Culture, Musings

His Lordship And Milady: An Email Conversation

“Drinks, Milady?”

“Would you like to crash a leaving do with me? A trainee has drinks tonight. Let me know Milord.”

“At your service Milady. The gentleman will have to rush first to his bankers to secure funds for the enterprise.”

“One would have thought his Lordship would have a person who performs such menial tasks. I am mixing with the wrong crowd. See you in reception at 17h20?”

“His Lordship is reassured that he isn’t a crowd or part of one. If Milady wishes to mix with the rabble then such frivolities can be excused. With regard to his Lordship’s pecuniary affairs, he, as a man of the utmost refined sensibilities, chooses to conduct such matters in person. As Milady knows, only Her Majesty retains a retinue of menials these days as befitting one so high born. The rest of the court must adapt to and embrace modernity, including preposterous contraptions such as ATMs.”

“Buzz off! You truly are full of s***!!”

A while later.

“I suppose it’s drinks then. My carriage shall arrive at 17:20. Please be prompt.”

“If his Lordship can stoop so low as to crash a leaving drink, then 17h20 it is.”

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Raednig Wihtuot Tinhking

Can you raed this? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

– Reblogged from smoewhere

Books, Culture, Musings

But I Read No French

Corneille. Who is he? Sartre, in his auto-bio Words, mentions Corneille a few times too many. Today, a sunny spring Sunday afternoon, while bookshop browsing I came across the French Lit section. This is new, I thought. Or had I been blind to this section since I couldn’t and still can’t speak or read French? I mean, I know my Oui and Non, Merci, Monsieur, Ah, Bonjour Madame and Comme ci, comme ça, Oui Oui c’est la vie! But that’s about it. My eyes are scanning the books I’m never going to read. Then I spot him. Corneille. There on the top shelf, his book covers fronting insolent poses, “Haven’t you read us?” Tut tut. No, because you see, I read no French.

It’s at times like those I become envious of people, like my Spanish friend Javier, who can speak and read in four languages. I grew up in Lagos, the tempestuous onetime capital of Nigeria, a country bordered on all four sides by French speaking countries and where French is as foreign a tongue as an extinct local dialect. When I was eleven, I picked up two years of French studies that were as useless today as learning how to use log tables and as painful as a fumbled injection. So when I see names like Corneille on bookshelves I wave them away wistfully and console myself that they probably aren’t worth reading anyway and that my bedroom floor is already covered with unread English translations.

“That’s a really interesting author, can I get it for you, Sir?” To which I reply: “Non, Mademoiselle, je vous remercie, mais je ne peux pas lire le français” and hope my googled translation is correct. The thought has since occurred to me, what if an e-book reader could translate? Fuck, I might have to get one. But would the translation be any good?