15/10/2011

Pound of threshold




Shy, this plant is not…

I bought two chayotes, tried to eat one but didn't like it. If there's anything delicious about the chayote, it isn't the taste. Left in the vegetable rack, the second one sprouted. I planted it and it miraculously thrived. Made me think of Jack's beanstalk.



In Taiwan, chayotes are widely planted for their shoots, known as lóng xü cài (龍鬚菜, literally "dragon-whisker vegetable").
In Haiti and Louisiana (Cajun, Creole, English): mirliton :- (kazoo) (I'm a gnu—a-g-nother gnu)
En langage familier, mirliton se dit de sons, d'airs de musique, de vers de mauvaise qualité.

Only translation I could find was "cheap verses".

Chayote reminds me of coyote and Shylock.



But the word that is titillating me at the moment is écueil.

Recif, rocher à fleur d'eau = reef
Difficulté, obstacle = pitfall = noun. 1. a lightly covered and unnoticeable pit prepared as a trap for people or animals.

The dictionary tells me it is a sharp rock under the surface of the sea, but in my mind it is a stagnant dead-end pool.

At first I can't understand how I could have associated such a wrong mental image with the word. I see sand and water lapping to the edge of a shallow pool, it can't go any farther (Bras mort = dead leg) and there is foam on it (l'écume des jours). As I explore the image in my mind the rocks appear, I am walking on rocks that emerge at low tide, and there is some sand and pools and crabs in the pools… 
 
The sound of the word intrigues me. Maybe it is one of the most foreign sounds in French – I can't think of anything similar to it in English.
Écueil, écuyer, cuillère, écureuil, écurie, métayer, œil pour œil, recueil, recueillir, se recueillir et cueillir, Rangueil, orgueil, accueil, éconduire, éculé, veule, vile, écaille, Reuilly

Shale, grève, fange, quicksand, ladle…

Treuil, feuille, Montreuil… which is another story, without a shadow of a doubt...


02/10/2011

Green feline

"Shagreen is a type of leather or rawhide consisting of rough untanned skin, formerly made from a horse's back or that of an onager (wild ass), and typically dyed green. Shagreen is now commonly made of the skins of sharks and rays.
The word derives from the French chagrin and is related to Italian zigrino and Venetian sagrin, derived from the Turkish sāğrī/çāğrī 'rump of a horse' or the prepared skin of this part. The roughness of its texture led to the French meaning of anxiety, vexation, embarrassment, or annoyance."

I came across the word "galuchat" in a job I was doing and read the Wikipedia entry for it. Very interesting. I clicked on "English" and found the amusing word – shagreen – and when I clicked on French to go back I ended up with "chagrin". So the language links in wikepedia are not reciprocal, and words meanings are labyrinthine anyway. The last time I posted I suppose I was so frustrated at not taking the time to post I just loaded my notes "en vrac" – not a word about shagreen other than the word and the echo in "peau de chagrin".

I didn't even explain why I gave the title "evening in" – in opposition to the "evening out" that surprised me because it evoked restaurants and not the sense of "to even out".  Just a slight difference in pronunciation. I love significant nuances.

04/07/2011

Evening in

Not writing is a way of letting time slip through my fingers exactly like the sand in an egg timer… funny how clichéd images are often the most appropriate.


If donjon is "keep" then what is "dungeon"?
mur d’enceinte
Why does 'pregnant' in French translate as “enclosed”? and how can the same word mean hi fi speaker?
Traduced - shame and traduce them - Inner sanctum - Trémie
Came across trémie for the first time in a translation about cement milling (translated it as 'hopper') and then immediately afterwards, the same day, in a press release about a department store ('atrium')!!!
Not insuperable. Pell mell
Emissaire = outlet stream
 …the Financial Times How To Spend It magazine… muffled …  Shagreen … Peau de chagrin … apocryphal)??

to play its part in evening out the imbalances in the global economy

Becoming increasingly allergic to the way women are depicted by male writers, even Nobel prize winning novelists... men seem to be described and judged by what they are and what they do and women described and judged by what they're wearing and what they look like. It feels like a very bad joke. An omnipresent very bad joke.

years ago before the Stade de France was built I saw a friendly rugby match between the British Lions and France. The atmosphere at the Parc des Princes was electric, they played Chariots of Fire on a glorious sound system and the event would have been worth it for just the crowd and the music. But there was a moment during the match when the ball travelled through a series of elegant passes right across the pitch, seemingly right across the team. It was very exciting and pleasing to witness. Later I found myself describing that moment as “poetry in motion”. Reading George Szirtes’ post made me want to think about what that actually meant for me... the thrill of things falling miraculously into place, a good poem is language at its most miraculous…

Still thinking about the film, Atonement.
The first time I have deliberately watched a film instead of reading a book to get at content.

The Day of Atonement. Leviticus 23:27, 32 (CEV) says "Everyone must go without eating from the evening of the ninth to the evening of the tenth on the seventh month which is the Day of Atonement."

And it works. This reader/viewer, at least, sort of 'excuses' the writer because they are the one to produce the cultural artefact… which brings us pleasure. This harks back to the killing fields and the journalist who wins a prize because he let someone die and the question of living or observing life. However, I think this is a false problem as far as writing's concerned because writing is not really a choice in the usual sense of the word. Something decides to write itself through someone and not the other way round.

I've just translated the subtitles for a documentary film. I found myself almost crying at the end of it. It's not a sad film. Nothing "tragic" happens. It's the story of one French woman's love for England. A crazy quilt is a Victorian quilt with no pattern… Françoise Lebrun says you just assemble bits of cloth of different sizes, shapes, textures and colours, and try to create a kind of harmony.

20/05/2011

In the plink


Cherries

Le temps des cerises.

Contrast between the usual connotations of an annual ritual that is aesthetic, poetic and nostalgic and has something languorous about it – Japan – take your time to drink tea – draw back the bow string, hold onto it, don't be impatient for the twang, admire time passing…
And the absolute urgency of eating the damn things as soon as they are ripe, in an extremely narrow window of time from the moment they become deep red and ripe enough to eat and the moment, very soon after,  they turn brown and blue mould appears.

 

Wurds.
On radio 4 the other day I noticed that “interstices” is pronounced “Interstice-seize”. Reminds me of Tom & Jerry and “I hate these me-seize to pea-seize”

J’ai eu quelques frayères – at the spawning grounds?

Superfétatoire – big Greek salad for party?

cudgerie
a large tropical rutaceous tree, Flindersia schottina, having light-coloured wood. Also called pink poplar.
the agalma

Europe's top banker calls for calm - Jean-Claude Trichet wants more…  - Tricher means to cheat

 Streets that follow like a tedious argument Of insidious intent...

So when your friends arrive with a huge bag of cherries and you take a bowl out of the cupboard (love that word) thinking to yourself oooooooooo yes, life is a bowl of cherries – but not just that, luckily - then you are already starting to feel guilty about not being able to eat them all quickly enough, as if it was somehow your shameful fault that they were going to rot.



21/04/2011

Input as to tickle

Not easy to start up again after stopping. The stop seems to get bigger and exert some kind of inertia, preventing me from starting again the longer I'm stopped. I jot down words that intrigue me or other things I want to write about and as the weeks pass some of them don't seem so relevant or important anymore.

Swinging the search beam away from content to process. A small trickle of a stream (the proverbial babbling Brooke) is somehow what I want now rather than a mass of water behind a dam I can't bust.

So here is a picture of an Iris, the first sign of spring, taken when it came into bloom ages ago. 



oops ! wrong image...



and a picture of a map because I am still trying to find my way around my blog...  euh... non, two pictures are enough for one post. I'll keep the map over for the next one, along with my backlog of lexicographic miscellanea.

Oh, and Thank You, anonymous, for sending me a message in response to Vitis Vinifera. This gave me the impetus to trickle.

04/01/2011

New Year Ditty


Nothing could please me more than your submission.
In fact, your absolute reddition.
But you don’t even have to give in; just cooperate, as I’m sure you will, and all those years waiting for change to instil
a happening … will be taking root, getting ready to shoot.

Baby screams stop when the pram moves.
The words come and flow, the pitter-patter of the keys pleases my ego, strokes my self, takes me back to a place I have not yet been to,
like a lean-to at the bottom of an imaginary garden.

Shed your past, come on, you can do it, go the whole way, don’t be sacred…

As if I cake-red. No-one, but no-one would will no! Anonymous bliss, this.

Time marches on, time dances on, time rolls on and I am not in it.

Once boarded a train, but that was in another lifetime, and besides, the swain is married now.

Such high hopes, expectations all behind, the disappointment and the ledgers. Now it is a question of hear. All fear rolled away, quite gone.

At last a clear space. Light and room to zoom in on it or you or whatever, the time to choose, pick and ooze, tell it as it really will be. The lie of the land is flat. I think I could have been a bat, just for the ultrasonic guidance system. Withholding some of the evidence, she tried her best to scrape the lipstick off my vest in the interests of some greater test but it was too deeply encrusted by the time this all came a bout.

I scan the horizon.

Nothing.

A time.

The machine guns silent, no barbed wire to speak of, - if not peace, at least a truce. This is what you ran for, strove for, fought for. This piece of treaty. Armisticeness.

And now the chance to savour, feel and wallow not in victory, not in a war won, in a mere ceasefire, a lull from which to set off in search of something worth.

While such a thing, such a value may exist, perhaps it all just leads to this,
To safety, the no need to fight, struggle or strive, and the words, though live, just are, here, now, still.

Twingling in the aftermath, lolling around in the subtle distillate.
Neither hate nor love, but all-glowing souls. No rivals, enemies, prizes or goals to be sought, battles to be fought, causes to be wrought like iron clad leggings. Tom Sneddin said you would never make it. Well I’m here, now, whole and in one peace. The golden fleece, trail, grophies galore don’t mean anything anymore.

the words
are not bullets fired at targets
nor hooks hoping to pull in prey, flares to attract attention, vibrations to effect abstention.
the words are just words.
free of dare, free of the snares of animosity, reciprocity, agropophosy, lascivoscoty…

like pebbles plopped into the well to sound the depths, probe in ripples… frôlent some nipples

serendipity reigns down in a shower of gravitdas