It is important to recall
that in language grammar is all.
Just a little homemade poem that came to me as I struggled to translate some brief, light-hearted end-of-year news items in the local paper.
I. One story was so hard I finally gave up – and I really wanted to know what it said.
It featured a leader in one of the Swiss political parties that seems, like our fire departments and the entire state of California, to require nearly movie-star good looks in their membership.
One problem: my 25 year-old dictionary didn’t have some of the words, like “Mobbing-Opfer.” Yes, Opfer is victim, but what is Mobbing? I think we would say, “ganged-up on him.”
So, now with that term they have captured my interest.
Other words stimulating my curiosity: someone at the University of Zurich writes a “massively critical report” on this guy, Christoph Moergeli, who denounces it as “full of errors and slanderous.”
Also, there’s something about criminal proceedings because of injury to the bureau’s secrecy requirements. And, “suspicion.” It appears that the report may have been given to a national Swiss newspaper.
All this on a eight-inch story, and I didn’t get half of it!
Second problem: once you know all, or most, of the words, you still don’t know what the item means.
II. The next story had too many hard, long words to waste time over, but the subject matter will be a familiar one to students of “Mish” and me and a few other hard-headed reality-based observers of the economy.
I only tell you about it because I love the abbreviation for the agency involved. In English it’s “the Parliamentary Investigation Commission.”
The investigation was of huge losses in Zurich’s cantonal pension fund, which covers 107,000 retired people. Hello? Sound familiar?
Passionate questions asked were, “How was it possible for the former chief of the fund to work there for 10 years pouring more than CHF 100 million into the sand and taking in CHF 1.7 million for himself without being discovered or hindered?”
Oh yes, the German abbreviation for the investigating committee? PUK!
III. Here’s one story I did get, with minimal recourse to the dictionary. The canton of Zurich appointed the first Commissioner for Men in Switzerland. Admittedly “Maenner” was not in the dictionary, but it seems pretty obvious, right?
So, anyway, no sooner does he get appointed, than critics bring up the uncomfortable facts about his earlier (published?) opinions. He wanted to “rethink’ the themes and definitions of hard pornography used in the schools.
Oops! In three weeks he was the first Ex-Commissioner for Men in Switzerland.
Well, that’s all the news I can enjoy for today. Happy Holidays!