An English In Kentucky


















Sunday May 25th 2014  Tim Candler


   Lizards of two kinds. The one has a bright blue tail, a turquoise I guess, a sort of Caribbean shallow sea on white sand kind of blue, it has a glitter to it as though it contains a sparkle.  And I go on a little about the color of this Lizard's tail as a consequence of my support of Language Relativism against the objections to it. Granted whoever it was insisted the Hopi Indian people had a different idea of time entirely as a result of their language, was probably a little off track, but the argument from my corner will always be "how do you translate Dylan Thomas into French?"  Which will then lead me to suggest, that you can sit around in libraries, surround yourself with the history of South Wales, look stuff up on the internet, and you can try. Then you might ask the question, "how do you translate the 'cat sat on the mat' into French?" And the answer is by learning French.  But it's not easy to think of language as an expression of  life unless you've decided living things are kind of like machines and because life is kind of like a machine there's no difference between a French speaking  machine and say a Telugu speaking Machine. The possibility that language is purring and it's flattery and it's socializing and it's patriotism and it's peer pressure and it's fashion and it's economics and it's the description of 'truth' and it's history seems to be a complexity, too many fail to appreciate without entering the world of the racist, and the stickiness associated with a politics of race that suggests we living things are our genes, and some better than other. Which is why the glamour tailed Lizards that live on the porch are Foucault Lizards and all life is social.


    The other kind of Lizards that live on the porch are slower moving, they're kind of browns and darker browns, with Crocodile bellies and an eye that challenges a person to interrupt their routine of contemplating the quality of the sun. They're more like a Coyote than a domestic dog, because the other kind of lizard that lives on the porch has a sense of Porch Ownership, a sort of "this spot is mine" kind of attitude, before conceding to the historical relationship between our respective species that suggests that of the two of us, I am the more dangerous.  Of course the other kind of Lizard that lives on the Porch, when he does decide to retreat, will do so with oaths and grumbling, which is something the Foucault Lizard doesn't understand because the Foucault Lizard doesn't consider retreat an act of craven cowardice, rather the Foucault Lizard reckons it no more than common sense.  Which is why  the other kind of Lizard that lives on the porch are Financial Times Lizards. And too I'm prepared to argue that the primary distinction between the Foucault Lizard and the Financial Times Lizard has as much to do with language as it has to do with the possibility that both the Financial Times Lizard and the Foucault Lizard have their cache of eggs stored nearby and have different strategies to protect their future generations. Go ahead, call it instinct if you wish to, but trust me, you can't translate Dylan Thomas into 2014, hard enough to translate Dylan Thomas if you live outside Swansea, so you certainly can't translate Dylan Thomas into French. The fact that you might want to is kind of a sad rejection of Language Relativism. A kind of fear I guess.


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