February 25, 2006
Up from the comments section
More key comments from Meskel Square.
Comment by Nemo under Ethiopia goes to the dogs
A bit off topic, but after perusing your blog, I can't help but rant about the use of "ferengi" and "ferengis". I've always found it supremely annoying. "ferenj" or "ferenjoch" would make sense. What's up with the "i" suffix? Is it supposed to make it plural? So then why add another "s" on top of it? Even when writing or speaking in english, you could just say e.g. "all these ferenj", it sounds better and is more accurate.
There's nothing worse than gratuitous exoticism, which happens to be wrong, and that's what the "i" suffix seems like to me. It just sounds vaguely Arabic, Italian, foreign, exotic, whatever, so people just throw it in.
It's like when English speakers say "coup de grah" instead of "coup de grace" in french, where the "s" sound is actually supposed to be pronounced. To the non-French speaker it sounds vaguely more French to make the "ce" silent but it's not -- it's really wrong and horrible!
Or -- typical hollywood thing -- say two Nazis are talking to each other, and both are played by American actors. In the story they are of course supposed to be talking in German, but they sound like "Vee vill do zat und zis, ja" etc. which is ridiculous. Either make them actually speak in German and subtitle it in English, or just make them speak English in a natural appropriate accent within that language (e.g. tone, social class etc.). Why translate something, and then add a phoney accent on top of it, as if that will untranslate it and make it more authentic sounding.
End of rant about this totally minor point.
No doubt you are right Nemo. But the reason I keep typing 'ferengi' is because that is what every child in Addis shouts at me the moment I venture out on to the streets (in between their cries of 'you, you, you'). Up until recently, when I am in a good enough mood, I have shouted 'habesha' back at them. It always gets a few laughs, no doubt at my expense. (By the way, am I being rude or in any way gramatically accurate?) Now that I know better, I will walk up to them, grab them by an ear and scream "surely you mean 'ferenj' or 'ferenjoch'".
Coment by ciilaaloo Lakki about Parris back in Addis
I think Afars are very gentle and beautiful people; they are not ferocious and deadly as it was narratted by people in the past. The Europeans who came with their guns and armies 500 and 600 years ago were more ferocious than the Afaris. They took our lands, killed our people and destroyed our governments all over Africa. Who was more ferocious than the pushy new imperialists of the 1890 Joe Chamberlin and Cecil Rhodes. Leave my people alone, please. Do not reinforce steryotyping as it used to be told in the past.If you do not stop saying that; you may watch for your groin. Africa has been bleeding since the arrival of the imperialists.
This, I think, was a reaction to Matthew Parris writing "I shall be among the ferocious Afar, the native tribe who were described by the explorer Nesbitt as wearing necklaces of the desiccated scrotums of all the men they had killed." It's a good point, well made by ciilaaloo Lakki - although a little undermined by the threat to my groin.
Posted by aheavens at February 25, 2006 5:01 AM