Приложение 2 Big Dictionary
(from “Moscow News” № 26, July 10 – 16 2002, p.10)
Today, after 1,500 years of promiscuous acquisitiveness, the vocabulary of English is vast. The Oxford English Dictionary lists more than 600,000 words; German has fewer than one third that number, French fewer than one sixth. What makes English mammoth and unique is its great sea of synonyms, words with roughly the same meaning but different connotations, different levels of formality and different effects on the ear. Anglo-Saxon words are blunt, Latin words learned, French words musical. English speakers can calibrate the tone and meter of their prose with great precision. They may end (Anglo-Saxon), finish (French) or conclude (Latin) their remarks. A girl can be fair (Anglo-Saxon), beautiful (French) or attractive (Latin). A bully may evoke fear (Anglo-Saxon), terror (French) or trepidation (Latin).
Its depth and precision have helped make English the foremost language of science, diplomacy and international business — and the medium of T-shirts from Tijuana to Timbuktu. It is the native tongue of 350 million people and a second language for 350 million more. Half the books being published in the world are in English: so is 80 percent of the world’s computer text. While Americans debate bilingualism, foreigners learn English. Its popularity is fed by U.S. wealth and power, to be sure. But Richard Lederer, author of The Miracle of Language and other books on the peculiarities of English, believes the language s “internationality” has innate appeal. Not only are English’s grammar and syntax relatively simple, the language’s sound system is flexible and “user friendly” — foreign words tend to be pronounced the same as in their original tongue. “We have the most cheerfully democratic and hospitable language that ever existed,” Lederer says. “Other people recognize their language in ours.”
A 'glorious mongrel'
(from “Moscow News” № 26, July 10 – 22, 2002, p.10)
The language that some Americans want to defend against foreign invasions is itself a multicultural smorgasbord of borrowed words. Back in 1780, John Adams urged the creation of an American academy with a lofty mission — to keep the English language pure. The Continental Congress, preoccupied with other challenges (such as winning independence from Britain), let the proposal die. And wisely so. It would have been like giving a courtesan a chastity belt for her birthday. “The English language,” as Carl Sandburg once observed, “hasn’t got where it is by being pure.” Not from the get-go. The language that many now seek to shore up against the babel of America’s multicultural masses is a smorgasbord (Swedish) of words borrowed from foreign tongues. Three out of four words in the dictionary, in fact, are foreign born. Sometimes anglicized, sometimes not, many loan words are so familiar that most English speakers are aware of their exotic origins only vaguely if at all. We can borrow sugar from a neighbor only because English borrowed the word from Sanskrit centuries ago. Ask your pal (Romany) to go to the opera (Italian), and he may prefer instead to go hunting in the boondocks (Tagalog), to play polo (Tibetan) or to visit the zoo (Greek) to test his skill (Danish) at milking a camel (Hebrew), after which he may need a shampoo (Hindi). Whether silly or scholarly, many sentences have equally rich lineages, illustrating Dorothy Thompson’s aphorism (Greek) that English is a “glorious and imperial mongrel” (mongrel, fittingly, being pure English). English itself is one of history’s most energetic immigrants. Three northern European tribes, the angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, got the enterprise started by invading Britain around A.D. 449. The Vikings arrived from Scandinavia in A.D. 793 to mix it up, battle-ax against battle-ax, adverb against adverb. The Norse and Anglo-Saxon tongues melded, enriching the word hoard. Example: You reared a child (Anglo-Saxon) or raised a child (Norse). As every school-child used to know, the Norman French conquered England in 1066. The language of the Saxon peasantry then conquered the Norman aristocracy. The result was a tongue that kept its Germanic structure but took in a huge new vocabulary of French words and through it Latin and Greek terms. Traders, warriors, scholars, pirates and explorers all did their part to advance English’s cosmopolitan destiny. The language was happily spiced with words from 50 languages even before the opening of the New World offered fresh avenues. Americans quickly became known for their own coinages, the many “Americanisms” they invented — words like groundhog lightning rod, belittle (minted by Thomas Jefferson), seaboard — new words for a new land. But American English also adopted American Indian terms, (mostly place names) and welcomed useful words brought across the water by immigrants. The Dutch supplied pit (as found in fruit) and boss (as found in the front office), sleigh, snoop and spook. Spanish supplied filibuster and bonanza. Yiddish enabled Americans to kibitz schmucks who sold schlock or made schmaltz.
Language More Important Than God
(By Alexander Ageyev, Vremya MN, № 26, July 5-11, 2002)
Zakharov Publishers has made history by issuing "The Big Book of Brodsky Interviews" compiled by Valentina Polukhina. The tome numbers nearly 700 pages, all of them filled with the great poet's views on himself, poetry, his contemporaries, his times, God, and language. A lot of the pieces have not been published before, so the reader can expect an intellectual feast.
But I would not advise reading this book right through, page by page. Brodsky's interviewers ask the same questions over and over, and he is compelled to repeat himself accordingly, since his views did not alter significantly over the years. On the other hand, making a mental note of the repetitions, one could construct a scale of interconnected values, which Brodsky espoused both in life and work.
Uppermost in this set of values is of course language: To Brodsky, language is not a tool, nor a means of expressing certain content. It is the human being, particularly the poet, that is the tool of language. "Language is an independent magnitude, an independent phenomenon that lives and develops, in a way, like Nature herself. And eventually it reaches maturity. While a poet or prose-writer merely chances to be there to pick up the fruits falling on the ground and arrange them in a certain order. Indeed, what is poetry? Poetry is essentially a higher form of linguistic activity. If there is anything that distinguishes us from dumb beasts, it must be our ability to articulate, to use language. It follows from this that poetry is really not an area of literature, nor a form of art, entertainment or leisure, but the ultimate goal of humanity as a biological species. People who engage in poetry are the most biologically perfect specimens of the human race... Language is more important than God, more important than Nature, more important than anything else..."
In Brodsky's universe, this notion explains virtually everything, even his relationship with the authorities. Brodsky never saw himself as a dissident in the popular sense of me word; it was just that they talked different languages, the poet and the powers than be. "If a poet is making progress, sooner of later there will come a point when the powers that be will find offensive not the content of his poetry, but its idiom and style... Language tends to clash with the system and the language idiom used by that system. That is say, the Russian language cannot abide the language used by the Establishment."
This suggests, among other things, that Brodsky was a fairly strict rationalist not given to sentiment in his relations with humanity and the world, and that he did not rely on God. Hence, too, Brodksy's classic individualism, now thoroughly uncool. He loves to repeat that he and the friends of his youth were more American than present-day Americans; the notion of individualism, the individual's personal self-standing, which, as he imagined in his younger years, had become reality on American, soil, was always a determining idea with him.
To live with this set of values, a person needs a good deal of courage, not just to face everyday situations (confirmed individualists are resented everywhere, in America as much as in Russia), but also to bring ideas to a logical conclusion without shying away from the results that may be highly distressing m terms of the outlook for humanity and the individual. This courage Brodsky possessed in full measure and painstakingly tried to graft onto Russian poetry. He said a truly remarkable thing about the latter in one of his last interviews: "The overabundance of feminine and dactylic inflectional endings is the chief feature of Russian poetry in the 20 century, of its Soviet period. Now what is behind this? First and foremost, not a rational approach to the material or actual events, but a kind of wailing or emotional response. That is self-lamentation. Or put more crudely, whining, if you like." Whining and self-lamentation are definitely something Brodsky's poetry has none of. There is not a trace of posturing or anger in his judgement of himself and his contemporary colleagues (quite a few of whom are discussed in the book on numerous occasions, and I do not envy Yevtushenko, for instance, or Voznesensky). Because Brodsky judges from the vantage point of language, which (remember?) is "more important than God..."