2013/05/15

Buy your knives from Quttin, with thoughts on final /g/s and a poem by Ambrose Bierce

The latest pseudo-anglicism to cheer my bedraggled brain comes from a 20-year-old Albacete knife manufacturer. (See also camping, parking, lifting, shampooing, footing, and Wikipedia.) I like the dropped /g/, which interestingly goes against a trend in Andaluz and increasingly in other versions of Spanish to add a terminal /g/ to words previously ending in /n/. Here for example is Juan Antonio Canta singing of the loss of his girlfriend "eng la segunda guerra mundial" and, for any remaining Freudians out there, about German penis size and the frustration of being Spanish:

 

The work of JAC is a delight for anyone interested in the phantasy and phonology of very, very late Andalusian avant-gardism, but the /g/ final is afaik undocumented by professional linguists and does not appear in the standard models of southern speech which I used for my Spanish-Andalusian transformer (which silly people persist in calling a translator). If you have more information please get in touch!

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Here's another example, with lots more Andalusian fun, from the siege of Setenil in 1484:
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Some of you (Boris Johnson, for example) have expressed concern about this blog's sloth and apparent lack of direction. In reply here is Ambrose Bierce's tribute to the tortoise:

My friend, you are not graceful — not at all;
Your gait's between a stagger and a sprawl.

Nor are you beautiful: your head's a snake's
To look at, and I do not doubt it aches.

As to your feet, they'd make an angel weep.
‘Tis true you take them in whene'er you sleep.

No, you're not pretty, but you have, I own,
A certain firmness — mostly you're [sic] backbone.

Firmness and strength (you have a giant's thews)
Are virtues that the great know how to use —

I wish that they did not; yet, on the whole,
You lack — excuse my mentioning it — Soul.

So, to be candid, unreserved and true,
I'd rather you were I than I were you.

Perhaps, however, in a time to be,
When Man's extinct, a better world may see

Your progeny in power and control,
Due to the genesis and growth of Soul.

So I salute you as a reptile grand
Predestined to regenerate the land.

Father of Possibilities, O deign
To accept the homage of a dying reign!

In the far region of the unforeknown
I dream a tortoise upon every throne.

I see an Emperor his head withdraw
Into his carapace for fear of Law;

A King who carries something else than fat,
Howe'er acceptably he carries that;

A President not strenuously bent
On punishment of audible dissent —

Who never shot (it were a vain attack)
An armed or unarmed tortoise in the back;

Subject and citizens that feel no need
To make the March of Mind a wild stampede;

All progress slow, contemplative, sedate,
And “Take your time” the word, in Church and State.

O Tortoise, ‘tis a happy, happy dream,
My glorious testudinous regime!

I wish in Eden you'd brought this about
By slouching in and chasing Adam out.
Bierce is in many ways one of the best writers I have read in any language. The Devil's Dictionary, from which this is excerpted, is deservedly celebrated, but the drumhead prose of The Parenticide Club, which is relatively unknown, should give great pleasure to anyone who has enjoyed later brutal absurdists like Flann O'Brien, and I think that Bierce's creation of a landscape of Civil War ghosts - derived from his experiences as a boy-soldier - is in military-literary terms an incomparable achievement. Ah, digression.

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