,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Magic of Languages

A gem in this morning's Washington Post---"Words and Music" by Alaka Basu. The first paragraph of her op-ed piece about National Security Language Initiative almost made me move to something else. The State Department's web site about NLSI reads :.....a plan to further strengthen national security and prosperity in the 21st century through education, especially in developing foreign language skills." While not all students of foreign languages will train to be spooks, the primary reason for establishment of NSLI was to create a pool from which to recruit.

Glad that I stayed with the article. Caught mention of the Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason, a book that I had enjoyed a few years back, and continued following Ms Basu. "This project reminds me of a book I read recently, "The Piano Tuner," by Daniel Mason, in which the central character seeks and makes peace in late 19th-century Burma with music instead of guns. I want to believe the language initiative also is at least partly motivated by an interest in more nonviolent tools of negotiation, although I much prefer the word "conversation" to "negotiation." Yes, "negotiation" is a hard word, it implies confrontation. The world would be better off when those in power meet to talk rather than negotiate. Not likely to happen any time soon.

What drew me to the article in the first place was the author's name. A Bengali if I'm not mistaken. The Indian sub-continent has produced great authors and works of literature. Perhaps I am partial but to me Urdu and Bengali are far superior to Hindi, the national language of India. Hindi lacks the lilt,the sweetness found in the other two.

"Language tethers us to the world; without it we spin like atoms."
---Penelope Lively

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