Wednesday, 14 March 2007

If Only I Could Translate Russian

I'm translating Jorge Luis Borges again, but this time I'm translating one of his pithy quotes about translation:
No sé por qué siempre se piensa mal de los traductores y, sin embargo, todos estamos de acuerdo en que la literatura rusa es admirable...
I don't know why people think badly of translators whilst, nevertheless, everybody is in agreement that Russian literature is to be admired...
From Las palabras son pistolas cargadas.

Monday, 12 March 2007

The Coming Federal Election: The 1999 Victorian State Election Writ Large

John Cain and Joan Kirner in Victoria presided over the Labor Party's longest reign in power from 1982 to 1992; Bob Hawke and Paul Keating federally presided over the Labor Party's longest reign in power from 1983 to 1996.

Labor in Victoria were routed in the 1992 election due primarily to their economic mismanagement; Labor federally were routed in the 1996 election due primarily to Keating's lack of popularity with the electorate and his growing disassociation with the values of the common voter.

Jeff Kennett came to power in Victoria in 1992 claiming he would restore the economic credentials of the state; John Howard came to power federally in 1996 claiming to be more sensitive to the values of the common voter.

Kennett lost power in 1999 because he was excessive in tightening the purse strings and too many services were compromised. Steve Bracks at that election then took power as the nicer version of Kennett even though there were no significant differences in their respective platforms. The Labor leader was, however, the Liberal leader with a kinder face.

Federally, I believe Rudd and Labor will win the coming election for the analogous reason. There is no significant difference between the two party leaders - Rudd and Howard share pretty much the same outlook on most things - nonetheless, and most importantly, Rudd is Howard with a kinder face.

So where Howard is tight with Bush, Rudd is more circumspect whilst still valuing the US alliance; where Howard accepts through gritted teeth human activity has caused global warming, Rudd has Peter Garrett as shadow environment minister whilst acknowledging that changes must come gradually so as not to cause significant economic disruption; where Howard sides unreservedly with business at the expense of everyday workers, Rudd is positioning himself as someone wanting to balance the competing interests of workers and their bosses; where Howard is gutting the education sector, Rudd sees education as the guarantor of Australia's future prosperity.

Thus just as Bracks was to Kennett, so I believe Rudd will be to Howard.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Even More Palindromic Language Names

Rushdie's and my own ignorance become even more abominable with the discovery of the following palindromic language names that add to the other two already noted:

- Aja spoken in Sudan;
- Aka spoken in Sudan;
- Ama spoken in Papua New Guinea;
- Ama spoken in Sudan;
- Caac spoken in New Caledonia;
- Efe spoken in the Democratic Republic of Congo;
- Erre spoken in Australia;
- Ese spoken in Papua New Guinea;
- Iaai spoken in New Caledonia;
- Kerek spoken in Russia;
- Kuk spoken in Cameroon;
- Laal spoken in Chad;
- Logol spoken in Sudan;
- Manam spoken in Papua New Guinea;
- Monom spoken in Vietnam;
- Nauruan spoken in Nauru;
- Noon spoken in Senegal;
- Ñuñ spoken in Senegal;
- Olo spoken in Papua New Guinea;
- Omo spoken in Papua New Guinea;
- Opo spoken in Ethiopia;
- Ososo spoken in Nigeria;
- Tennet spoken in Sudan; and
- Yaqay spoken in Indonesia (on the island of Papua).

The list above is a subset of those reported in the comments thread for this post on Language Hat, which has as a source.

The preponderance of palindromic language names on the single island of Papua, with a total of six in the list above and who knows how many more actually being spoken there, is most galling for the likes of fools such as me who think Malayalam is the centre of the palindromic universe.

Never again will I believe anything I read in a book unless it's been verified by the internet.

Rushdie Needs To Know About Kanak

The very first entry on this blog, written up and posted only two days ago, has been peddling lies!

Malayalam is NOT the only name of a language that happens to be a palindrome, and Language Hat (via Far Outliers) have shown up Rushdie's and my own shortcomings, for Kanak is also a palindromic language name.

Thus the list of languages whose names are palindromes that I know of comes to two: the Dravidian language of Malayalam found in Southern India (whose palindromic status was incorrectly heralded as unique in Rushdie's Midnight Children); and the Melanesian language of Kanak spoken in New Caledonia (whose palindromic status I noticed in a blog entry on Language Hat that had nothing to do with reading anything in reverse.)

Although I am decidedly disappointed at having spread inaccuracy on the internet, I am nevertheless decidedly delighted to say that an internet source is taking precendence over another of the hard-copy and bounded variety.

Friday, 9 March 2007

Malayalam, Blogolb and Rushdie

I've finally gotten around to reading the Booker of Bookers, Rushdie's Midnight Children, and along with his most enjoyable madhouse prose come interesting titbits (I'm still thrilled about discovering titbit is an acceptable variation of tidbit) relating to the subcontinent.

And I'd like to think it was because Rushdie knew I was going to read his book that he mentions, for no reason that seems related to the story as such, that India is host to the only language in the world whose name is a palindrome: Malayalam.

Wikipedia then furnished me with the further revelation that Malayalam also happens to be the longest single-word palindrome in the English language. Thus when it came to registering this very blog after having decided I've got too much time on my hands to let them just wander down somewhere between my legs, I fell under the spell of Jung's notion of synchronicity and proceeded to determine that these two events, the new blog and the linguistic fervour arising from titbits and palindromes, were definitely related.

But anything mentioning tits I did not think to be the finest thing for this website to have in a prominent place, so blogolb became the obvious, and some cantankerous bastards would say, rather unexciting choice for a title and domain name.

Unfortunately, this Michael and his dated "Thoughts" from 2003 have already taken, what looks to me like a Chinese site has already taken, and my money-pinching ways have precluded me from buying

So now I'm left with Thus Sprach... at the address that appears in your browser.


Update: This blog has been up for only three days, but already I've had to post a correction related to this, my very first post.