NABOKV-L post 0024864, Thu, 5 Dec 2013 16:49:15 -0800

Re: Sighting & Quiz
Dear Jansy,

Sapo or Sapho? Actually Frogs are the French which I usually capitalize, but am sometimes too lazy. 

But you have not answered my two frogs (uncapitalized questions) - 

1) How do you understand "dead the mandible, alive the song" (I quote from memory so may be off)

and 2) What has it to do with the Englishman in Nice whose French isn't up to "I am feeding the seagulls"?

oh, and let me add a 3) Doesn't that young woman encountered by King Charlie during his escape from Zembla have breasts resembling your favorite dessert?


From: Jansy Mello <jansy.nabokv-L@AETERN.US>
Sent: Saturday, November 30, 2013 6:06 AM
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] Sighting & Quiz

C. Kunin I: Thanks to A. Bouazza
and to Jansy Mello who both win prizes. Now what shall it be? [   ]
Dali and Rockwell twins - who'd a thunk it? VN!
C.Kunin II: Thanks for the "nutritive" reference. What should the linguist have
said? how does one say "to feed the cat" in french?  je donne a manger a
mon chat.[   ] I love the fact that in German there are separate verbs
for "to eat" for humans (essen) and for animals (fressen). By the way, se
nourrir means to eat. I had to look it up. Despite what Frogs think, French is
no more rational than English. [  ] But the reference to Lafontaine - how
do you understand it. Clearly Shade refers to "la fourmi et la cigale" the
latter of which appears elsewhere in the poem. In Lafontaine (and Aesop) the
aunt - woops, I mean ant - i.e. "the mandible" lives while the singer, the
grasshopper, is left to beg or die. So VN reverses the order, but what has that
to do with the nice Englishman?
Mary Efremov I: "nobody
should forget VN studied art, immersed in it, parents were knowledgable
collectors.... so there is a deep connection even w/o this reference from
Mary Efremov II: " of course there are rules for
translation, languages differ, ukrainian an italian are easy from one to
another, ineffable problems with rich pigmented russian into english, and vice
versa and yet english is rich, voluble, multi-textured and liquid but what
challenges.....all i ever managed was dull chemical prose from russian to
Jansy Mello:  Abdel's precise
quick answer informs where the quote ( from Pnin) is to be found. Let
him alone get the laurels and prize. In relation to "essen & fressen",
"manger & nourrir" I've nothing to say because I lack the
necessary abilities with the German or the French (why do you and
Mary Efremov write "English" or "French" with no capital
One of my favorite dishes desserts pops up, in a totally uncalled for manner, when I follow John Shade's
lines about a "white mountain" since I cannot avoid
associating it to the Swiss "Mont Blanc" (nor to the white cappedfountain-pen...or should I say mountain-pen? Did VN think about that
possible hidden association qua "mountain/fountain"?)
It seemed to be related to active "manger" (not to
passive "nourris") but, curiously enough, not only its etymology is
uncertain, but the term's variations in different languages spreads out in
various directions.  Here I mean what you call "Blancmange"*  In
Portuguese and in Spanish the sound for "mange" became "manjar" (any kind
of "dainty dish" or "delicacy"). 
The strands of multilingual associations are, in some
cases, unavoidable and lead to terrible misunderstandings. When I read VN's
appraisal of a Springfield guide [ "Nabokov included Kneale in a list of “aberations of homo saps and homo sapiens” that he collected
on his lecture tour through the U.S. that fall."] I surmised he was refering to
what you often mention: "a frog" ("sapo"). Then I decided to check it
with the google and here comes my favourite entry - since it's closer to
VN's spirit: " 'Homo Saps' by Eric Frank Russell is a classically simple short story of
science fiction. As with anything so short, I can't say much without giving away
the plot. Camels on Mars, a trio of men conducting a camel caravan across
Martian desert: a memorable glimpse through the sardonic prism of Russell's

However, Carolyn, why encourage us to do the readings
for you? The La Fontaine (or Lafontaine) story has been amply discussed at the
VN-L, and elsewhere. Why bring it up again if you add no special information
related to it? 
The "nice Englishman" may
have mistaken "seagulls" and "cigales" but his sentence is surprisingly
(!) correct ("Je nourris...")
* The "whitedish" (from the original Old French term
blanc mangier) was an upper-class dish common to most of Europe during the
Middle Ages and early modern period. It occurs in countless variations from
recipe collections from all over Europe and is mentioned in the prologue to
Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and in an early 15th-century cookbook
written by the chefs of Richard II.
English: blancmanger, blankmanger, blank
maunger, blomanger, blamang
Catalan: menjar blanch, menjar blanc, menjablanc
Portuguese: manjar branco
Italian: mangiare bianco, blanmangieri,
Spanish: manjar blanco
Dutch/Flemish: blanc mengier
German: blamensir
Latin: albus cibus, esus albus
Though it is fairly
certain that the etymology is indeed "white dish", medieval sources are not
always consistent as to the actual colour of the dish. Food scholar Terence
Scully has proposed the alternative etymology of bland mangier, "bland dish",
reflecting its often mild and "dainty" (in this context meaning refined and
aristocratic) taste and popularity as a sick

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