Monday, 6 May 2013

Shalee lhaih 2013: Shiaghtin 18

Jerrey hoghtoo hiaghtin jeig ny Shallee Lhaih. Shoh ny lhiah mee yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie:

The language instinct (Stephen Pinker)

Stoo trome, son y chooid smoo. Va ny cabdillyn çhengoaylleeagh casley rish ny ta mee er ny lhaih hannah, as er lhiam nagh row ad ny share. Dennee mee nagh row Pinker shickyr my v'eh son screeu oaylleeaght ny lioar ny theay, as t'eh lhiemmey eddyr mynphoyntys as neuvaghtallys. Cha nel eh soilshaghey magh kuse dy hampleyryn dy mie: myr sampleyr, hoilshee eh dy vel ""I haven't done any work" y red cheddin as "I haven't done no work" nagh mie lesh sleih ennagh; agh cha dug eh geill erbee da'n phiyr elley, "Have(n't) you done any work?" as "Haven't you done no work?". Er lhiam nagh dod oo gra dy nee "obbalagh" eh "ayn" 'syn tampleyr shen myr t'eshyn dy ghra. Ayns buill elley dennee mee dy row eh jus meechiart, as ren shen brishey'n argane dou. As eh screeu lioar bentyn rish Ooilley-Ghrammeydys, er lhiam dy lhisagh eh er ngoaill stiagh ymmodee sampleyryn ayns çhengaghyn elley, agh she beggan beg t'ayn. Cha nel shen cur barrant aym er. Obbyr woal, dy firrinagh. Ta mee coardail rish arganeyn Amorey Gethin son y chooid smoo.

The Difference Engine (William Gibson & Bruce Sterling)

Screeu Gibson Neuromancer, as ta co-vlass orroo. Ta taghyrtyn breeoil as cleaynagh ec y jees, as screeueeaght vie, agh ta'n aght screeuee neuhickyr as t'eh goll 'sy voglagh ny keayrtyn. By anaasoil dou yn eie oc er Lunnin elley - she eie cadjin t'ayn nish, agh cha row eh ec y traa shid - as beaghyn as kiarailyn ny karracteyryn. Ta'n lioar rheynnit ayns tree, as dagh trass bentyn rish karracteyr elley 'syn un chooish, as ta kiangley faase eddyr oc. Er lhiam dy vel y bree lheie assdaue dagh keayrt, as ta jerrey ny trassyn moal. Chammah's shen, ta Gibson as Sterling covestey skeeal contoyrtys, far-hennaghys, coontaghyn jeh'n far-Lunnin shoh, as cochialg cramp, as cha nee eiyrtys fondagh t'ayn. Ta'n stoo sheshoil lane çhaghnoaylleeaght as broid, as ta'n cochialg lane sleih gyn sheeanys erbee, ny monney elley. Gollrish Neuromancer, ga dy nee cree ny lioar t'ayn, ta'n cochialg hene jus lheie ersooyl gyn cooilleeney. She dhossan dy "artyn pabyr-naight" as y lheid eh jerrey ny lioar, stoo dree nagh vel cur jerrey fondagh urree. Dennee mee nagh ghow mee veg assjee agh soilshaghyn sollagh as eie cochialg nagh ren ad hene rieau feaysley dy slane.

Cha nee lioar ghennal t'ayn noadyr, gyn jerrey mie da peiagh erbee. T'ee lane ymmyrkey olk as taghyrtyn olk. Foddym cur neuhastey da shen er y fa dy vel ad far-Victorianagh, agh cha mie lhiam ad. Er y laue elley, ta Shapaanee ayns shen, as fer gorrym: y chied nyn lieh-ninja lane yindys as graih er reddyn Sostnagh, as y jeh elley ny 'leab gyn fa erbee dy ve ayn, choud's hoig mee. Cha nel ad cur red erbee da'n skeeal, as ta blass meehaitnyssagh oc: agh she blass 1970 t'ayn, cha nee blass 1870.

T'ad gra dy nee lioaryn ard-smooinaghtagh t'ayn, agh erreish dou lhaih Neuromancer as The Difference Engine, er lhiam nagh vel mee son lhaih lioar Gibson erbee elley. Cha nel ad feeu; ta red ny ghaa feeu ayndaue, agh t'ad dree, chaarjyn, dree agglagh. As shoh doilleed adsyn ta jannoo reddyn noa, foddee: nee y nah fer obbyr ny share lesh ny h-eieyn v'ayds.

The end of week eighteen of the Reading Project. Here's what I've read this week:

The language instinct (Stephen Pinker)

Dry. The linguistics-heavier sections are similar to what I've read before, and didn't seem especially well-done. Pinker seems unable to decide how pop to be - getting quite technical in some places, but failing to flesh out interesting examples. For example, I was interested by his note that "I haven't done any work" is functionally equivalent to the oft-deplored "I haven't done no work", but Pinker didn't continue on to consider "Have(n't) you done any work?", which only has a non-standard equivalent in the negative "Haven't you done no work?". Amorey Gethin has mentioned a number of other issues with the book as a whole. I also disagreed with some of his grammaticality judgements, which caused some problems. For example, "mice-eater" is just not correct in my English, sorry Pinker. The interesting question is not "why is an irregular plural permitted in this compound, but not a regular plural?" but "why do children make this mistake?". Pinker's whole idea is to support Universal Grammar, but he seems to rather jump at evidence; at the same time, I found the dearth of non-English examples a crippling weakness in such a project.

The Difference Engine (William Gibson & Bruce Sterling)

This book is in some ways very similar to Neuromancer. It has some striking passages, evocative ideas, and the earlier stages of each of the book's three main divisions are quite gripping; although the style is uncertain and occasionally a slog. I was drawn in by the (now familiar) vision of a mechanical London they'd created, and by the lives and schemes of the characters. However, the early spark of each section seemed to fizzle out, and it became harder-going. Gibson and Sterling mix together an adventure plot with pseudohistory, with exploration of their fictional London (complete with really quite a lot of technicality), and with an increasingly convoluted conspiracy full of (towards the end) blandly-unlikeable characters. Most tiresomely, they pull the same non-ending as Neuromancer did, but even more so: one of the major characters gets an actual ending, but the conspiracy plot that they (misguidedly?) decided to centre the story on just drifts off into nothing, and the book concludes unsatisfactorily with a motley collection of in-story news clippings and extracts that add remarkably little and are quite hard work.

It's not a cheerful book either, with no good coming to anyone, and is riddled with attitudes and situations that are probably a decent approximation of Victorian, but none the more welcome for it. The petty prejudices of all the characters leave a nasty taste in the mouth but I can overlook them; on the other hand, I could have perhaps done without the only Japanese characters being ninja-approximations with a worshipful attitude to everything British, and the only black character being a slave with no apparent point at all. Neither were necessary, or even relevant.

Ground-breaking they may be, but the duo of Neuromancer and The Difference Engine seem enough evidence to confirm that I wouldn't enjoy reading any more Gibson. There's cool bits in what he writes, fair enough, but heck can he be tedious. Maybe that's one of the problems of originality - the next person to come along can grab onto some of your ideas and do something better or more elegant with them.

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