[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Language: To MartinEuser

Jun 15, 1996 05:26 PM
by alexis dolgorukii


I've been doing a lot of thinking since answering your last message, and, as
a result of that thinking, I have come to believe that one of the primary
problems interfering in our relationship is language. You and I don't
understand English words the same way.

You know I lived and worked in Europe for many years, and one of the things
I noticed is that no matter how well a European speaks English, they usually
think they know the language better than they do. They may have no problems
with grammar and syntax but they usually have gaps in their vocabulary. It's
hardly surprising for a person speaking in a language other than their own,
has to translate words out of their native tongue, for instance, you must
translate everything you say to me in English FROM Dutch; and it's in those
translations that problems arise.

I think that's why we have such problems with "Criticize", in English it
just doesn't carry the same connotations that it's translations from other
tongues do. In commenting on "Ruminations" you are subjecting it to
"exegesis", which in English can best be translated as "analysis", but in
German, at least, the translation would be "criticism". The two things are
hardly identical, I assure you that in proper English the word "Criticize"
carries an entirely negative connotation. The only possible exception is
when it concerns the work of a "critic" such as a drama, music, or art
critic. But even then, critics don't "criticize" they "review". And "severe
criticism" is positively pejorative. As an example: You analyze and strongly
object to things I say in "Ruminations". I severely criticize Charles
Webster Leadbeater for being a child molester. Do you see the difference?

Perhaps I should give a word or two on my background. I come from a family
that has an obsession with proper English. My Mother, who was born in St.
Petersburg Russia had governesses and tutors who taught her French, German,
and English (but not Russian) in the Nursery. When she was 9 years old she
went to Paris to live and spoke primarily French, later she moved to New
York. Her career was as Editor of a major American Magazine (Mc Call's) and
she was obsessed with good English. My Father graduated from the United
States Military academy at West Point, but went on to get a Master's degree
and his Doctorate at Oxford (he got another at the Sorbonne). In any case,
the proper usage of English is something which was instilled in my from my
earliest youth. As a writer (among other things) I am a professional
utilizer of the English language. With no offense either intended or
implied; there is no question that in any discussion regarding English
Semantics or English Philology, I am a specialist and you are very much the
amateur. For instance Dr. Bain and I disagree very strongly on certain
points of my philosophy, but we have never had a problem because both of us
are extremely careful in our language usage and we never say or imply
anything that we don't mean.

I assure you Martin that if you say to any person for whom English is the
primary language, that I criticize you severely, they will be annoyed if not
positively angered and insulted. It just doesn't mean what I hope you mean
by it.

I think that perhaps you should have given some thought to communications
problems when first you realized I was becoming insulted by your words.
Instead, at least as I see, it you became defensive. I don't really believe
it was necessary for you to do so.


[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application