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UCC, CS, eh? … Grimm’s Sound Shift … Халхин-Гол 13th of April, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 04:46

From my Google™ referrer logs and some googling myself, I learn that an Aidan Kehoe is a postgrad at UCC, in the Computer Science department. I take this opportunity and its likely quick Google propagation to apologise to him for monopolising the Google results for our name, and to suggest beers if he ends up in Berlin in the next few years.

Also in the realm of homonymy, my Flemish par hasard brother over at http://​www.​parhasard.​be/​ has the coolest header image I’ve seen in a long time; it’s the wreck of a Mitsubishi Zero apparently on the floor of the Pacific, taken by David Doubilet. And my Dutch is non-existent, but the Einstein quote currently on the front page is the best demonstration of the High German sound shift you could hope for, and is as such pretty readable; weet, wapens, ik versus German weiß, Waffen, ich. It also demonstrates a sound shift between Mittelhochdeutsch and Neuhochdeutsch that didn't take place in Dutch: as t'Wikipedia puts it,

Die wichtigsten Veränderungen vom Mittelhochdeutschen zum Neuhochdeutschen betreffen den Vokalismus:

  • Die mittelhochdeutschen Langvokale <î>, <iu>, <û> werden zu den Diphthongen nhd. <ei>, <eu/äu>, <au> (»nhd. Diphthongierung«) - Beispiele: mîn → mein, vriunt → Freund, hûs → Haus

Historical and important battle you probably didn’t know existed, which I learned about via Wikipedia’ing on the Zero: the Battle of Khalkhin Gol was an engagement between the Japanese and the Red Army in the summer of 1939, which the Red Army won, and which scared the ѕhіt out of the Japanese, for no good reason. It is interesting to me in that it’s one engagement where the Soviets seem to have made exactly the right choice strategically in World War II, in contrast to their long-term choices later, which were, basically, “be really big and prepared to lose millions and millions of lives until your chief enemy is exhausted and over-extended, you have years of industrial aid, and it finally occurs to you that competence in soldiery is a good thing.” Probably a matter of Жуков versus Stalin.

Word of the day: Оллоҳ is Tajik for “God,” from the Arabic.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 14th of April at 10:11
(Clarification: AIUI = "As I understand it," and I would be shocked if "dochtertjes" meant anything other than a diminuitive of "daughters".)

[Two older comments for this entry.]

Fruncé … Mein Kastilisch ist schwach … Provenzano 12th of April, 2006 ANTE·MERIDIEM 11:14

One of our clients had an interesting and apparently false “city” specified in our records, so I went and checked if it really existed before changing it. Turns out it does: http://​www.​flickr.​com/​photos/​tags/​frunce , less confusingly and more correctly known as Fruncé.

I’ve learned off this spiel in the last few days in the last few days, since our sales call centre gave the French-language number to Spanish-speaking customers: ¡Buenas tardes! Perdone, no hablo español, pero hablo inglés, francés, allemán, y tengo una colega que habla español. Most of the callers want to speak to my colleague, unsurprisingly enough.

Und noch was auf Spanisch: http://​www.​elmundo.​es/​elmundo/​2006/​04/​11/​sociedad/​1144748584.​html

Der “líder” einer sizilianischen Mafia ist vorgestern (im Dorf „Corleone“, wie schön !) verhaftet worden. Bernardo Provenzano ist seit 1993 Führer der „Cosa Nostra“, eine von verschiedenen Mafien in Italien, und die am bekanntesten. Seit vierzig Jahren hat man versucht ihn zu verhaften; das finde ich erstaunlich, dass in einem modernen, industrialisierten Land, jemand absolut unabhängig von der Regierung so lang leben kann. Oder vielleicht ist es nur dass Sizilien kein modernes, industrialisiertes Land ist, sondern genauso wie Mario Puzo es beschrieb, anarchistisch und korrupt.

Word of the day: el Juez is Spanish for a judge, a magistrate; der Richter is German for the same thing, and was often used in a piece of commentary about 1933–45, that „das Land der Dichter und Denker in Land der Richter und Henker abgewandelt war.“

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 13th of April at 11:10
Vielleicht; die Sache mit Murphy im Vergleich zu Provenzano, aber, war dass die Regierungen wussten ganz genau wo Murphy war, trotz dass keine Meldungspflicht gilt, weder in der Republik noch in Nordirland. Aber in Sizilien, trotz der Meldungspflicht, während 40 Jahren, niemand wusste offiziell wo der Mensch war.

[One older comment for this entry.]

Dieulefit! … Distant young heathen … A diferencia de Inglaterra 10th of April, 2006 ANTE·MERIDIEM 12:19

One of my idle plans (together with moving to some Arabian city-state without income tax, or to Tajikistan to get the language fluent to my satisfaction) is to spend a summer wandering around France. I’ve spent a weekend in Paris, but that’s the extent of my experience there, despite working with and getting to know lots of French people over the years—this is a shame, because at least St. Malo and Carcassonne look spectacular, and I’m sure there’s a lot more to it.

And it occurs to me that one amusing thing to do during that would be to visit Dieulefit and, when asked, say that I was there purely on the grounds of the Jacques Brel song, and watch how people react. He mentions it only in the context of

« Meme si on m’appelle Dieu le Père
« Celui qui est dans l’annuaire
« Entre Dieulefit et Dieu vous garde … »

so I can well imagine it fazing them.

In contrast to France (well, to big parts of it, Dieulefit excepted, perhaps) and to Ireland, in (local) historical times Berlin has only been settled by people speaking what is (or what developed into) the current everyday language. This means that the place names are in large part understandable German; and they can be striking in their meaning (especially without further investigation!).

I change trains every day at Jungfernheide; “distant young heathen (!?!)” (okay, it’s actually named for some heathland that was owned by a convent, (full of »Jungfern«)), another station is Gleisdreieck “triangular rail lines, platform,” another Holzhauser Straße “wooden house street” , another Hohenzollernplatz “high tolls square” (okay, with this one, the family name of the kings of Prussia occurred to me long before the detailed translation), another Feuerbachstraße “fire brook street” and so on. It’s nice to have one more source of a few minutes’ amusement in your day, I find.

Word of the day: El Reino Unido is Spanish for the UK; they use Gran Bretaña for it quite a bit, and tangentally Bretaña means “Brittany,” as you would expect.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 11th of April at 8:56
Unhappily, no, it’s not that easy—you saw on the Wikipedia page that there were 1,000,000 of Carcassonne sold? There are eighty million Germans. I do have at least one colleague into that sort of gaming, though.

[One older comment for this entry.]

We’re coming soon, little tomato! … Tangent Jukebox pluses and minuses 7th of April, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 04:47

I’m listening a good bit to Pink Martini’s Hang on Little Tomato  (of 2004) lately, and China Forbes—the main singer—really improved her French accent between Sympathique  and it. She still does the North American [ɹ] in « savoir », but between vowels it’s much more the French sound, and she has much fewer spelling pronunciations. Well done China Forbes!

La  Forbes is brightening up my day by means of a Tangent Jukebox, a tiny piece of plastic holding 256MB for which I paid 30 €; I am very content with this piece of hardware, I found with my previous Creative MP3 player that that amount of storage is ideal for me, I like the discipline of choosing new albums every three or four days and listening to nothing else. And, at that price, I do not need to be paranoid about losing it, which is nice.

However, it is annoying that copying files over to it (perhaps it’s relevant that this is from NetBSD), then starting the MP3 player aspect of it, involves the latter often destroying the contents. I’m experimenting a little on this—it seems to be a variant of http://​www.​s1mp3.​org/​ , and perhaps the firmware there will sort out the issue. But eh, small annoyances, it’s the price you need to pay for living in this future.

Gestern abend als ich zu hause ging, gab es einen Punk mit rosaroten Irokesenhaarschnitt, einem Bier, und einem Fahrrad auf der S-Bahn. Er setzte sich auf dem Boden, und fängte an seine Musik anzuhören. Nach einiger Zeit kam eine junge Stimme von seiner Richtung: „Gott weiß ich will kein Engel sein!“ Das Mädel gegenüber von mir lächelte ruhig; ich auch, weil es war wirklich komisch dieses drohende Lied so engelhaft, so cherubisch zu hören. Mir scheint es, einige Bands sollen ihre Fans ein bisschen mehr beeindrucken, dass das Thema der Band eine Kleinigkeit seriös sein soll. Oder, falls nicht, das wäre auch nicht schlecht—wir brauchen alle ein bisschen mehr Komödie in dem Leben.

Word of the day: Макола is Tajik for “Welcome.”

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 13th of April at 10:53
For anyone Google™ing the flash player, reformatting the drive and copying over new songs makes the firmware pick it up. newfs_msdos(8) is the appropriate NetBSD tool.

[Two older comments for this entry.]

Plan 9 for Victory! … Ridgy-didge country … I blame my cold on the French 5th of April, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 06:02

The first thing that turned up in my RSS reader this morning was this, and I haven’t read anything better since, nor had I for several days beforehand: http://​www.​thepoorman.​net/​2006/​04/​05/​plan-9-for-victory/​ . The whole thing is perfect writing—here’s just a short extract to whet your appetite: Screenshot of an Amazon recommendation I got today

“[…] Amen to that. The absurdity of a situation in which the military might of modern industrial hyperpower is unable, after three full years of battle, to crush a fractious insurgency of foreign terrorists, rag-tag ethnic militias, and Baathist dead-enders is almost too much to bear.”

“Professor Christmas feels that, in order to win the war, Bush should take the bold [and] decisive step of impressing Canadian theater critic Mark Steyn into service as his new speechwriter. (And damn the torpedoes!) You may be forgiven for feeling that this is a rather timid definition of “whatever it takes”. Can nothing, then, be done? Perhaps history can provide an answer: […]”

The piece effectively and powerfully makes a point that wasn’t clear to me before reading it; the US (and the UK, and Australia, and whoever exactly it is that’s still there) in Iraq neither want to win decisively nor behave humanely, if we are to judge their motivations on their actions. That leaves “massive public-relations exercise” as the plausible motivation for continuing the occupation, which makes me throw up a little in my mouth. Anyone know an antonym to “artisan of government?”

What makes the Amazon recommendation to my right particularly funny is that Jespersen is famed for his intemperate, batty male chauvinism (in the limited circles where people know who he is); the pure randomness of it is distracting, too, I can’t imagine Amazon meant to do it. Or, of course, maybe they did, to get this sort of mention in low-readership blogs and drive their mighty corporate stock price more stratospheric still ... Nah.

Ach, und; endlich habe ich meinen Flug für die Hochzeit gebucht; drei Tage in Australien, das genügt schon für mich, man hat keinen Mangel von Gelegenheiten in Europa Australier kennen zu lernen, und Brisbane ist doch nicht Ayer’s Rock Uluru. (Oder vielleicht will ich Zombie werden; 27 Stunden für jede Richtung, und das ohne die Bahnfahrt zu FRA!)

Word of the day: Грипп is Tajik for a cold; die Grippe is German for the same thing, la gripa the Spanish.