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Ser
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8737
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Re: Catalan, Galician, Basque

Postby Ser » Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:40 pm

nooj wrote:Reading Seneca Epistle 41. The Romans and the Greeks liked to build their shrines in certain places in nature where divinity or a sense of awe (not to be taken in the Romantic sense) impressed upon them.

Si tibi occurrerit vetustis arboribus et solitam altitudinem egressis frequens lucus et conspectum caeli densitate ramorum aliorum alios protegentium summovens, illa proceritas silvae et secretum loci et admiratio umbrae in aperto tam densae atque continuae fidem tibi numinis faciet. Si quis specus saxis penitus exesis montem suspenderit, non manu factus, sed naturalibus causis in tantam laxitatem excavatus, animum tuum quadam religionis suspicione percutiet. Magnorum fluminum capita veneramur; subita ex abdito vasti amnis eruptio aras habet; coluntur aquarum calentium fontes, et stagna quaedam vel opacitas vel immensa altitudo sacravit.


If you run into a grove that is thick with ancient trees reaching up to an unusual height and which leaves you bereft of the sight of the heavens because of how some of its boughs overlap with others, the bearing of that forest, the solitude of the place and the wondrousness of its shade, so thick and unbroken, will engender your belief in the divine. If a cave holds up a mountain, although the rocky interior has been deeply eaten away, and not formed by hand but hollowed out by natural causes into its great spaciousness, it will impress itself upon your mind with some sort of notion of awe. We venerate the sources of the mighty rivers; the sudden eruption of a broad river from its hiding place - there you will find altars; the fonts of hot springs are worshipped, and the unplumbable depth or darkness sets some pools apart as sacred.

Nice passage. I am reminded of this other passage in Lucan's Pharsalia (book III, 399-426), which shows those Romans could be similarly creeped out by shrines like those, instead of feeling awe:

    Lucus erat longo numquam uiolatus ab aeuo / obscurum cingens conexis aera ramis / et gelidas alte summotis solibus umbras. / Hunc non ruricolae Panes nemorumque potentes / Siluani Nymphaeque tenent, sed barbara ritu / sacra deum; structae diris altaribus arae / omnisque humanis lustrata cruoribus arbor. / Siqua fidem meruit superos mirata uetustas, / illis et uolucres metuunt insistere ramis / et lustris recubare ferae; nec uentus in illas / incubuit siluas excussaque nubibus atris / fulgura: non ulli frondem praebentibus aurae / arboribus suus horror inest. Tum plurima nigris / fontibus unda cadit, simulacraque maesta deorum / arte carent caesisque extant informia truncis. / Ipse situs putrique facit iam robore pallor / attonitos; non uolgatis sacrata figuris / numina sic metuunt: tantum terroribus addit, / quos timeant, non nosse, deos. Iam fama ferebat / saepe cauas motu terrae mugire cauernas, / et procumbentis iterum consurgere taxos, / et non ardentis fulgere incendia siluae, / roboraque amplexos circum fluxisse dracones. / Non illum cultu populi propiore frequentant / sed cessere deis. Medio cum Phoebus in axe est / aut caelum nox atra tenet, pauet ipse sacerdos / accessus dominumque timet deprendere luci. /

    Hanc iubet inmisso siluam procumbere ferro.

A prose (not to mention prosaic) translation:

    'There was also a grove that had never been defiled since ancient times, enclosing an ice-cold utter darkness by removing the Sun with its intertwined tree branches. No rural Pan nor forest-ruling Sylvanus nor nymph occupied it, but the vessels of gods from a barbarous cult. The altars held hideous offerings, and every tree had been ritually applied human blood. And if you ever had doubts about whether antiquity and its love for the gods deserved to be believed, even the birds and the beasts were afraid of perching on the branches or lying down under the shade. No wind blew against that forest, nor thunderbolts struck it when shot by black clouds. The foliage of the trees rustled even when exposed to no breeze; water ran down from dark springs in abundance. The grim, appalling statues of the gods had been made without skill from felled tree trunks. The horror of seeing such neglected, rotting timber troubled the men enough, but, although they would not have feared consecrated deities in more common forms, not being able to recognize the gods they dreaded added true terror. It was widely reported that underground caves would make loud noises during a tremor, that yew trees leaning down would rise upright again, that woods that were not on fire would glow as if they were, and that serpents would slither around by hugging the stems. The people did not normally approach the place to worship nearby, leaving it to the gods. When Apollo [the Sun] is in the middle of the axis, or when dark night holds the sky, the priest himself is frightened of coming close and finding the lord of the grove.

    He [Julius Caesar] ordered that the forest be cut down by the stroke of the axe.'
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Re: Nooj's language journey

Postby nooj » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:27 am

Joves de Mallorca per la Llengua celebrated its 25th anniversary on the 5th of July. This is a non-for profit youth organisation dedicated to the celebration, promotion and defence of the Catalan language in Mallorca. It is run by young people and by virtue of being friends with some of the executive committee, I got to sit in on their planning for this celebration...it's incredible the amount of work that goes into pulling something like this off.

For this very special day, they organised a lunch, a dance, a gymkhana and a concert that started at 10:30 pm and finished at 6 am. I'll talk about the concert later, because it was truly wild.

Image´

I came to the town of Maria de la Salut in the afternoon. Despite the grotesque heat of the day, young volunteers were busy in the town square preparing seats and food. Locals of the town, and people from out of town as well, sat in the restaurant terraces, watching the buzz. People from all over Mallorca - and quite a few from outside, even from Catalonia - had come to this small sleepy town.

The folk group Al Mayurqa played the music to accompany the ball de bot, the traditional set of dances of Mallorca. In the ball de bot, unlike many other kinds of European dancing, it is the woman who leads and the man follows. 'Traditional' is a funny word. No tradition is unchanged or unchanging. The ball de bot of today is quite different from the ball de bot of even 100 years ago. Notice for one how everyone is not wearing peasant clothing. That sort of thing is still done, but it is often by professional dancing groups for tourists. Here, it is casual and between Mallorcans wearing jeans, t-shirts and sandals. And the entire community is represented, from elderly to the very young.

I took some videos:





Types of dancing featured: Boleros, jotes, mateixes, fandangos. I was saying to a Mallorcan friend of mine who had come with me that in all the months I had been living in Mallorca, I was sorry that I had not ended up learning how to dance ball de bot.

I may know the language, but the language is only one part of Mallorcan culture. Perhaps the most fundamental part, but in the end, only one part. I do not know how to do a matança (slaughter, butchering and preparation of pig meat), I don't know how to shear a sheep, I don't know how to make jam, I can't bake a rubiol, I can't play a flabiol, I don't have a saint's day.

My friend, a bit younger than me (around 24 years old), told me that it was okay, he himself only learned to dance as a kid and had not danced ball de bot for years. One can support a tradition not only by actively taking part in it and transmitting it, but by coming to such events and watching or monetarily helping or volunteering. That may be true, but personally I find it all bloody beautiful and for me it is something that I want to learn and be a part of.

I said to him that I loved how ball de bot for Mallorcans is not at all folkoric, in the bad sense of the word that it has in Spanish or French. It still means something authentic for Mallorcans. It is still a medium for the transmission of their sentiments, feelings and creativity. And as long as that is true, it is authentic.

Look at the young people who leap gladly in, the smiles on their face, their breathless excitement, the laughter. I was struck by a lively elderly woman dancing and playing the castanyoles, who the younger people looked towards while dancing, imitating her feet and movements, keeping to the rhythm she set with her castanyoles. She could well have been a professional teacher or an ordinary citizen, it matters little in the end. What matters is the link.

The dancing finished with a bullanguera, a type of long jota usually around 5 minutes long which allows plenty of dancing and partners. A circle is formed, there's rythmic clapping , two people go head to had in the centre. People come in to challenge and 'steal' the person away, the other person leaves and rejoins the circle so that there is always a pair.

Here is an example, in the town of Sa Pobla. There are still towns in Mallorca I have not visited, but this is not one of them!

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Re: Catalan, Galician, Basque

Postby nooj » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:38 pm

I became friends with the owner of a bar in Palma and his son. This place is smack bang in the middle of the city, right on the touristic circuit because it is located in the carrer de l'Argenteria, the street where Jewish Mallorcan silversmiths used to live and work.

But perhaps by a quirk of architectural fortune (it is a hole in the wall establishment), the eyes simply slide over the storefront and people just walk on by. For this reason, even in the height of summer, there are very few people here, and the ones who do drink here are Mallorcans.

The owner of the bar offered to drive me from Palma all the way to the port city of Alcúdia to catch my ferry. It meant for him waking up an hour earlier, before buying supplies and opening up his establishment. But he was nice enough to do it.

During the car ride, I learned that his father had been a Republican prisoner in a concentration camp. It turned out that it was in the same camp that is located just outside of my town, Campos. I had passed this place many times on my bike before one day stopping and looking in to see what it was. At first, there is absolutely no indication that betrays what it was once used for. There is a swanky hotel and restaurant and a few metres away, some delapidated ruins in front.

This place is actually a spring, called the Sant Joan de la Font Santa, famous for the healing properties of its waters, which lepers used to cure their leprosy. It is dedicated to saint Joan and a hermitage was built here in the 15h century. Now though, a different clientèle uses the springs. The hotel website mentions nothing of what happened here during the war. I do wonder if the clients are aware of where they are.

Last year, the ruins were converted into a small memorial for the first concentration camp of Mallorca built in 1936 at the height of the Spanish Civil War on this same place. There were around 12 in total throughout the Balearic islands and many more on the mainland. The prisoners were used as forced labour to build the road that lead from Campos to the town of Colònia de Sant Jordi, a highway that is still called 'sa carretera des presos' (Ma-6040). They were told to forget their names, and given numbers instead to be called by. Prisoners would cycle in and out of camps. Many would spend years as forced labourers, slaves effectively, before being allowed to return home. Slave labour built for example the Franquist monument, the Valle de los caídos, where the dictator Franco is buried.

The man was not at all politically active, he wasn't a member of any political party, he didn't repeat the marching orders of any ideology, left or right.

He simply has lived experiences. The stories that he has acquired over his long life, both outside and behind the bar. Any desire to defend his language comes simply from being a speaker since birth. He would not be the sort of person I think to come to the youth concert, although his daughter tried to come but was turned away at the door because all the tickets were sold out. That goes to show you how many people turned up! I feel like his situation is that of most Mallorcans who are not at all nationalist or 'radicals'.

Because the logic is simple for him: his language is Mallorcan, he speaks it with naturality throughout the day, so do his children. If he gets angry, it's because he still recalls a time when his language was repressed and when foreigners treated him differently merely for speaking his own language. Something that still happens today.Most people simply want to live their lives with normality.

And ideally I too would like to leave people to their lives, if it wasn't for my firm conviction that 'live and let live' simply does not work as a life philosophy when it comes to minoritised languages, and that political activists are required to concientise and channel the energy of this silent majority.

I promised to keep in touch with his son, who is around my age and like me has traveled quite a bit. He even went to Nepal and climbed mountains there. The man told me with a smile that his generation would never have dreamed of leaving Mallorca, that we were much braver and open than he was. I'm anxious for the day when far away from Mallorca, in South Korea or in India, Australia or Iran, I meet a Mallorcan and we can likewise bond over our shared language. With Catalan in my head, I now carry forever an ineffable piece of Mallorca in me.
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Re: Catalan, Galician, Basque

Postby nooj » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:48 am

I've had to postpone my Camiño de Santiago trip for next winter. Summer would not have been ideal for me anyway, given the high heat and given that it is peak pilgrim season. I'm still continuing on with Galician however, a language I'm still madly in love with.

In the more immediate term, in preparation to attend my friend's wedding in Iran in August, I'm back to studying Persian. I don't expect much, given that there is scarcely a month left.

The point is to reduce my worries as a tourist, use تعارف‎, try not to be too cumbersome and get in the way.

And while I'm at it, why not, reduce the use of any other language than Persian to an absolute minimum within the standard of reason. If someone is in a hurry, obviously I won't practice my Persian with them.
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Re: Catalan, Galician, Basque

Postby nooj » Wed Jul 17, 2019 5:09 am

Here are some verses from فروغ فرخزاد that I really like. From her poem تولدی دیگر.
زندگی شاید

یک خیابان درازست که هر روز زنی با زنبیلی از آن میگذرد

زندگی شاید

ریسمانیست که مردی با آن خود را از شاخه میآویزد

زندگی شاید طفلیست که از مدرسه بر میگردد

زندگی شاید افروختن سیگاری باشد، در فاصلهٔ رخوتناک دو همآغوشی

یا نگاه گیج رهگذری باشد

که کلاه از سر بر میدارد


و به یک رهگذر دیگر با لبخندی بی‌معنی میگوید «صبح بخیر

زندگی شاید آن لحظۀ مسدودیست

که نگاه من، در نی‌نی چشمان تو خود را ویران میسازد

و در این حسی است

که من آنرا با ادراک ماه و با دریافت ظلمت خواهم آمیخت

در اتاقی که به اندازهٔ یک تنهائیست

دل من

که به اندازهٔ یک عشقست

به بهانه‌های سادهٔ خوشبختی خود مینگرد

به زوال زیبای گل‌ها در گلدان

به نهالی که تو در باغچهٔ خانه‌مان کاشته‌ای

و به آواز قناری‌ها

که به اندازهٔ یک پنجره میخوانند



Maybe life
is a long street that a woman with a basket crosses every day
Maybe life
is a string that a man uses to hang himself with from a branch
Maybe life is a child who comes home from school
Maybe life is lighting a cigarette
In the sedative time between two sessions of love-making
Maybe it's the distracted look of a passerby
Who takes off his hat
To say 'good day' to another passerby with a meaningless smile
Maybe life is that blocked moment
When my glance falls apart in the pupil of your eyes
And in this feeling
Which I will mix with the impression of the moon
And the perception of the dark
In a room the size of loneliness
My heart
The size of love
Will look at the simple excuses for its happiness
At the beautiful wilting of flowers in the flower pot
At the seedling that you planted in our little garden
And at the song of the canaries
That sing to the size of a window
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Re: Catalan, Galician, Basque

Postby nooj » Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:40 pm

Had a dream where I met the Pope, chatted about Simone Weil and we prayed together. I had to use Vuestra Excelencia in order to talk with him, something I learned loooong ago but never had an occasion to use. But a dream counts!
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Re: Catalan, Galician, Basque

Postby nooj » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:51 am



Mahmoud Karimi is a مداح, maddah, a kind of devotional singer who travels through Iran to perform during the month of Muharram, which is one of the most central periods in the Shia calendar. It remembers the martyrdom of Hossein at the battle of Karbala.

Closer to home, Muharram can be compared to how Christians commemorate the Passion of the Christ in Passion plays. In a Passion play, Christ is brought to life in a way that is not possible by simply reading his story in the Gospels, something which was out of the realm of possibility for most Christians anyway before the printing press. Watching and participating in a re-enactment of the crucifixion is something vivid and visceral. In fact I remember reading that in numerous instances an audience, whipped up by their emotions, would go on anti-Jewish riots to kill the 'God-killers' that they had seen portrayed on the stage shortly before.

Recalling Hossein's martyrdom can similarly inspire strong emotions, weeping, ecstatic states, flagellation. The devotional songs are usually performed in a venue specifically dedicated for this purpose called a hoseiniya حسینیه‎, like in this video. The songs are traditionally drawn from a repertoire of classical Persian poets. This song quotes textually from different poems from Rūmī.

For example some verses from one poem:

بی همگان به سر شود
بی تو به سر نمی شود
داغ تو دارد این دلم
جای دگر نمی شود


I can go on without anyone else
Without you, I cannot survive
My heart has your mark
Nowhere else is possible

And another poem:

مرده بدم زنده شدم
عشق تو را بنده شدم
دولت عشق آمد و
من دولت پاینده شدم



I was dead, I became alive
I became the slave of your love
The rule of love came
And I became everlasting rule

These verses are mixed with devotional refrains:

یار حسین دلدار حسین/یا سید الاحرار حسین


Beloved Hossein, dear Hossein, oh Sayyid of the free, Hossein

What's interesting is that it also incorporates Azeri verses as well, but I don't speak Azeri. I'm surprised because I didn't know that languages other than Persian were incorporated into national scale Iranian devotional songs, given the minoritised status of other Iranian languages. I know there is plenty of religious literature and songs in Azeri. But I was just surprised that non-Azeris are singing it. I wonder if the following verses are drawn from a classical Azeri poet?

یل یاتار طوفان یاتار
یاتماز حسینی پرچمی
عالم سن قربان حسین


About the linguistic richness of Iran. Although Persian is the only official language of the country, nearly half of the population of Iran today has another native language. 50 years ago, that percentage would have been undoubtedly much higher. Galloping economic centralism around Tehran and demographic movement, universal education, conscription have significantly changed the linguistic landscape, pushing smaller languages to the brink of extinction. The monolingual national linguistic policy doesn't look to change.
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Re: Catalan, Galician, Basque

Postby nooj » Mon Jul 29, 2019 2:45 am

In the community library, I sat down at a table and the person sitting opposite me turned out to be Iranian.

It was her that talked to me, as she spotted my notebook where I write in Persian. We had a lovely chat. She gave me lots of tips on what to do in Iran, what kind of music to listen to, food, cities etc.

There are countless instances during the day that I miss or ignore simply because I do not speak with the person who is sitting or standing next to me. I'm not the most social person in the world, but it seems kind of boring to only speak with people within the same social circles that I have maintained since high school. Safe yes, comfortable yes, but boring at the end of it. Language does not necessarily come into it, I mean that I often don't talk to unknown people even in English. But life is short, so why not?
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Re: Catalan, Galician, Basque

Postby nooj » Wed Jul 31, 2019 5:21 am

I'm reading a book, 'Poetry of the Taliban', a compilation of poetry composed by Taliban fighters. I would not recommend it as an introduction to Pashtun oral literature in general, but it has the singular benefit of exposing voices that otherwise would not be heard.

The amount of people in the world who speak Pashto is a lot, but the amount of people who actually consume Taliban literature is tiny (outside of the Taliban themselves). I've watched a dozen films on Afghanistan, all of them through American or British or Soviet eyes. I've never seen a movie from a Taliban perspective.

What I hate hate hate however is that it is not a bilingual edition in English-Pashto. I understand the publishing decision. First, it would cost more to print. Second, the people who are going to read it are not interested in the language, rather the mentality of the Taliban they can glean from reading it. It's a book that I suspect more military specialists have read in order to get inside the head of their enemy, than ordinary laymen.

But why not also add the original text online on a website? It would only cost a little bit more and the benefits would be...not attracting the impotent rage of people like me.
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Re: Catalan, Galician, Basque

Postby nooj » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:30 am

In my language learning process, my attitude towards native speakers goes through three stages.

1) Beginner stage, when I have just started my learning. Native speakers are gods. The extent and size of their vocabulary are enormous, the ease with which they manipulate syntax and complex morphology (e.g. Basque) is mind-boggling.

2) Late-beginner stage, when I have progressed enough that I can feel 'hey, this just might be possible'. Things that native speakers do click into place in my head.

3) Intermediate stage (perhaps B1). My slavish adoration of native speakers has cooled into cold steel-like respect. At this point, I can appreciate in an experimental way, the stylistic choices and how native speakers consciously or unconsciously marshal the arsenal at their disposal, because I have also followed down the same mental processes. What impresses me so much is not the extent of what they know, but rather what they do with what they know.

At this point the language itself is not the object of study but the medium by which I do other things and thus becomes part of normality.

I've never gotten to an advanced stage with any language, so I don't know how my perspective would change.
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