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Legal alien December 15, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

She was perfectly nice, actually, as aliens go.

It was quite the least likely place to meet my one and only alien, in the office at my job – one with all the moral merits of child-trafficking – in Paris. And of course, to start with, I didn’t know she was from outer space. She’d had to disguise herself to get through the recruitment process, to start with, and it probably would have been a legal minefield getting a work-permit for an extra-terrestrial in France in the mid-90s.

So she disguised herself as a Dane.

Which was a brilliant bit of disguise, actually, when you think about it. For those of you who haven’t had the good fortune to have had an extended sojourn in Paris, you should know that the city is awash with young Danes, though mostly of a terrestrial nature. Her tribe, presuming she wasn’t a lone operator, though I didn’t get a chance to go into the polity of her world with her, had clearly done some quite careful research before sending her down to mingle with us earthlings with whatever maleficent intentions – call me an alienophobe if you will, but I don’t trust ’em – it was they had. “Tell you what,” they must have said to each other, at an alien powwow, though their musings would have looked something like ╨╤◘∩‡₪₣⌂⌂◊ in the original, I’m guessing, “rather than disguising her as an obvious alien, like Sigourney’s one, a big black cock with a poor oral hygiene record, let’s make her be a blonde Dane, and we’ll send her to Paris, as that seems like one of the epicentres of the earthlings’ activities.” And that’s what they did.

I didn’t know it at the time, of course, but the aliens had somehow orchestrated for me to be the one earthling in the company to have the rare privilege of close access to their emissary. I was to train her. And she was awfully nice, and had been endowed with many of the characteristics of her new compatriots. She was jolly, friendly. Had had perfect English implanted into her alien cerebrum along with French, Danish (natch) and, oddly, Norwegian. She was affable and intelligent, and learnt the job more easily than many before her, superior life-form that she was.

But there had been one small flaw in the aliens’ plans. The company’s training period was two weeks long, which meant by the end of it I practically knew the alien as well as if she were my own wife (though not in the biblical sense). And she made a few obvious non-human slips that should have had alarm-bells ringing straight away, the most obvious of which was wearing white tights, which no human has ever been known to do. And her ability to sing along, in perfect tune, and with all the words, to whatever pop-song came on the radio was also testament to a non-human brain. The girl knew too much, and I knew all was not right with the world.

But what really gave it away was the eyes. Sort of window-display dummy eyes. Lifeless. Glassy. A bit like Laura Bush’s. Our job entailed quite a lot of doing precisely nothing and staring out at passers-by in the Quartier Latin. (The aliens had chosen well. I’ll give ’em that.) And you’ve never seen a blanker expression in your puff. I think it was a combination of the aliens saving energy – her body would shut down when not required to do anything – and her using the time to telepathically send them all the vitally important pieces of intelligence she’d picked up that day: there’s a drink called a kir aligoté, French people don’t hold doors open for you, or stand on the right and walk on the left. That kind of thing.

In the name of harmonious intergalactic relations, I stayed in touch with the Danish alien when our life-paths diverged: mine back to London, hers back to Saturn or wherever. A letter arrived, with a ◘:^¬¤Ð postmark – see, they’re not infallible – though addressed Paris, asking if she could come to London to visit. “Of course,” I said, and she turned up at the appointed hour with a human Dane in tow. “Oh, it looks just like Denmark,” she said, keeping up the pretence of being human as we walked back to my place from the tube station before heading out to the Mongolian barbecue.

The London leg of her research was tiresome for a local. Her superiors had insisted she go to a musical and to see Evita, starring top humans Madonna and Antonio Banderas. To be hostly, and in the name of those harmonious intergalactic relations, I went along. Evita was bad enough. She sang all the songs on the tube on the way home. But Grease was worse. She sang the songs from that on the way home too. And did the actions.

Now I know having an alien in one’s social set should endow one with a certain cachet. And for the sake of the advancement of humankind, and as it appeared I was the only one who had noticed she was from outer space – I never heard a Dane say to her, for example, “Your Danish is perfect, but is that a trace of Saturn I hear in your accent?” – I know I should have asked her what fuels they used in her world, and had they come up with a way to achieve social harmony, and did God exist, and what was the best way to balance social freedoms with order, but I didn’t do any of that. I just let her drift out of my life and get on with her research unhindered. Nor did I jam the metaphorical switchboard and alert the authorities that there was an alien Dane in our midst.

And did she abduct me back to the mother-craft for a bout of being prodded and rodded senseless by the best her kind had to offer? Did she fuck…


1. Marsha Klein - December 15, 2006

Are you sure she wasn’t a time traveller? I only ask because I have been known to wear white tights, but not since the early 1970s. I agree that singing all the songs from “Grease” (with actions) could be irritating. Actually, come to think of it there was a time when I was regarded as something of an alien myself, as I had NEVER SEEN “Grease”! I’m now wondering if I was, in fact, in the company of an alien cell, operating out of North Edinburgh!

“Grease” – can someone tell me what all the fuss was/is about?

2. David (TEFL Smiler) - December 15, 2006

There’s currently a whole load of the alien species’ rejected earthling clones hanging around in this “Denmark” place. They’re rejects because they’re half human and half furry animal (normally seal or mink). Perhaps the cloning apparatus gets affected by the winter temperatures. I’m sure it’ll be working again by the summer.

3. pleite - December 15, 2006

Anyone who CAN tell you what all the fuss was about is lying. Or perhaps an alien.

Now, Marsha, be honest, could you read the alien language I gave a tiny example of?

4. BiB - December 16, 2006

David, perhaps I got the wrong end of the stick and Denmark is in fact a country of aliens. Mind you, seeing as Danes have been around for rather a long time, they’re being pretty slow with their research. Or their project requires that the research be so arduous and painstaking.

Speaking of dissing Denmark, which I have no desire to do, seeing as I’ve been there (and loved it) 800 times, have a million Danes who are very close to my heart, adore leverpostej etc. etc., I’m reminded of someone from The Economist who said that Denmark looked like something which had been dropped from a great height and hadn’t been put back together.

5. A Blogger - December 16, 2006

Aliens speak in Israeli currency?

6. pleite - December 16, 2006

What? You mean there’s a Jewish angle to all this? Curiouser and curiouser…

7. MountPenguin - December 16, 2006

Intergalatical Zionist Conspiracy?

In the meantime I can reveal that the Japanese government once mistook me for an alien, and even issued me with an official Alien Regsitration Card, despite the fact that I do not own even one set of those hair decorations with the two things on long springy stalks which were popular in the UK at one point during the 1980s and which still get dusted off around Christmas time there.

8. pleite - December 16, 2006

Penguin, I don’t know about Jewish aliens. But I do know of a Jewish robot.

I can’t remember how I’ve been designated by the natives in the lands I’ve been so fortunate to be exiled to. Do the Germans give us any good titles? I can’t remember what I was in Russia, although you don’t get a nice, satisfying card or document to carry around with you there. You just get a visa and carry your passport around with you at all times. (Or get arrested by the scary OMON (sort of riot police).) A satisfyingly sturdy Carte de Séjour in France. I’m assuming the alien Dane’s was faked.

9. MountPenguin - December 16, 2006

The little piece of folding green paper bears the snappy appellation “Angehöriger eines Mitgliedstaates der EU”, although the wonderful guys and gals at Friedrich-Krause-Ufer use the somewhat less cumbersome phrase “Unionsbürger” in their everyday dealings with us privileged Ausländer.

10. David (TEFL Smiler) - December 16, 2006

Here in Denmark you used to have to go to the Office for Aliens (official English translation). Which is somewhat ironic. (It’s now called something else.)

A friend of mine used to say that this country is all the clay and sand that slid off Norway at the end of the last ice age. Which is basically true.

11. Taiga the Fox - December 16, 2006

For a short horrible moment I thought I understood the alien language on your post.

12. A Blogger - December 16, 2006

No big mystery – one of the symbols you, obviously unwittingly, used was the Israeli symbol for its currency, the shekel. It’s the symbol that sort of looks like a smooth n with one of its legs stuck inside a u, with the whole thing looking a little like an unfortunate w.

It’s actually a pretty nifty amalgamation of two Hebrew letters (one that looks like a w and the other an n), that stand for ‘new shekel.’

Well, it impresses me and, apparently, Danish aliens.

13. pleite - December 16, 2006

Penguin, I lost my foldy-greeny thing. And had it replaced. And then lost that. So they decided, rightly, that I couldn’t be trusted with foldy-greeny things and have just given me a bit of A4 paper instead, which I haven’t managed to lose. What happens when your first foldy-greeny runs out, after five years, as mine is about to do? Will I just get a new foldy-greeny, though unbefristet, or will I get something in my passport saying that I’m almost a German or what? And also, is the rumour that the Russian and I once heard, probably from each other and made up ten seconds prior to the telling, true that you’re going to be able to start taking care of this sort of thing at the Rathaus rather than going off to the dreaded Wedding place?

David, poor Denmark, being Norway’s waste material. Still, at least they can say that Norwegians speak Danish, and then pretend it’s a language of their own.

Taiga, ◊¤‡‡⌂∩∩∩^¬¬? \¨¤◘°¯¸Əΐөֳ۩•∞!

AB, well it IS an intergalactic Zionist conspiracy then. Penguin was right. But who’d have credited it? Shekels in space!

14. Taiga the Fox - December 16, 2006

╚╗□░▫ ۞٭♪?

15. pleite - December 16, 2006

۞٭۞٭! Why didn’t you say before? ۩!

16. MountPenguin - December 16, 2006

I just got a stamp and the word “UNBEFRISTET” written on one of the extenstions of my green foldy thingy. And the satisifaction of knowing that never again would I have to visit that place.
Although it has become so much more user-friendly over the years, last time we were actually able to make an appointment, rather than turn up some time before 7am and wait for one’s number to be buzzed.

I’ve not heard anything about them delegating work to the Rathäuser though. The Meldestellen (white foldy paper) have moved from the jursidiction of the police to the Bezirksämter though, and I think German citizens can get their passports’n’stuff sorted at their one-stop-Bürgerämter.

17. bowleserised - December 16, 2006

†˙∆∆~ ¬˚, ˙˚ß∆˚¨~Ω¬˚∆. ˙^∑˚å∆∂˚∆å?


18. Taiga the Fox - December 16, 2006

Well, basically because Ώض۝∏♫ﭣ.

19. BiB - December 16, 2006

But B., I’d always thought the past passive participle of ˙˚ß∆ was ˙˚ß∆∂˚. I’ll refer to my Kennedy Saturn Primer.

Taiga, how CAN you say such a thing?

Penguin, I actually managed to get them to post something to me once, without having to visit. Imagine!

20. Daggi - December 16, 2006

Will I just get a new foldy-greeny, though unbefristet,

Presumably, if you can convince them the ratio between “income” and “living costs” isn’t too crap, or won’t be in the near future. I wanted to keep my old foldy-greeny thing, but they gave me a new one, and wouldn’t let me have it, not even as a momento. And Wedding it was – they gave me an appointment by email. Not a soul was there – the first time I was there, I had to queue up for hours in the rain, or I would have had to do, if I was from the former Yugoslavia, but instead, being white and western European, I got hustled to the front of the queue, so I could wait for hours inside instead.

21. Taiga the Fox - December 17, 2006

Er, sorry, it was bit unclear indeed. Hopefully I didn’t insult you. My dearest θڵﯓڀỗΩ∂ﻮﻯﻞﻷﻼ°Θ‎♫.

22. bowleserised - December 17, 2006

˚˚∆˙˚∆ ˚˚¬å^^å∑√! :) ∆˚ß∆˚ߥƒçç√©¥å˙ ∆∆å∆˙and ∫ ∑©©≤ ∫†©å©∫å©∫, ahå†å˙∆å∆å.

23. David (TEFL Smiler) - December 17, 2006

Lots of å’s in bowleserised’s dialect of Alien, I notice. Are those Danish loanwords?

24. Mangonel - December 17, 2006

Ich kann mich überhaupt nicht auf Saturnalian unterhalten. Es tut mir sehr leit.

25. Ed Ward - December 17, 2006

Hmmm, I think there’s a difference between Saturnalian and Saturnian. Maybe that’s your problem.

Not that I understand a &^))%#$ word of it!

26. bowleserised - December 17, 2006


27. David (TEFL Smiler) - December 18, 2006

Det må være et “bro(g)et” område, der har så mange åer!

28. Mangonel - December 18, 2006

BiB! Post something else QUICK! ALT keys across the blogosphere are going into meltdown!

29. BiB - December 18, 2006

Oh Mango, I don’t know if I’ll manage it for another couple of days as I’ve got a deadline to meet and am suffering after some quite magnificent debauchery at this gent’s birthday party on Saturday night. Sunday was written off to TV and wrapping myself up in a comforting duvet.

David, I’ve tried my hungover best to work out what that Danish means but now I’m just swimming in å…

B., speaking of which, I think å is Danish or Swedish for island, or town, or place or something. David can you confirm? But the link between Danes and space seems clearer and clearer.

Ed, I’m through with new languages, earthly or otherwise, although I babbled happily in drunk German at the weekend.

Taiga, is that Hochsaturn? I think the alien Dane spoke – or rather beeped – Plattsaturn, though there was a hint of West Saturn in it too, if I remember rightly.

Daggi, I’m planning to start dreading that trip soon. And having the humiliation of having to prove I earn more than 2p, or whatever it is they want. And having to be a slave to bureaucracy. And everything… The Russian and I used to coordinate our trips in the past. We would, of course, separate at the entrance, as I went into entrance A with upholstered squishy chairs and an electronic number thing with the other EUers (plus Americans, Japanese, Norwegians and folks from other desirable nations) and the Russian went into entrance B where the staff have had extra rudeness-training and classes in some-foreigners-are-scum-and-must-be-talked-to-like-shit, the queues are long and inexplicable and the walls are smeared with (the staff’s) excrement. I could go in, do my stuff, then go on a round-the-world tour before the Russian would get home.

30. David (TEFL Smiler) - December 18, 2006

Bigger than a ‘bæk’, and smaller than a ‘flod’, it’s a little river or a large stream. You’re swimming in it? You already knew, I’ll wager! How multi-lingual are you?

‘It must be a complicated/bridge-y area that has so many å’s/rivers.’

Thought I was being clever, but I might have made up a word or so!

‘Island’ is ‘ø’ (or ‘ö’ in Swedish).

In one Danish/Alien dialect you can say: ‘A æ å æ ø å æ å’, or something along those lines – meaning: ‘I’m on the island in the river’. Obviously.

31. BiB - December 18, 2006

David, that alien sentence reminds me a touch of the awfully good Finnish word hääyöaie, which means ‘wedding night intention’. Taiga, do leap in and correct any mistakes.

I don’t feel at all multilingual at the mo, I must say. I’m sure I caught myself struggling to speak English on Saturday, though perhaps that was nerves. And the Russian and I only really be together, without bothering with that talking lark much, so words are spared.

32. Taiga the Fox - December 18, 2006

BiB, that is Far Eastern Hochsaturn, I suppose.

´Hääyöaie´ is definitely a ´wedding night intention´.
Much nicer sounding than this monstrous piece of Finnish: “Älä rääkkää sitä ruisrääkkää. Emmä rääkkääkkää”, isn’t it?

33. MountPenguin - December 18, 2006

It is a little known fact that Finland is Europe’s largest producer of umlauts, and until the rise of the mobile phone industry, umlaut mining and refining was the largest sector by proportion of GDP.

34. David (TEFL Smiler) - December 18, 2006

Sinne se ‘umlaut’ katosi!

Don’t ask – just my favourite Finnish construction, after Kallion kirkko (boom boom!). Originally a rare expression with ‘kana’, the gap can be filled with ‘raha’, ‘musikka’, ‘mies’, etc. (Chuckle, chuckle!)

35. BiB - December 18, 2006

David, Taiga, I will whip my Finnish dic out a convenient moment and get analysing.

Penguin, it mines ks brilliantly too, as you can see. Perhaps Taiga (or David) can remind us of that famous bit of text with almost nothing but ks, and a vowel here and there for company? Koko kokko kukki kakku or something. And while I’m on, and hoping you having noticed that I’ve probably blogged this before – can’t remember – the Finns have a few tonguetwisters… No, not tonguetwisters. Tonguejapanisers. When Finnish sounds like Japanese (to Finns’ ears). ‘Hajosiko Toyotasi?’ is the only one I can remember. It means, obviously, ‘Has your Toyota broken down?’

36. David (TEFL Smiler) - December 18, 2006

Finns have an obvious understanding of all things Japanese. The story goes that on the inaugural direct Finnair flight from Helsinki to Tokyo, they decided to mark the occasion with something special, and so they gave each passenger some sake and some cherry blossom (sakura). The Finns thought it was lovely. The Japanese passengers were horrified, though, at being presented with precisely those items upon boarding a plane – apparently they used to give sake and sakura to kamikaze pilots!

‘Sinne se kana katosi’ is something like ‘So that’s where that chicken disappeared’. I know one Finn who swears it’s a set expression, but I’ve never met any other Finn who knows it.

I’ve heard that sentence with all the k’s, but I certainly can’t remember it.

37. pleite - December 18, 2006

Kun olin suomen kielen kesäkurssilla Savonlinassa kähdeksän vuotta sitten… No, I can’t. So, when I was on a Finnish language summer course in Savonlinna 8 years ago, there was a Japanese woman there who had some unquantifiable status between student and teacher. She’d lived in Finland for ages, spoke the language well etc. etc. and she said Finland reminded her of Japan SO MUCH, especially as regards booze-related inhibition loss (which is probably one word in Finnish) (alkohoolireläätineninhibitiolossi) (and German) (and Japanese, for all I know).

38. David (TEFL Smiler) - December 18, 2006

There’s a theory of sorts in a book by the owner of a chain of B2B language schools (details available upon request, if really required). It’s probably based on nothing but guesswork for all I know – it certainly seems rather generalised and simplistic. But it’s interesting, all the same. It considers how business people from different cultures tend to differ in terms of how much of their thoughts they keep to themselves when negotiating etc, and how much they share.

I saw it described as a drawing, involving how much of various icebergs was above water or below water. Above was shared thoughts, feelings and opions, and below was the stuff you keep to yourself.

If I remember correctly, he had Argentinians and Brazilians with two thirds above water, Spanish and Italians half-half, the British and Germans with one third above water – yes, they were the same – and Finns and the Japanese had only the slightest of slithers above the surface.

It’s undoubtedly nonsense, in my opinion, but it makes for interesting discussion. And it provides you with a potential Fenno-Japanese connection!

Some people have also claimed there’s a very distant connection between the languages, and possibly the peoples. The cite the fact that many Finns – especially from the east – have a slight Oriental look about them. They’ll say anything to distance themselves from Swedes and Russians!

39. BiB - December 18, 2006

The Russian is from a Finno-Ugric bit of Russia, but is an ethnic Russian, so I can’t pretend he’s almost a Finn. But I’ve never believed in that connection between the Finnish and Japanese languages. People often throw in Turkish for good measure too, which I think is bollocks. Hungarian and Estonian, bitte schön, aber you can keep your Turkish. I heard one theory, from a real Finn (human, I think, not alien) that maybe Finns are ethnically European but somehow ended up with a Finno-Ugric language, though that also sounds a bit like bollocks, doesn’t it? Though maybe not. Certainly, if you see some other Finno-Ugric peoples, the Asiatic connection is clear, but stretching it to Japan is… well, overstretching.

Your sliding iceberg scale is a perfect representation, in the same order, of nations amongst whom I’d like to live. (OK, I’m guessing a bit with the Japanese, as I’ve never been there.) But give me restrained iceberg-tips over effusive, flaunting-their-iceberg types any day.

40. Taiga the Fox - December 18, 2006

Did you mean this?
“Kokoo kokoon koko kokko.
Koko kokkoko?
Koko kokko.”

Some Tonguejapanisers:
natisuta hetekata (creak that bed)
jokohama humahuta (should I hit now?)
mokomaki hikimaja (blasted sweatcottage (sauna))
hitoniso kitarisa (huge adenoids)
savusiko kotonasi (was there smoke in your home?)
sakotapa jotakuta (fine someone)

41. MountPenguin - December 18, 2006

Hmmm, can’t say that Japanese has much in the way of umlauts. The received wisdom imparted at a school of higher learning I attended once is that Japanese just might be vaguely related to the Altaic-Turkic languages, but no-one knows for sure, and in Japan there are as many theories as to the origin of the language as there are languages (excluding Korean, with which Japanese is in absolutely no way related, oh no).

Oddly enough I’m finding a working knowledge of Japanese is vaguely helpful in learning Thai, but I’m sure that’s just all coinicidence.

42. MountPenguin - December 18, 2006

If I may be so bold and avail myself of some poetic licence, putting that into Japanese:

(natisuta hetekata) Nazis other, towards the hand side
(jokohama humahuta) Yokohama unserious lid
(mokomaki hikimaja) already, child wrap: pulls soso, innit?
(hitoniso kitarisa )for someone, so, North Lisa
(savusiko kotonasi) left weapon aim, there is nothing
(sakotapa jotakuta) closed port tupper, upper other districts many

43. Beaman - December 18, 2006

My father once mistook a Hong Kong girl for a Finn. His excuse was that she could have been a Lapp. Actually I think his glasses were a little misted up from the damp weather that day.

44. BiB - December 18, 2006

Taiga, thank you, “Kokoo kokoon koko kokko. Koko kokkoko? Koko kokko,” is exactly what I meant. And ‘mokomaki hikimaja’ was the other tonguejapaniser I’d heard, so thank you for convincing me I’m not utterly Alzheimery and hadn’t invented having heard them after all.

And thank you for the other tonguejapanisers, and, Penguin, thank you for japanising the tonguejapanisers. Surely there’s an exhibition or poem or SOME KIND OF work of art in there? As long as you invite me to the award ceremony, I demand no further credit.

Beaman, in Russia I was frequently mistaken for a Chechen (or Azerbaijani or Dagestani) – which is unfortunate in Russia – but I don’t know if Engländer-to-Chechen (or your Caucasus nation of choice) is a greater ethnic leap than Lapp-Hong Kong Chinese. No, your father probably wins hands down.

45. MountPenguin - December 18, 2006

I shall suggest a Finno-Japanese Surreal Poetry Exhibition forthwith.

Anyone know what’s Finnish for “my hovercraft is full of eels?”

46. BiB - December 18, 2006

That looks like a task for Taiga, but I’ll hazard a guess at, “Minun vesityynyni on täynnä eelija”. I’m sure that must be pretty close.

47. MountPenguin - December 19, 2006

Mrs. Penguin will need to confirm, but the Japanese counterpart would be along the lines of “watashi no hobaakurafuto wa unagi de ippai ni natte-imasu” (私のホバークラフトはうなぎでいっぱいになっています).

Now if only we can work in the Saturno-Danish aliens somehow we have a winner.

48. BiB - December 19, 2006

I must confess that I invented the word for hobaakurafuto in my Finnish ‘poem’ and you may also have guessed that eelija has a touch too much of the eel about it.

But, bugger, I’m on the wrong comp again so can’t read the Japanese. On the plus side, it has been rendered in perfect Hochsaturn (with hints of eastern Plattsaturn).

49. BiB - December 19, 2006

By the way, wasn’t there a group once called Das Aalvolle Luftkissenfahrzeug? I’m sure there was…

50. A Blogger - December 19, 2006

Well, isn’t this just a nice, cozy love in for all those smart, multi-lingual people out there. All I speak is Inglish, which is of the Terra Australis dialect, and I’m feeling a bit left out.

Pull yer finger out, BiB! I’m needing more of your more approachable intellectualism to keep me sane and thinking in this dreary build up to Chrissy.

51. BiB - December 19, 2006

AB, will be on the case within days. As you can see, I’m not letting myself be distracted from work at all. Oh no. But I am fearsomely busy till, say, Thursday. Resulting from being fearsomely feckless since about 1972. I MUST get me one of those nice 9-5 things. Maybe.

52. MountPenguin - December 19, 2006

For hovercraft-related translation problems, help is at hand thanks to the interweb:


53. Taiga the Fox - December 19, 2006

Oh, MountPenguin, I love your tonguejapanisers japanisings. Blasted sweatcottage. Already, child wrap: pulls soso, innit?

“My hovercraft is full of eels” is “ilmatyynyalukseni on täynnä ankeriaita”, but it would sound nicer if it was “my hovercraft is full of leeches”, which would make it “ilmatyynyalukseni on täynnä iilimatoja”.

Some parts of Finnish definitely sound like Japanese, especially
many names (Mika, Kimi, Keke, Saku, Make), but to be honest, that’s about it…
Anyway, Japanese tend to love Finnish design, architecture, nature and Finns love Japanese garden design, manga etc.
Also a new Fenno-Japanese movie is recently made.

54. Taiga the Fox - December 19, 2006

Argh! I wrote so long comment and it just disappeared somewhere, possibly to Saturn, but you found the answer already, so never mind. Anyway, it would sound nicer being “my hovercraft is full of leeches”, which would be translated as “ilmatyynyalukseni on täynnä iilimatoja”.

Also, bit related to this, a new Fenno-Japanese movie is recently made.

55. Ed Ward - December 19, 2006

Just to drive the comment-count higher than any non-Britney-related post in the blogosphere, let me say that the Finno-Japanese thing was the topic of several conversations when I was in Japan, with someone claiming the intersections of Finnish and Japanese words was about the same as Finnish and Hungarian ones. But the best factoid was about “our Finn,” a guy who’d moved to Japan from Finland and somehow got into politics, going all the way to the Diet. “He’s so much like us, he might as well be one of us,” was the attitude, and given many Japanese people’s xenophobia, that’s really saying something. If I’m not mistaken, he’s still there.

56. Blonde at Heart - December 19, 2006

BiB, you should stop translating and start writing books!

57. BiB - December 19, 2006

BaH, I’ll think about that – well, at least the translation-stopping – on Thursday (or so), when I stop the current one. I’d ADORE to stop (although this one isn’t too bad, by translation standards).

Ed, I’ve heard about him, or read about him. Yes, last I heard, he was still going strong. Changed name and everything. An English gent I knew who lived in Japan, though this must be a good 20 years ago, at least, said he was frequently sniggered at. Mind you, he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box.

Penguin, without wanting to summon up any painful memories, can you tell me if you were ever laughed at in Japan simply for being an Englishman (hankie on head, going out in the midday sun and the works)? And so THAT’S where that sentence came from. Might have to favourite that site.

Taiga, was it a link that made you lose the comment? It took me ages to work out that, in wordpresslandia, one has to close the link too. I once linked wrong, then lost everything, ABER, even more terrifyingly, I ended up on a completely random and empty blog and thought I had somehow managed to delete my whole thing. Which might have been a blessing in disguise. I’m sure I’d be a millionaire tomorrow, at the latest, if I didn’t blog… Ooh, and that film looks nice. Well, the website does. Have you seen it? Any good?

58. pleite - December 19, 2006

Taiga, look, I found it! It was hanging around in some obscure part of the blog, waiting to be moderated or something. Too mysterious! But, anyway, hurrah!

59. Taiga the Fox - December 19, 2006

Well, it might have been the link (no, I haven’t seen the film btw) or just the fact my comments usually need hard moderation.

Just remembered, I didn’t say to David that I know the expression ´sinne se kana katosi´. It’s a line of a poem of Kalevala, where Kullervo founds out her sister was lost in the woods and died. ´So that’s where that chicken disappeared´

60. pleite - December 19, 2006

Oh, the Kalevala. Another project unlikely ever to come to fruition. (I also have it in translation, but that seems like a sin, in a way.) Although I have just had some fun reading a few lines out loud to myself. Didn’t understand a word, of course, but that Hiawatha rhythm still sounds good.

61. MountPenguin - December 20, 2006

Hmm, I’ve travelled around the obscurest corners of Japan and have never knowingly been laughed, sniggered a, looked at in a funny way or even just felt I was sticking out like a sore thumb. As far as I can tell, though maybe I am just unconsciously blocking it. There was one time though when I was on a train in the deepish provinces, and in the seats behind me there was a youngish father with his daughter of maybe three or four, and getting up to leave the train the daughter, on seeing me, said to her father in a tone of innocent wonder, “that man … looks… different”.

62. BiB - December 20, 2006

I like stories of children’s colour-blindness. I was once with a female friend whose child is mixed race. She is white. The father is African. Anyway, we were out amongst people we hadn’t met, the father wasn’t there, and one boy, who wasn’t THAT young (say, six) assumed I was the child’s father. Which gave me a minor thrill. Older people on buses looked more perplexed.

63. Mangonel - December 20, 2006

“BiB, you should stop translating and start writing books!” Comment 56 from Blonde at Heart.

My eyesight is so crap, when I first scanned this I read “BiB, you should stop translating and start writing bollocks!”


64. David (TEFL Smiler) - December 20, 2006

Thank you, Taiga! From the Kalevala – OK. You’ve cleared up something that’s confused two of my friends and me since the early ’90s!

You’re about to match and beat your record, BiB – how cool is that!

65. BiB - December 20, 2006

Mango, in that sense blogging and translating are EXTREMELY similar. I am far more likely to satisfy your injunction than BaH’s, more’s the pity… (I’m in the final (but long) furlong of this translation sesh. If you’re playing Scrabble at 5am, I might catch you there!)

66. BiB - December 20, 2006

David, maybe I should never blog anything again and just hope to pick up a few more nice comments here. You’re all awfully kind. Much the nicest people I know.

67. Welsherella - December 20, 2006

Welsherella turns up late again! I was getting all excited about the Divine Comedy song “Denmark”, which is my favourite and I was about to teach it to you all when I realised that the song is, in fact, called “Sweden”…
nice one with the comments though – you are soooooo popular!

68. BiB - December 20, 2006

…and you are all lovelily chatty.

But what’s a Kattegat between friends, eh? My mother met the alien Dane and I saw her face contort in mystery at the mention of the alien nation and then she asked, to my horror, “What exactly IS Denmark?”

69. Marsha Klein - December 20, 2006

Hi BiB,
Can you please delete your link to my (now ex) blog.


70. David (TEFL Smiler) - December 20, 2006

An interesting philosophical question from your mother. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall! Can you remember the response, or were you unable to focus due to the sheer awkwardness of the situation?

71. pleite - December 20, 2006

Marsha, your wish is my command, but that’s a shame. Or is this a tease and you’re opening up under another guise? Or have you just decided – rightly – that blogging’s a pain in the arse? I hope you’ll come back to it. There’s always room for one more blogger.

David, I think I let the two Danes – one human, one alien – deal with it. A map was partially to blame. They were hovering in front of it. At least my mother was looking vaguely in the right direction, though not closely enough to see that Denmark was a whole country.

72. Marsha Klein - December 20, 2006

BiB, I’m giving it a rest (for the time being at least) but I’ll still be lurking and commenting in the blogosphere!

73. BiB - December 20, 2006

That’s a shame. Wasn’t it all it was cracked up to be when it came down to it? But, of course, blogging can just nicely be ignored and then come back to whenever you like. It’s understanding like that.

74. David (TEFL Smiler) - December 20, 2006

I once heard of some Danes travelling in Spain in the 1980s. They got chatting to some locals who thought Denmark was a German Bundesland. When they tried to explain that no, it was a completely different country, these locals apparently thought they were separatists! Little did they know they had met members of an alien nation.

75. David (TEFL Smiler) - December 20, 2006

Wouldn’t it be cool to reach a hundred comments, by the way? Especially as you’re so close!

76. Marsha Klein - December 20, 2006

I was just thinking the same thing, David!

77. BiB - December 20, 2006

David, I mustn’t take the piss out of Americans. No, I mustn’t… OK, go on then, just this once. (Actually, I’ve told half the Americans I know in Berlin this story, so it’s allowed.) Another (human) Dane I knew studied in Texas. Was she not happy! But she did have an entertaining night out with some visiting (human) (and presumably physically perfect) Dane(sse)s as the local gents went in for exploratory talks with them. Did Danes have a language? Were they a republic? And, on hearing that there was a Queen, did they have democracy? (Which is almost sweet. I imagine the long-bearded king from the Little Prince.)

I’m going to attempt to write something FRESH either today or (more likely) tomorrow and stop this lovelily long run of comments in its tracks!

(Marsha, I’m already feeling a backlash welling up in me. Put your blog back up! Go on! You know you want to. You’ll regret it in the morning etc. etc.)

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