Friday, January 19, 2018


Something somebody said elsewhere got me rereading about Old Church Slavonic, the Glagolithic alphabet, and political developments in Eastern Europe, adjacent to the Greek and Roman world, during the Middle-Ages.
Which is the kind of stuff I like to do in the morning on a day off, while the apartment is quiet, and I'm enjoying my first or second pipe of the day.

On working days, the first or second smoke of the day does not take place until I'm in Marin. And even then waits till an opportune time. The chances of reading about Old Church Slavonic or any other remarkable subject is limited there, but I am lucky that smoking indoors is possible.
There are no tobacco-hating poofballs to trigger.
Nor anti-everything Vegans.

Unfortunately, discussing subjects of any interest (to me) is likely to lead either to great blithering bafflement on the part of others ("good lord, what is he on about now?"), OR, but rarely, a flash of voluble insights, like a tidal flood of conversation, that interrupts work and drives others up the wall.

I am sorry, I cannot talk about sports, except to sneer.
And I do not wish to discuss politics.
Not with morons.

Any discussion of antique languages must, inevitably, at some point bring up Bernhard Karlgren, if only as an echo in the mind. There is almost no one I know in the real world who might find this interesting, though several internet friends -- one of whom used to be "real world" until he moved to Boston to be one with beans and cod -- could join the conversation.
They all have their own linguistic things going on.
Several of them also smoke pipes.
Think Venn Diagram.

Dutch, Yiddish, Judeo-Netherlandish, Gaelic, Slavic, Semitische Sprachen, Graekish, Romance languages, Sanskritic oddments, Sinitic tongues, and Maleo-Polynesian. More Talmud, not so much Tolkien.
Probably not a churchwarden in the bunch.
No elves.

One person, not a friend, is a Dutch-able English-writing Jewish Tibetanist language scholar who knows Chinese. I have not "friended" him, because though our interaction terminated on a pleasant note, he is a very private man, and extremely easily irritated by gooberism.

One other is simply an angry Chinese Jew.
No, not FeeBee friended either.

Neither of those two gentlemen will likely ever see this essay. But the able Talmudist in Switzerland, the healthcare professional in Florida, and the tax expert in Boston might. Coincidentally, they also smoke pipes.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


Anonymous said...

I miss our long, rambling conversations on esoterica while possibly smoking a pipe tobacco of that very name in a bar in San Francisco.

My latest linguistic day trip is Elfdalian (Övdalską in that language or Älvdalska to the Swedes.) No matter what Stockholm says, it is not merely a rustic dialect of Swedish but a separate language, most likely a direct descendant of West Old Norse.

So how did they migrate to Sweden? Why do they still employ medieval nasalised vowels? Most amazing of all, they persisted in using a runic writing system until the early 20th century...

After reading your comments on the new Stonehenge, I popped a tin and am in seventh heaven. Ever had the original? I am jealously hoarding a tin of that.

The back of the hill said...

No, I never had the original Stonehenge, as that was no longer around when I finally discovered Greg Pease's tobacco.
A pity.

But, as you know, life is not long enough to smoke what I have succeeded in stockpiling, so there is no point in crying over milk that I did not get a chance to spill.

Search This Blog


Objectively, the "good old days" were not very long ago. And they weren't that good. Obama got elected in 2008. What was parti...