Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Damn you, MM!

Well, not really. But you got me to thinking, which is an exercise best not indulged in until one has had a chance to sink a couple of hefty ales.

To explain: I had my bleat the other day about the sseas being treacherous. MM commented that yes,words do change meaning, etc and so on. MM is, of course, absolutely right.

Which left me gasping on the beach of that treacherous sea. Because I've been paying some nodding attention to the recent brou-ha-ha about the Ureweras, the Tuhoe, and dear old JonKey the Donkey.

Now, pay attention: I think it was Tamati Kruger I heard on the wireless the other day, but I could be wrong. It was certainly a Tuhoe spokesman. He was saying that the Tuhoe signed only the English version of the Treaty, and not the Maori Te Reo version. The word "mana" doesn't appear in the English version (it does in the Maori one)... and if it had, then the Tuhoe would never have signed even the English version.

Leaving aside the argument that there is no empirical way for anyone to know what would have happened 170 years ago if such and such had happened, or had been the case. It could be that the spokesman is right - it's equally likely that he's wrong.

But I do ask - thanks, MM - if it's possible, or likely, that Te Reo words change meaning as dramatically as English words do. If they don't, of course, it's a sure and certain sign that it is a stagnant language, and is approaching morbidity. If they do change meanings... then how can we be sure that a heavily-laden word such as "mana" hasn't changed over the past couple of centuries?

I have no wish to be mischievous here. I merely ask the question because I don't know the answer. Is Te Reo a vital language? ("Vital" here meaning "life-filled", rather than the later meaning, "necessary". See what I mean?) Or is Te Reo something that's stuck on the mud-banks of a dried-up lake?

If we are to take the Maori version of te Tiriti to mean precisely what it meant back in 1840, then are we also obliged to take the English version as being locked in time? If so, how would that change how we, as 21st century contemporaries, view the documents?

Again: I am asking these questions from a position of ignorance and curiousity. I have no way of finding the answers. Can anyone help me?

Incidentally: when it comes to the Ureweras, I know exactly where my sympathies lie. Give the whole kit and caboodle back to the Tuhoe. No question.

Listening to: Neutral Milk Hotel, "On Avery Island". NMH have made just two albums, both brilliant. The second album, "In The Aeroplane Over the Sea" has the extraordinary track "Holland, 1945" on it. I don't have this album, but will sleep with anyone who gives it to me, as long as they are Sandra Bullock. Someone has to.

Reading: Still on the chick-noir book, "Die a Little". It is amazing. I have even read bits aloud to my Mother. I want Spike Jonze to make the movie. Also still on "The Pacific", Hugh Ambrose. Get it, read it. (That instruction gioes for both books).

Word of the Day: Discombobulate. You'll always know when my Mother's been staying with us. I end up being discombobulated. Next week: hobbledehoy.

PS: Thanks to everyone for your birthday wishes. 58 yesterday. I don't feel a day over 80.

More "Paper Heroes":

Cienwyn, ever conscious of the old superstitions, crossed her fingers, hoping that the shoulders of the Sleepers may be strong enough to carry the burden they were soon to have laid upon them.

Since the catastrophes in Old Russia, England, and India 18 months and more ago, there had been a further 52 occurrences of the violence and insanity. The entire McMurdo base that had been continually occupied for over three hundred years had been wiped out to a man, woman, dog, and gengineered penguin colony.
In Tokyo, over 145,000 had perished, and – astonishingly – Hiroshima had reactivated herself. The latter had been proven to be a coincidence, nothing more.
Pyongyang, in Korea – re-united in 2018, and the paranoia of the 20th and early 21st centuries a distant, if not repressed, memory – had suffered the collapse of their greatest university, and the deaths of thousands. Tens of thousands more in Brazil, in Australia, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Germany, and France had died. Almost no cultural group has escaped. Even little Luxembourg has suffered.
Cienwyn and Charles watch the awful hopes of a world slumber.
Six men, sleeping the sleep of the almost living. None may yet survive the quickening. Their peril makes Cienwyn’s skin crawl, and she rubs her arms, as though cold, and recrosses her fingers.

Chapter Three.
12.07am, January 13, 2387.

Flashes. Colour. The sound of tearing silk. The smell. Rotten eggs? Foulness. Gunpowder! Jagged red splashes in front of my. My what. Eyes. Yes. Reds and yellows and greens. Christ in his cups. I’m numb. Can’t feel – what? Fingers. Hands. Thirsty. Thirsty. Can’t be thirsty, it’s raining, a flash of red a crash a bang pain oh my god pain, swing the sword I’m going down I’m down, Sean, look out oh Sean, no! Jesus what’s that it’s a blade, a knife no a bayonet, a bayonet, coming toward my eye my eye Jesus my eye I’m a dead man. I can hear the bayonet scraping on the back of my skull as I. Die.

I can still think.
I can still hear.
Not silence. What?
A noise.
Not a grave, then.
I’m not dead.
Who is Crusader?
John Prester? Hanno?


  1. Interesting post, and quite fun to be damned too! I wonder how often things like treaties should be reviewed given the idea that meanings, values and circumstances are all dynamic. I shall need beer if I'm to think any harder about that.

  2. Try the new Haagen's Real Ale. It's cheap right now (That's my wallet talking)and very tasty. That last is from my very dynamic gullet.