05w11:3 Les Langues

by timothy. 0 Comments

Good Reads Mailing List | 2005 week 11 number 3 (les langues)


Speaking of tongues | Martin Jacques
“From his rich picture of why major languages have waxed and waned, it is clear that there is no single model: on the contrary, while Ostler does his best to categorise and conceptualise, there are in fact almost as many models as there are languages. For all the hubris about the rise of English and how it will rule the world’s tongues for ever, it is sobering to reflect on why languages that in their day seemed utterly irresistible in their dominance and prestige, spoken across large regions of the world for thousands of years, were eventually eclipsed.”

Manifesto | Thierry Chervel
“No one in the French media reads the German papers thoroughly, and no scouts are keeping track of cultural trends in Germany. […] Is there a Europe beyond the milk quotas? If so, then only in the form of an angel passing, creating a pause in the conversation, a gap in communication. […] When Jürgen Habermas launched his ‘Core Europe’ initiative, no one joined the debate. Who outside the Netherlands had heard of Theo van Gogh before he was murdered? And when everybody in Paris was celebrating the 60th anniversary of the city’s liberation in August last year, no one was aware of what was happening in Warsaw at the same time. While a few streets in Paris were being named after members of the communist resistance, whose valour is indisputable, Warsaw was fixated on the enduring memory of Stalin’s icy smile as he watched Hitler bomb the Polish resistance into the ground. The end of liberation. The ignorance is greatest in large Western European countries where public debate is little more than self-contented thumb twiddling. Talk is of national issues – political leaders, late night comedy stars and football scandals. The intellectuals might as well be sitting in the cinema, all staring spellbound in the same direction, ignoring their neighbours and gasping in outrage at the latest evil deed of bad boy Bush. […] Is it really the fault of Bill Gates or Steven Spielberg that the French are learning less German, and the Germans less French?”

Lowbrow Lit | Stephen Osborne
“To the generation of writers and publishers who came of age during the counterculture; that is, to me and my friends in the Marble Arch beer parlour, these writers and their works were as goofy as Sergeant Preston of the Royal Mounted. We were readers of Howl and On the Road, by Ginsberg and Kerouac, and La Nausee, by Sartre. Our professors had been British academics who detested Canadian writing, and Americans brought in to replace them who had never heard of Canadian writing; during that period of the sixties and seventies a caste system came into Canadian intellectual life as the expanding universities grew to become the primary site of literary criticism and ‘creative’ writing, with the result that the journalists, the homemade poets, the homegrown novelists who had presumed to rough out a literature, were pushed into the echelons of the lowbrow, the overlooked, the un-Literary (which became also the world of Stan Rogers, whose profoundly un-hip music and lyrics address the same lowbrow mythos, and whose continuing exclusion from the Canadian Music Hall of Fame is another example of the caste system at work).”

Crime fighters brought to book | Jo Tuckman
“Police in a sprawling working-class suburb on the edge of the Mexican capital are to fight crime with a new weapon: books. The leftwing mayor of Nezahualcoyotl, Luis Sanchez, has ordered all 1,100 members of the municipal police to read at least one book a month or forfeit their chance of promotion. ‘We believe reading will improve their vocabulary and their writing skills, help them express themselves, order their ideas and communicate with the public,’ Mr Sanchez said. ‘Reading will make them better police officers and better people.'”

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emailed by Timothy on Wednesday 16 March 2005 @ 12:08 AM

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