Thursday, November 20, 2003

Bab-el Redux

In the process of nursing my wounded pride after previously mentioned encounter with the Teutonic Carpool Enforcer and feeling churlish, I looked up one of my favorite quotes attributed in various versions to a polyglot Carlos, that is Carlos V, Holy Roman Emperor (1500-1558). It wouldn't make it into any United Nations Day pageant, but Carlos V can get away with it because he is, well, dead and he did belong in some part to all the cultures enumerated.

I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse.

Being a non-Italian-speaking woman, Carlos V wouldn't have been too successful communicating with me. However, with the ability to speak French and Spanish, I might possess the ability to communicate with men and God, but not, alas, with horses.

Apparently, even the most ignoble motives can come to some ironic fruition because in the process of looking up my Carlos V quote, I found these choice words.

Pedantry consists in the use of words unsuitable to the time, place, and company.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, ch. X

I'd have to agree with him on that one, although it does bring up the problematic nature of the Internet. There is no time, no place and I have absolutely no idea who my readers, if any, are. There's a French expression that translates to "Well known in one's own household--at meal times," but even my mother doesn't read me (she checked out the blog once, but got bored). So I don't so much as have that information to go on. At any rate, I hold my family entirely responsible for the fact that I write the way I do, having grown up in households and among people who existed in a sort of nowhere time and nowhere place somewhere between France, Colombia, and the American South, the eighteenth, nineteenth and earlier decades of the twentieth century, for whom the present reality was a relative distraction, a minor ripple, in the more powerful tides of their dreamy self-preoccupation and tendencies to float off on entirely satisfying and tangential currents...Lastly, if I do, in fact, have readers and, among them, word and language lovers, I offer them this and this link. I especially enjoyed the Lewis Carroll and Mark Twain citations from the first link.

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