Ramage

Archive for January 2006

Oulipatois

Ria Bacon, blogging from Jamaica as Stet, has a very insightful post about the status of Jamaican patois:

any language in use is valid and worthy of study. The interest is in discovering how different languages are used to present users’ different experiences and perceptions of their world

Jamaican patois is a compound of diverse borrowings from “Wolof (Senegal), Twi & Fante (Ghana), Ewe (Ghana & Togo), Ibo & Hausa (Nigeria), Bube (Bioko), Bantu Douala (Cameroon), Kikongo (Congo), Gulla (US South Carolina dialect), Amharic (Ethiopia), Galibi (Guyana), Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish, Latin and of course English.”

To demonstrate this, she engagingly translates Oulipian Raymond Queneau’s banal story from Exercises de style into patois:

Now hear dis, mek Ah tell oonu, wa day de bus dem full up wid so much people dem. An ah see dere one dem jump up good fuh nutten boasie maaga jancro wid him winjy neck fit fe choke, ah tell yah bwai! ‘im a fix a ribbon an ‘is ‘at fenky-fenky come een like ‘im Selassie ‘isself, yaah! Smady cut yai an’ ‘im vex an’ bawl some faasty nying’i-nying’i. It oht fi mek one kass-kass, ah’m tellin’ yah. Cho! ‘im nah tallowah doh an’ ‘im jus’ kiss ‘im teet’ an’ a go cotch far dereso quick quick.

Kiss mi nek, nah tree hower layta me see ‘im gen laba-laba wid ‘im breddah oo seh ‘im muss put ‘im button likkle more higher depan ‘im coat so, seen?

Jack Mandora

As she says, “The constraint of retelling the same banal story in 99 different styles reveals the incredible potential of language that we use every day without thought.”

Jack Mandora is Heaven’s doorman, the guarantor of veracity for any tale. A particular guardian against trickster Anancy.

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Written by Dave Lovely

January 29, 2006 at 9:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

An elegy for hotchiwitchi

‘It is all a story of tidying up, fragmentation and poor connectivity. Hedgehogs love the interstices in cities, the rough brambly places, where they can hide up in the day time or in winter. We need to defragment the cities for these animals, leave more of the mess for them.”

The sad decline of a very English creature. Very thought-provoking and evocative article by Adam Nicolson from Tuesday’s Guardian – quoting Dr. Nigel Reeve, community ecologist for the royal parks.

I remember once, a few years ago, stepping out of my front door very early one morning to find a mother hedgehog leading a party of five baby hedgehogs across my front lawn.

I’m reminded too of the humble but doughty urchin in T. H. White’s visionary “Book of Merlyn”, the book which was to have been the conclusion to his Arthurian cycle, “The Once and Future King”. On the eve of the world-weary king’s last battle, Merlyn takes him to revisit the animals who’d helped with his education in the cycle’s first book, “The Sword in the Stone”. White was using this last book as a way of thrashing out his issues about why human beings went to war, and what can be done about it, and there’s a deal too much talk in it, but, near the end, Arthur and the urchin tire of the debate, and go out together in the still of the night to take one last look at his sleeping, and as yet still peaceful, kingdom. “Pretty place, annit?”, the urchin remarks. A little later, it’s the last creature to bid the king goodbye:

Urchin

Illustration by Trevor Stubley, from T. H. White, “The Book of Merlyn”


“Nay, nay,” it mentioned hoarsely, clutching his hand, looking  earnestly in his face. “Say not Farewell.”

It tugged again, dropping its voice to the brink of silence.

“Orryvoyer, ” whispered the urchin. “Orryvoyer.”

I hope it’s not really too late to say “orryvoyer” (au revoir) to the hedgehog, and not goodbye forever.

That wonderful word “hotchiwtchi”, by the way, is what the gypsies called it, in Romany.

Related links:

“England Have My Bones”, the Web page dedicated to the readership of the literary works of Terence Hanbury White.

<a href=”http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/HistSciTech/HistSciTech-idx?type=turn&entity=HistSciTech000600170099&q1=urchin&#8221; title=”external link: White, T.H. (ed.) / The bestiary : a book of beasts
(1960). p93: Ericius the Hedgehog”>This page, and the two following, contain the entry for “Ericius, the Hedgehog”, from the medieval bestiary A book of beasts, edited and translated by T.H. White, and online at the University of Wisconsin.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

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Written by Dave Lovely

January 19, 2006 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Intermission

…please talk amongst yourselves, as they say, for a short while longer, at least.

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Written by Dave Lovely

January 17, 2006 at 6:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized