fet@MARSHALL.EDU> wrote:

There is also strangely PF-relevant (and Zemblan-sounding) Russian tongtwister: "Karl u Klary ukral korally" (Karl stole Klara's corals)...crown jewels?
Victor Fet

Bravo! Slava Victor (vocative)! (pronounced Wiktor and wokatiwe by Kikero?)

I offer in return:
It's apparently easy to forget that language is essentially a spoken tongue-twisting thingy - only VERY recently have diverse, approximate and ARBITRARY squiggles been invented to map sounds to symbols. NOTE WELL (i) we know sound systems change* -- before our very ears, in fact; (ii) the vast majority of extant languages are still 'pre-literate' -- if they are transcribed, phonologists prefer IPA to more accurately capture the physical sounds but at the cost of hiding the many morphological/semantic 'spelling' clues with which we 'literates' (and you 'semi- literates'!) are molly-coddled &/or tortured** (ii) we have no audio recordings prior to Edison. Only plausible guesses from the surviving scribbles before (vain) attempts at 'orthographical standardization' added more confusion.

** DN's puzzlement over 'k' vs 'ch' highlights the problem. There are similar 'spelling schisms' in Prouvencal and Cornish - they emerge when 'minority' or 'dormant' languages revive from a pre-literate state. Frederi Mistral (in spite of his Nobel Prize) is still castigated for 'getting it all wrong!'

To add to the suggestions on what/how to teach VN: (i) unless the students have had previous exposure: some mandatory preambles on the Nature & Evolution of Language. Something simple such as McWhorter's The Power of Babel or maybe Pinker's The Language Instinct. (ii) DON'T start with the atypical and INAPPROPRIATE Pale Fire! If the kids truly DIG PF, it could sour their views on Academic Literary Criticism for life! Ah! A blessing in disguise? Drive the buggers to some useful HARDer sciences and an HONEST JOB?

For some fresh freads:

I found Paul Horgan's 'Approach to Writing' hiding (dwarfed) next to Ada and Lolita on my daughter-in-law's bookshelf (her only VN titles, alas - but I've started to sermonize). A new name for moi although a Harper, Campion, and Pulitzer Prize winner blurbed as "Paul Horgan [1903-1995] is one of the most distinguished of contemporary American authors, both as a novelist and as a historian." &n bsp;A rare [!] resort to Google revealed that Horgan appeared with VN in an anthology of 'Best American Short Stories' (I forget the year). Other overlaps: Horgan was first published in Paris in 1926 in "the Russian refugist [sic] newspaper The Link - Zveno..."
That was a short story called 'The Baptists' translated into Russian by Anon!
Horgan's 'Approach to Writing' contains a section of numbered aphorisms, many of which have distinct Nabokovian resonances (although lacking the master's killer-punch). Number 336 will appeal to Andrew Brown?

"In general, the artist is a more trustworthy critic of literature than the most intellectualistic* analyst or annotator whose culture is bounded by the prevailing cults for social, historical, or psychological** theories. Theories are fugitive. The intuitive response of the artist is enduring, for it is of the very nature of the thing it discusses."

** Elsewhere (Number 143) Horgan knocks the Freudian postulates as confusing: " ... none more than his attempts to identify recognizable reality through dreams. This has too often resulted in efforts to create systematic interpretations of essentially inconsistent subject matter. If there should be clinical usefulness in this process, it has nothing to contribute to an artist's realization of his aesthetic impulse." He concludes rhetorically with signs of more sympathy for Herr Doktor than I've encountered with VN:
"Was Freud himself more of an artist than a therapist? Were his insights more like those of poetry than of science?"
Stan Kelly-Bootle

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