I keep forgetting to mention this, but it’s not too late to join The Quarterly Conversation and Open Letters Monthly in their summer-long reading of The Tale of Genji. I’d do it myself, but my schedule is already full.


  1. God, business is slow. It must be the weather. They’re all out playing golf.

  2. Nice weather plus the World Cup.
    But perhaps you didn’t want to hear that.

  3. Ah ha, since you mention the World Cup (or as it’s known to English sportspersons, apparently, “the WC”), I’d like to point out the yellow outfit of England’s goalie. It’s not perfect (why no turquoise shoes, for example?), but it’s light years ahead of the German goalie’s green-and-black strip, which I find deeply distasteful.
    As for the result, although I support Argentina, I’m glad to see the boys in red (a crude orangey-red) packing their bags. I think everyone agrees they’re a shit team of overpaid wankers. So, cheerio Fabio and congratulations Bundesrepublik Deutschland!

  4. Hey, no love for the boys in white? We did send the squadra azzurra packing, you know…
    I think everyone agrees they’re a shit team of overpaid wankers.
    Well said, sir, well said.

  5. Hear, hear! And Deutschland should enjoy their victory while they can, because next Saturday they run into the Messi Machine.

  6. Some guy says that Ghanaian fans are the pleasantest and most civil he’s ever seen.
    And yay Slovakia! I didn’t know whether bulbul was following this during his job from Hell.

  7. No, the Slovakian boys were superb against Italy. It’s just that white isn’t a fast colour and England look as if they are playing in a Victorian cricket match. This Cameroon team is what wc football should look like (so, of course, then FIFA banned their shirts for being way too cool).

  8. Bathrobe says

    I’ve heard of threads going off track, but this one’s a bit extreme. What happened to poor old Genji?

  9. John, AJP,
    Thanks fellas! We’ll see if we can keep it up today.
    yeah, poor Genji… It is a wonderful idea, but The Tale of Genji is not exactly my cup of tea. Now I was thinking of giving Journey to the West a shot…

  10. Oh, Genji can take care of itself. Better than the U.S. team, at any rate.

  11. Oh, and of course: Go Slovakia!

  12. One language point I’ve noticed from newspapers & blogs is that teams named for countries are invariably plural in football: “England lose again”, rather than “loses”.

  13. AJP,
    “England lose again”
    Yeah, I noticed that too, but I’ve always assumed that this refers to “team COUNTRY” and “team” gets ellided.
    indeed, but no such luck. Ah well, at least it’s Oranjes.

  14. I’ve always assumed that this refers to “team COUNTRY” and “team” gets ellided.
    But that doesn’t help, because “team” is equally singular. It’s just a different usage.
    My condolences on your loss!

  15. After this WC, marginally more people can distinguish Slovakia and Slovenia than before.
    At least if they’re wearing their uniforms.

  16. Slovenia wore all-green to the wc. Must have been the food.
    If you’ve got to lose it’s nice to go out to the Oranjes, as you say. This is supposed to be a good book.

  17. hat,
    true, but I’ve always counted “team” among those singular nouns that take plural in most varieties of English – police, government etc. But as you say, different usage. And it’s been a good WC, minor scandals (like the coach referring to journalists as f***ing f**gots) notwithstanding.
    John E.,
    true and we could always use some good press after the language law fiasco. Which reminds me to remind you to watch your favorite news source – we’re about to get our first female prime minister.
    true again. Plus, it’s always nice to hear Wilhelmus.

  18. I’ve always counted “team” among those singular nouns that take plural in most varieties of English
    If by “most varieties of English” you mean “everybody but the bloody Yanks (and maybe Canadians),” yes, I suppose so. But my point stands: there’s no point positing an assumed singular noun to explain plural verbal agreement. Just say “everybody but the bloody Yanks (and maybe Canadians) uses plural agreement with team names.”

  19. The lovely but heartbreakingly corrupt Yulia Tymoshenko will always be the only lady prime minister for me, Bulbul. She a goddess, albeit a pretty vicious one.

  20. i read The Tale of Genji, the first half only and then couldn’t continue i don’t remember why, perhaps just had to go away and left the book at home
    the impressions from book were how they all talked in poems and the very free courting manners, whoever can come and go, not court ladies but courtisans to my ‘puritan’ tastes, but should try again to read it this summer maybe
    the translator was the same person who translated out Secret History so i bought the book pretty belegsheej- thinking a good omen
    i even went to the museum in Nagoya, I forgot the name, where the scroll is held, but there was only the replica, the real one was sent to Tokyo for restoration
    a very memorable day it was, right 1 year after 9/11, and i almost got late to the plane b/c of the museum, so got to the airport just 5 min before the departure, thanks to a great taxi driver
    i think i told this before here, but it’s on topic

  21. Christophe Strobbe says

    No Summer of Genji for me. I recently bought Jin Ping Mei or The Plum in the Golden Vase or, in my Plèiade edition, Fleur en fiole d’or. Now I just want to withdraw into a silent spot without blogs or tweets or World Cup hysteria.
    [begin rant]
    And please stop polluting the comments with this soccer nonsense. The media attention and sports-related blogs should suffice, shouldn’t they?
    [end rant]

  22. You can’t say please if it’s a rant.

  23. Now, now, it’ll all be over in a couple of weeks. Have patience!

  24. Anyway, just stay out of this thread and you’ll be all right. Football/soccer whinging goes in the Genji thread, right chaps?

  25. Christophe Strobbe says

    Soccer whining belongs in the vuvuzela thread.

  26. It’s “whinging”, not whining.

  27. Christophe Strobbe says

    According to Collins English Dictionary, whinge comes from a Northern variant of Old English hwinsian to whine.

  28. I’m sure that “to whine” is also cognate with zu weinen and therein lies the difference between whine and whinge, the latter having no intimation of “crying”.
    But back to football, how do you feel about Belgium’s chances for the next wc?

  29. Christophe Strobbe says

    Belgium (unlike Italy and Uruguay) is doing very well in South Africa, thank you very much. 😛

  30. A hit, a palpable hit!

  31. Christophe Strobbe says

    Should I whinge or whine?

  32. No, that’s very good! I don’t see any English referees in the semifinals. Well done, Belgium! I’ll be looking out for Frank.

  33. Bathrobe says

    I read the Waley version (I presume that’s the one you read) way way back. It was very nicely written — good polished English that carried you along through Genji’s myriad affairs. It was much later that I learnt that Waley’s version is a pretty ‘free’ one that doesn’t actually reproduce the flavour of Heian Japan at all. More modern British than Japanese. So I dutifully bought Seidensticker’s supposedly faithful version, and found it was more faithful to Seidensticker’s leaden style than Heian Japan. A dismal translation — short, monotonous sentences in a deadpan voice. I must get hold of that Taylor fellow’s translation, which is supposed to be quite good.

  34. Oh no! What a disaster.
    Poor Maradona!
    All you need is Löw, Löw,
    Löw is all you need.

  35. Actually, I blame Paul the Oberhausen octopus for this. He was born in England too. Bloody traitor. A cephalopod William Joyce, you can’t trust an octopus with anything big.

  36. Now it’s down to Netherlands, Germany, Uruguay, Spain. Only two languages between them. I’ll have to see who Paul’s backing. I’m not sure who to support now.

  37. i’m rooting for Spain, though all my other predictions were incorrect, i thought Brazil and Argentina would proceed to the semis and wished for Ghana to win over Uruguay

  38. All of Waley’s translations were free in that sense, I think.

  39. All right, Spain it is then. I’ve seen other people say they could win.

  40. I’m rooting for Uruguay, but assuming they get knocked out (which I’m afraid is a soundly based assumption) I guess I’ll root for Spain. Tepidly. Turns out I’m scheduled to be at Fenway Park with the grandkids during the final, which would have presented a terrible dilemma had Argentina gone through but as things stand is actually OK. I’ll read all about it afterward.

  41. I thought you liked the Mets.

  42. I do, but six-year-old grandson is a Sox fan, so it’s off to Fenway I go. (Happily, to see the Pawsox rather than their major league brethren play. I like attending minor league games.)

  43. I’m sure it’s fun, although I’ve never been to a minor league game.

  44. Ha, it turns out I mixed up the scheduling and I’ll actually miss the consolation game, not the final. So I’ll get to see Germany’s victory for myself.

  45. I really don’t think you ought to rule out Spain.

  46. I rule out nothing, not even plucky little Uruguay, but I’ve seen what I’ve seen and I think what I think.

  47. I told you. It was also predicted by Paul the Octopus.

  48. You and Paul were quite right. Now who do you fancy in the final?

  49. I’d say Spain, but I defer to Paul.

  50. bruessel says

    Paul says Spain, and Germany for third place.
    I hope having to predict two games instead of just one hasn’t affected his faculties.

  51. Also this is his first time without Germany as one of the choices.

  52. The Germans want to grill him.

  53. The old story, killing the messenger. The Spanish PM has offered Paul protection (pirana?).

  54. … Forgot the story.

  55. Germany 3, Uruguay 2. Paul is the big winner in this World Cup. Will he be around for the next one? The World Series?

  56. Mani the parakeet predicts Netherlands. Paul is a restaurant display, Mani is a professional psychic. Who ya gonna trust?

  57. GOAAAAL!!!

  58. I called it! Spain 1-0! I have rarely been so happy to see a goal. If the thuggish Dutch had won, it would have seriously impacted my enjoyment of footie.

  59. bruessel says

    Paul is such a clever little thing. Unfortunately, his maximum life expectancy only seems to be 5 years, and as he was hatched in 2008, it’s unlikely he’ll be around for the next World Cup.

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