Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

Accordion song (Nikolai Yazykov)

April 15, 2020

Oh night, oh night like an arrow fly
Respite is bane to Svyatoslav
He only hungers to win or die
Oh night, oh night like an arrow fly
Respite is bane to Svyatoslav.

Tzimiskes, do you know your shield is strong?
That your chain mail is not delicate?
Our prince cries murder all night long
Tzimiskes, do you know your shield is strong?
That your chain mail is not delicate?

Give swiftest horses to your hordes
Or else our swords will catch them up
And they will not outrun our swords
Give swiftest horses to your hordes
Or else our swords will catch them up.

Boundless is the host you brought
Not many are we, but our blood is Slav
Our blows are sharp and they are fraught
Boundless is the host you brought
Not many are we, but our blood is Slav.

Oh night, oh night like an arrow fly
And fields for victory spread out wide
Rouse up now the warrior cry
Oh night, oh night like an arrow fly
And fields for victory spread out wide.

yazykov

Nikolai Yazykov (1803-1846)

О ночь, о ночь, лети стрелой!
Несносен отдых Святославу:
Он жаждет битвы роковой.
О ночь, о ночь, лети стрелой!
Несносен отдых Святославу!

Цимисхий! крепок ли твой щит?
Не тонки ль кованые латы?
Наш князь убийственно разит.
Цимисхий! крепок ли твой щит?
Не тонки ль кованые латы?

Дружине борзых дай коней;
Не то — мечи её нагонят,
И не ускачет от мечей.
Дружине борзых дай коней;
Не то — мечи её нагонят.

Ты рать обширную привёл;
Немного нас, но мы славяне:
Удар наш меток и тяжёл.
Ты рать обширную привёл;
Немного нас, но мы славяне!

О ночь, о ночь, лети стрелой!
Поля, откройтесь для победы,
Проснися, ужас боевой!
О ночь, о ночь, лети стрелой!
Поля, откройтесь для победы!

Note

In a series of campaigns against the Kievan Rus’ encroachment on the Lower Danube in 970–971, [John I Tzimiskes]  drove the enemy out of Thrace in the Battle of Arcadiopolis, crossed Mt. Haemus, and besieged the fortress of Dorostolon (Silistra) on the Danube for sixty-five days, where after several hard-fought battles he defeated Great Prince Svyatoslav I of Rus’. (Wikipedia article)

Cowgirl-swelling-breast-kneading-trembling-hand-pair-having

March 6, 2020

sanskrit1

A compound adjective that is of inestimable value in daily life, this is indeed used several times in the गीत गोविन्द (Gīta Govinda) of Jayadeva.

radha

With regard to the Gīta Govinda, Krishna is certainly doing some kneading of Radha (milkmaid/female cow herder/cowgirl) in the illustration above, but a pedant could query whether his hands are on her breasts.

Cowgirl. Indeed.

Milkmaid. Female cow-herder. GOPI.

I wonder, is there some implied race fetishism here, inasmuch as Krishna is as black as coal, while Rahda is as pale as the milk she labours over?

The name Krishna apparently means ‘dark blue’. In various artistic conventions (but I know nothing of Indian ones), women are portrayed as light-skinned and men as dark-skinned.

He’s always got his sticky hands all over a milkmaid or three.

An order from Ozon

January 12, 2020

It seemed to be that only Ozon was offering a copy of Портреты без рам, so I tried my first order from them for some time. In order to fill in the address, I had to locate myself on an interactive map and supplement that with further details of street name, house number, postcode. Frightening enough already! That was on 24 December.

ozon1

Then the order remained in process without any sign of it being packed up and sent off:

ozon2

until it turned up on 8 January–that is, as promised, before 9 January!  And so here we are:

ozon0

I suspect that like Frankie and Johnny this story has no moral.  Anyway, it cost me 800 roubles for the book plus 398 roubles delivery.

Rachel’s Hebrew Classes 2019-2020

October 23, 2019

isaac

Rachel Montagu has kindly written to detail her Advanced Biblical Hebrew course for 2019-20.  (Those of a nervous disposition may accurately prefer to read that as  Non-elementary Biblical Hebrew.)

As in previous years, we expect these classes to follow the pattern where each student in turn reads a verse aloud and then translates it, with input from Rachel as necessary. She also provides some background and interpretation from traditional Jewish teaching.

The emphasis is certainly on understanding the text rather than grammar as such. In my experience, there have been perhaps an average of seven or so students coming to lessons. The level things are taken at tends to depend on who the students are, while the fee per term might be something around £110-£130, depending on circumstances.  At about £ 10 per 2-hour session this certainly looks like good value!

In principle, students should have covered the material in the First Hebrew Primer from Eks before starting this class. If you know the qal conjugation (perfect and imperfect) pretty well for verbs with three strong roots (the ‘regular’ ones if you like) and have some idea about hiphil and niphal and verbs with weak roots, that will probably do.

If you want to know more, you can email Rachel.  I’ve also shared just about everything I know about studying Biblical Hebrew with the world here.

Wednesdays 6.30-8.30 p.m., at Liberal Judaism, 21 Maple Street, London, W1T 4BE

Autumn Term

Isaac – Lost Between Father and Son?

28 October                  Gen. 17:15-22, 18:1-15, 21:1-5

4th November              Gen. 21:6-13, 22:1-19

11 November             Gen. 24:62-67, 25:1-11, 19:28

18 November              Gen. 26:1-24

25 November              Gen.26:25-35, 27:1-16

2 December                Gen.27:17-40

9 December                Gen. 27:41-46, 28:1-9, 35:27-29

 

Spring Term

Women Prophets

13 January                  Miriam: Exodus 2:1-10, 15:20-22, Numbers 12:1-15

20 January                  Numbers 20:1-5, 26:59, Deut. 24:8-9, Micah 6:4

Deborah: Judges 4:1-15,

27 January                  Judges 4:16-24, 5:1-12

3 February                  Judges 5:24-31,

Mrs Isaiah Isaiah 8:1-4

Noadiah Nehemiah 6:1-14

 

Huldah and Josiah

10 February                2 Kings 21:19-23, 22:1-20

[17 February half term]

24 February                2 Kings 23:1-25

2 March                       2 Kings 23:26-36, 2 Chronicles 33:21-25, 34:1-10

[9 March no class – Purim]

16 March                     2 Chronicles 34:11-33, 35:1-13

23 March                     2 Chronicles 35:14-27, 36:1-5

 

A Still Small Voice/Sound of Sheer Silence

30 March                     I Kings 19:1-21

 

Summer Term

Lamentations

20 April                        Lamentations 1:1-22-2:7

27 April                        Lamentations 2:8-22, 3:1-10

[4 May – bank holiday – no class]

11 May                        Lamentations 3:11-66

18 May                        Lamentations 4:1-22

25 May – bank holiday – no class]

1 June                         Lamentations 5:1-22

 

Micah

8 June                         Micah 1:10, 3:1-12, 4:1-14

15 June                       Micah 6:1-16, 7:1-10

22 June                       Micah 7:11-20

 

Psalms

29 June                       Psalm 145, 122, 134,

6 July                           Psalms 51, 127, 130, 137, 150

13 July                         Class choice of psalms

 

 

Boris Johnson and Antisthenes

July 24, 2019

johnson

[Antisthenes] said that states are destroyed when they cannot distinguish fools from serious men.

τότ’ ἔφη τὰς πόλεις ἀπόλλυσθαι, ὅταν μὴ δύνωνται τοὺς φαύλους ἀπὸ τῶν σπουδαίων διακρίνειν.

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 6.5

We have had some discussion about this on social media.  The question would be how to interpret φαύλους and σπουδαίων, which are basically trivial vs serious, but can represent a number of related contrasts.  The original citation contains a number of discrete opinions on diverse matters and does not really help with interpretation here.

In the course of the discussion, Diarmaid MacCulloch described Johnson as Not a fool, and ultimately not very serious. Ambitious, and utterly untrustworthy.  Which may be the kind of person Antisthenes was thinking of–as far as we can ever tell…

Linear B at the Summer School in Homer, UCL 22-26 July: Day 2

July 23, 2019

linbfig21

1023  We await two new people.  Alexandra comes to shut  off my escape.

1048  I don’t feel too bad…yet…

1052 I want to go home.  The god Νηρεύς exemplifies the classes of consonants omitted in Linear B.

1200  It is a vessel containing honey.  I want to go home.

1245  I go home!

Linear B at the Summer School in Homer, UCL 22-26 July: Day 1

July 22, 2019
linbsigninv

Linear B sign inventory

MONDAY JULY 22: 0627  Do I want to wake up now?  No.

0910  The train gets crowded and stops at Denmark Hill for a long time.   The driver announces that a passenger has fainted.

0940  UCL–there are signs to the Slade Summer School and EF. Great! I follow old people to the A V Hill Lecture Theatre.

1002 Antony Makrinos is the Zeus of the Summer School.  There are 98 participants, some male and some female.  UCL has a strict green policy, as well as catastrophically awful admin even by academic standards.

1035 Ester our lecturer goes to find someone who understands the IT.  Everyone is very young, keen and bright.

Tiryns is Ester’s favourite Mycenaean site.

rhyton1

So that’s what a rhyton looks like (from Ayios Vassileios)

You can hear Michael Ventris talking on the BBC about his decipherment here.

1345 Should we have come back now (as in the programme) or at 1430 like she said?  Best to practise our silent staring at blank screen skills for a bit.

1430 When she says she doesn’t expect us to learn the 91 syllabic signs immediately she means the opposite of course.

Exercise in  reproducing the syllabic grid is just like management training where the trainer lets you get so far and then suggests it would be better if you organised yourselves rather than all doing the same thing.  Except that this is interesting and important.

1530 I set off home without pausing for  Disability in Antiquity.  It is hot.

linbpic11

Ester addresses the troops over a completed Linear B exercise (in duplicate)

 

 

 

Linear B at the Summer School in Homer, UCL 22-26 July: Day 0

July 21, 2019

linbpost1

I thought I would keep a diary of doing Linear B at the Summer School in Homer to give people an idea of what it is like.

linbpost2

SUNDAY 21 JUNE

 What do they mean, registration from nine to ten?  I haven’t got a train up to Town in the morning rush for more than a year now.  Doubtless I will have to stand, and Bloomsbury is in the wrong bloody place anyway.   And what’s this talk about ‘Disability’–the ancients certainly didn’t go in for that kind of polite language.

Three-and-a-half hours less five minutes of classes.  I suppose I will survive.  But I don’t imagine there’s going to be anything interesting on at the Renoir if it does become too much.

linbpost3

 

But then I have to admit that the Day 1 programme looks very interesting, and I would regret missing it.  The main cause for optimism is surely that all of the participants will be at the same level of not knowing anything about Linears B or A.

Genesis 41:56-42:5 in Biblical Hebrew and Modern Hebrew

June 21, 2019
josephbh

Biblical Hebrew

For people who might be looking for a short parallel passage to compare Biblical Hebrew and Modern Hebrew, we give the examples above and below.

josephmh`

Modern Hebrew

More about things to read in French

June 12, 2019
alain-fournier

Henri-Alban Fournier

So, to continue the story, our client expressed a preference for doomed romance and a decided aversion for the passé simple and suspiciously un-French surnames (so much for Houellebecq!) That led to Modiano and Alain-Fournier.

The latter did not entirely escape censure on Facebook:

I really don’t like Le grand Meaulnes! Hated teaching it! But as ever that says more about me than the book. Should have thought of Le silence de la mer (Vercors) for passé simple if I remember correctly.

I tried re-reading Meaulnes a few years ago and gave up at page 192, oppressed by the thought of another 123 pages of the same…stuff…At least Alain-Fournier is conceptually simpler than Modiano (especially) or Vercors, since he bashes you repeatedly over the head with what he wants to say while they expect you to understand it from what they leave out…

Actually the first 3 paragraphs are not at all bad and helpfully illustrate the use of various tenses in the indicative:

Il arriva chez nous un dimanche de novembre 189…

Je continue à dire “chez nous”, bien que la maison ne nous appartienne plus. Nous avons quitté le pays depuis bientôt quinze ans et nous n’y reviendrons certainement jamais.

Nous habitions les bâtiments du Cour Supérieur de Sainte-Agathe. Mon père, que j’appelais M. Seurel, comme les autres élèves, y dirigeait à la fois le Cours supérieur, où l’on préparait le brevet d’instituteur, et le Cours moyen. Ma mère faisait la petite classe.

You’d almost think it had been written to demonstrate use of tenses!!

Meanwhile, there will be a few Modiano-related events at the Institut français in September…

modiano

Patrick Modiano