Off-topic request for opinion from all you literary types

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue Jan 11 16:49:36 EST 2005


Gili wrote:

>Elise wrote:
>>Equinoctial is an interesting,
>>awkward sounding choice by the author.
>
>Good point. I guess that's why I didn't want to translate it into anything
>too obvious...

The trouble is that I somehow feel that in Israel rain isn't a sort of
dreary nuisance that makes one feel fed-up and depressed at the beginning
of winter ("oh Lord! six more months of *this*!") and so in Israel
drubbling rain and mildly depressed tears haven't got the same sort of
relationship anyhow.  "Equinoctial" also carries with it an inevitability:
it's that time of year *every* year, it's *going* to rain at some point
about then.  And one is *going* to be mildly depressed by that: all the mud
and the raincoats and all the rest of the boring nuisance in store.

The English reaction to weather is more a sort of mild ongoing irritation
than any sort of active anxiety: when it doesn't rain for a whole month,
the papers start to try to make us all panic about drought, but it sort-of
doesn't *take* really.  Similarly we don't actively expect floods (though
we ought to, if we go on systematically covering the country with concrete
and ploughland, because they will get more and more frequent) and are
somehow aggrieved if they happen, and high winds make us positively peevish
about the *unreasonableness* of it all (as this week).

How many words do you have for different sorts of rain?  I haven't ever
counted, but words like drizzle and mizzle and smur and spitting rain are
all over the English language, it seems like.  To say nothing of tempest
and downpour and drenching!

It would be very difficult, I would have thought, to translate anything
climate-related from a soggy-country language into an arid-country
language, because there are bound to be oodles of nuances that just would
not be there.  If the Middle East had a pantheon of gods rather than One
God, would there be a very important male god-of-thunder-and-rain who had
to be placated, the way there is in the Norse pantheon, or would she be a
lady who had to be wooed, I wonder.

This could easily now start in the direction of climate as it has an effect
on general writing style.  Lots of "plot" in English writing involves
having to stay in because it's raining outside, for instance, starting with
*The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe* and moving off in all directions
from there: what would be the equivalent in a hot country?  "You can't go
out as you had planned to do because it is unexpectedly sunny" somehow
doesn't quite seem the same!  (And I don't care if the sun does shine
sometimes in Virginia Woolf's books, when I read them I simply assume a
perpetual Scotch Mist hanging around everyone's heads at all times... I
have only just noticed this.  *To the Lighthouse* probably has no actual
reported rain at all, but it feels drizzly to me.)

Minnow


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