I’ve been writing about Poland (again) and Polish, noting how the language – for all its intimidating obsession with consonants – has a consistency that is a boon to foreigners who try to speak it. Every letter in a Polish word has a purpose, and it doesn’t change from word to word. You may not be capable of pronouncing a word like ‘upwards’ – wzwyz – but at least you know how it should be pronounced (by people raised without fear of alphabet-ending consonant clots).
English is not so accommodating. Rough and dough. Sometimes the pronunciation of a word changes depending on how it’s used in a sentence. This morning on the radio I heard a man – clearly not a native English speaker – use ‘attribute’ as a noun (with the accent on the first syllable) when it was obvious from the sentence that he wanted to use it – that he was using it, despite its refusal to comply – as a verb (with the accent on the second). Unless you consult a dictionary, there is no way to know that the word has different pronunciations for its different identities. You have to live amongst people who say ‘attribute’ and ‘attribute’ a lot. My heart goes out to learners of English.
Just because I can now get out of bed doesn't mean that bed doesn't lure me back. Yesterday I returned after lunch (reheated fish chowder, leftover beef empanada) and read The Spectator while watching Bayern Munich trounce Leipzig. Among the articles was one by Simon Kuper, a columnist for the Financial Times, who wrote that the troubling times have made him more interested than ever in sports. "It's a philistine version," he wrote, "of what some Germans of the Nazi era called 'inner migration': you close the curtains against the horrors outside and lie on the sofa listening to Brahms."
"I am well thanks for your concern. I was supposed to be one station before the station where the bomb exploded but I was late! It is the end of an era for us as it never had happened before. End of the mother state era but hey it is time to be courageous and get used to it.
"Thinking about the people who live this every day ... So far no one I know is in danger ... But that's the beauty if the human being, we all care and have empathy for each other..."