level of … professional trainers, apparently.

    * I don’t like it as much now that it’s the Russian anthem. Thought I would, but no.

  104. I always liked the melody of the Soviet anthem

    Same here.

  105. As a teenager, I was a member of a service-oriented honor society, which ended all meetings with a song that was sung to the tune of the tsarist Russian national anthem. (Apparently, although the organization was about eighty years old, this was a relatively recent development. Older members, who had been inducted when they were teens, said that there had not been a standardized tune back in the 1970s and probably before.) I found this peculiar, since I knew the tune from various pieces of romantic music. It is quoted in lots of Russian compositions—most famously and for the most obvious reason in the “1812 Overture.” However, for several years I did not know the ultimate origin of the tune, that it was the old national anthem, “God Save the Tsar,” by Alexei Lvov. Ironically, it was not actually composed until 1833, and for almost a century also used as the tune for the state anthem of Pennsylvania.

  106. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_the_Thunder_of_Victory_Rumble!_(anthem)

    Original Russian: Стонъ Синила раздается,
    Modern Russian: Стон Синая раздаётся,
    English translation: Groans by Ishmael repeated

    Sinai???? Further strange things: БРЭ derives the name from *Ишмасль. :/

    Someone read ʿ as s ?

  107. My problem with the Soviet anthem is exactly that I don’t like the melody. I agree that I miss some things, among them, the context: a hymn is not the same as just a song. But outside of the context, it is simply not a tune that I would want to listen to again. Also USSR is not anything “exotic” for me.

  108. I mean: I may like certain dance tunes, I listen to some of them and others make me want to dance.
    But I am not a dancer.

  109. It’s not a dance-tune melody or a pop-song melody, but it’s a great anthem melody, rivaled only by the French, British, and Canadian among the famous ones. (The American anthem is famously terrible.)

  110. “God Save the Tsar,” by Alexei Lvov

    Also in some hymnals as the tune of “God the All-Powerful,” attributed to “Alexis Lwoff.”

  111. PlasticPaddy says

    @rodger c
    I knew this hymn as “Lord God Omnipotent”…

  112. i’m partial to alexandrov’s melody too – though i may find it and eisler’s (for the DDR) particularly good because they were composed for the purpose by populist modernists, rather than being (generally) sloppy adaptations of tunes taken from another sphere.

    the main problem with the Star-Spangled Banner (musically speaking) is that it’s a bouncy uptempo dance tune being played slowly and usually rubato – which’ll wreck almost anything! if you hum the melody in strict rhythm at a good clip (~120?), it’s actually quite nice (if you like that sort of thing – contra-dance haters will probably still not be satisfied).

  113. @rozele: The other problem with the the tune for “The Star-Spangled Banner” is that it has become standard to pitch the, “And the rockets red glare,” part an octave higher than it should be.

  114. @LH, that’s what I meant.

    And still, even if it is good (and I am unable to see that), I don’t think there are many people ready to call it their favorite (or one of) tune.

  115. David Eddyshaw says

    The best of them qua national anthem is surely the French, though I must say it does not inspire me to dance so much as to go out and water the furrows with impure blood, as one does. (The almost equally stirring internationale is quite ruminative and practically pacifist in comparison.)

  116. David Marjanović says

    Supposedly he just likes the tune, also it was supposed to comfort disappointed communists. What I did not like: (1) I find the tune itself ugly

    As I’ve said before, every time I hear it I want to rule over Siberia. I think that’s intentional.

    I also liked the East German tune, incidentally.

    And the text! “Resurrected from ruins and turned toward the future […] Because it must be possible for us, after all, to make it so that the sun shines, beautiful as never before, ||: above Germany :|| !” Basically my mom’s mindset. :-þ

  117. @David Eddyshaw: Indeed, the “Marseillaise” is the only foreign national anthem I really know (i.e. well enough to sing), even though I don’t speak any French to speak of.

  118. David Marjanović says

    The best of them qua national anthem is surely the French

    It’s not as good as the Marseillaise de la Courtille. Though the two fit together pretty well as “before” and “after”…

    The South African is so good I learned the whole thing years ago, ejectives and all. (OK, text-wise the best part is the end, which is in English.)

    The Ukrainian one isn’t half bad either. Tune-wise it’s properly ponderous without overdoing it like the Soviet/Russian one does. Lyrics-wise it starts with the Polish one, twists it into a clever genitive construction, and seems to have predicted recent events…

  119. Trond Engen says

    David M.: The South African is so good I learned the whole thing years ago, ejectives and all.

    There’s nothing that can beat Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. I can’t really remember the current hybrid anthem. I think my daughter in ZA even linked to it once. It may have been played at the university welcoming ceremony.

  120. I hear the Marseillaise in my mind, Englished: “Come all you infants of the fatherland, the day of glory has arrived.”

    The Israeli national anthem, Hatikva, uses the same tune Smetana used for the Vltava. Smetana’s version is enjoyable; the anthem is plodding. Anyway, pox on all national anthems.

  121. just chiming in to third DM & TE!

    i won’t fall down the rabbithole now of seeing exactly how much better african anticolonial national anthems as a group are than the european ones, but i am excited to get to it later on.

    (and on these shores, both the music and the words of Lift Every Voice And Sing (which i learned alongside Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika before the latter got its state imprimatur) are orders of magnitude better than anything the Anacreaon Club or francis scott key ever put their hands on.)

  122. David Eddyshaw says

    The Ghanaian national anthem is disappointingly generic, both in melody and lyrics:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Bless_Our_Homeland_Ghana

    Much preferable is ET Mensah’s Highlife:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUMbrs4aEsA

  123. J.W. Brewer says

    Which countries have the best Vaguely Somber Classicalish Music to be Played On the Radio Station While a Coup Is In Progress? Not as high profile as anthems, but definitely a genre.

    Youtube enables you to access performances (of perhaps uncertain/variable quality) of national anthems of controversial/unrecognized nations. Somaliland’s is a lot bouncier than that of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

  124. David Eddyshaw says

    Which countries have the best Vaguely Somber Classicalish Music to be Played On the Radio Station While a Coup Is In Progress?

    Americans may be finding out fairly soon …

    I presume that in the UK, either Vaughan Williams or Elgar would be the most likely candidates. The most likely coup-mongers would probably not go for Benjamin Britten so much.

  125. Nepal’s is positively happy.

  126. J.W. Brewer says

    Vaughn Williams or Elgar? Surely a slight to the memory of Purcell, who lived through a coup (d/b/a “Glorious Revolution”) and survived to compose music for the winners after previously composing for the loser.

    The mid-20th-century UK elite being what it was, I immediately suspected that there would be a very short path of posh mutual friends/social acquaintances between B. Britten and e.g. O. Mosley. A moment’s googling suggests that Sir Reginald Goodall CBE (+1990) might be the shortest connection, if we charitably assume that Britten and Mosley were not in fact directly acquainted.

  127. What makes you think that nazi-loving Goodall would have been friends with leftist, gay, nazi-despising Britten, other than conducting his works?

    I myself can trace a connection to Britten through two relatives/collaborators, neither of which is posh.

  128. PlasticPaddy says

    I have a vague memory that Amhran na bhfiann had a jazzier or jauntier style in early recordings, but this was replaced by a more “dignified” orthodox version. Here is an early recording that I think supports this:
    https://archive.org/details/78_the-soldiers-song_john-feeney_gbia0092913a/_78_the-soldiers-song_john-feeney_gbia0092913a_01_3.5_ET_EQ.flac

  129. J.W. Brewer says

    Was it really the case back then that the arguably-most-prominent living British composer of the day had no say in who did or didn’t get to be the conductor for premiere performances of his high-profile works? Could be, for all I know. It may have already been the case that “classical” music in general and/or opera in particular was an inherent money-loser propped up by subsidies from gov’t and/or rich people, such that beggars could not be choosers when it came to who they did or didn’t collaborate with.

  130. @J.W. Brewer: I don’t know whether Benjamin Britten was clearly recognized as the preeminent British classical composer in 1945, when the opera Peter Grimes premiered (although, in retrospect, we can see that he really had been since Edward Elgar’s death). However, he was a by that time a commercially successful composer, which was not a common thing. Most classical composers by that time had to take whatever performances they could get. However, even in the twentieth century, major composers got a great deal more leeway; someone like Maurice Ravel could be picky about the venues and musicians for major performances of his work, but someone like Darius Milhaud* probably could not.

    In any case, Reginald Goodall almost certainly must have been on speaking terms with Britten, if for no other reason than that Britten’s partner Peter Pears sang the lead in the premier of Peter Grimes that Goodall conducted.

    * Milhaud was also so prolific that many of his works would hardly have been played at all if he had been picky about which of his contemporaries were to be permitted performed them.

  131. In any case, Reginald Goodall almost certainly must have been on speaking terms with Britten, if for no other reason than that Britten’s partner Peter Pears sang the lead in the premier of Peter Grimes that Goodall conducted.

    i’m not in the operatic world, but i can’t say my own backstage experience bears this out at all. it’s impressive how few people in a production the director needs to be on speaking terms with, and their lovers and spouses don’t figure at all.

  132. PlasticPaddy says
  133. David Marjanović says

    I can’t really remember the current hybrid anthem. I think my daughter in ZA even linked to it once.

    It’s all over YouTube. How about one version in a major key and one that starts out in a minor key? (With lyrics.)

    Or this, with bonus New Zealand anthem in both languages plus a haka.

    BTW, here’s the GDR’s anthem, with lyrics in partially updated spelling.

    Nepal’s is positively happy.

    And here, in a less happy context, is a version with transcriptions of the text. Interesting features, like ph coming out as [f] every time, bh already beginning to devoice in response, th going nowhere…

    Edited to add: happy English subtitles.

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