30 March 2016

Aramaic in Britain

Today, listening to a podcase of a Big Ideas programme from Australia's ABC Radio National entitled Mary Beard's ancient Rome (audio download, but not transcript) I was amazed to learn that there is a tombstone in northern England dating from Roman times with an inscription that is partly in Latin and partly in Aramaic. The woman in the tomb was apparently from southern England while her husband was a speaker of Aramaic from Palmyra in what is now Syria.

More on this remarkable tombstone here.

Like professor Beard, I find this utterly amazing. One wonders if there were any other speakers of Aramaic in the area at the time to give the man some mother-tongue company. Again like professor Beard, one also cannot help wondering what language the couple used in their daily life.

Professor Beard's book is called SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome (link is to a review in The Atlantic).


SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus)                                                SPQR
     The Senate and People of Rome                      on a modern-day manhole cover in Rome.

Colour words revisited

My post of 18 September 2014 entitled Colour thesaurus has attracted a steady stream of visitors. The topic also continues to attract the attention of other bloggers and writers.

On 4 March, IFLS writer Lisa Winter posted When Did Humans Start To See The Color Blue?

This tweet, posted earlier today
 4 hours ago4 hours agoCan you see a colour if you don't have a word for it?
linked to this cleverly entitled article Video Fix: Can you see a colour if you don’t have a word for it? by Raluca Caranfil, a communications trainee with Terminology Coordination team, part of the Eu's DG Trad department.

1 August 2017

More and better on this long-running theme: The sea was never blue, subtitled: The Greek colour experience was made of movement and shimmer. Can we ever glimpse what they saw when gazing out to sea? by Maria Michela Sassi in aeon.

21 September 2017

Languages don’t all have the same number of terms for colors – scientists have a new theory why: Recommended!

29 March 2016

Joute de traduction sur rfi

Danse des mots 
Joutes de traduction 
par Yvan Amar, diffusion : mardi 29 mars 2016

Deux traductrices (ici « traduellistes »), Laurence Cuzzolin et Clémence Malaret, s’affrontent pour traduire un même texte : on discute des choix de chacune, phrase après phrase, avec l’éclairage d’un professeur de traduction, Nicola Froeliger qui fait pour l’occasion le meneur de jeu.

Pour retrouver le texte original sur lequel Laurence Cuzzolin et Clémence Malaret s'affrontent RDV ici.
Texte choisi:
Turning junk into gems
« 101 Things a Translater Needs to Know » 
publié par le WLF Think Tank 
en avril 2014

Noté en passant :
« traduction littéraire » ou « traduction pragmatique ».

Excellente discussion, surtout concernant la dernière phrase et le titre.

09 March 2016

How the French think #7

More on Sudhir Hazareesingh's How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People (Amazon link here).

Words, terms and expressions used in italics #4:

the myth of la douce France (p322); social equality and justice in the suburban banlieues (p323);

Noted in passing #4:

  • Dominique de Villepin's speech to the United Nations in 2003 (p312)
  • ... the wonderfully French conception of autonomy: in order to be recognized as 'independent', these bookshops have to be funded by the State. (p315)
  • ... the more profound legacy of Descartes in contemporary France lies in the way his work continues to inspire wider cultural practices and norms  from the pedagogical ideal of the philosophy baccalauréat, centred around the notions of abstract rationalism and critical individual judgement, to the collective reflections and recollections that emerge every summer in France when the baccalauréat questions become publicly known. (p316)
  • The pessimistic turn among the nation's cultural elites discussed in the previous chapter was expressed through a very familiar conceptual repertoire  and many of its elements continue to inform the French style of thinking today: the presentation of ideas through overarching frameworks; a preference for considering questions in their essence, rather than in their particular manifestations; a fondness for apparent contradictions; and a tendency to frame issues around binary oppositions. (pp316-17)
  • ... the French intellectual landscape: the notions of revolution and rupture appear much less frequently ... (p317)
  • ... the progressive eschatology (a mixture of Cartesianism, republicanism and Marxism) that dominated the mindset of the nation's elites for much of the modern era. (p319)
  • Derridian deconstructionism (p320)
  • the mercurial, enigmatic bibliophile François Mitterrand (p320)
  • the primary intellectual characteristics of the graduates from the technocratic Grandes Écoles are a sense of corporation and a resistance to unconventional thinking (p320)
  • a new division between the confident nation and the anxious nation (p322)
  • reflected in French public language (p324)
  • francophonia (or, as Derek Walcott put it, 'franco-phoney') (p324)
  • The French Left's powerful strain of anti-capitalism and its cultural hostility to the bourgeoisie have no other real European equivalent (p325)
  • the 'technocracy' (p326)
  • One thing is certain, however: as they face the challenges of the twenty-first century, the French will remain the most intellectual of peoples, continuing to produce elegant and sophisticated abstractions about the human condition. (p326)

07 March 2016

How the French Think #6

More on Sudhir Hazareesingh's How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People (Amazon link here).

Words, terms and expressions used in italics #3:

rentrée litéraire (p299); 'learners' (apprenants) (p299); 'culture of mediocrity' ('nullité') (p300); Lionel Jospin's gauche plurielle government (p301); 'mal napoléonien(p301); peuple de gauche (p301); nationalist retreat ('repli identitaire') (p303): idées fixes (p310); educational laïcité (p311); rayonnement — a characteristically untranslatable term which combines the sense of an expansive impact with a notion of benevolent radiance ... (p314); revolution and rupture (p317); the French mission civilisatrice (p318).

Noted in passing #3:

  • Patrick Besson ... article entitled 'Is French literature Dead?' Such observations chimed in with the widespread view in the anglophone world that contemporary French literature had lost its way. (p296)
  • in the United States more novels are translated from French than from any other language (p296)
  • a 'French model' of a large public sector
  • Left and Right ... reaffirmed the traditional 'French model'
  • a characteristic Gallic move from the particular to the universal (p300)
  • 'postmodern nihilism' (p301)
  • something really became significant only when it happened in France (p302)
  • whatever occurred in France had universal significance (p302)
  • Bernard-Henri Lévy also contributed to his own necrology (p304)
  • Jacques Julliard's Le Malheur français (p304)
  • ... the 'schizophrenic' expectations of the French  their love of equality on the one hand, and their passion for privileges on the other (p304)
  • ... the demise of grand narratives (p305)
  • Sarkozy's creation of a Ministry of National Identity (p305)
  • the writings of 'cultural' intellectuals (p306)
  • Éric Zemmour's Mélancolie française (2010) (p306)
  • Lorànt Deutsch ... Métronome (2009), an exploration of the history of Paris through its Métro stations (p307
  • Alain Finkelkraut's L'Identité malheureuse (p309)
  • the closing of the French mind (p310).

05 March 2016

How the French think #5

More on Sudhir Hazareesingh's How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People (Amazon link here).

On writing, etc. (my bold)  #2:

  • Michelet carried the literary quality of French history to new heights (p269)
  • the Annales movement again typified the capacity for innovation in French thought — and its yearning for universality (p272)
  • showing the impressive breadth of his metaphorical repertoire, de Gaulle (p278)
  • The anomic sentiment soon spread to the historical profession: ground down by the sheer weight (and incoherence) of its ambitions, and punctuated by the sharp attacks against its scientistic pretensions, the remnants of the Annales school readily acknowledged their 'disorientation' (p279)

Words, terms and expressions used in italics #2

roman national (p269); his (de Gaulle's) certaine idée de la France (p276); la France éternelle (p276); guerres franco-françaises (p281); Cartesianism oblige (p281); je ne sais quoi (p281); Nora's oeuvre (p281); devoir de mémoire (p282); lois mémorielles (p282); mal de vivre (p287); 'convulsionary immobilism' (immobilisme convulsionnaire) (p293);

Noted in passing #2

  • Emmanual Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou (1975), a captivating study of a village in the Ariège in the Middle Ages. (p274)
  • Marianne, the allegorical representation of the Republic (p280)
  • Pierre Nora's ... seven-volume Les lieux de mémoire reshaped the French historical landscape in the 1980s and early '90s. (p280)
  • The notion of lieu de mémoire has become widespread in France, not only among historians, but also as a way of highlighting and celebrating the nation's patrimonial heritage (p282)
  • intellectually cohesive coteries (p284)
  • teleological history (p284)
  • This intellectual connivance between historical and political elites also partly explains the passion of French political figures for publishing historical works under their names ... (p285)
  • But this Gallocentricity also shines through in something more fundamental, and arguably distinctly French: the idea that the past is a key ingredient in forging a sense of collective identity. (p285)
  • mal de vivre — an untranslatable expression — ... an essential component of modernity, since 'the progress of thought is inseperable from the development of despair'. (p287)
  • Peter Mayle (p288)
  • Michel Houellebecq's dystopic novel La Carte et ke territoire (p288)
  • Ciorian argued that the French spirit was essentially provincial and hedonistic, and (through Descartes' influence) turned towards 'narrow perfectionism' — a preference for stylistic elegance and formal clarity over philosophical profundity (p292)
  • Alain Peyrefitte's pessimism ... historical framework ... 1976 ... Le Mal français ... French 'ungovernability'
  • Peyrefitte followed tocqueville in regarding French over-centralization as a product of the absolute monarchy, later reinforced by the Revolution and successive  republics. (p292)
  • the Colbertian tradition of stateinterventionism (p293)

How the French think #4

More on Sudhir Hazareesingh's How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People (Amazon link here).

Words, terms, expressions and quotations noted in passing

  • The art of synthesis; 'republican monarch', the collective self; Anglo-Saxon epistemology. Cartesianism, a shorthand to describe a range of French cultural traits (p31). The adjective 'Cartesian' ... to denote a style of reasoning deemed to be distinctly Gallic: providing a fixed and unvarying meaning to concepts ... (p33).
  • Voltaire ... observed ... that Christianity was 'assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd and the most bloody religion which had ever infected this world'. (p57) Illuminism. The 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man was hailed as a holy text and frequently equated to a new 'catechism' (p60). 'Patriotic saints'. ... a marvelous realm (champ merveilleux) ... (p74).
  • ... pharmacist Émile Coué developed the psychotherapeutical method which eventually bore his name ... (p75). ... May 1968, the final and ephemeral fling of the French tradition of 'utopian communism' (p79).  Abstract in its design, systematic in its form and radical in its goals, the utopian way of thinking about politics has been one of France's enduring contributions ... (p106).
  • ... fetish for unifying theoretical syntheses ... (p111). ... belief that the possession of a high degree of culture provides (in and of itself) an entitlement to rule ... (p112). Comte invented the term 'altruism' (p120). ... also 'sociology' (p121). Flaubert's Dictionnaire des idées reçues (p123). 'In France we have no oil but we have ideas (p130). ... school ... a 'prodigious apprenticeship in conformism' ... (p132).
  • ... propensity to cast political ideas in binary terms and to follow lines of reasoning to their extremes (p133). ... the general interest (p134). ... the tendency to legitimize arguments by appealing to fictionalized pasts ... (p135). Rousseau's principle of popular sovereignty (p136). ... beliefs in the inherently emancipatory quality of French culture (p146).
  • Anti-capitalism thus still provides the emotional anchor for the Left's promise of a more fraternal world (p160). synthetic belief (p180). Jean-Baptiste Clément's Communard hymn 'Le temps des cerises' (p176). national synthesis (p188). 'The ideal France still resides in the countryside' (p190). a new synthetic vision of Frenchness (p191). 
  • 'France', de Gaulle claimed, 'cannot be France without grandeur' (p192). Lévi-Strauss conceived Tristes Tropiques as a resolute affirmation of Rousseau's sensibility and philosophical anthropology (p201). Sartrian legacies (p136). privileged intellectual interlocutor (p214). 
  • The discussion of multiculturalism illustrated the continuing attachment of the French cultural elites to holistic theorizing and hyperbole and their deeply ingrained resistance to evidence-based reasoning (p256).
  • The choice, in 1880, of 14 July as France's national day was largely a tribute to Michelet's insistence on the importance of mythology in shaping collective consciousness ... (p269)

How the French think #3

More on Sudhir Hazareesingh's How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People (Amazon link here).

Words, terms and expressions used in italics

Lieux de pensée (p17). The salon (p19). Tant pis pour les faitsmonomanie orgueilleuse (p65). ... the sudden overthrow of the capitalist system, the grand soir (p109). cabinet de curiositésénarques ... classement (p132). mission civilisatrice (p146). 'honest folk' (braves gens) (p149). peuple de gauche (p155). Il (Nicolas Sarkozy) est tellement cool (Carla Bruni) (p161). départements, pays, nostalgie (p164). la douce France (p166). petite patrie ... the mystical ideal of la France profonde (p172). de Gaulle's certaine idée de la France (p194). normaliens (p195). négritude (p202). Foucault's oeuvre (p206). Jacques Derrida, the enfant terrible of French structuralism (p209). pensée unique (p223). immortel (p228). intellectuel engagéengagement (p231). heros and salauds (p232). nos ancêtres les Gaulois (p268). roman national (p269). 

Words, terms and expressions discussed or paraphrased

  • Malin génie ('evil demon' or 'evil genius' ....) (p45). a country divided into two camps — la France coupée en deux (p150). ennemi du peuple appeared during the Jacobin era to stigmatize those who were opposed to the Revolution (p156). ... parochialism and petty conflicts — the famous querelles de clocher (p164). rupture or new dawn (p173). 
  • the phrygian cap (one of the iconic symbols of Revolutionary fervour (p174). trees of liberty (p174). the Astérix stories marked the ultimate triumph of the petitie patrie in the French collective imagination  (p190). Marianne (the allegorical representation of the Republic) (p208ter). Prix de la Carpette Anglaise (the English Doormat Prize) (p227). 
  • 'Jacques Bonhomme', the architypical French peasant (p261). 
  • Annales historians ... (studied) collective representations, or mentalités (p274).

How the French think #2

More on Sudhir Hazareesingh's How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People (Amazon link here).
Guardian review here. FT review here. Economist review here. NYRoB review here. SH's response to the NYRoB review and Mark Lilla's reply here.
The page references are to the Allen Lane/Penguin hardback edition dated 2015.

On writing, etc. (my bold):

  • p192: Winston Chruchill appreciated de Gaulle (while in exile in London during WWII and head of the French Resistance movement) "his intellectual rigour, his determination and his lack of verbosity — qualities the prime minister mockingly described as 'unFrench'."
  • p199: Claude Lévi-Strauss's Tristes Tropiques ... So exquisite were the book's poetic and literary qualities ...
  • p200: the arc of Lévi-Strauss's philosophical narrative
  • p206: Foucault's work was challenging and at times cluttered with jargon
  • p209: Derrida's singular mode of expression was a key part of what made him the most controversial thinker of his generation
  • p210: Derrida believed that the meaning of a concept could only be properly elucidated through a relationship with other, related concepts, and the ways in which they were deployed in different contexts. (SD: I wonder what terminologists make of this?)
  • p210: This notion of différance lay at the heart of the new method of textual interpretation he (Derrida) championed, which came to be known as 'deconstruction'.
  • p211: (re democracy, polarizing divisions and the liberation of humankind) Even allowing for the difficulties of translation, Derrida's answer was gloriously perplexing: 
  • p212: (re Derrida) Characterizing Marx's legacy as a 'hauntology' (a typical wordplay on the term 'ontology')
  • p214: Indeed, the transplanting of Frenc theory to the other side of the Atlantic offered much potential for intellectual distortions and cultural misunderstandings.
  • p215: the combination of French and American theorizing generated a body of literature whose overriding characteristic was opaqueness
  • p227: the widespread belief (in France) that English was a more precise and powerful language
  • p228: Marc Fumaroli ... bemoaned the lack of style in the English language, adding (perhaps a touch hyperbolically) that it 'required no commitment from its speakers either in the manner or in the substance of their speech'
  • p232: Sartre developed a specific voice through his review Les Temps modernes
  • p237: the belief that the possession of a certain cultural capital entitled writers and thinkers to intervene in public debates and to provide overarching answers to the problems faced by French society; the preference for abstract argument over concrete, evidence-based discussion
  • p238: Sartre's work as a writer has always been impeccably classical in form and style 
  • p240: Pierre Bourdieu ... somewhat wooden prose 
  • p251: Rosanvallon's professorial and rather austere prose lacks the playfulness and the rhetorical elegance of his mentor Furet p269: Through his emphasis on the role of imagination and mythology, and his powerful rhetorical style, Jules Michelet carried the literary quality of French history to new heights.

02 March 2016

A wonderfully innovative colour thesaurus

On 18 September 2014 I posted a piece entitled Colour thesaurus that has attracted a steady flow of hits.

Today's post is about the wonderfully innovative and remarkably simple Color Thesaurus (her spelling) produced by Ingrid Sundberg.

Here's a small sample:

The next step for translators is to produce validated equivalents in various languages. Anyone out there feel up to the challenge?

More links about colours and languages

by Cath Cellier-Smart ‏@Smart_Translate

Le petit livre des couleurs” by Michel Pastoureau & Dominique Simonnet, Editions du Panama, 2005

French-English glossary of naval defence, v17

Below you will find a link to v17 of my  French-English Glossary of Naval Technology  dated October 2019. This glossary or lexicon is ...