Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Huguenots in North America: A Reading List

This is not an exhaustive list of works by any means. It is a list of books only, and only books in English (there are some helpful ones in French too, though not so much on North America), intended to  provide a comprehensive overview of the Huguenots in North America. My interests in the U.S. and especially South Carolina are reflected here.

These are works that are of particular interest to me in preparation a presentation for the AATF convention in Montreal this summer. My focus, rather than on in-depth historical work, is adapting this material for French pedagogy.

First listed are works specifically about the Huguenots in North America. At the end I have also listed just a few helpful background works on the Huguenots.


Butler, Jon. The Huguenots in America: A Refugee People in New World Society.   Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1983.

Dubose, Samuel, & Frederick A. Porcher. History of the Huguenots of South Carolina. Reprint R.L. Bryan Columbia, S.C., 1972. New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1887.

Foote, William Henry. The Huguenots: Reformed French Church. Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 2002.

Golden, R.M., ed. The Huguenot Connection: The Edict of Nantes, Its Revocation, and     Early French Migration to South Carolina. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1988. 

Hirsch, Arthur Henry. The Huguenots of Colonial South Carolina. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1928.

Huguenot Society of South Carolina. The Huguenot Crosses of South Carolina. Charleston, SC: State Printing Co., 2001.

Louder, Dean R., and Eric Waddell, eds. French America: Mobility, Identity, and Minority Experience Across the Continent. Trans. Franklin Philip. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1993.

Reaman, G. Elmore. The Trail of the Huguenots in Europe, the United States, South Africa and Canada. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1966.

Van Ruymbeke, Bertrand. From New Babylon to Eden: The Huguenots and Their Migration to Colonial South Carolina. Columbia, SC: U of South Carolina P, 2006. 

Van Ruymbeke, Bertrand, and Randy J. Sparks, eds. Memory and Identity: The Huguenots in France and the Atlantic Diaspora. The Carolina Lowcountry and the Atlantic World. Columbia, SC: U of South Carolina P, 2003.

Other Sources:

Kingdon, Robert M. Myths about the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacres 1572-1576. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1988.

Soman, Alffred. The Massacre of St. Bartholomew: Reappraisals and Documents. International Archives of the History of Ideas. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1974.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Today in Language: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein died on April 29, 1951. He was a linguist's philosopher. In Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus he tackled the limits of language and thought--on what can or cannot be expressed. This had a lot of ramifications for philosophy but also for linguistics, though it is important to note that Wittgenstein overhauled his theory of language later in his career (in spite of his initial confidence in the accuracy and definitiveness of Tractatus).
Nonetheless, Tractatus is an important work, and I for one actually enjoy the rigid structure of numbering every proposition and sub-proposition. It enables the reader to follow Wittgenstein's thought process a bit more, though I still don't understand everything.

The seven key propositions allow one to follow the book's argument, though I leave out proposition 6 here simply because it is not self-explanatory:

1. The world is all that is the case.
2. What is the case--a fact--is the existence of states of affairs.
3. A logical picture of facts is a thought.
4. A thought is a proposition with a sense.
5. A proposition is a truth-function of elementary propositions. (An elementary proposition is a truth-function of itself.)
7. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.

NOTE: This is based on the translation by Pears & McGuinness.

Thursday, April 28, 2011




Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Review: Fashionable Nonsense

Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont are both physicists teaching in American and European universities. Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science is their translation and adaptation of their French book Impostures intellectuelles.

Sokal and Bricmont take to task eight French theorists for their misuse and abuse of scientific terminology: Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Bruno Latour, Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and Paul Virilio. They are very careful from the outset to explain that their critiques are not 1) blanket condemnations of these theorists’ work but simply of these theorists’ abuse of natural sciences, particularly physics, or 2) blanket condemnations of the humanities in general (or even poststructuralism or postmodernism). Rather, they simply wish to critique a certain tendency (the misunderstanding and abuse of science) that appears to be the result of postmodernism.

It is both amusing and depressing to read the passages that Sokal and Bricmont analyze. There is no doubt that theorists such as Kristeva, Irigaray, and Baudrillard are brilliant and have had some things to say. Yet they clearly also allow themselves to articulate a whole lot of nonsense and, only slightly better, a lot of ill-expressed, unclear banalities. One is reminded of a statement from the preface of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: “What can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence” (3).

I was also reminded of the following video, which I will post in lieu of quoting passages from, say, Lacan that the authors expose as meaningless, passages which you can read by picking up the book.


The most helpful section (as opposed to most interesting or most amusing) is the authors’ epilogue where they ponder some of the problems plaguing postmodernism and speculate about possible causes. They draw seven lessons from the texts they so thoroughly discredit in their book.

1. It is a good idea to know what one is talking about. One does not have to be an expert, specialist, or professor in a field or even a related field, but one cannot speak out of ignorance. When Lacan tried to relate topology to psychoanalysis, it is clear he had only elementary understanding of topology—and probably no idea about how to relate it even metaphorically to psychoanalysis.

2. Not all that is obscure is necessarily profound. And those who hide behind the façade of profundity betray their lack of both profundity and knowledge. Sokal and Bricmont make a helpful distinction between “discourses that are difficult because of the inherent nature of their subject and those whose vacuity or banality is carefully hidden behind deliberately obscure prose” (186). For what it’s worth, this point along with number 5 below is one of the worst legacies of poststructuralism, and a laughable defense of it at times.

3. Science is not a “text.” That is, scientific ideas are much more than mere “metaphors ready to be used in the human sciences” (187). Treating them otherwise betrays that one does not know what one is talking about and moves us all the way back to the first point.

4. Don’t ape the natural sciences. The authors point out that the natural sciences have their own problems and methodologies that do not necessarily transfer to the humanities.

5. Be wary of argument from authority. Arguing from authority is related to the second point above. Deleuze is often obscure. But well-known, so he has authority. Yet in the passages cited by Sokal and Bricmont he (with Guattari) is rarely logical and certainly not profound.

6. Specific skepticism should not be confused with radical skepticism. The former is questioning one theory; the latter is questioning everything (saying, for example, that science is nothing but a social and linguistic construct).

7. Ambiguity is subterfuge. This is the closest the authors allow themselves to get at judging the motives and intentions of the authors they critique. They say, “We cannot help thinking that, in many cases, these ambiguities [in the texts analyzed misusing/misunderstanding scientific terminology] are deliberate” (189).

In the chapter on Virilio, the authors also briefly speculated about motives, which to me is actually the most interesting and important aspect of the work though the authors say it is of marginal interest for them. In discussing a nonsensical paragraph about acceleration and society from Virilio’s work La vitesse de libération, they write, “We find it incredible that Virilio could consciously copy a sentence that he manifestly does not understand, add to it a completely arbitrary comment, and still be taken seriously by editors, commentators, and readers” (172). That is what baffles a lot of people. How do people like Virilio—again, people who do have something to say—completely dupe hosts of intelligent “editors, commentators, and readers” with meaningless theorizing? And why do they do it? No one quite knows I suppose, but read the book and you may have some very strong suspicions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Les mots français les plus communs

Combien de mots y-a-t-il dans la langue française ? Et de tous les mots, lesquels sont les plus fréquents ? Voici un article qui donne les réponses. Mais avant de le voir, quel est le mot le plus usité d'après vous :

1) et
2) est
3) bonjour
4) je

On Prefacing One's Work, à la Wittgenstein

In his preface to Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein assures his reader that "the truth of the thoughts that are here communicated seems to me unassailable and definite. I therefore believe myself to have found, on all essential points, the final solution of the problems." It sure is nice to know from the outset that a book contains the truth and solves all problems it addresses.

Of course, I have violently ripped the quote out of context and attributed gross intellectual hubris to Wittgenstein. In reality, he was at worst only a bit overconfident and goes on in the next sentence to make an important point about human thought:
If I am not mistaken in this belief [see previous quotation], then the second thing in which the value of this work consists is that it shows how little is achieved when these problems are solved.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Une visite à deux croix huguenotes de la Caroline du Sud

Lorsque je suis allé à l'église huguenote à Charleston, Caroline du Sud, avec ma femme et notre fils, nous avons décidé de visiter deux croix huguenotes après le culte. Il y'en a six dans l'état, dont quatre aux environs de Charleston et les autres deux croix vers le sud-ouest de la Caroline du Sud.

La seule église huguenote qui reste est celle de Charleston, mais ces six croix  marquent les anciens sites des autres églises françaises de l'état. Des quatre près de Charleston, deux restent sur des terrains privés que nous n'avons pas pu visiter cette fois. Mais les deux autres sont publiques, sur la Rue French Quarter et l'autre vers la petite ville de Monck's Corner.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

John 11:25

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live."

イエスは . . . 言われた、「わたしはよみがえりであり、命である。わたしを信じる者は、たとい死んでも生きる。」

Jésus . . . dit : "Je suis la résurrection et la vie. Celui qui croit en moi vivra, quand même il serait mort."

Jesús . . . dijo: "Yo soy la resurrección y la vida. El que cree en mí vivirá, aunque muera."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Today in Language: Shakespeare or Cervantes?

ALERT: This is a long post.

William Shakespeare
It is with some hesitation that I begin a post that is largely about William Shakespeare. The hesitation does not come from the fact that I am not a Shakespeare specialist, nor really from the fact that I have not read Shakespeare's entire œuvre. You don't have to be an expert on anything to write a blog post, and you don't have to read a writer's entire œuvre to be knowledgeable about that œuvre and its raison d'être.

Okay, let me stop using italicized French words and explain why I'm hesitant to post about Shakespeare: I simply have this nagging thought that Shakespeare, maybe, just possibly, is ever so slightly overrated. And that if I blog about Shakespeare, maybe I'm contributing to keeping him on the mythical pedestal of "Greatest Writer" or at least "Greatest English Writer," titles that to me are meaningless.

There, I said it. Please now excoriate me. In self defense, I will point out that I did not say that Shakespeare was not a great writer. I also did not say that I don't like Shakespeare's work. I do like his work and I do think he was a great writer (or at least a very good one). I just have trouble with using the superlative when evaluating him (or any writer).

Rather than putting Shakespeare on a pedestal all by himself, let me put him on a pedestal with another great writer, Miguel de Cervantes. Regardless of whether either was "greatest" or "great," how can we go about comparing their work? First let me give a few random thoughts, in order of increasing relevance and meaningfulness. Then I will go on and analyze one Shakespeare play and Don Quixote.

  1. Shakespeare and Cervantes both died on April 23.
  2. Shakespeare and Cervantes both died on April 23, 1616.
  3. Cervantes wrote fiction in Spanish; Shakespeare wrote fiction in English.
  4. Both mastered their language and went on to influence it in historic fashion.
  5. Cervantes was master of the novel genre; Shakespeare was master of the drama genre.
  6. Both also wrote in other genres, notably poetry, and Cervantes was also a playwright.
  7. Both mastered the art of writing fiction and went on to influence fictional genres in historic fashion.
  8. This influence is largely due to their experimentation with genres.
  9. This experimentation was often farcical.
  10. The Taming of the Shrew, a play, and Don Quixote, a novel, should both be read as farces (my working definition: fiction that focuses on ridiculous situations created by ridiculous characters who usually remain flat, or undeveloped).
Miguel de Cervantes
Now let's consider their work. I take The Taming of the Shrew and Don Quixote because I happen to have recently watched film adaptations of both. And I must confess that while I have read The Taming of the Shrew, I have only read excerpts of Don Quixote, never the entire novel.

My wife and I watched The Taming of the Shrew mainly because Elizabeth Taylor died in March of this year and we had never seen any of her movies except Little Women, in which she was only a supporting character. So I asked two coworkers more acquainted with Taylor's cinematic era and they both recommended The Taming of the Shrew.

We then watched Don Quijote de la Mancha because 1) we had never had the patience and fortitude to finish the novel (which we did start reading together a few years ago) and 2) I wanted to blog about Shakespeare and Cervantes in the same post and watching the movie was going to be a lot faster than reading the book, even though the movie was more than five hours. 

Cinematic Discursus
Burton and Taylor's The Taming of the Shrew (about two hours) was undeniably well done, and the two actors make a perfect combination, though knowing they were actually married makes one a bit worried and certainly not surprised that their relationship(s) had so much . . . upheaval. Overall the acting was so well done that the difficult English from Shakespeare was not a problem. Regarding other aspects of the film, the sets were quite good for an older film, though my favorite part would have to be the costumes. 

Don Quijote (nearly five and a half hours) was actually a TV miniseries of five episodes, released in 1991 on Spanish television. The acting was equally well done and the movie left me feeling as though I had stepped into the book. 

Literary Discursus
There are two points which I cannot address in an informed way. First, I do not know in any detailed way just how close both of these movies are to the original texts. I have not read Don Quixote in its entirety and have not recently read The Taming of the Shrew. Second, I do not know how well these two movies represent the original texts compared to other film versions. These are two interesting points, and if anyone can address them it would be helpful.

I have never understood why people think book-based movies should closely follow the book. A book and a movie are two independent artistic productions. It is always interesting to compare but faithfulness is not essential or necessarily desirable. In relation to The Taming of the Shrew and Don Quixote, I am interested in the question mainly to know whether reflections on the movies I have seen can also be applied to the original texts. From what I know of the originals, they can. So here goes.

As mentioned above, the key for me in interpreting these two books/movies is farce. In the case of The Taming of the Shrew, I found myself wondering what modern and postmodern viewers must think of the representation of women. And sure enough, there has been much discussion out there both for and against the view of Shakespeare as a misogynist. Interestingly, this discussion actually started when the play was first performed. And if we take the view that Shakespeare really was serious about everything in the play, then certainly we could dismiss it--but it is a great piece of literature precisely because it is a farce. One could be forgiven for having taken the character of Petruchio at face value and then getting upset at Shakespeare; people also took Jonathan Swift literally in A Modest Proposal. But no one should think that Shakespeare really wanted husbands to manipulate their wives psychologically (beating them into submission in a figurative way) like Petruchio does to Kate. That's why the play is comical. Petruchio is hilarious because he is so outrageous (and quite mean--at certain points in the movie my wife in particular felt sorry for Kate instead of laughing).

The whole point of the play, made through the farce, is the long-suffering love required in marriage. Petruchio and Kate are both over-the-top characters in order to magnify what every husband and wife deals with from time to time and to make it amusing for us.

In the case of Don Quixote, the farce does not function to exonerate the author of alleged bad values. I doubt anyone has ever wondered if Cervantes was trying to convince us that Don Quixote was not mad. The story is simply funny. And the brilliant farce takes on a new dimension when we are reminded of the era in which Cervantes was writing, and what he was actually trying to mock. Knights errant were excessively praised in medieval literature--their exploits, their looks, their horses, their squires, their fair damsels, their character. So when Cervantes writes a novel about an old man who is obsessed with such literature and then imagines himself as an unparalleled knight errant, we see the pretentious literature of the period taken down to size. Don Quixote gives himself an exotic name, imagines his aging horse as a powerful steed, thinks a brawny peasant girl is his fair lady, commandeers to be a squire his peasant neighbor who rides a donkey, convinces himself that a portable wash basin/urinal is a golden helmet, and routinely insists that sleepy windmills and innocent travelers and quiet monks and blissful sheep are actually nefarious knights or criminals needing his lance to bring them to justice.

The madness of Don Quixote serves to mock the "epic" literature of Cervantes' day, and through the madman's multifarious adventures the author is all the while playfully asking, "Do we really take ourselves so seriously? Are we not a bit crazy at times too?" Timeless questions.

So, who would you pick today? Cervantes or Shakespeare? How great were they?

Friday, April 22, 2011

More about the Huguenot Crosses of South Carolina

The six Huguenot crosses in my state are identical (granite, same size) except for the two inscriptions. Each one has an inscription reading something like the following (brackets indicate elements that are absent or different on some crosses):

Each cross also has another inscription that varies a bit more from cross to cross. I visited two of the six crosses earlier this month. The French Quarter, or Oranger Quarter St. Denis, cross was put in place in 1922. The Huguenot church here was built about 1687, or just two years after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, stripping the French Protestants still in France of any remaining religious liberty they had. You can see the first inscription followed by the text of the back inscription in these two photos (click to enlarge and read better):

The St. John's Berkeley cross was put in place in 1928, so its first inscription is identical except for the year and minus the phrase "on this God's Acre." A Huguenot church was built here right around 1700, the turn of the century, so just a little while after the French Quarter church. Here is a photo of the cross's second inscription:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Les croix huguenotes de la Caroline du Sud

Ma source principal pour l'histoire des six croix huguenotes de la Caroline du Sud, et aussi pour les directions aux sites, c'est un petit livre qui s'intitule The Huguenot Crosses of South Carolina (Les croix huguenotes de la Caroline du Sud).

Ce petit ouvrage (16 pages) de la Société Huguenote de la Caroline du Sud a paru en 2001. Mary LeRoy Upshaw Pike et son époux J. Sanders Pike ont fait tout le travail de faire des cartes des rue principales autour des sites ainsi qu'une courte histoire de chaque croix et la paroisse huguenote qu'elle représente. Le livre coûte $2 (affranchissement non compris) sur le site web de la société.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Visit to a Couple of South Carolina's Huguenot Crosses

The Huguenot Church of Charleston
April 10, 2011
When I visited the annual French service (French liturgy, English sermon) at the Huguenot Church in Charleston, South Carolina, with my wife and son, we took some time afterward to visit two of the six Huguenot crosses in the state. The six crosses stand on the sites of six former Huguenot churches, four in the Charleston area and two in the southern tip of South Carolina. The church in Charleston is the only one still standing. Two of the sites near Charleston are on private property and I wasn't able to schedule visits for the Sunday we were there, but the other two crosses in the area are on public property, in Huger and Monck's Corner, South Carolina.

French Quarter Huguenot Cross
April 10, 2011
The first site we visited is on French Quarter Creek Road, and there is a small sign welcoming the visitor to the French Quarter, a small historic area of Huguenot fame. The houses on the road are all modern and, I think, are part of the town of Huger. The granite Huguenot cross here was the second one set up by the Huguenot Society of South Carolina and sits back off the public road in a peaceful grove.

The other cross we visited commemorates the Huguenot parish of St. John's Berkeley, near what is now the town of Monck's Corner. This was the third cross set up by the Huguenot Society of South Carolina. The setting for the St. John's Berkeley cross is decidedly less idyllic than the setting of French Quarter. Not only are there no flowers or trimmed bushes, but the site is also right next to (20 feet from) well-used train tracks. On top of that, when I went there were fire ants. I did not know this when I went to the site, walked all around the cross, and apparently stood for a moment on a fire ant mound to contemplate the cross.

St. John's Berkeley Huguenot Cross
April 10, 2011
(Fire ants not visible.)

I had gotten out of the car and my wife stayed in because the baby was napping. Then she got out because she wanted to take a picture of me with the cross (we could see the baby where we were, and the car was on a dirt road right off the main road, so no danger). Then we both got back in the car. We heard a train. Then I felt my right leg on fire. I yelled (and woke up the baby--collateral damage), asked Miriam if she had fire ants on her (she didn't, thank God), jumped out of the car, and madly began to brush fire ants off my calf and foot. Madly is the only way to do that. By the time the train had passed, I had finished and gotten back in the car. We drove off, and it took my leg a week to recover from the vicious ant bites.

Anyway, it was a good trip and it was helpful to visit the two monuments, both for personal enrichment and also research that I'm doing (that I'll write about more in days to come).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Defense of Um: Prescriptivism and Disfluencies

I am feeling uninspired this week, with little to say, though I do have a dandy of a post in the works for this Saturday.

When a blogger feels uninspired, I hereby declare that it is a good idea (crutch?) to turn elsewhere. So, in the hope that they will inspire you more than my own discourses could, I direct your attention to an article and a quotation, both about linguistics.

The article is titled "Parents' 'Um's' and 'Uh's' Help Toddlers Learn New Words, Cognitive Scientists Find." How many parents teach their children not to use disfluencies such as "um" or "uh" (which could just as easily be considered expletives, or if we want to be untechnical and not sound smart, fillers)? And yet apparently they help our children in their language development. A reminder to always be moderate in our prescriptivism, a principle also emphasized, but from a different perspective (language change rather than language acquisition), in the following quotation:

The linguistic rules which we extrapolate from actual use are inevitably provisional. Every time the language changes it offers us the chance to interpret them more accurately so that we have a more precise understanding of the way in which language works.
Geoffrey Finch, How to Study Linguistics, p. 8

Le Créole martiniquais

Je veux apprendre le créole martiniquais en suivant un cours en ligne.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Help, Linguistics, Questions, and This Blog

I have already posted a couple of requests for help on my fledgling blog. I intend to do more of that in coming months, both through direct requests and at times through more oblique questions on the heels of a linguistic discussion. I will try to make all such posts at least tangentially language-related.

The following are the types of questions I hope to explore in a meandering, drawn-out way, for as long as I keep blogging. Some come from personal experience (practical) while others come from academic study and reflection (theoretical):
  • What is the best way to teach my children three languages from infancy?
  • How can "best practice" in the field of language pedagogy be identified?
  • What are helpful ways of categorizing linguistics with all of its subfields?
  • What should be the relationship between linguistics and translation studies?
  • Do humans have a language instinct?
  • Does language affect every area of human life? In what ways?
  • What are the true nature and role of mentalese?
  • What are the most promising avenues of research for linguistic breakthrough?*
One final, slightly more urgent question I have is how to categorize my blog labels in Blogger. I figure on having 100 or so by the time I have introduced all the topics I want to blog about, but many of them could be sorted under categories, cleaning up and organizing my labels list. French and Japanese, for example, could be labels under a category called "Languages." That way, any time I add a new language it goes under that label category and keeps things tidy.

*I tend to think they lie in neuroscience and psycholinguistics. The amazing advances that have been made in the science of the human brain could offer breathtaking observations about language and the brain, language acquisition, and language pedagogy. This is not to say that historical and descriptive linguistics won't constantly have new and important research coming out. They will. But I would distinguish between necessary "documentary" research and breakthrough research that presents or even demands new ways of discussing a subject. It is this type of research that I think we can hope to see coming especially from certain fields of applied linguistics.

Christian Pragmatics from Titus

Post subtitle: With Special Application to Interaction with CSRs

I heard a sermon on the letter to Titus today, and at the very end Titus 3:2 caught my attention: "always to be gentle toward everyone." That's the NIV. I really like the KJV here too: "shewing all meekness unto all men."
This verse caught me because I  had plans afterward to go visit a store to handle some details on my cell phone contract. I got a new contract and smartphone a week and a half ago, and as might be expected from completing the order online, several unpleasant surprises came up over the past week. Now, I don't mind paying my bills; it doesn't frustrate me in the least. Maybe this is weird, but I enjoy paying what I know I owe and receiving what I pay for. This is also my view of taxes, believe it or not. But when I have contractual or performance issues (with my phone, my electricity, my treadmill, my weed eater, my municipal park), I do start to stress a bit. And in regard to online or phone orders, it can be too easy to slip into a mode of speech with customer service that is less than meekness-unto-all-men. So that phrase from Titus grabbed me and made me realize (sorry if this strikes you as trite) that customer service representatives are people too, whether I'm chatting with them online or talking to them on the phone or working with them in person. And of course, they bear absolutely no individual responsibility for whatever problems I may have.

So I took that verse with me to my local service store, and I think that it served as an extremely timely reminder to speak kindly, patiently, and meekly to the woman who helped me--and greatly improved my tone and body language, which are a huge part of meekness.

I can happily report that all of my cell phone issues have been promptly taken care of, saving me money and hassle.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Isaiah 53:7 followed by 1 Peter 2:21b-25

To be read meditatively.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Il a été maltraité et opprimé, et il n'a point ouvert la bouche, semblable à un agneau qu'on mène à la boucherie, à une brebis muette devant ceux qui la tondent ; il n'a point ouvert la bouche. Christ aussi a souffert pour vous, vous laissant un exemple, afin que vous suiviez ses traces, lui qui n'a point commis de péché, et dans la bouche duquel il ne s'est point trouvé de fraude ; lui qui, injurié, ne rendait point d'injures, maltraité, ne faisait point de menaces, mais s'en remettait à celui qui juge justement ; lui qui a porté lui-même nos péchés en son corps sur le bois, afin que morts aux péchés nous vivions pour la justice ; lui par les meurtrissures duquel vous avez été guéris. Car vous étiez comme des brebis errantes. Mais maintenant vous êtes retournés vers le pasteur et le gardien de vos âmes.

Maltratado y humillado, ni siquiera abrió su boca; como cordero, fue llevado al matadero; como oveja, enmudeció ante su trasquilador; y ni siquiera abrió su boca. Cristo sufrió por ustedes, dándoles ejemplo para que sigan sus pasos. «Él no cometió ningún pecado, ni hubo engaño en su boca.» Cuando proferían insultos contra él, no replicaba con insultos; cuando padecía, no amenazaba, sino que se entregaba a aquel que juzga con justicia. Él mismo, en su cuerpo, llevó al madero nuestros pecados, para que muramos al pecado y vivamos para la justicia. Por sus heridas ustedes han sido sanados. Antes eran ustedes como ovejas descarriadas, pero ahora han vuelto al Pastor que cuida de sus vidas.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Son's Linguistic Challenge

If my son sees a ball, he says "ball"* (repeatedly). If he sees a 2-dimensional ball on the page of a book, he says, "ball." If he sees the Pepsi logo on a vending machine, he says "ball." If he sees the round plastic buckle on his car seat strap, he says "ball." If he sees anything circular, he says "ball."

The linguistic challenge for my 17-month-old boy? Hyponyms. Or superordinates. Hyponyms are subcategories of a word, more specific than the word itself, which is the superordinate. For example, "bird" is the superordinate (the category) for such animals as crows, hummingbirds, and birds of paradise. For that matter, "animal" is the superordinate for "bird." Conversely, "bird" is a hyponym of "animal," and "crow," "hummingbird," and "bird of paradise" are hyponyms of "bird."

In my son's case, "ball" has become an absolute superordinate because he hasn't learned the hyponyms. "Ball" is not even the right superordinate. I suppose "circle" would be, if you can include a ball (sphere) as a hyponym of "circle."

A baby's failure to distinguish between superordinates and hyponyms, of course, is not a problem at all. My son has an incredibly sophisticated language-learning capacity, and I am confident he will gradually learn all the vocabulary and grammar he ever needs (and probably some he doesn't need). He may in fact already know words for various ball-shaped objects. The problem then is either phonological (he cannot yet pronounce "circle" or "buckle") or volitional. Perhaps he is trying to will balls into existence. Evidence for this could be found in the fact that, in addition to calling anything round that he sees "ball," he still frequently and randomly says "ball" even if he doesn't see anything resembling a ball. Volition is, unfortunately, beyond the realm of linguistics.

*It's actually more like /baw/ at this point; he doesn't usually get much of the "l" in there.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Today in Language: la mort de Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre est mort le 15 avril, 1980. Où se trouve-t-il dans le cadre de personnages de Huis clos après la mort ? Quel était son plus grand péché pendant la vie ? D'avoir contribué à la philosophie existentialiste ?

April 15 is the anniversary of the death of Jean-Paul Sartre, undoubtedly one of France's and the world's most prominent intellectuals in the mid-20th century.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

C'est la crise pour tous !

In advance of tax day in the U.S., here is a bit of French humor. I will translate it some day, when I feel like it.

La crise économique, on en sent toujours les effets :

Les boulangers ont des problèmes croissants.
Chez Renault la direction fait marche arrière, les salariés débrayent.
À EDF les syndicats sont sous tension.
Les bouchers se battent pour défendre leur bifteck.
Les éleveurs de volaille sont les dindons de la farce, ils en ont assez de se faire plumer.
Pour les couvreurs c'est une tuile.
Les menuisiers sont payés avec des chèques en bois.
Les kinés se massent devant les grilles de l'hôpital en revendiquant.
L'on raconte des salades aux épiciers.
Le salaire des coiffeurs frise le ridicule.
Les cyclistes sont mis au régime sans sel.
Les teinturiers meurent à la tâche et sont payés au rabais.
Les faïenciers en ont raz le bol.
Les éleveurs de chiens sont aux abois.
Les brasseurs sont sous pression.
Les cheminots menacent d'occuper les locos ; ils veulent conserver leur train de vie.
Les veilleurs de nuit en ont assez de vivre au jour le jour.
Les pédicures travaillent d'arrache-pied pour de faibles revenus.
Les ambulanciers ruent dans les brancards.
Les pêcheurs haussent le ton.
Les imprimeurs sont déprimés et font mauvaise impression.
Sans oublier les cafetiers qui trinquent.

Bref ! C'est la crise...

*Je remercie profondément un professeur de Middlebury College pour les détails de cette annonce épouvantable. Je ne l'ai rédigée que très peu.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Review: Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache...

de langue française, il ne faut pas l'oublier. Ces poètes n'ont généralement écrit leur poésie qu'en français.

Je n'ai pas la moindre idée comment écrire un compte-rendu d'une anthologie de poésie. J'aime bien la poésie et j'ai bien aimé la poésie dans ce livre. Mais je pense donner un compte-rendu justement, et non pas une critique puisque je ne sais pas donner un avis sur la poésie. J'ai peur d'en parler comme on parle trop souvent de la traduction, disant que c'est « bon » ou « mauvais » mais sans un système pour l'évaluer d'une manière juste.

Léopold Sédar Senghor a rédigé cette anthologie en 1948. C'était le centenaire de la révolution de 1848 mais aussi une époque très importante (des années 40 aux années 60) pour l'Afrique noire française puisque les colonies françaises commencent à revendiquer plus de droits. Le bouleversement social et politique suit son cours jusqu'à ce que la France accorde l'indépendance à ses colonies de l'Afrique noire (y compris le pays natal de Senghor, le Sénégal, dont il sera le premier président).

Dans un tel milieu, Senghor présente les meilleurs poètes noirs de ces colonies et aussi quelqu'uns de la Caraïbe. Les six pays représentés sont la Guyane française, la Martinique, la Guadeloupe, l'Haïti, l'Afrique noire et le Madagascar.

C'est une anthologie essentielle pour les étudiants de la littérature française et ce qu'on appelle la francophonie. Le lecteur y trouve des extraits de Cahier d'un retour au pays natal d'Aimé Césaire ainsi que beaucoup de poèmes de Senghor lui-même. Il y aussi quelqu'uns des contes et poèmes de Birago Diop et d'autres poètes pas aussi bien connus.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Most Useful Definition

Lawrence Venuti, on page 13 of his book The Translator's Invisibility, gives the following definition of translation:
Translation is a process by which the chain of signifiers that constitutes the foreign text is replaced by a chain of signifiers in the translating language which the translator provides on the strength of an interpretation. 

Traduction : La traduction est un processus dans lequel l'enchaînement de signifiants qui constitue le texte étranger est remplacé par un enchaînement de signifiants dans la langue cible que donne le traducteur sur la base d'une interprétation.
I like this definition, first, because it assumes the presence of meaning. After completing a master's degree in translation studies, I had been exposed to enough post-structuralism in translation studies and related fields to last a whole academic career. On my M.A. dissertation (a thesis is doctoral in the U.K.), one of my readers even remarked that my analysis of certain theories in relation to a specific text and translation was focused on the possibility of meaning. The remark was not at all negative and my approach worked just fine, if my final mark was any indicator. But the fact that the remark was made (implying that the possibility of meaning is not always assumed) left me bemused.

That said, I also like this definition, second, because it does not assume that meaning is always evident or singular. This is a very different matter from the existence of meaning. Any original has meaning, but any translation is dependent "on the strength of an interpretation" of the original.

I like this definition, third and finally, for the phrase "chain of signifiers." It sums up what could become a prolix attempt to explain what the different signifiers are (lexis, sentences, etc.) and how they relate (grammar, pragmatics, etc.).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Huguenot Church

Nous sommes allés à Charleston hier pour participer au culte français de l'église huguenote. C'est la seule église huguenote qui reste en Amérique du Nord et elle n'est plus française. C'est-à-dire que les membres sont américains et très peu parlent français. Mais le pasteur avait invité un ami qui parle français (né d'un père français) et qui a donc pu diriger le culte en français, sauf le sermon. Il a prêché en anglais. Mais j'ai bien aimé la liturgie huguenote ; nous avons récité plusieurs passages et le pasteur invité a lu d'autres passages aussi en français. On n'a chanté qu'un hymne en français (Psaume 89) et les autres étaient en anglais. Mais c'est bien passé avec les chrétiens qui sont pour la plupart descendants des Huguenots. De plus, la ville de Charleston est toujours merveilleuse (et le bébé est fasciné par les chevaux dans la rue !).

We got to go to the annual "French" service at the Huguenot Church in Charleston this past Sunday. It was conducted largely in French, but not exclusively. Most of the singing was in English, as was the short sermon (which did not discuss the Huguenot heritage, as I had hoped). But it was a good experience nonetheless, and my wife in particular enjoyed meeting a lot of the attenders who are for the most part of Huguenot descent. She had to slip out early with the baby because he was starting to get antsy and noisy, so she talked to some others who were also waiting outside. Afterward we were invited to the church's collation, which was much more than a collation, and quite delicious.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Isaiah 53:3-5 followed by Ephesians 1:3-7

To be read meditatively.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

Méprisé et abandonné des hommes, homme de douleur et habitué à la souffrance, semblable à celui dont on détourne le visage, nous l'avons dédaigné, nous n'avons fait de lui aucun cas. Cependant, ce sont nos souffrances qu'il a portées, c'est de nos douleurs qu'il s'est chargé; et nous l'avons considéré comme puni, frappé de Dieu, et humilié. Mais il était blessé pour nos péchés, brisé pour nos iniquités; le châtiment qui nous donne la paix est tombé sur lui, et c'est par ses meurtrissures que nous sommes guéris. Béni soit Dieu, le Père de notre Seigneur Jésus Christ, qui nous a bénis de toute sortes de bénédictions spirituelles dans les lieux célestes en Christ! En lui Dieu nous a élus avant la fondation du monde, pour que nous soyons saints et irrépréhensibles devant lui, nous ayant prédestinés dans son amour à être ses enfants d'adoption par Jésus Christ, selon le bon plaisir de sa volonté, à la louange de la gloire de sa grâce qu'il nous a accordée en son bien-aimé. En lui nous avons la rédemption par son sang, la rémission des péchés, selon la richesse de sa grâce.

Despreciado y rechazado por los hombres, varón de dolores, hecho para el sufrimiento. Todos evitaban mirarlo; fue despreciado, y no lo estimamos. Ciertamente él cargó con nuestras enfermedades y soportó nuestros dolores, pero nosotros lo consideramos herido, golpeado por Dios, y humillado. Él fue traspasado por nuestras rebeliones, y molido por nuestras iniquidades; sobre él recayó el castigo, precio de nuestra paz, y gracias a sus heridas fuimos sanados. Alabado sea Dios, Padre de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, que nos ha bendecido en las regiones celestiales con toda bendición espiritual en Cristo. Dios nos escogió en él antes de la creación del mundo, para que seamos santos y sin mancha delante de él. En amor nos predestinó para ser adoptados como hijos suyos por medio de Jesucristo, según el buen propósito de su voluntad, para alabanza de su gloriosa gracia, que nos concedió en su Amado. En él tenemos la redención mediante su sangre, el perdón de nuestros pecados, conforme a las riquezas de [su] gracia.

私たちは彼をさげすみ、のけ者にしました。彼は悲しみの人、人生の苦しみをなめ尽くした人でした。 私たちは彼に背き、そばを通ってもそっぽを向きました。 彼が侮られても、そ知らぬふりをしていました。ところが、彼が背負い込んだのは、実は私たちの悲しみであり、彼を押しつぶしたのは、私たちの嘆きでした。 私たちは、彼がそんなに苦しむのは、罪を犯して神様に罰せられているからだと考えていました。しかし実際は、私たちの罪のために傷つき、血を流したのです。 彼は私たちに平安を与えようとして、進んで懲らしめを受けました。彼がむち打たれたので、私たちはいやされました。さて、主イエス・キリストの父なる神を、どのようにほめたたえたらよいでしょう。 神様は、天上のあらゆる祝福で、私たちを祝福してくださいました。 それは、私たちがキリスト様のものとなっているからです。神様は、この世界をお造りになる前から、私たちを、ご自分のものとして選んでくださいました。 それは、キリスト様が私たちのためにしてくださることに、基づいています。 そして、神様は私たちを、ご自分の目から見て、何一つ欠点のない、きよい者にしようとお定めになりました。 神様の前に立つ私たちは、その愛に包まれているのです。神様の不変の計画とは、イエス・キリストを遣わし、その死によって、私たちを神様の家族の一員として迎えることでした。 それが、神様のお考えでした。神様こそ、いっさいの賞賛を受けるべきお方です。 神様は、驚くばかりの恵みと愛とを、豊かに注いでくださったのです。 それは、私たちが、神様の最愛のひとり息子につながる者となったからです。神の子の血を流してまで、私たちの罪を帳消しにしてくださるほど、神様の愛は大きいのです。 この神の子によって、私たちは救われました。神様は、豊かな恵みを、あふれるほど注いでくださいました。

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Today in Language: Charles Baudelaire

Baudelaire est né le 9 avril, 1821. Tout en affirmant que ce grand poète résiste toute catégorie, on peut reconnaître en même temps que son poème « Correspondances » a beaucoup influencé les poètes symbolistes :
La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.
Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent
Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté,
Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.

II est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
— Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,

Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens,
Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Which word "best" captures the meaning of Lent?

English: Lent, meaning "lenghtening of daylight" (i.e., springtime)

French: Carême, meaning "the 40th day before Easter"

Spanish: Cuaresma, meaning "the 40th day before Easter"

Japanese: 受難節, meaning "time of suffering"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Today in Language: Francis Xavier

Francis Xavier, one of the first Jesuits and also one of the first missionaries in Japan, was born on April 7, 1506. The statue to the left, in a park in the southern city of Kagoshima, presents a Xavier with decidedly Asian features.

However good/bad Xavier may have been as a missionary and however biblical/unbiblical his theology may have been (and I know little about either), what interests me most is how he fared linguistically in his many countries of ministries.

I have not done much research into Xavier's ministry in Japan but have read that he struggled with the language, at least initially. It is commonly reported that Xavier called Japanese "the devil's language," though I am more than willing to be generous and assume that Xavier overcame that linguistically unintelligible, culturally myopic, and theologically indefensible notion. It is certainly true that many missionaries, in many countries around the world, learning various languages (including Japanese) struggle. But I don't think these languages have to be hard. In regard to Japanese, I often think [ALERT: unproven assertion] the difficulty comes from the fact that Japanese is so different in many respects from English, French, Spanish, Italian, etc., and not from the grammar which is really not that difficult.

Regardless of language difficulty, missionaries or anyone else going to another country should try their hardest to master the language. That is something I want to drive home to a team of university students my wife and I will be taking to Japan in the summer of 2012.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Huguenot ?

Quelle est l'origine du mot Huguenot ? Comme le mot chrétien, c'était plutôt une insulte au commencement. Bien que nous ne puissions pas en être sûr de l'origine, il se peut que Huguenote vienne du mot allemand eidgenossen, qui veut dire « confédéré ». On peut bien imaginer donc qu'il'y avait des gens qui parlaient un peu injurieusement de « cette petite bande de confédérés, ces Protestants ».

Il me semble que les gens qui parlent anglais pensent parfois que les Huguenots formaient une secte particulière, mais en fait c'était le mot pour parler des Protestants français tout simplement.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hidden Fortress: More Thoughts

Last week I posted briefly about the Kurosawa film Hidden Fortress. I didn't have time to include the aspect of the film that most provoked reflection on my part, so here goes...

The most interesting thing for me, beyond the perspective of the "two lowliest characters" (inspiration for Star Wars) or the interesting plot or the innovative cinematography, was what influenced Kurosawa to challenge traditional Japanese values. And by "traditional" I mean very traditional, in the sense that a majority of Japanese don't necessarily  share the values today (or even in Kurosawa's day).

Some of the values espoused in Hidden Fortress include kindness to enemies, human equality, and self-sacrifice (even on the part of the most "important" or powerful people). These jarringly confront the traditional Japanese values of, respectively, shame and face-saving, social hierarchy, and sacrifice of "lesser" beings for nobility. I would love to recount each of the scenes where I thought Kurosawa expertly juxtaposes these opposing values, but the best thing is probably for you to watch the movie and see for yourself.

The question in my mind is the influence behind Kurosawa's challenge of traditional values. Was the influence largely western cinema/art/values? Kurosawa was greatly influenced in his cinematography by non-Asian directors, and is often considered quite un-Japanese. Or was the influence simply upheaval in society and values in Japan? Or was it primarily Kurosawa himself and his willingness to express his worldview regardless of his culture and its traditional values?