2016. október 6., csütörtök

David Kirby: My favourite foreign language

"What's your favorite foreign language?" asks the cabbie,
                                 and when I ask why, he says he knows "butterfly"
            in 241 of them, so I say, "Okay, French!" and he says,
"Papillon!" and I say, "German!" and he says, "Schmetterling!"
                                 and I'm running out of languages I know, so I say,
            "Uh, Wolof!" because I'm reading a short story
where a woman speaks Wolof, and he says something in Wolof,
                                 and the professor-y part of me wants
            to say, You shouldn't call them foreign languages, you know,
because that means there's only one real language, but
                                 I'd be saying that to him in our common
            tongue, so it really wouldn't make sense unless I were chiding
him in, say, Wolof, a language in which he knows only
                                 one word and I none. What's the best country?
            Heaven, probably: as everyone knows, the cooks are French,
the mechanics German, the police English, lovers Italian,
                                 and it's all organized by the Swiss, whereas
            in Hell, the cooks are English, mechanics French, police
Germans, lovers Swiss, and everything is organized by the Italians,
                                 which leaves out the Spanish,
            though perhaps not, for the ancients say a man should speak
French to his friends because of its vivacity,
                                 Italian to his mistress for its sweetness,
            German to his enemies because it is forceful, and Spanish
to his God, for it is the most majestic of languages.
                                 Hola, Señor! Okay if I put my suitcase
            over here? Thank you for having me! Yes, I would
like to hear what they're saying in the other place, like "Dictators
                                 over here" and "Corporate polluters
            in this area" and "Aw, come on—another boring poet?"

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