Thursday, May 31, 2007

I want to be a Sufi

This is a good story.

Read it. Savor it. I know I did. I love little nuances in language. I also love old-world comedy. Reminds me of a story I heard while sitting in on the application interview of a guy for a position in Linguistics. He was telling about his thesis, which was a translation of some Slovakian/Russian/Arabic text into English. It was terribly interesting because the text actually made fun of a lot of translations methods for many things, and in this anecdote it's about this Frenchman's way of translating hieroglyphics. Anyways, here's the story, as far as I can remember. Parenthesis are my comments.

Baron van Lichtenstein (not his real name) was traveling through southern Russia on an expedition. He was a world famous traveler and intellectual. With him came his servant, and together they traversed the Indo-Asiatic plains. One day, while searching for a rare object (not the grail, but something along those lines), the Baron fell into a cave. Inside this cave were thousands of curious markings and the covered everything- from the floor to the ceiling. After the initial shock, the Baron realized: these were hieroglyphs!
"(Servant's name) do you realize what we've uncovered? No one had ever supposed Egyptian influence to pass this far east!" And the Baron went on to translate using the Frenchman's method (I forgot the French guys name. I really need to take notes.)
"Baron, this is an excellent work! You have deciphered the tales of a lost civilization! An entire society of tales beyond that which we have known!"
"Surely this will cement my place in history" said the Baron.
As the Baron and his servant were talking, a local nomad stumbled into the conversation. "Baron! What are you doing here?"
"Why can't you see good man, I have discovered the literature of a lost civilization? These hieroglyphs are remarkable!"
"But Baron, those are not hieroglyphs. Those are the natural markings that appear in every cave around here."

Hahahaha, for some reason I really do find stuff like this funny. I just think it would be even more funny if the guy had translated this story wrong. But he was rather impressive. I hope he gets the job.

I cleaned out the gutters today. It's getting hot in Houston. I have a feeling all this rain and clouds we've had is a thing of the past. Ah well, such is life.

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