’ne Semmel, bitte … The Star’s Tennis Balls … El laberinto del fauno 10th of February, 2007 POST·MERIDIEM 08:29
An awesome map here, detailing what various regions of the German-speaking world call various small pieces of bread. I didn’t realise that they pretty much don’t say ‚Schrippe‘ anywhere else—it is fascinating (well, to me :-) as you learn a language what ends up being a regionalism and what doesn’t, and what is perceived in some areas to be dying out and what isn’t.
The Stars’ Tennis Balls, book, Stephen Fry, 2000: One of the annoyances to growing older and learning more things is that you then become more able to pick holes in the work of people you previously thought were, without question, accurate and exact and generally great. Two such instances from this—diverting, good—novel. From the text:
The following afternoon Gunther paid a visit to the Vier Jahreszeiten and with a ta-da of triumph, produced from his jacket a gleaming German passport. Ned took it greedily, but before he had so much as turned the first page to look at his photograph, he had betrayed his ignorance once more.
‘Germany? But it doesn’t say which one …’
Now, a reasonably important part of the story is that at this point Ned was fluent in German, and part of being fluent in German was and is knowing that the official name of West Germany, in German, was ‚Bundesrepublik Deutschland‘—something which also appears on the front of the post-reunification passport, since re-unification involved the states of the DDR joining the BRD.
‘See? www.ihatecotter.co.au. Here’s the welcome page. “Welcome to my parlour.” That’s Cotter in the centre of this web, I’ve made him look like a spider. …’
Any fule no that the Australian commercial subdomain is .com.au, not .co.au; I suppose that this mistake made it into the published book is an indication of the fracturing of wider culture in England at least, such that they didn’t think it worthwhile to have someone with the requisite level of technical skill proof-read it.
And, not a criticism; it’s not a surprise that the sentence from which the title comes harks back to the Blackadder ‘Like private parts to the Gods are we; they play with us for their sport!’ when the book was written by an occasional Blackadder actor.
El laberinto del fauno, film, 2006, director Guillermo del Toro, Spanish with English subtitles. Set in the Spanish back-country in 1944, the film has the feel of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with the difference that the adults are concurrently doing interesting things while the fantasy is taking place. A cadre of Republicans is holding out, five years after the end of the civil war, and a captain of the Guardia Civil is sent with his men to the area to root them out. The captain brings along his wife and step-daughter Ofelia, and the story is told from the perspective of the latter.
The girl arrives at the mill (remember, el molino isn’t just a windmill, tout comme « le moulin ») where the Guardia is based, accompanying her mother who’s in the late stages of pregnancy. As they settle in, she follows some fairies she comes across to a well in some Roman or Phonecian ruins, where she encounters a faun—a horrifically ugly faun—who, interestingly, uses vos with her (voseo reverencial, no habla [kaste'ʃano]) with her. The fantasy part of the story develops from there, while the adults proceed in a not-amazingly-unsurprising way.
The story and the production is very unsympathetic to the Franquistas, in particular to the captain, something which is fair enough—it’s hardly a secret that there was no shortage of arseholes involved on Franco’s side of the civil war. It’s also notably sympathetic to the Republican guerillas, something I’m not as happy with—they’re fighting on hopelessly, five years after the war has been lost, bringing death and destruction to their loved ones, for the opportunity to be a client state of Stalin’s Soviet Union! I can think of few things stupider, and I’m really not interested in the romanticism of it, because, remember, client state of Stalin’s Soviet Union, just like East Germany, Hungary, Romania, all places that sucked—very hard to say that it could have turned out better than it did under Franco.
The film’s atmospherically shot, the Spanish is very Spanish and good exercise for one’s listening comprehension—the /o/ of mano is almost dropped, for example—I enjoyed it lots, catch it if you get the chance.
Word of the day: In Austria, das Sackerl is German for ‘plastic bag’; in Germany, the word is die Tüte.
I think the International Brigades were generally a good thing, I like the idea of a multi-national fighting force of volounteers where the election of officers and decisions on action to be taken by a unit are made by popular vote.Wasn’t the Red Army arranged something along those lines, before Trotsky took over? The English Wikipedia doesn’t mention it, but the German says this:
Bei ihrer Gründung war die Rote Armee eine Freiwilligenarmee ohne Dienstgrade (Ränge), ohne Rangabzeichen oder besondere Hervorhebung einzelner Funktionsträger, dadurch sollte das Ideal der Gleichheit aller Menschen betont werden. Kommandierende wurden demokratisch gewählt, auch konnten die Befehle der Offiziere durch die Untergebenen diskutiert und ggf. abgelehnt werden. Dies lag in der Organisation der Roten Garden, aus denen sich die Rote Armee teilweise zusammensetzt und besonders der bolschewistischen Friedens-Propaganda vor der Revolution, die die Soldaten der Zarenarmee zu Widerstand gegen ihre Offiziere aufrief, begründet. Um die militärische Effizienz zu steigern, wurde dieses System kurz nach der Gründung der Roten Armee vom Kriegskommissar Trotzki aufgehoben.
At its foundation the Red Army was a volunteer army without rank, insignia or any particular emphasis on individual specialism; this was intended to emphasise the ideal of human egalitarianism. Commanders were chosen democratically, and officers’ orders were open to be discussed among or even refused by those commanded. This organisational ideal came on the one hand from the Red Guards—out of which the Red Army partly developed—and on the other from the pre-revolutionary Bolshevik peace propaganda, which had called on the soldiers of the Tsar’s army to mutiny against their officers. This system was abolished by War Commissioner Trotsky shortly after the army’s foundation, to heighten military efficiency.If so, it’s not an ideal that has had much success :-/ .
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