Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Farsi of the day

Today, my inner language fan and my inner Star Wars fan connected, and it was a beautiful thing. I'm still absolutely dancing with delight over here.

It all started when I was reading Zahn's Heir to the Empire over lunch yesterday. I was thinking about Khabarakh and the Noghri, and it dawned on me that the Noghri language was a lot like Farsi--a lot like Farsi. It used all the same sounds, and as far as I could tell, no other sounds. One could comfortably write it out with Farsi characters.

Come to find out in this interview, Noghri really does come from the Farsi "noghre," which is "silver." According to various sources, including the online dictionary, the lethal legendary bird we call a "roc" is, in Farsi, a "rukh." Rukh is Grand Admiral Thrawn's bodyguard who finally kills him. And as for Khabarakh, the first Noghri that Princess Leia meets, "Khabar" is "news." I haven't been able to confirm that Zahn did any of these on purpose (except for "Noghri" itself), but it strikes me as very plausible. :-D

One discrepancy, or at least place Zahn didn't follow Farsi exactly, is in the Noghri word "Matrakh," which is "matriarch." Farsi has "mother" as "mader." I can't remember any other Noghri vocab to track down, since I'm still in Heir to the Empire and haven't read the other two for several years, but still--this is cool enough to go on with.

Addendum: In Zahn's Spinneret, written in 1987, six years after Heir to the Empire, there's a place where the linguist tentatively identifies someone else's accent as from a dialect of Farsi.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Farsi of the day

Today's Farsi is "baksheesh." It means--oh, tip, or alms, or "money, please." It's what the peasants beg archaeologists and tourists for in every murder mystery and archaeological tale, true and fictional.
I chose it for today's word because I had a splendid bit of paper, just the right size for labeling something, and was flipping through the dictionary for an interesting word of some sort. "Baksheesh" caught my eye--I glanced with wild surmise over at a quarter which a patient had randomly given me last week, which was obstructing my phone display--I put them together. Voila!

I mean, a Montana quarter is decently cool, but it's altogether cooler when you can call it baksheesh and mean it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Yesterday Daddy and I got to do something we've been meaning to do for ages--go test drive cars. It's time for me to buy one. Now, anything new is beyond my price range, but still, we've got to have something to compare the handling of any potentially buyable car to, right?

So yesterday after undecorating the church from Missions Conference, and after a coffee-and-cinnamon-roll run to Ruby K's with the sister that culminated in a crossword puzzle and me learning Sudoku, Dad and I hopped in the truck and went to the Ford dealer in Espanola.

The Ford dealer in Espanola was closed, no clue why. It was a deceptively bright and sunny day with a cold wind. Let me assure you, that wind was cold and windy. So we wandered about the lot, looking over price tags and makes, until we couldn't take it any more and took refuge in the truck.

Then we went down the street to the GM dealer. It was open, and moreover there was an excellent salesman to help us. He drove us around the lot in a new bug (yes!), which helped with the cold wind, and then let us test-drive a Cobalt. I liked it, even if it was white. The steering wheel was one of those ultra-adjustable telescoping up-and-down types, and unfortunately when I got in it was adjusted so I couldn't actually see the speedometer, but these things happen. So we retrieved a brochure about Cobalts and went over to the Lotaburger to fortify ourselves with cokes and fries.

Having more or less exhausted Espanola, we went on to Santa Fe and stopped at the Mazda place. We got out and were promptly greeting by a small gentleman with a raspy voice and a thick accent. He found out what we wanted, and left us out in the cold wind while he got the key to our chosen Mazda 3. He came back, eventually, and--the car wouldn't start. He went back inside for a different key. It was cold. And windy. This one started. It wasn't red either, but at least it started. So the salesman hopped in the back and Daddy hopped in the passenger's seat and I hopped into the driver's seat, and the salesman began monologuing.

Driving is not, actually, one of my madder skills. I can do it; I even like it, under certain circumstances, which usually involve no traffic and a vague familiarity with the vehicle and route. I had neither in this instance. I pulled out of the driveway and had the option to go right to Cerrillos Road or left into a neighborhood I'd never explored before. There was no question there, let me assure you! St. Jude is the patron saint of impossible ventures, and one of my favorite Santa Fe bumper stickers is, "Pray for me, St. Jude, I drive on Cerrillos Road." Yeah.

So I went left into the unknown neighborhood, trying to negotiate the seat, the ugly display, the wheel, the road, the jumpy gas pedal, the jumpier brake, the traffic, and still make assenting noises whenever the monologue paused. There was something complicated about the gear shift, where if you did something the number one would pop up on the display--see? Yes, I saw (though what did he do to make that happen and what did it mean??)--and if you did it again it would change to a number two, and you could also make it change to a three and back again. Daddy, blessings on his head, attended to the monologue. Finally I found what looked like might be a cul-de-sac and turned around in it. I caught my breath and started back.

I had enough attention to spare this time to ask what about the gear shift? It turns out it's a sort of manual transmission, where if it's pushed all the way left you can push it up a notch and make it stay in whatever gear you like. Um, cool. How do you take it back down a gear? Oh, you push it down. Um...can I put it back in automatic please? Okay, push it right. I pushed it right and left it there.

My primary objection to the Mazda 3 was how very ugly it was inside. The outside is adorable, so I found that disappointing. It's edgy. It's very cool and technically with it, but I thought it was ugly. It's the sort of car, I think, that a deep-inner-city skater guy would get a real charge out of. There's nothing evil about it, but we definitely had a personality conflict. So I parked it, got a brochure on it, and left.

Then we went to the Ford place on the edge of town. It was so nice. There was a '56 T-bird parked in the showroom, and old black-and-white car pictures on the walls, and adorable little girls playing while their parents looked at an SUV. There was also a pleasant salesman. He wore Wranglers and said in a homely Texas accent that he was from Abilene, and he even had the same last name as ours, spelled how we spell it. We had a great talk about Scots and tartans.

He answered all our questions about the Ford Focus. He asked if we'd like to try one--we certainly would! --and pulled it up to the front door so we wouldn't have to trek through the wind. He brought it up and it was red. I hadn't even hinted that I liked red. I took it as a Sign.

After that, we still had a bit of afternoon left, so we went to the Honda place next door. The sales guys were obnoxious. The Accord handled just fine, though the display was disturbingly high-tech, but the sales guys were definitely annoying. They didn't have any red ones to try, either. So the guy answered all our questions, sometimes seriously, sometimes flirtatiously, and sometimes ironically (I think he thought it was funny), ending with a totally random emotional appeal --"give me a chance!"--which we said something nice but noncommittal to--and we took a brochure and left.

Thence we got gas for the good little pickup, went to Borders for coffee and a book which had been on sale last week, but I hadn't bought it because I was short on time, and then yesterday it wasn't on sale anymore and I didn't want it $27-worth, so I still didn't buy it, and then I bought food coloring at Michael's and came home.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Farsi of the day

In honor of Ash Wednesday, today's Farsi is "dust"--"friend."

Like in Latin, the word for "friend" is related to the word "love," which is "dust dashtan."

For dust you are, and to dust you will return.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Farsi of the day

Noon is "vastruz." Literally, "vast" is middle, "ruz" is day, and therefore, if one wanted to say that the last camel died at noon, one could remark "Shotor nehayi vastruzi mord."

I will now leave you camelless in the vast deserts of cyberspace, and go back to my previously scheduled activities. :-)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Farsi of the day


I chose this for a sort of complicated reason, that reaches clear back to Shippey's biography of Tolkien which I read several years ago. In that, he discusses the etymology of Tolkien's ringwraiths. They come from the same Old English root, "wreothan" (spelling?), as "writhe" and "wreath" and "wroth." There's also some connotation of mist or smoke, of partial earthliness and partial unearthliness; also of riding. (Hence the ringwraiths are also Black Riders.) But these writhen words all share some concept of misery and twisting.

Which brings me to "shekanj." It means "bend, twist, wrinkle." And the presumably related word "shekanjeh" means "torture, rack."

I thought it was fascinating that there was a parallel concept in the English and the Farsi. It fits in splendidly with Augustine's principle that evil is only a twisting of good, and it also works with Lewis's Bent Ones from the Space Trilogy. It's possible Indo-European strikes again; or, as someone sensible pointed out, it's nice when reality and grammar and Augustine all line up. :-)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Quote of the day; or, not everyone listens to classical music

"This is weird music that's playing." Patient, age 6
It was Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. :-)


So green grows the laurel and so does the rue
So woeful, my love, at the parting with you
And by our next meeting our love we'll renew
We'll change the green laurel to the orange and blue.

I was singing that song this morning, and Mom and I discovered we had no idea what exactly rue might be.

So I asked Google. Turns out it's a tough, weedy sort of plant; it grows in bad soil, like a weed; it smells like a weed; if you get it on your skin and stand in the sun, it blisters you, which is a very weedy sort of thing to do; it tastes bitter like a weed; and the poets and songwriters use it to mean bitterness. It's toxic if you get too much of it and will cause miscarriages.

Nobody really eats it anymore except Italians and Ethiopians, who put it in salads, coffee, and liqueur. If you want the flavor while minimizing the bitterness, they recommend boiling the leaves for a minute and then taking them out very rapidly.

There seem to be two different sets of names for it. In the West, we mostly have variations on "rue," having got it from the Greek "rhyte" (or "reuo"--my sources disagree) by way of the Latin "rute." In the East, most of the names are connected to the Middle Persian (yay!) "sudab." I tried to look up the modern Farsi, but my skill with the online dictionary is not sufficient to distinguish between the verb "rue" and the herbal noun, and the paper dictionary was entirely silent on the subject. :-/ Speaking of which, the other English word "rue," the one about regretting, comes from the Old English "hreowen," to make sorry or grieve. So that's not related.

But I think rue used to be better known than it is now; probably because of the aforementioned poets and songwriters. We know the Pharisees tithed rue punctiliously. The Romans made a paste or sauce called "moretum" out of it. Apparently throughout ancient and medieval times, it was used as a protection against curses, the evil eye, and witches. Pliny thought it was good for the eyesight, and a modern site, I forget which one, agreed that a tea of it actually does soothe strained eyes. I'm not convinced; every other use seems to be, ah, irritating or regulatory. Rumor also has it it's good for sciatica, snakebites and poisonings, earache (if you pour the juice out of a pomegranate rind), hysterics, and keeping away fleas and disease. I believe that last one. There's also a story about four thieves who didn't get the plague and attributed their health to a concoction of rue, garlic, lavendar, and rosemary, which is a terrifying thought.

The most unexpected reference I came across was calling it the herb of grace. Grace was kind of the last thing I'd think of in connection with it, actually. Apparently, though, a week before High Mass the Catholic church would infuse their holy water with rue. That's the tradition Shakespeare is working off in Ophelia's herb scene.
There's fennel for you, and columbines: there's rue for you; and here's some for me: we may call it herb o' grace o' Sundays: O you must wear your rue with a difference. (Hamlet IV.5)

Isn't that cool?

Farsi of the day

Today's Farsi: in order to make a noun possessive, you add a mim at the end.

Seeb = apple
seebam = my apple

No news yet on how to make something plural and possessive. :-)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Farsi of the day

The splendid and astonishing thing about Farsi is how Indo-European it is. Every once in a while, you just run up against a word that's awfully recognizable.

English Latin Farsi

to kiss basiare busidan
knee genu zanu
dead mors, mortis morde
door porta dar

Quotes of the day

"There’s nothing worse than a cheerful person on a Thursday. You don’t know what kind of a week I’ve had. I’m going to go over and give blood after this; it’s been a bloodletting all week, so it follows."

This is the same patient who grumped all during her last appointment, but cheered up sufficiently to give me several recipes on her way out. :-)

"What are you talking about?" Shirley, coming upon her patient and the good doctor
"Whale autopsies." The good doctor
"He asked me about fishing." The patient

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Farsi of the day

It's pronounced "jaru kardan."
Once upon a time, there was a janitor named Jaru Kardan who saw that the floor of his hovel was very dirty. He was a clean soul, deep down, and this distressed him. He went to the store to buy a broom, but they had none.

Having no wife to consult, he went to the elderly lady next door. "Khanom," he said, "I have beheld the gleam of your floor, and it is as the light of the moon on the lake by the king’s palace. Tell me, how do you get it so clean, when there is no broom to be bought in our village?"

The khanom replied, "Jaru, what you must do is go to the jungle and make a broom."

"Make one?" he asked.

"Yes, make one," she replied rather testily. "You will need a stick for a handle and a bundle of twigs for the straws, and a string to bind them together. Here’s a string. Take the path east until you pass a large rock. There will be a long, smooth stick leaning against it. Pick it up. A lion will leap out at you, but greet her and she will let you take it and gather your sticks. Now go away."

Jaru Kardan bowed to the khanom and immediately set off for the jungle. He had never before been on the path east. As soon as the village disappeared from sight, the path forked. The branch heading north looked better-traveled and smoother, but Jaru, having heard many tales, knew better than to ignore the khanom’s advice. So he proceeded east until he came to a great gray stone, inscribed up and down with figures of dead lords and strange characters. There he grasped the stick.

A lion leaped out at him. He jumped and shouted, "Salam, Sheer!" She landed but a paw’s-length from him and stopped. She nodded her head three times and sat down by the path, watching him.

A trifle shaken and very glad the greeting had worked, Jaru began looking for sticks. There seemed to be plenty of dead branches around. He bundled them together at the end of the stick, tied it on with the string, and glanced back at the lion.

To his great surprise, as he watched she turned into a girl—far more beautiful than any other in the village. He bowed to her. "Salam!"

She grinned widely. "Salam, Jaru. I’m so glad my mother sent you."

"Your mother?"

"Of course. I was getting tired of being a lion. Some evil magician took a disliking to my mother’s dirty floor and turned me into a lion for it until such time as her floor would be clean and a young man should turn his staff into a broom before his inscribed rock. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s an evil magician for you."

"I see," said Jaru. And he did. Picking up the broom, he asked, "May I walk you back to the village?"

She gave him her arm and smiled.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Farsi of the day

So this is my Farsi word of the day. It's pronounced "ganj," and it means "treasure."

For where your ghalb is, there your ganj will be also.

Quote of the day

Me: "I've got you scheduled for this Thursday at 8:20."
Patient: "You're kidding."
Me: "I really do..."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Snow and mountains

Some things, while quite important enough to blog about, just don't translate well into posts. As Claudio put it, “I were but little happy if I could say how much.” Take this last week. Wednesday morning I was quite single and it started snowing; Wednesday afternoon I started having Suspicions and Awana was cancelled due to snow; and Wednesday night I went home instead of to Awana and accepted Mr. Bales' offer of a Relationship. I knew we were friends, but this was a delightful surprise. Email is a useful and powerful thing, Verizon in-calling has gained my deep affection, and I always knew I liked snowstorms.

Aslan has bounded into my quiet Shire and suddenly my road has turned toward the high white mountains. They're beautiful and full of hazards and I have no clue where I'm going. I—still don't quite believe it. The scheduling and coffee-drinking will no doubt continue, but oh, I have a companion for the way. I don't know how long Aslan will lend him to me, but He knows the road ahead even if we don't, and anyway what do I have that I have not been given? Blessed be the name of the Lord.

My life has since resembled something on skis in a snowstorm. I was something on skis yesterday, which was part of it, up at Wolf Creek, Colorado. I enjoyed it, too. I've also had Tempest rehearsal; birthday shopping; two more Verizon in-calls ::insert smiley face::; leading worship; stew; good conversations with a couple dozen of my closest friends, mentors, and brand-new acquaintances; digital photos; ice in various manifestations; sunbeams and moonlight; hamburgers; address-sticker-ing and stamping of the women's ministry newsletter; a fair amount of coffee; nothing like a fair amount of sleep; dragons, green glass doors, and other-world riddles in a van; chili fries and a raspberry shake; and a (mandatory) skit which required me and my chicas to dress Goth with just whatever we happened to have brought for an overnight and we actually pulled off disturbingly well. Regrettably, the skit got cancelled before we had a chance to perform it and get redeemed. Bummer, dude. One chica went missing briefly and I decided our tribe's name must be the Lost-a-Goths. All of which adds up to a good blessing and a good reason to go to bed early tonight. If that was difficult to follow—I concur. :-)

I just opened a fortune cookie, and for once the fortune got it right. “Your loyalties will be rewarded.” When you said, 'Seek my face,' I replied, 'Your face, O Lord, I will seek.' ...I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. (NASB)