Monday, 18 February 2013

The Cretin Club

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Rutland Weekend Television (a spin-off from Monty Python's Flying Circus) had a sketch about a man who scores nought in an IQ test, but, because he managed to write his name at the top of the paper, the examiner (Eric Idle) gives him two points and membership of the Cretin Club, entitling him to Cretin Club cufflinks, a club tie and an 'I Am A Cretin' t-shirt. Eric Idle had a Romanian sense of humour.

In Romania the words cretin and moron are bandied around a lot as is  'handicapat' 'handicapped'. Snobbery tends to be intellectual snobbery. People who did not go to university are regarded almost as helots. Pretty girls are suspected of being stupid - Cozmin Gusa told me women were not taken seriously here unless they were plain. The sexy former Tourism Minister Elena Udrea encouraged Romanian scepticism about attractive blondes with successful careers by not knowing Norway was a monarchy and thinking it was in the E.U. I knew a pretty girl (a blonde but not a dumb one) who told me she rejected the advances of a fabulously rich tycoon/politician, not because he was married, or twenty years older than she was, or even because he was bald, but because he didn’t have a degree.  It was painful to watch gypsy politician Marian Vanghelie being asked to conjugate the verb to be on a television show and failing. How grammatically one speaks Romanian (an inflected language) is as important as accent and vocabulary are, or used to be, in England. Though my sister, who lives there, says it's about money there now.

Romanian grammar has rules of great complexity. At least grammarians made rules of great complexity because the language has almost as many exceptions as rules. Michel de Laufenbourg once said to me he loved the English language because it had the same qualities as the English themselves - it is straightforward and practical. What qualities does the Romanian language have, I asked him. He had not thought about this before but replied: it is illogical, needlessly complicated, hard to understand and follows few clear rules.  Rather like, he thought, life in Romania. 

Romanian, like all languages where nouns and adjectives have genders, does have the virtue of making the difference between masculine and feminine something elemental. It is no coincidence that nouns in English do not have genders and Anglo-Saxon countries gave the world feminism. The Anglo-Saxons are sexless in more than one sense. In Romania the utter difference between masculine and feminine is as obvious as the fact that the sun sets each night and rises each morning. In so many ways Romania is so much wiser than the UK and the USA.

9 comments:

  1. Yes but the English language is older than Feminism as we know it.You see Femenism is relatively so new I don't even know how to spell it. No one had any difficulty distinguishing one from the other. So I don't think the language was deficient nor the women. Romance Languages blah blah blah. English is the most beautiful language or anyway once was.You being a great reader and writer know this.

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  2. Distinguishing male from female;did I make that clear? le la ...To be or not ? We all know that that is the question.

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  3. Let's see: Industrial Revolution began in Britain so it's further along the path to endstage liberalism, despite the French philosophes, liberalism early became more entrenched in England than anywhere else, US was established as a liberal republic despite the glaring exception of slavery.

    When US was established the economy of the South was already based on slavery-so not so easy to eradicate. But the highly moralistic, hypocritically egalitarian Puritans were in control in New England and they eventually conquered, to be largely displaced by the Jews in the late 20th Century. Now in the US liberal and left are virtually indistinguishable and together they are in complete control of the Discourse. In the wake of the sixties Cultural Revolution we see a new mania for equality and later for PC, Multicult, Diversity, a new radical egalitarian campaign on sexism, equality certain sexual minorities. All this eventually exported to rest of the Anglophere. Meanwhile, economic equality regresses to
    Gilded Age levels and neoliberal econ policies destroy the white working classes of both the US and UK.

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  4. Michel de Laufenbourg thinks the English are straightforward ad practical. Really? Really? He's got to be kidding, especially these days.

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  5. fnn in his very condensed history here, is pretty on the mark.

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  6. P.V.E. respond if you can.Honestly don't you think that English is not wanting,and is the most beautiful or quite beautiful?

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  7. "the language has almost as many exceptions as rules"

    not really, or at least did not have that many exceptions until about 1991 when the Academy started messing up with the rules

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  8. A contemptably transphobic post.... ;)

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  9. A friend now living in France once noted how odd it is that the French, call something so essentially feminine as the vagina, "LE Vagin."

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