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TorgoX (1933)

TorgoX
  sburkeNO@SPAMcpan.org
http://search.cpan.org/~sburke/

"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Tuesday October 01, 2002
05:37 AM

Dark then Dawn

[ #8111 ]
Dear Log,

Today I almost scrapped as unfeasable a big and generally promising project, then told a pal about the situation, and he let me in on some additional and encouraging information (half of which was right in front of me, if only I'd seen in) that led me to see that not only shouldn't it be scrapped, but that it'll be great, and how to make it great. I can't talk about the project yet -- it'll be secret for another few months.

Thought for the day: When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

In other happy news, I found, in a used bookstore, a book written in the early 1950s by an Englishman and a Spaniard, explaining some of the common usage pitfalls in Spanish which a well-taught English-speaker might not be aware of. Lots of little things like, yes, you knew pan is bread, but un pan is a loaf of bread. Lists of jargon terms involved in playing cards, and in music. And then it starts to get odd -- lists of "office appurtenances", including terms for "Indian ink", "addressograph"; "domestic appurtenances" including "chloride of lime" and "flap-duster".

And lots of explanations that take a totally obvious (to me) word in Spanish, explaining them in English that is to me, at a century and a hemisphere away, as shockingly strange as something out Marco Polo. For example, a paella is explained (!) as "a sort of kedgeree [?!], rice being the main constituent. The other matter is not merely little bits of fish but large lumps of fish, chicken, shellfish, or what you will; you frequently get clams, crawfish, etc., in their shells and are then obliged to get them out, so it is no use hoping to keep your fingers clean".

A garbanzo is explained (!!) as "a bean of the haricot type (i.e. the seed) but rather more round. It is a common ingredient of a stew and, being cheap, is widely eaten but does not seem popular with more refined palates."

The entry for "hola" is like something from 1920 at the latest, explaining that when Spaniards say "Hola, Roberto!", this is best put into good English as "What cheer, Bob!". One expects chaps named "Biggles" or "Major" to appear at any moment, and to indicate some things as "ripping" and others as "ghahstly".

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  • I have an old English-Finnish dictionary that defines "cancan" as "a certain indecent form of dance". I think the original text of the dictionary comes from 30s or so, or maybe from someone brought up with 30s' proprieties.

  • When I first went to Italy I took Italian lessons from a Romanian woman. One day a word came up that she couldn't explain in Italian or English. We looked it up and the translation was the evocative "The slaughter of the tunny fish".

    Strangely, google shows a few matches for this phrase [google.com].