sábado, 27 de febrero de 2016

THE EUPHEMISM TREADMILL

5) Grzega: world view change (i.e. changes in the categorization of the world due to improved encyclopedic knowledgea change in philosophies or cultural habits).
“first-degree word murder, first-degree lexicide” and “creation of lexical life” = non-institutional linguistic pre- and proscriptivism, institutional linguistic pre- and proscriptivism, taboo, aesthetic-formal reasons, disguising language, world view change
Consider Grzega's study on the concept of /young human female/ and the transition from "maiden" to "wench" and "lass" to "girl" (which he claims is not rooted in worldview change, but in semantic deterioration and the euphemism treadmill [for /prostitute/]):
Changing World View, Changing Categorization of the World 
We can speak of world view change when we refer to changes in the categorization of the world. It is not the referents that change, but the organisation of the content of the sign, the organization of the concept, the relevance of the referents in the world. This may, in turn, be due to a change of encyclopaedic knowledge, social and cultural habits etc. Example: That "girl" is more and more used to denote TEENAGE FEMALE HUMAN has to do with a changing view on what childhood and adolescence are, viz. that children and teenagers are not simply smaller versions of adults.
Lenker (1999: 11s.) reports that a basic world view change occurred during the 17th c., when children were gradually perceived not just as smaller versions of adults, but as weak and innocent. But this change does not seem to be in part responsible for any of the lexical innovations. The semantic restrictions all seem secondary. It can be observed, recurrently, that the words for the concept undergo semantic deterioration, i.e. they gradually denote “taboo” words; as a consequence, new terms have to be found for the neutral concept to avoid unintended associations [with euphemisms for /prostitute/!] (this is meant by “aesthetic-formal reasons”). If a word does not refer to a taboo concept, but equals a word referring to a taboo concept, its replacement can be said to go back to aesthetic-formal forces.
It can be observed, recurrently, that the words for the concept undergo semantic deterioration, i.e. they gradually denote “taboo” words; as a consequence, new terms have to be found for the neutral concept to avoid unintended associations [with euphemisms for /prostitute/!] (this is meant by “aesthetic-formal reasons”). If a word does not refer to a taboo concept, but equals a word referring to a taboo concept, its replacement can be said to go back to aesthetic-formal forces.
This phenomenon called euphemism treadmill can be seen in the following cases:
  •  /female dog/ "bitch" -> "female dog" ("bitch"-> /prostitute/)
  •  /young human female/ "lass," "wench" -> "girl," "maiden" ("lass," "wench" -> /prostitute/). Curiously: in German, "Dirne" underwent the same evolution as "wench:" 
"thiorna"/"Dirne" /young human female/ -> "Dirne" /prostitute/.
  • /unmarried human female/ "spinster" -> "bachelorette" ("spinster" -> /old, unattractive/)
  • /left/ across many languages: "sinistra" -> "izquierda" (es.), "esquerra" (cat.), "esquerda" (pt.) (from Basque "ezkerra" for /left/), "gauche" (fr., /awkward/), "stâng" (lt. "stancus/-a/-um" for "tired," "stagnant"); "winstre" (compare se. "vänster") -> "left" (/weak/); "laiós" -> "aristerós" (/the best/, same root as /aristocracy/).
  • /bear/ in Russian ("medved," kenning meaning /honey eater/), /wolf/ in Swedish ("varg," kenning meaning /violent stranger/ [now that "varg" is no longer a euphemism, countryfolk say "grâben," i.e. /graylegs/]) and other fearsome predators which pose danger to humans: for the sake of respect
  • "The LORD" used for /God/ in Abrahamic religions
  • /death/: "the Grim Reaper," "der Sensemann," "la Catrina," "la Pálida Dama" (/death/ personified is masculine in Germanic cultures and feminine in Latin cultures)

viernes, 26 de febrero de 2016

IL VISCONTE DIMEZZATO / THE CLOVEN VISCOUNT

In Japanese, the kanji for "left"  can be pronounced "hidari" or "sa," while the kanji for "right"  can be pronounced "migi" or "yú." Both kanji together  are always pronounced "sayú," which means "left and right," or "symmetry," but also "control of one's life." Here lies something to ponder upon.
UPDATE:
The kanji are pronounced "sa" and "u" in compound words. To put some examples: 左心室 sashinshitsu, left ventricle (literally, left chamber of the heart - compare the equivalent terms in Germanic languages); 右心室 ushinshitsu, right ventricle.





Three paths lead up the Hill of Difficulty:

  1. The path to the left is beautiful and easy, yet treacherous and fraught with Destruction.
  2. The path to the right is beautiful and easy, yet treacherous and fraught with Danger.
  3. The middle path, straight up the hill, is steep and straight and narrow, yet it leads to a Pleasant Arbour where the weary find repose.
This is an illustration of the Golden Mean and shying away from extremes (in ethics as well as in any other field of life). There's no "right is good and left is bad" symbolism, but rather "both left and right are the wrong paths," the middle one, the third one, right in between the extremes, is the one most recommended to choose. And The Cloven Viscount (Il visconte dimezzato), a superb fairytale fantasy by Italo Calvino, illustrates the same value. Neither a completely self-centered person nor a completely altruistic one can be considered human, and Lieutenant Viscount Medardo di Terralba learned this lesson firsthand.

Once upon a battlefield, this young lieutenant, this viscount, shot down in the middle of the chest by enemy fire, was literally split in twain. His right half (completely self-centered) became a dreaded iron-fisted tyrant, while his left half (completely altruistic) became an insufferable silk-gloved goody-two-shoes. Neither one wanted to be reattached to his other half. Until the same young maiden won both the half hearts of the righthander and the lefthander, knowing that both of them would ruin her life, and decided to marry both of them without each other knowing the other's betrothal. The bridegrooms clashed at the altar and challenged one another to a duel, they drew steel at unison and seriously wounded one another with their rapiers, only regaining life after a long convalescence, having already been stitched together. And, of course, he and his bride married and lived happily ever after...

In Calvino’s book, the two halves of the protagonist — Medardo, Viscount of Terralba — return to their village in Italy, one at a time, and do not bring only half of the body each. They also bring half of their former common personality; the left half is virtuous, the right half is vicious. The vicious half lives in the castle and behaves viciously, the virtuous half lives in the woods and does good deeds. And very quickly the villagers realise that both halves are unbearable: that more than living with the goodness of one or the evilness of the other, what makes life miserable for everybody in the village is that each half is convinced to be the true Viscount and feels so self-evidently right in that conviction that the other half cannot but be, in consequence, so wrong that it must be annihilated.

I leave you with the song by Italian band Villazuk, which sums up the story perfectly and is one of my favourite songs in the language of Dante:


Cavalcava la pianura tra gli stormi di cicogne 

munito d’un cavallo e uno scudiero

in Boemia era diretto e li la guerra contro i turchi

gia cosparso avea la terra di carogne

al mattino successivo cominciava la battaglia

pensava al nuovo grado di tenente

scintillavano i suoi occhi tra paura ed entusiasmo
era giovane Medardo di Terralba
e dall’alto della sella scorse due artiglieri turchi
puntare contro il fuoco d’un cannone
l’inesperto cavaliere che copriva l’obiettivo 
fece un salto in aria con un colpo in petto
alla sera lo raccolsero sul carro dei feriti
mutilato interamente alla sinistra
ed il giorno successivo dopo sconce operazioni
con stupore dei dottori respirava 

Al ritorno in terra propria nel mantello nero avvolto
portò con se malvagia e cattiveria
fece un torto uccidendo un volatile del padre
che seguì nel sonno il povero animale
gli abitanti del castello se ne accorsero in quel tempo 
che l’uomo aveva perso ogni bontà
incendiava gente e case di ugonotti ed appestati
coronando una miriade di condanne
solamente una gran donna la sua balia Sebastiana
rimproverava tutti i suoi misfatti
ma l’insana crudeltà giunse presto e la sua sorte
fu l’esilio nel paese dei lebbrosi
l’abitudine a quel male di brutalità e follie
facea vegliar la notte sentinelle
mai nessuno compativa la sua giovinezza offesa
che temevano anche i cari più vicini

Ma un fanciullo che dormiva sopra il bordo d’un torrente
sentì la mezza ombra sulla testa
mentre un ragno scivolava sopra il collo del ragazzo
quella sola mano ne procurò il morso 
sotto il suo mantello nero con il suo mezzo sorriso
salutò affettuosamente suo nipote
che si accorse sbalordito di quel nuovo atteggiamento
e che la mano gonfia era la sinistra
dopo un po’ fu noto a tutti l’altro mezzo è ritornato
a portare aiuto a chi era disperato
a soccorrere i più poveri regalando carità
a fermare le violenze ed i peccati
ma la virtù del buon mancino era troppo disumana
predicava ai vecchi di non lavorare
disturbava le abitudini e le vite della gente
che non sopportava neanche il mezzo buono

Questa storia prende svolta come tante volte accade
per mano di una giovane fanciulla
che riuscì a farsi contendere da due metà divise
da quell’uomo che portava cuori opposti 
era scalza grassottella e vestiva sempre rosa
rifiutava le due anime contrarie
l’uomo buono era pietoso quanto l’altro era crudele
non voleva rovinarsi l’esistenza
la ragazza era scocciata e con un gesto d’imprudenza
decise di sposarli tutti e due
ma di farlo all’insaputa dei due mezzi cavalieri
che incrociarono i due occhi sull’altare
si lanciarono una sfida in un duello regolare
con entrambe mani armate d’una spada
così l’uomo combatteva contro la sua stessa parte
e poi cadde a terra in un bagno di sangue

Ora il corpo dei feriti sotto ardue cuciture
sottoposte dal dottore del castello
dopo giorni di pazienza tra gli sguardi sempre incerti
sotto gli occhi dell’amata prese vita
la sua vita fu felice molti figli e un buon governo 
e per quello che gli accadde fu il più saggio
più non c’era cattiveria più non c’era troppa pena
ma di tutt’e due portava l’esperienza.




PS. Compare this case of Medardo di Terralba to that of Aguri and Regina in Dokidoki Precure! The "light" half of the heart, that would become Aguri, is the right one ("light" and "right" are, by the way,. homophones in Japanese); while the "dark" half, that would become Regina, is the sinister one.



CUANDO LOS SIETE ERAN UNO

CUANDO LOS SIETE ERAN UNO

Sandra Dermark

26-2-2016



Un poema sobre los hermanos Stark, más el bastardo y el adoptado. De cuando antes de que se separaran y sus vidas cambiaran...



Antes de la tormenta... 
Los siete eran uno solo, 
como los días de la semana, los colores del arcoíris o las notas de la octava. 
El hermano mayor aún sólo lideraba a los suyos en su grupito. 
Su mejor amigo era un chico simpático y legal, aunque un poco rebelde. 
El bastardo se sentía como el patito feo, pero no dejaba de ser uno más. 
La joven diestra soñaba con el amor verdadero. 
La niña zurda soñaba con grandes aventuras. 
El niño que trepaba daba de comer a todas las aves del castillo en sus nidos. 
Y el benjamín dormía en la cuna o en brazos de su mamá. 
YA NADA ES IGUAL A COMO FUE EN AQUELLOS DÍAS FELICES... 
El verano ha acabado, y la infancia también. 
Y SE ACERCA EL INVIERNO...

jueves, 25 de febrero de 2016

TARDE DE FRÍO NOVIEMBRE...

TARDE DE FRÍO NOVIEMBRE...

This is my own translation of a Hungarian folk song, "Ha majd a nyarunknak vége," into Spanish... It's a sorrowful song, so best keep your hankies ready. You will find the tune in the link of the original title. I first did this translation as a teen, written with my left hand with ink on paper, like the Travesty of Othello, and now it's here for you readers:


TARDE DE FRÍO NOVIEMBRE...
Traducción de una canción popular húngara
("Ha majd a nyarunknak vége")
por Sandra Dermark, 2008


Tarde de frío noviembre,
tarde del último adiós,
cuando la guerra termina 
con una historia de dos...

Un joven y una muchacha
en el tranquilo cuartel:
él, un apuesto teniente;
ella, hija del coronel.

"¿Oyes que suenan clarines?
Dime, ¿les oyes cantar?
Dice la letra: '¡Adelante!'
Nos hemos de separar...

Llora en mis hombros, cariño,
ce soir c'est une autre soirée...
Se marchará el regimiento
y yo con ellos me iré...

Cuando descienda el ocaso,
el regimiento se irá...
Bésame ahora, cariño:
¿quién sabe adónde se va?"

De noche, junto a la hoguera,
el regimiento formó...
ya se desvela el teniente
y escribe cartas de amor...

Una muchacha le espera,
oye a su amada llorar,
hunde la cara en las manos
y tarda en contestar.

Al día siguiente en combate,
él su valor demostró,
y, herido en el seno izquierdo,
bien inconsciente cayó...

Entre sus duras costillas
se deslizó un proyectil:
tiene el pulmón destrozado,
no hay esperanza por fin...

Llegan los de la Cruz Roja,
vienen por él a velar...
tiene cuarenta de fiebre,
con unas décimas más...

"Quiero escribir una carta,
mas no me acuerdo de a quién...
y ver a mi prometida,
que me espera en el cuartel...

¡Traigan mi azul uniforme,
no puedo más esperar!
¡Nunca más guardaré cama,
voy por la patria a luchar!"

"No os arriesguéis, mi teniente,
pensad en vuestro pulmón!"
Aquella noche, el teniente
del hospital se escapó...

Se pone el sol más sangriento
tras la batalla perder...
Por oficiales caídos
se reza un réquiem...

Han derrotado a los suyos,
no se enteró el oficial:
su corazón se detiene, 
su alma es estrella fugaz.

Llevan al frente una carta
de una muchacha, de amor:
la releyó el comandante,
luego, tranquilo, ordenó:

"Le escribiré que al teniente
ella ya no ha de esperar,
ya que su pecho, en el frente,
sufrió una herida mortal..."

En el cuartel de oficiales,
llora la joven Christine:
mientras desciende la noche, 
ella es consciente del fin...

Tarde de frío noviembre,
una muchacha murió...
Ella fue en pos del teniente:
sola, se abrió el corazón...

domingo, 21 de febrero de 2016

THE RIGHTFUL LEFT-TENANT

THE RIGHTFUL LEFT-TENANT

The most relevant McGuffin in The Tragedy of Othello is the rank of lieutenant, pronounced "leftenant." As for why Shakespeare uses the name of the rank instead of "right-hand man" for some reason or another... "left-tenant", maybe because the story is about what happens when we follow our hearts blindly, and we have our hearts to the left side (laevocardia/sinistrocardia being usual and dextrocardia a rarity)... Yet the most relevant fact is how this commission is regarded: A lieutenancy which Iago views as his by right/rightfully, himself as the rightful left-tenant...
Iago himself is a rather sinister character, and, in my mind's eye, he is always left-handed (the other southpaw in the core cast of seven being his wife, the only person aware of his agenda). "Leftenant," like the hypothetical "love-tenant" from which the pronunciation hails, is a quote to be read between the lines. For instance: the only two southpaws mentioned in the Tanakh, Ehud and Joab, are shrewd, devious, and take advantage of their unusual handedness to cajole and treacherously kill right-handed opponents who are unaware of that fact. Furthermore, the sinister, ironic deaths of both Eglon and Amasa are described with a tinge of homoerotic innuendo... correlating leftiness with queerness? In classical myth, the father of Oedipus is called Laius, literally "Lefty," (compare the surnames "Izquierdo", "Gaucher", and "Hidari"), and he is left-handed and gay. Furthermore, he is said to have been the first homosexual in the Western world. And there is the Spanish idiom "cojear del pie izquierdo".
Historically, left-handedness has always been correlated with sexual deviance...
After all, 'tis a lieutenancy which Iago views as his by right/rightfully, himself as the rightful left-tenant...
It is worth noting that Iago gets his rival Cassio so drunk that the young officer cannot tell his left from his right. If we stick to the "Iago is left-handed" characterization, we'll realize that etiquette in those days (and I'm referring more to rulers' courts than taverns, but it could also apply to outposts) prescribed, to quote Erasmus's book of good manners for young courtiers: "Should you ever pour someone a drink, be careful not to do it with your left hand." Bad news for lefty cupbearers, not only because left-handedness (like freckles or red hair, or being tall for a girl) carried a stigma in those days, but also because of a more sinister reason: a left-handed cupbearer was more likely to be accused of poisoning (pouring the drink with the left hand and stealthily lacing it with the right). Though he does not spike his rival's tankard, Iago does indeed intoxicate Cassio, altering the lieutenant's internal state of health to the point of confusion, of not being right.
To have a peek at a different culture, the Japanese words for handedness are also used to denote ethyl tolerance. Those who hold their liquor well, and hard drinkers, are called 左利き "hidarikiki" (literally, lefties) and those who can't hold themselves are called 利き "migikiki" (literally, righties). Iago winds up far more sober than Cassio, but the latter, bereft of reason, has even forgotten what is right (and what is left/wrong as well). (Incidentally, there is a Japanese idiom 右も左もわからない "migi mo hidari mo wakaranai," literally "I don't know either left or right," which means "not to have a clue, to have no idea." This expression may have a Western parallel in the Book of Jonah, when the LORD arguments against Jonah about why He has decided to spare thousands of Assyrian "persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand," to quote the King James version [אשר לא־ידע בין־ימינו לשמאלו "asher yada bein-yeminov lismolov" in original Hebrew]. The expression may be taken to refer to innocent, ignorant young children, or to confused, ignorant adult sinners: in any way, it refers to immature humans whose ignorance makes them unaware of the difference between right and left as well as of that between right and wrong. 
persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; i.e. children of tender years, who did not know which hand was the strongest and fittest for use; or, metaphorically, who had no knowledge between good and evil", at present incapable of moral discernment. This limitation would include children of three or four years old. that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; do not know one from another; cannot distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong; are not come to years of maturity and discretion; and therefore there were room and reason for pity and sparing mercy; especially since they had not been guilty of actual transgressions, at least not very manifest; and yet must have perished with their parents. that cannot discern between their right hand and their left—children under three or four years old. And besides, these persons are young, and have not offended, [for they knew not the difference between their right hand and their left] who, in the weakness of infancy, knew not which hand, "the right" or "the left," is the stronger and fitter for every use. 
the infants that have not come to so much use of understanding as to know their right hand from their left, for they are yet but babes. These are taken notice of because the age of infants is commonly looked upon as the age of innocence. They had not been guilty of any actual transgression, 
infants only, as next described: that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand;
do not know one from another; cannot distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong; are not come to years of maturity and discretion; and therefore there were room and reason for pity and sparing mercy; especially since they had not been guilty of actual transgressions, at least not very manifest,
Those who cannot discern between their right hand and their left are those who unable to make moral judgments.  
Aquellos que no saben discernir entre su mano derecha y su mano izquierda son aquellos que son incapaces de hacer juicios morales. 
lo que consideramos era una multitud de niños que “no sabían discernir entre su mano derecha y su izquierda”.)
Los miles que no podían "discernir entre su mano derecha y su mano izquierda" eran los jóvenes (niños) y las personas inocentes.
[···] innocent children [···]
"persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand", that is, so many children under two years of age. [···] these would have been destroyed [···] And what have these done? If grown-up people are wicked and deserve to die, these have done no action worthy of death. And yet had [···] been swallowed by an earthquake, all these harmless babes must have gone down alive into the bowels of the earth [···] for helpless offspring's sake.
11. that cannot discern between their right hand and their left--children under three of four years old ( Deuteronomy 1:39:  children who do not yet know good from bad ). 

and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and
evil;
not being at years of understanding, and which is a common description of children
In any way, both this biblical quote (We can understand this with regard to the age of infancy, which is innocent and simple [···] did not know the diference between good and evil::: people who cannot tell their right hand from their left --
Their ignorance is so great they “cannot tell their right hand from their left.” ) and this Japanese idiom of left-right confusion may be applied to Cassio when intoxicated. These expressions suggest ignorance, immaturity, and innocence, as well as weakness, helplessness, existential confusion, and/or error. And clouded judgement. Knowledge of the left-right distinction is considered a sign of maturity: I myself learned the difference upon hitting puberty, i.e. that my left faces the right of what I see through my eyes and vice versa. Before that, I thought that the left was always the side of my writing hand and the two/three birthmarks on my forearm. One of the ways I learned real left-right distinction was through the clever use of colour-coded Kickers shoes: red for left and green for right. Thus, I learned that my left side faces the right side of others and vice versa. The gunshot on Lord Nelson's left shoulder at Trafalgar and my handedness and birthmarks, however, proved more influential in this aspect than the Kickers; from looking at depictions of the wounded and dying admiral, I realized that my right faced Horatio's (and everyone else's) left.
The left-tenant drugged to the point of not knowing what is right (and what is wrong)... is, due to his actions under the influence, subsequently cashiered and wants to claim the rank he had left. The commanding officer, the general, is thought to believe his wife has left him for the younger and more well-spoken former lieutenant, who is more similar to her and more "upright", and who stands upright (even though stabbed in the right leg), following his fall from grace, throughout the play (thus... right-tenant?). In Swedish, infidelity is called "vänsterprassel," literally "crackle to the left." "Att vänstra," "to go left" literally, means to cheat on one's partner. (BTW, "vänster" is cognate with "vän," "friend...") The punning on "left" and "right," like that on "to lie," or that on "darkness" and "fairness," is one of the leitmotives that vertebrate the whole play.
In Swedish, infidelity is called "vänsterprassel," literally "crackle to the left." "Att vänstra," "to go left" literally, means to cheat on one's partner. Which leads to a second theme as close to the left-right innuendo as the rank of left-tenant... which is infidelity. Right is left and left is right, yet having left (oneself, one's place, one's loved ones) or being left (behind, alone) is as wrong (as sinister) as being upright and doing the right things (and being righteous and rightful) is right.
The lieutenant is called left-tenant because he always stands to the left of the commander, like the bride to the left of the bridegroom. In this story, there are two husband and wife couples (one happily married, the other one turned cold as ice) and a fiancé couple, plus a brokenhearted lover left (!) on his own. The climax is the oath of Othello and Iago, exchanging vows like a bride and groom, culminating in "Now are you my lieutenant" (which implies "I am your rightful commanding officer"). A gay wedding without a priest or church, disguised as a military command and as a gentlemen's agreement. A metaphorical wedding in which there are not a bride and groom, but a lieutenant and commander, in the same positions (the former to the left, the latter to the right). The traditional stance of both the bride and the lieutenant, to the left of their superiors, actually hails from the same origin: Swordfighters wear their sheathed weapon on the opposite side from their dominant hand (righties on the left, lefties on the right) to make it easier to draw steel. Most people are right-handed, and thus, both the bridegroom at the altar (should the bride get captured by wedding crashers) and the commander on the battlefield needed to leave their respective sword hands free and to guard their respective scabbard sides. Hence the reason why both the bride and the lieutenant stood to the left of their superiors. Conflating these two related traditions into a symbolic "gay wedding" is one of the best climaxes ever created by the Bard.
If vanilla sex is all right, everything else, everything deviant, is considered sinister.
Lefty/Sinister Iago deceives mainly men, right-handed, righteous men above him on the social ladder... yet the female characters are immune to his flattery. In my depictions, Emilia is the only left-handed female, like Iago the only left-handed male, not only to pair them, but to signify that she is most immune to his deception as well as the savviest female character, compared to innocent Desdemona and perky Bianca (right-handed like their male counterparts), as well as taking an older-sister stance with Des and preferring her company to that of the male characters. Des is to Milly as Othello is to Iago, a foil to her, after all.
If vanilla sex is all right, everything else, everything deviant, is considered sinister. We left-handers are far more likely to deviate from the sexual norm than right-handers (and it has been scientifically proven).
And a Mecano song uses the euphemism "culear de estribor" (compare "cojear del pie izquierdo", a more usual expression for the same sexual orientation), "to steer towards starboard," for a gay male. But starboard is considered the right side, vs. port/larboard side being left... There could be either irony here, or the reflection that port/larboard and starboard marks are of a different colour depending on whether you're following or against the direction of the channel:
  • Following the direction of the channel: there's red port left (and green on the right).
  • Against the direction of the channel: red, right, return (left, green, return).
But the meaning of the expression actually comes from the fact that commands on board refer to the tiller direction: if you want the boat to go left, you have to steer it moving the tiller to starboard (in the opposite direction), for instance in the command "hard to starboard!" meaning that you have to move the tiller to the right to sail left, in the opposite direction. The same goes for The Tragedy of Othello when it comes to both the themes of rank and gender/sexuality.
Othello, as a subversive story, goes against the channels tragedy (and Shakespeare) has sailed before, confusing directions and sexual orientations, making sure that left is right and right is left and wrong is right and right is wrong... (Just like, in real life, my left is your right, and vice versa, and what we approve and disapprove of often depends of the person who has the opinion...)
The lieutenant's place was given by right not to the one who claims he is the rightful lieutenant... the one who believes he is left behind and encourages the others to share his views, forgetting what is right, yet is defeated in the end by the righteous left-hander who once stood by his left side... this is a game with which we are tested ourselves in real life time after time, after all.


POST SCRIPTUM I.
"We live as in a crossroads. [···] Let others rule the army. Our army is that of our thoughts: we are distraught with foreign wars," a certain Renaissance philosopher once wrote on the condition of free will and human life, and on the constant challenge of self-control. The solution he gave to the issue was not that of fight, but that of flight to the refuge of solitude, of spiritual retirement, a contemplative life free from ambition, from warfare, and from the pleasures of the flesh. Try to apply all of this to Othello, with its military backdrop and ethical themes!!

POST SCRIPTUM II.
It's interesting how, in a misogynistic twist, the Pearl Poet or Gawain Poet, in his Patience, applies the left-right confusion metaphor in Jonah 4 to Assyrian women, said to be foolish or mentally challenged ("unwitted," in the original; "handicapped," "foolish," "witless," and "light-headed" in translation). I am a woman, once a child, with a mental disorder, for whom it took about a pair of decades and many a pair of Kickers to be able to tell left from right. But I can, and could in my childhood, tell a staircase from a steel handrail...
MODERN VERSION (PROSE): 
[···] and handicapped women who cannot tell their left hands from their right, nor a stair from a handrail even. 

MODERN VERSION (VERSE I):
And foolish women, that could not choose
512* one hand from the other, for all this high world;
that cannot discern between the handrail and the stair;***
what secret suggestion runs between the right hand
and the left, though their life should be lost therefore;

MODERN VERSION (VERSE II):
And witless women who could not distinguish their 
one hand from the other, for all this high world.

MODERN VERSION (VERSE III):
And light-headed ladies, who lack wit to tell
the one hand from the other, for all this wide world.


MEDIEVAL ORIGINAL:
511 & wymmen vnwytte Þat wale ne couÞe
512Þat on hande fro Þat oÞer, fo[r] alle Þis hy3e worlde.
513Bitwene Þe stele & Þe stayre disserne no3t cunen,
514What rule renes in roun bitwene Þe ry3t hande
515& his lyfte, Þa3 his lyf schulde lost be Þerfor;



LISA AMPLEMAN - RESPONSE TO THE POEM PATIENCE
[···] that there are fools 
who can't tell their left from
their right, or accept the LORD's
judgement. Those stupid little bairns,
those unwitted women.



POST SCRIPTUM III.
In Japanese, the kanji for "left"  can be pronounced "hidari" or "sa," while the kanji for "right"  can be pronounced "migi" or "u/yú." Both kanji together can be written as , pronounced "migi hidari," which translates to "right and left (in that order)," or more frequently as , pronounced "sayú," which means "left and right," or "symmetry," but also "control of one's life," "determining," "influencing," "swaying..." in general, "to have something completely under one's control". Here lies something more to ponder upon regarding the plot and the characters of The Tragedy of Othello.
The expression "sayú suru" (transitive form) means to have something completely under one's control; the intransitive form is "sayú sareru."
UPDATE:
The kanji are pronounced "sa" and "u" in compound words. To put some examples: 左心室 sashinshitsu, left ventricle (literally, left chamber of the heart - compare the equivalent terms in Germanic languages); 右心室 ushinshitsu, right ventricle.


POST SCRIPTUM IV.
A black cat brings good luck if it crosses your path from left to right. However, if it crosses from right to left, it brings misfortune. Consider the connotations of this distinction.

POST SCRIPTUM V.

Wherein are more than six score thousand {persons), 

that are so young, and voide are of all {reason), 

that by no means they able are to learne, 

the right hand from the left, for to discerne ? 

Should I subvert so many infants too?


persons, that can- 
not discern between their right hand and their 
left hand
persons that cannot discern be- 
tween their right hand and their left hand. 
These are young children and infants, who are 
not old enough yet to understand the difference 
between right and wrong. For this is what the 
Jews meant, when they spake of a person not be- 
ing able to discern between right hand and 
left hand.  
Must all these little ones perish? The young 
children and infants, have had no share in the 
dreadful wickedness hat has been committed.
the tender and interesting little children
...









viernes, 19 de febrero de 2016

IF THE 30YW WERE A SEASON OF GAME OF THRONES...

A little funny piece of military history humour I made for Uttam and for myself. Like a parody (as well as a reference to the formula of every GoT season)...

IF THE 30 YEARS' WAR WERE A SEASON OF GAME OF THRONES...
The following would happen in each episode:

Episode 1) Rise of a New Era
Kaiser Matthias dies and his nephew/successor Ferdinand is crowned, beginning a realmwide Protestant hunt, with a brilliant string of victories, but plunged into economic distress. Albrecht von Wallenstein appears at the imperial court. Gustavus Adolphus and Mary Eleanor of Sweden have a strange child, a daughter they baptize as Christina...

Episode 2) The Purple Testament
Christian IV of Denmark is crushed by Tilly and Wallenstein, who become bitter rivals. Gustavus Adolphus is wounded in the throat at Dirschau, in Poland...

Episode 3) Alea Iacta Est
Tensions mount between Tilly and Wallenstein. Gustavus, recovering from his wounds and now unable to wear a breastplate, names Christina his heir. Wallenstein is cashiered as leader of the Imperial army. In France, Richelieu decides to call for Sweden... 

Episode 4) Chaos is Come Again
On Cardinal Richelieu's request, Gustavus leaves Sweden, backed up by France and leaving his daughter in the care of the regency. Wallenstein schemes to ruin the Count of Tilly, while Gustavus tries to parley with his stepbrother-in-law...

5) All the Worst Could Wish
The Catholic Leaguers storm and overrun Magdeburg, then advance into Saxony, whose elector is forced to ally with Gustavus. The younger Catholic generals coax Tilly into giving battle. At Breitenfeld, north of Leipzig, both armies clash for the first time...

6) One Card Short of a Full Deck
Gustavus and Eleanor enjoy the winter truce, while she is worried about his possible demise. Richelieu and Oxenstierna exchange letters, while Wallenstein tries to ally with Gustavus against the Kaiser. Fallen from grace, Tilly prays for victory. When springtime arrives, the Catholic League gives the last stand on the right bank of the Lech, having razed the bridge across the surging rapids, but Gustavus will not back in front of this rill. In fact, he's got a plan to cross this Rubicon of his own...

7) Return of the Fallen
The Count of Tilly dies of lockjaw at the commandant's in Ingolstadt. With the Swedes advancing already into Austria, the Kaiser has no other choice than to reinstate Wallenstein. When springtime has become summer, the Duke of Friedland intrenches himself on the Alte Feste, which Gustavus tries to storm time and again...

8) Sinister Omens
At the Alte Feste, both the Swedish and Imperial armies, locked in a standstill, are more decimated by epidemics than by enemy fire. Suddenly, Wallenstein sets fire to the holdfast and advances towards Saxony. Gustavus is determined not to lose that easily. A worried Eleanor has had a prophetic dream about Gustavus's death on the battlefield...

9) And Thus Their Stars Descend
On a foggy November day, Gustavus confronts Wallenstein at Lützen. The battle claims the lives of both the Count of Pappenheim and the King of Sweden. A brokenhearted Eleanor has her daughter spirited away to share her mourning, which leads to frictions with the Regency, and Banér's losing streak leads him to drown his sorrows more and more for each day while Wallenstein's lust for power leads to his exile and assassination...

10) Closing the Circle
Eleanor flees her imprisonment at Gripsholm and sets sail for Denmark, while Christina is thoroughly educated as a crown prince. Isabella and Thekla von Wallenstein are forgiven and given an estate by the Kaiser, while Johan Banér dies of cirrhosis due to his addiction to strong drink. Cardinal Richelieu dies as well. The season may end with an adult Christina and Leopold of Habsburg signing the Peace of Westphalia, Eleanor being reunited with her daughter at last...



DARK TIDE NOT YET IN SPAIN!?

DARK TIDE NOT YET IN SPAIN!?

An ostensible smiting of Astrid Kolfinnsdóttir fans. Either that or the book series has been Screwed By Planeta... I hope not (crossing my fingers so much that it hurts), but I check the Planeta Coming Soon website regularly and it says that:

  • the latest youth novel to be released currently is scheduled for the 3rd of May
  • the latest book of them all to be released is for the 7th of June


Which means that, hopefully, we'll get the third Waterfire book in summer this year. Should that not be the case, my Scandinavian ancestry has hopefully provided me with an ultima ratio...


Dark Tide is already out in Denmark, where it's published by Alvilda!!! So hopefully (and maybe come seven hells or seven heavens, if I already have got the Spanish version) I will get my hands on the Danish edition... The Danish publishing company is, moreover, named after a badass pirate/warrior queen from the Viking era... the like of Astrid herself!!!

PS. Heck, even in Germany will Dark Tide come out this April... so maybe I can get the story auf Deutsch as well. And it's also out in the Netherlands. Screwed by Planeta, right when things were getting interesting!? No, perchance not. Italy, like Spain, has not seen the release of the novel yet... but it's already been translated into Italian and French... so we seriously hope to get to read it this summer!!!


jueves, 18 de febrero de 2016

CONTRAST SETS: A CLOSER LOOK

Somehow, just like I prefer scientific/Linnaean/modern European taxonomy to folk taxonomies, I prefer contrast sets and command hierarchies (rank systems in organizations, lists of ranks) to taxonomies. contrast set is a bounded collection of items, each of which could fill the same slot in a given schema, syntactic structure, or other linguistic environment. Like: "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday." (Yes, I consider that the week begins on Monday --- due to my European birth and upbringing and to the ISO calendar [the I in ISO means International, if you care!]--- and I wonder why some Anglophones have to begin it on Sunday... it's like the specific use of "animals" and "plants", or the use of Imperial measures like feet, ounces, and degrees Fahrenheit, other things with the English language used outside academia that leave me flabberghasted... I think Monday at the start and Sunday at the end of the week makes far more sense. It's like having the moon and the sun on two matching bookends, and the books in between those bookends being stories on Tyr, Odin, Thor, Frigg/Frey/Freya, and Saturn/Surtur. Beginning with the moon and getting to know all the deities in between, then crowning it all with the sun at the end.) Or "Aries, Taurus, Gemini..." (reader, continue with the rest of the star signs up to Pisces, and, if you choose to pop Ophiuchus in, remember that it is located between Scorpio and Sagittarius). Or "one, two, three, four, five..." (you get the picture). Ranks... whether nobility (Western or Westerosi, not to mention my own fictive 'verses), organized religion, or the military within a complex human system is organized as a ladder, with or without the glass ceiling that prevents the commoners from breaking their limits by attaining a certainly high rank (the French ancien régime, before the Revolution; or Westeros, have got such glass ceilings), like Linnaean taxonomy and contrast sets, all of these provide order... A company with a rank ratio of one lieutenant or two, a half dozen noncoms, and twenty to thirty rankers makes it rather clear who are on top, like the tiers of a wedding cake. And so does a regiment led by a colonel and consisting of let's say a dozen or baker's dozen of such companies. Organizations like this one are instantly easy to grasp, when one knows the ranks and notices the rank ratio in numbers as well as the distinctives of the various ranks, more ostentatious the higher the position or rank and the more power that comes with it. A more extreme example would be the clergy of the Catholic Church: one single Pope, dozens of cardinals, oodles of bishops... down to the countless "rank and file." In addition to all that, there is something more I like that rank systems have got in common with scientific taxonomy and contrast sets: all of these language constructs are international and rarely vary across languages. After all, a scientific taxonomy is an inclusive strategy, designed for the purpose of analysis... and contrast sets and rank systems are so as well: international, inclusive strategies, that are as little ambiguous as possible and provide analytical inclusiveness

These many-member lexical sets are classified into:
1) Cycles (non-serially ordered): springtime-summer-autumn-winter, Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday, the months, the zodiac... They're all ordered in terms of successivity. Unlike scales and ranks, cycles do not have extremes (circle vs. line), every member is ordered between two others. The fact that there is a conventional first and last member (springtime-winter, Monday-Sunday, Aries-Pisces, January-December) does not detract from their cyclicality.
2) Scales (serially ordered): temperatures (scorching hot, searing/blazing hot, hot, warm, lukewarm... down to absolute zero) or shades of colours (sky, cyan, cobalt, Prussian, navy...)
3) Ranks (serially ordered): like the ranks of the military (Commander-In-Chief, Field Marshal, four-star General, three-star General... down to private/ranker) or those of the Catholic Church (Pope, cardinal, archbishop...), or examination marks (usually marked with numbers, can also be letters). Numerals themselves also constitute a rank (one, two, three, four, five...), with the interesting property that they are an infinite set of lexically complex expressions (1999: try saying it as a year AND THEN as a number!).

Scholars agree that these sets form a category termed many-member sets, characterized by multiple incompatibilities, into which all of them (seasons, months, star signs, military ranks...) fall. Let's take the date of today for an example... If it's winter, it can't be springtime. If it's February, it can't be August. If it's a Thursday, it can't be a Tuesday.
These words are related by means of a semantic link: a sense relation holding between lexical items that are focal points on a semantic continuum.

miércoles, 17 de febrero de 2016

IDIOMS EXPLAINED 1: ACH DU GRÜNE NEUNE!

ACH DU GRÜNE NEUNE!

Language: German
Literal Meaning: Oh, you green nine!
Figurative meaning: Curses! What a misfortune! An exclamation of anger or other negative emotion.

Origins:
 
The Nine of Swords is one of the most negative cards on Tarot. It stands for cruelty, pain, despair... suffering, depression... the demons in our minds...

Its Anglo-French counterpart is the Nine of Spades, which in German cards becomes the Green Nine, so called because the suit equivalent to swords/spades is represented by (linden or ivy) leaves.

Nine of Spades/Green in the Battle of Leipzig deck, made both French- and German-suited to commemorate the engagement in the Napoleonic Wars.

Nine of Green from a traditional German deck.

THINGS THAT PISS US LEFTHANDERS OFF

I am left-handed. Has not a lefthander got eyes? Has not a lefthander got... OK, we leave Shakespeare be and begin giving a list of things that tick me off as the lefty I am:

1) Not enough lefty mouses at University.
At home I use laptops, but at University, during both lective and spare times, there are tower computers... the old kind, with a separate tower, screen, keyboard, and mouse, this last item being always on the right side. That is, the wrong side for us lefties.

Well, that was a short list, but this humble lefthander expects that things will change for the better someday on the tower computer front...

TSQ-IV REVIEW: MICHAEL MATZER

TSQ-IV REVIEW: MICHAEL MATZER 
(Hörspiel, Titania Special)
_Die Sprecher/Die Inszenierung_
|Die Sprecher und ihre Rollen:|
Annina Braunmiller: Prinzessin
Maximilian Belle: Prinz
Manfred Erdmann: Kutscher
(gehören zu den Helfern) eine Prinzessin und ein Prinz.
|Die Geschichte der Prinzessin|
In die Geschichte um Suche ist die Geschichte der Prinzessin eingebettet, die zur Abwechslung einen klugen Mann heiraten wollte. Doch die Anwärter verloren jede Klugheit, als sie die wunderbare Pracht der Säle ihres Schlosses sahen. Sie werden von materiellen Dingen geblendet und verlieren die Klugheit des Herzens. Diese bewahrt nur ein einziger der Freier, und als Gerda das Paar besucht, erwacht er als Erster, um Gerda nach ihrem Begehr zu fragen.
Im Schloss gehen Träume um „wie Gottes Engel“, nicht wie die Wilde Jagd der nordischen Göttersagen. Dieses Schloss ist die Allegorie einer idealen Verbindung aus Herzensliebe und Klugheit.
Nederlandse VolksverhalenBank
Hieromheen zijn verschillende verhaallijnen verweven, zoals het verhaal over de prinses die zocht naar een slimme prins.