Tuesday 17 August 2010


Telling you about my adventures with the on-line reporting which took several years off my life last week, I had an insight which gave me some degree of comfort. I am sure that most of you kind readers are fluent in their own and, no doubt, at least one other language. I, myself, see myself as a fluent French speaker with a smidgen of Italian, Spanish, Portugese and even Welsh. Yes, yes, I am aware of the lack of modesty, but I tell you the simple truth. Of course, we may have to define 'smidgen' in order to get the full flavour of my capacity. I suggest you see it in terms of what we used to call, during the second world war, "bread and scrape". For those of you nearer 40 than 75, this was a slice of bread over which one's Mother - or one's self if old enough - had passed a knife on which was a portion of the two ounce per week butter ration we were allowed. This application left more of a glisten than a rich yellow deposit and, as you will have realised, the resulting tartine, ('tartine': french, slice of bread and butter ; viz Bell's Concise French Dictionary) came, for that reason, to be called "bread and scrape". Anyway, I have a bread and scrape of Spanish, Italian, Portugese and Welsh and a rich smorgasbord of French.

I'll tell you where this is leading. How many of us can say we are as totally fluent in a language other than our native one as we are in that? I guess most of us are like me: definitely good enough where I have any fluency at all, but, even so, several degrees from absolute equality with the Mother tongue.( The Guru has a Mother tongue and a Father tongue. He is almost equally fluent in both, but, since he no longer lives in his Fatherland, may not be fully au fait, for instance, with current idiom). My revelation concerned IT. I understood that I am capable only of bread and scrape dealings with the language of the web, the internet and everything else in the purlieu of the Wizard of Cyberspace. I suspect that even the Guru can manage only up to a smorgasbord of IT though, to me, it seems as if it is his native tongue. Only the Wizard and those who hack in to American Intelligence are 100% fluent. Perhaps, if I look at it as a foreign language, available if I would only take the time and trouble necessary to master - mistress ? - it, I could and would gain sandwich proficiency, if not smorgasbord. The one thing my present language status does demonstrate is that, other than Welsh, the others are Roman tongues and lean on my having done Latin to A level.( Don't bother with the Maths: it was 60 years ago). I very much enjoy language and its means of communication. This can sometimes be a minefield. There was an occasion when I met a famous Welsh bass-baritone in an Airport lounge. I addressed him with a 'Good Afternoon' in Welsh and was rewarded with a stream of that lovely language of which I could not make out one word. Embarrassing?: it still haunts my nightmares.
I realise I am doing some verbal showing off in this blog, but I am really happy finding the 'mot juste' and varying the ways in which I express myself. Good Heavens! that must mean I have come some way in my effort to achieve smorgasbord in the English language, anyway. I am also doing not too badly in Cat and my cat is not doing too badly in Human. She has just alerted me to the need for a clean litter tray. See you soon. Nos da.

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