marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)

To my readers: you don't really have to read this, I guess, it's a bit of an anthill into mountains; I just needed to get this out of the system, because it's hit a nerve on some basic level in ways that surprised me, it's late in the evening, I have no one to share with at the moment and I don't want to end the day with it rattling about in my head.

If you're inclined to self-assessment, though, I guess it could be interesting.

If you don't want to, just jump straight to the cuteness. If I've figured this cut thing out correctly.


Read more... )

 

 

And because I did say I didn't want to end the day on that note, let's end it on this: the first baby wild horse born in the Czech lands (ha!) in centuries. (Okay, technically an Exmooor pony. Which apparently recent research indicates is as close to the original wild horse as it gets.)

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Some days ago, my father bought a mocca pot, obstinately ignored the instructions to wash it thoroughly and cook several cups of coffee in it without drinking first ("what a waste"), and then very happily pronounced the resulting coffee as tasting exactly the way it used to. The part that boggles me is that I agree with him.
We never had one in all my memory, and neither had anyone I know. And besides, I started drinking coffee only a few years ago and still don't do that often.
The only explanation I have is that grandma has always had this percolator thing or whatever - I'm really confused about all the manners in which coffee can be prepared and the translation - which father says is basically the same thing with different anatomy (not in those words, those are mine); and I may have occasionally tasted it as a child to see if I still hated it.
I don't hate it anymore. I actually approach it like a treat. I'm slightly puzzled by that, too.

But I'm still enjoying the Yorkshire Tea - that father used to bring from Britain years ago and now ordered online - much more. Much more often. We both have a thing for "common black tea", my father and me - that's what he calls it, with carefully put on British pronunciation. How I loved its blackness when he first brought it; back then, the choice of teas in Czech shops was very dismal indeed. It's got better (even the awful awful cheap Czech brand of tea has got slightly better since it's not Czech anymore, I think; in this particular case, being bought off by an international concern was not a bad thing, because the concern is Indian). But Yorkshire Tea is still a class unto itself which I love with all the calm fierceness I imagine English people might love their tea.

* * *

I wonder what my various not-Czech online acquaintances would think of the relish with which I devour bread with lard, salt and fresh onion these days, another blast from the past. (It started a few days ago with the need to consume vitamins in this autumnal time and being left with onions in the house, but by now it's just an excuse.) The trick is, it has to be processed lard, not that sticky soapy pressed stuff. And Czech or similar bread; it would not work with white bread or bread that is somewhat too sweet in taste.
Years ago, a visiting Irish vegetarian man was horrified by the relish with which I ate a similar combination in a pub. I'm not sure what horrified him more, the fact that it was blatantly meat-based, or the blatant amount of fat a young slip of a girl like me was eating without concern. With fresh onion.
 
* * *
 
I'm sewing a corset. It's my first properly boned Victorian-ish corset (corded Regency stays don't count in this context); I'm making it for my sister, and, partially due to my lack of experience, it's taking far too long. Also, grommets setting is proving highly unpredictable for me, and tiresome. I've made myself a tiny callus on my right thumb. Thank goodness for thimbles.
I have to keep mom updated on the progress, because she bought the materials as a gift for my sister. It's a roundabout gift and repayment in my family; my sister recently gave me money for a theatre performance as payment for the corset. I went to see one of the Cimrman plays with a cousin, who goes to their plays very, very often and this time she suddenly found herself with a spare ticket.

Anyway, I'm in the handsewing finishing stage, and I'd started (re-)reading Night Watch by Terry Pratchett, and was bemoaning the impossibility of sewing and reading at the same time. Because that would be the perfect thing to keep me going.
The obvious answer is, of course, audiobooks. There does not seem to have been a Czech audiobook of Night Watch published yet, but I found an amateur reading on a file-sharing site. The reader's doing voices and everything. It took me a while to get used to the voices and emphases being different than I imagined, but goodness it's good for an amateur job. Death's voice is run through an echo effect and it's perfect. It's so good they should just recruit the reader and make it official.
He's done Guards! Guards! and Wyrd Sisters as well; I think for a while, my reading vs sewing dilemma is solved neatly.

(I wonder how it works when I do have those books, just not in audio form. Okay, and Guards! Guards! is just barely glued back into book form by now.)

* * *

My father came to my room to share the excitement over the Latvian writing he's found on batteries he bought earlier today:
"'Nemest uguni.' Isn't it beautiful?"
I agreed that it was, and he left to look up the case of "uguns" used in a Latvian grammar.

It is beautiful, in an ordinary beautiful language way.

(It means "Do not throw into a fire." The case seems to be mixed up. Father still doesn't realise just how good with language he is.)
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Well, that sounds like a very pretentious title for what's going to follow.

I've written about this a few times already in various comments on other people's blogs and possibly also stories, but I've wanted to make a post out of it. There is all the talk about representation of women going on - female fanfiction writers trying to tackle it in their stories, myself included (goodness, Twinkletop happened kind of accidentally, but I've very quickly become very fond of her...), and inevitably you come to the point that there just aren't that many female background characters in Narnia. Lewis, for his time and age and life experience, does remarkably well on balance between protagonists, in my opinion, and I suspect that was because he really was doing a conscious effort - because almost every time a slightly less important character pops up, Lewis defaults to male.

The fun part of this I wanted to discuss is the fact that I've only become aware of this when I started reading the books in English. The reason why that's so is that Czech, unlike English, is a gendered language - everything has a gender, masculine, feminine or neuter, so some animals naturally default to female in Czech. And in some cases, the translator - I'm speaking of Renáta Ferstová here, because I've never read the second Czech translation - defaulted to female even where Lewis used a male pronoun in the original.

And sometimes, in Narnia, this means a female Glimfeather and a whole Parliament of female Owls, because "sova" - "owl" is default feminine. (Goodness, was I disappointed when I found out that both Glimfeather and Owl-Wol in Winnie-the-Pooh are male...)

It means that when the Jackdaw in The Magician's Nephew becomes the first joke, the Jackdaw is female.

It means that when the giant in Prince Caspian steps on a Fox in his distress and the Fox bites him, the Fox is female.

In fact, it means that you probably automatically assume some of the Mice are female, because "mouse" is a femininum.

It means that the Squirrels at the end of The Silver Chair default to female.

EDIT: The most striking example that didn't occur to me at first - in The Boy and His Boy, the cat that comforts Shasta and is actually Aslan is default female.

So, for your enjoyment and contemplation, I'm enclosing a non-exhaustive list of default-female species in Czech. Many of these, even where English only seems to have a complicated or Latin genus name (at least to be found online), would have a simple Czech name that a child moderately interested in the natural world (which many Czech children are, or at least were when I was a child...) and visiting zoos would come to recognise.
The list )
So, as you can see, you get a fairly encompassing range of "female Beast" characteristics in this default list, even if it often does tend towards the smaller (most of the larger animals are default male). But you also get the hugeness that is a whale, you get beasts & birds of prey as well as the peaceful dove and sheep, you get swans and crows, you get both the "bad" and "good" snakes, you get the chatty and the quiet, the fast and the bouncy and the flying and crawling and swimming and earth-dwelling and nest-building and tree-climbing, you get day and night. Have fun with it if you're writing Narnian fanfiction. :-)

(Interestingly and as an aside, "child" in Czech is grammatically neuter but "children" is feminine, to the confusion of many a student.)
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Today, in a lesson on war poets (WW1), our teacher said something along the lines of "who knows what we lost in the trenches of WW1, considering what we did get," speaking of some philosophers and writers, pondering how different the world would be if they had died in the war. I immediately thought of Lewis and Tolkien - how diferent the world would be without them! I did not say it aloud, because it would be very much derailing the discussion, but I'm thinking the difference might have, at this point, been even more pronounced than in those cases he named. It would have, most certainly, meant a much more profound difference in my own life.

Just to think of what children's books were like before The Hobbit, and those are people's first introduction to literature. Well, it's not entirely like The Hobbit is the only one (and there's George MacDonald if nothing else), but it's definitely sort of a class for itself. Fantastic literature would, of course, be very different - and considering how many fantasy and sci-fi, or sort of something like that, films we get these days... If all that had emerged from the trenches of WW1 had been modernism, there would certainly be something significant missing from the world as it is today.

I'm definitely biased; someone else might have been hugely impacted by modernism. I wasn't, not that same way. So there's that personal factor. But this is a personal journal; I'm not aspiring to academia here.

So there's no deep thought in this, I'm afraid, but it did make me wonder how much of my imagination as well as my ability to see the beauty of the real world, including the beauty of language, owes to those two. At an early age, just like Lewis points out in a defense of fantasy, their enchanted forests taught me to see some enchatnment in every forest. At an early age, they taught me about the fragile connection between reality and language, without me realising it. Think of all those descriptions Lewis gives, only to end saying it wasn't quite like that, really. "Yrch," said Legolas, falling into his own tongue. It's sort of banal, but it jumped out at me, and remained with me ever since.
("Philosophy was killed by language," the teacher said, in that same abovementioned line of thought, although I sort of missed the connection, because I forgot which philosopher/thinker he was referring to.)
I probably would not be studying English if I had not grown up with their books. I would not have learned to love Englishness without the hobbits and Puddleglum and countless other little instances; and in the very same way, I probably would not have learned to love Czechness so much.

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