arts & ego & language

You may have noticed that arts & ego has become mildly polylingual.

la défense

I decided to take the site in that direction, partially, at least, for my new polylingual country. Taking Luxembourg nationality wasn’t my intention when I moved here; instead, it was forced on me by the collective insanity in blighty. Since, however, I am now a Luxembourger, I’m reflecting the local’s fascinating attitude to language. Most people here speak at least four of them, so, now, here does too.

But only in bits. The site does not have everything translated, apart from some easy stuff. Instead, different posts will appear in one languages, and only that language. I will rarely translate. That is, interestingly, how this country works, except The Grand Duchy doesn’t have quite such an exceptionally obvious bias to one language.

When I first built myself a website, I was a monolingual English speaker, living in the UK. Unsurprisingly, the early arts & ego, and its predecessors, were monolingual too.

A few years later, I left the UK: I’d got fed up with its insular … well, I’ve mentioned that a few times in other blog entries. Anyway, a consequence of moving to other countries with other language and other cultures is that I started to pick up some of these other languages. Text, here and there, usually snippets in poems, occasionally more, appeared in those languages. All the same, the website remained dominated by English.

Then, eventually, I settled in Luxembourg. Now, my settling here was mostly determined by events: my partner wanted to stick in one place, and some nice Americans waved a chequebook at me. It was the later British nervous breakdown that made me stay put: I needed a sane country’s nationality to avoid losing freedoms and rights.

I stayed put in a country with four public languages, where it’s quite normal to presume that most everyone speaks them all, so there’s no need to translate. That has started to shape the current arts & ego.

la défense

Today, although this site remains predominantly English, I sometimes post in French, and even occasionally German, Luxembourgish and Dutch.

I want people who can only read some of the languages to be able to go to their language of choice. That’s why front has a somewhat glaring list of alternatives.

As I write, the site has seven languages, five of which I speak, at one level or another. I’m not going to fib: my Dutch and German are awful, but I can at least read and write in them, to some extent. I can go on and on in French and English, and often do. My Luxembourgish lies somewhere in between those two groups.

Worse, this is my personal site, so it has my personal errors in all those languages. I don’t ask other people — native speakers — to correct my abuse of their languages: I don’t want to make yet more enemies. In consequence, although I can communicate in the languages, I make horrible mistakes, I miss blatant second meanings, and so on. All the nasties appear here, and stomp on the sensibilities of good speakers of my second languages.

The final two languages are perhaps more interesting. I speak no Russian, but I have Russian here. Decades ago, a couple of my poems were unexpectedly translated for me by a Russian native. I cannot resist posting them!

Finally, I have posted a few bits and pieces, not posts, in marain, Iain M Banks’ creation for his Culture novels. That’s really just decoration; I adore those novels, and regret the guy died so young. I want to express something of my sadness at his loss and my delight at his life, so marain.

Thus arts & ego is polylingual, but dubiously so.