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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Europe Praises Hillary
Created by John Eipper on 10/12/16 4:40 AM

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Europe Praises Hillary (Angel Vinas, Belgium, 10/12/16 4:40 am)

Well, in response to JE´s question about Hillary Clinton, I will acknowledge that I support her. It isn't a matter of fire and frying pan. It´s a matter of who should hold the most important political and military position in the world. I´d be utterly ashamed if a guy like Donald Trump would run for office in any EU member state, and God knows that we have some unsavoury characters.

JE comments:  One of our colleagues, I believe it was Francisco Ramírez, sent a poll recently that Europeans would vote for Hillary at something like 90%.  A few more "Donaldgates" like last week, and the margin could approach the same in the US.

My inner clock is also stuck between Europe and America.  Last night I rolled into WAIS HQ at 5 AM, after what turned out to be a 30-hour travel marathon involving three flights, five nations, and endless seat time in airports.  I may fall behind a bit on the Forum today as I attempt to readjust.  Also, I'm in the classroom.

Next up with (lukewarm) European praise for Hillary, Carmen Negrín.


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  • Donaldgate (John Heelan, UK 10/12/16 9:21 AM)
    Donaldgates are exposing US politics and current presidential candidates to global mockery. This is not good PR for the worlds's most powerful political post.

    Take a look at HuffPost's take on today's offering by the UK satirical magazine Private Eye:


    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/private-eye-trump-cover_uk_57fcbaa4e4b01fa2b9052478



    Further, inside there is a cartoon juxtaposing Donald Duck with a Trump-like "Donald Goose"!


    JE comments: Hope or Grope; times have changed.  But should it be Donaldgate or Trumpgate?  Google says the latter 10 to 1.  I prefer the sound of Donaldgate, although there is at least one real guy named Donald Gate who must be wondering why so many are visiting his Linkedin profile.

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  • Clinton v Trump: Is Trump the Problem or the Symptom? (David A. Westbrook, USA 10/13/16 4:39 AM)
    This is slightly funny: John E asked for reasons to support Clinton, and then Ángel Viñas simply says "I support Hillary. Trump is horrible." Carmen Negrín did much the same thing. These are not positive reasons, even if the position voiced may be compelling. And that's just the point.



    Like John, I too am just back from Europe, Belgium and Germany in my case. People (even some near strangers) brought up Trump apropos of nothing, and their worries about the election.



    Put it differently, how bad does Hillary have to be for somebody like Trump [list of vices] to be as plausible as he has been for so many and so long? Or put differently again: if you threw a dart at a list of elected American officials, what are the odds that you would hit somebody who would have run a more credible campaign on behalf of the Democrats? That is, one might argue that Hillary is the second worst politician we've seen in ages.



    But there is another way to frame this argument. People in the US, as in Europe, are confronting fundamental, existential, questions about the meaning of their polities, and so of citizenship and much of life. From this perspective, Trump is as much symptom or catalyst as anything else, and the press on both sides of the Atlantic devotes huge amounts of attention to his doings. But almost nobody believes that Clinton can address the questions of which Trump is a symptom.

    Saying "Trump is horrible" just doesn't get us very far.


    JE comments:  Faint damn is about as much praise as we'll get in this election cycle.  How depressing--but faint damn is sufficient to score a win.  For the mule, isn't the stick just as "incentivizing" as the carrot?


    Conscientious abstention is one response.  Massoud Malek is the first WAISer to go public with his decision to stay home on Tuesday, November 8th.  He will be joined by millions and millions of others.  We'll hear from Massoud later today.



    Bert Westbrook seems to share my "rock bottom" analogy.  The first step to recovery is admitting there's a problem.  Might we be at that point, now?

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    • Clinton v Trump: Is Trump the Problem or the Symptom? (Nigel Jones, UK 10/13/16 6:36 AM)

      I think |David Westbrook's post of October 13th hits several nails squarely on the head.


      Donald Trump is clearly a vile and ridiculous individual who should have been rejected comprehensively months ago. The fact that he has not been, and is even now given a faint chance of becoming President, to me says two things:


      A)  That there is a profound crisis in US democracy, probably equal or exceeding the Civil Rights battles of the 1960s, McCarthyism, and the Great Depression.


      B)  That his opponent, who should be a shoo-in, is just as vile, or even worse than Trump.


      The support for the ludicrous but probably well-meaning Bernie Sanders, and the massive abstention rate, suggests that I am correct in both these assumptions.


      Let us then consider what a more credible candidate than Trump might have looked like:


      My fantasy candidate would not be a squillionaire like Hillary-Trump and would be their opposite in every conceivable way. He/she would be in touch with the great wave of anti-Establishment feeling sweeping the Western world, therefore probably not a Washington insider. He/she would tell the truth, at least occasionally, and not be a habitual liar like Hillary-Trump. He/she would espouse credible economic policies and not the discredited creed of socialism à la Bernie. He/she would have a "normal" family life, not the sham marriage of the Clintons, nor the serial monogamy of groper Trump. He/she might be religious or not, but would stand up for the Judeo-Christian values of the West.


      The fact that such a person--a Lincoln, a Coolidge, an Eisenhower, a Truman or a Reagan--does not exist speaks volumes.


      The massive disappointment and the eight wasted years of the Obama presidency have merely fuelled the crisis.


      America and Europe are passing through a very dark valley. Let us hope it is the dark before the dawn.


      JE comments:  I've been thinking all morning about David/Bert Westbrook's claim that Hillary is the "second worst" US politician we've seen in ages.  I infer from this that Bert considers Trump the worst.  I'm going to disagree:  that Trump has made it this far with no credentials whatsoever suggests exactly the opposite.  In a culture that celebrates soundbites, celebrity, and media saturation more than anything that would approach substance, Trump is the consummate master.  He's not a bad politician; politics rather have come around to "brands" of the Trump ilk.  America is holding its nose, but America caused the stench.



      Of Nigel Jones's list of preferable candidates, who could get elected in today's media environment?  I'd say none except Reagan.  Lincoln--too ungainly; Coolidge--too non-verbal; Eisenhower--overly avuncular, and bald; Truman--way too poor, and nothing but a failed haberdasher. 


       

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      • Clinton v Trump: 3 Rebuttals to Nigel Jones (Paul Pitlick, USA 10/14/16 2:54 AM)
        I'd like to make three comments on Nigel Jones's post of October 13th:

        1. It's said that hindsight is better than foresight by a damn-sight. (What is a damn-sight, anyway?) Or there must be more criteria for an "ideal candidate" than Nigel Jones lists in his post. Both Jimmy Carter (in 1976) and George W. Bush (in 2000) would fulfill those criteria.



        2. Whatever one thinks of Trump and/or Clinton, one of them will be elected--period. Since my first vote in 1964, many elections have been a lesser-of-2-evils affairs. But none of them have been as "evil" as Trump, and Hillary has done a pretty good job of sitting back and letting him self-destruct.



        3. What "eight wasted years of the Obama presidency?" Let's recall where the US has been over the past 20+ years. During the Bill Clinton years, something like 20 million jobs were created, the stock markets soared, and he finally got the Reagan/GHW Bush budget deficits under control. From 2001-2008, GW Bush lost track of bin Laden, and got us involved in two disastrous wars. No jobs were created (as in zero), and the stock markets cratered. A trillion dollar/year budget deficit was left for Mr. Obama. Since 2009, jobs are up again, the markets have improved, and budget deficits are falling. The truly "wasted" years were 2001-2008.


        JE comments:  We should not lose sight of Paul Pitlick's point #2.  One of them will be elected.  Period.  It's a tiny bit premature, but should we start discussing what a Clinton presidency will look like?  What kinds of changes should we anticipate from the Obama years?  Several WAIS colleagues, especially those in Europe, predict a more hawkish administration.  Will it be US Foreign Policy-as-Usual, such as with Israel and Saudi Arabia?  What about Russia?


        Come to think of it, might President HRC look a bit like Obama with some George W Bush mixed in?


        Next up with a rebuttal to Nigel Jones:  Tor Guimaraes.


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        • What Might a Clinton Presidency Look Like? (Carmen Negrin, France 10/14/16 6:18 PM)
          Besides the Presidency, there is the Senate and Congress. As we have all know without them the President is blocked. Obama has done a great job in spite of the short-sighted systematic obstructionism by Republicans. At least now the Supreme Court will have a new nominee and, hopefully so, chosen by Hillary. That alone will be a significant change from Obama, although it is not his fault. She might also do something regarding the use of guns and perhaps change the law concerning loopholes for taxes. She might even intervene in stopping the massacre in Yemen, in spite of and maybe thanks to her links with Saudi Arabia. These are the minimum things one can expect from Hillary.

          Now if it were Trump, nothing, except fewer taxes for the very rich, can be foreseen.


          JE comments:  I asked for more information about the chaos in Yemen, and the Public Radio program The World responded today.  The following is a very informative piece on how the US role is escalating in that corner of the globe.  The next president will have to deal with Yemen, whether s/he wishes to or not.


          http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-10-14/us-involvement-yemen-war-just-got-deeper


          A curiosity:  should Hillary win, will she feel obliged to put forth Merrick Garland for the Court?  Garland is a patient sort.  He reminds me of Prince Charles, waiting a lifetime to start your new job.


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        • Hillary Clinton's Cuba Policy: Timothy Ashby in "Cuba Standard" (Timothy Ashby, Spain 10/15/16 6:32 AM)
          Regarding Hillary Clinton's presumed policies if she wins next month's presidential election, I can at least comment on her Cuba policy. Please see my attached article from Cuba Standard.

          https://www.cubastandard.com/?p=16331


          JE comments:  Thank you, Tim.  We can expect more of the Obama rapprochement towards Cuba regardless of who wins in November.  Trump was the only GOP candidate who advocated an end to the embargo.


          At this point, the financial claims on both sides are the stickiest issue.  Could Tim Ashby give us an overview on how the debt-equity swap vouchers might work?  One perhaps unwelcome aspect of "normalized" relations, at least for Cubans hoping to leave, would be the removal of automatic asylum to Cubans who come to the US.


          A final question for Tim:  Do the Castros fully expect to see Hillary win in November?  Do they have a contingency plan in place in case the contest swings Donaldward?

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          • Obama, Kerry, Hillary and the Cuba Embargo (Timothy Ashby, Spain 10/17/16 3:04 AM)
            Last Friday, 14th October, President Obama issued a sweeping Presidential Policy Directive (PPO) stating his Administration's unequivocal opposition to the US Embargo and respect for Cuban sovereignty. This coincided with the publication of additional changes to the Cuban Asset Control Regulations allowing greater trade with, and investment in, Cuba. Although much has been made in the media about lifting the limits on importation of cigars and rum for personal use by US citizens, I think from a business perspective a key provision is allowing US citizens to provide services to improve Cuba's infrastructure--which requires billions in investment.

            While I disagree with many of President Obama's policies, I think that he deserves his otherwise undeserved Nobel Peace Prize for his moves to normalize relations with Cuba. Although Hillary Clinton has claimed she advocated for this dramatic policy shift while Secretary of State, the true unsung hero of the opening to Cuba is John Kerry. By the way, I was a member of Republicans for Kerry http://old.seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2002062322_timashby14.html during the 2004 election and had a very pleasant lunch with him at the US Senate Dining Room after he lost to the despicable George Bush, during which we discussed future Cuba policy. Like other WAISers, I am sitting out the current election as I equally despise both Hillary and the Donald. I cannot conceive of voting for "the lesser of two evils" (or, more appropriately, to quote Captain Jack Aubrey, "the lesser of two weevils"),


            Regarding settlement of US Certified Claims against Cuba: we're looking at various options, ranging from swapping large claims for development rights, concessions or equity in Cuban corporations or offshore limited partnerships, to payment of bonds for small claims such as great-uncle Frankie's 1956 Chevy (these small claims are the overwhelming majority of the 5,913 claims certified as valid by the US Justice Department).


            As for the Cuban Adjustment Act (the program dating from the Lyndon Johnson administration that enables Cuban immigrants to get welfare benefits and asylum from the moment they set foot on US soil)--yes, I expect this to be repealed as the legislation has strong bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill from such disparate Members of Congress as Marco Rubio and prominent Florida Democrats like Sen. Bill Nelson and the (now disgraced) Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The Cuban government has made this "Wet Foot, Dry Foot" policy a key issue in its bilateral negotiations with the US.


            A small correction regarding John's question, "Do the Castros fully expect to see Hillary win in November?"  It is no longer accurate to refer to "the Castros," as Fidel is truly a non-entity regarding his ability to influence Cuban government policy. He is still officially revered but no one takes his occasionally blogging seriously. Unlike Fidel, President Raúl Castro cannot be described as a dictator, as he presides over a deliberative Council of Ministers--very similar to Cabinets in Western democracies--which makes decisions collectively. Cuba is--and, I believe, will remain--a one-party, officially socialist state for some time, but its government will continue a slow, and often halting, pace of economic reform.


            To answer John's question: Yes, the Cuban government fully expects to see Hillary win in November, although I have personally assured the Cuban ambassador to London that in the increasingly unlikely event that The Donald wins, the changes in US policy are irreversible and the Embargo will be consigned to "the dustbin of history" within 18 months (excuse me for quoting Trotsky, but I thought it appropriate!).


            JE comments:  Thank you, Tim, especially for setting me straight on my "Castros" remark.  I still assumed that Fidel was the puppetmaster in the background.


            These are exciting times for Cuba-watching.  That's a plug for WAIS '17, which is now less than a year off:  October 6-8, 2017, Havana.  Mark your calendars.  Cigars and rum at the opening reception!

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            • Shame on Those Who Don't Vote (John Heelan, UK 10/17/16 11:50 AM)
              I am disappointed that some US WAISers have indicated that they might well not vote in the forthcoming Presidential Election for various reasons. (I expected better of well-educated colleagues.)

              In my view, the rights of citizenship in a democracy are matched with the duties of citizenship in that democracy. One of those important duties is to choose the governance.


              Further, as we find regularly from low election turnouts in the UK, voter apathy plays directly into the hands of the better-funded and better-organised political parties, skilled in getting their activists to the polling stations. We have recently observed in the elections for the leadership of the Labour Party heavily influenced by Momentum activists regarded by some as representing the Hard Left.


              As somebody once said, "Those who can't be bothered to vote, get the government they deserve!" I have long argued that in a democracy, voting should be compulsory, provided the ballot papers have the additional choice of "None of the Above."


              JE comments:  Ms. Nunadee-Aboff could probably defeat Hillary and Trump...combined.


              Voting is like Public Radio (or WAIS):  your individual vote doesn't really matter, but the act of voting (like donating to WAIS) makes you feel great.  Also, suppose if nobody voted (or gave to WAIS).  The entire enterprise would collapse--or lead to ochlocracy.  (Remember that word from last week?)


              Today we've heard from conscientious abstainers Massoud Malek and Timothy Ashby.  The third member of that triumvirate, Cameron Sawyer, is next.

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              • Yes, Vote; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 10/18/16 3:39 AM)
                Ric Mauricio writes:

                Hear, hear! Totally in agreement with John Heelan and John Eipper. I'll even go one step further. Your non-vote is actually a positive vote for the eventual winner. Perhaps those who are looking for the perfect candidate can find one in Fantasyland. Do we vote for Dumbo or Peter Pan? We have been blessed to have the right to vote, unlike places like the People's Republic of China (yeah, right, what a joke ... People's Republic). If you have to abstain from voting for Trump or Clinton, at least vote for one of the third-party candidates. You may not think it means much, but it is furthers your right to vote and sends a message.


                As to Hillary Clinton not being a Margaret Thatcher (Cameron Sawyer, 17 October), I believe that most, if not all of us, can agree on that. And voting for a person because they are of a certain sex, or ethnicity, or religion is in itself misogynistic, racist, or insensitive, only in reverse. Shame on Madeleine Albright for her statement that there is a special place in hell for women who do not vote for Hillary. That, my dear Madeleine, is a sexist statement (which brought a grimace to Hillary's demeanor when she heard it).


                JE comments:  How about compulsory voting?  Among other places, this is the case in Brazil.  See David Fleischer, next.


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              • Compulsory Voting in Brazil (David Fleischer, Brazil 10/18/16 3:50 AM)
                In some countries, voting is mandatory (obligatory), as in Brazil where voter registration and voting are both mandatory. Brazil devised this in the mid-1940s because the political class considered that the Brazilian voter was truly ignorant with zero feelings of "civic duty," and therefore had to be obliged to register and vote. But back then some 70% of the population was illiterate and barred from voting.



                If you don't register and/or vote you are assessed a small fine--less than two dollars, but you are penalized in other ways. For example, you can't open a bank account, no housing loans, can't attend a university, etc.



                Many feel that it is high time to change this--voting should be a right and not duty imposed by law.

                However, the politicians today use this as a negative form of motivation (threat) to browbeat people into voting. "You have to vote; if you don't vote there are heavy penalties!"



                Survey research data shows a "U Curve"--the poor and the rich would continue to vote if it were voluntary, but the middle class would go to the beach, to a mountain resort, or the mother-in-law's house instead of voting. Voting in Brazil is always on Sundays--first and last Sunday in October (two Sundays because of the second-round runoff elections for Mayors, Governors and Presidents). This makes voting easier than on a weekday in the US.



                On October 3, abstention was higher than usual in some of Brazil's largest cities (more alienation and voters "turned off" by corruption and other political maladies).



                In the US, to calculate "abstention," or the opposite (turnout), one must remember that voter registration is not mandatory (nor is voting). So abstention should be calculated over the part of the population over 18 who are eligible to register. This calculation would make abstention much higher than calculating over the population registered to vote.



                Obama's smart move in 2008 was to mobilize young people to canvas to get people to register to vote. But, apparently his election "machine" in 2012 did not use this tactic as much as in 2008.



                Remember--"Voting is a right, not an enforced duty." Americans have the "right" to acquire a driver's license but this is not a "duty" (obligatory).


                JE comments: Gary Moore has proposed a WAIS "pool" on the turnout on November 8th. Historically, the percentage is in the 50s.  The all-time low was 49% in 1996.  I'm going to predict 50% on the nose.


                Or should we just talk about baseball?  You have to be pulling for David Duggan's Chicago Cubs as they attempt to break the 108-year World Series curse.  The Cleveland Indians have been hungry for generations, too:  since 1948.  I hope we'll see a Cubs-Indians Series.

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              • To Vote or Not to Vote (A. J. Cave, USA 10/18/16 4:59 AM)

                Vote!


                 


                JE comments:  This five-character post may be a new WAIS record.  A. J. Cave has a reputation for long and beautifully narrated posts, so she's overdue for a quip or two.


                 


                So yes, Dear Colleagues:  Vote!  Or not:  A. J.'s countryman Massoud Malek (next) makes another case for the principled non-vote.


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              • On November 8th, Not Voting is the Humane Way (Massoud Malek, USA 10/18/16 5:10 AM)
                In the years leading up to the American Revolutionary War, England's parliament imposed the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, and a variety of other taxation laws on their thirteen colonies in order to get money for Great Britain.

                Americans erupted in anger; all across the colonies, the new cry of "taxation without representation" was heard. Twenty-nine year-old Patrick Henry, who had held his seat for only a matter of days, denounced the Stamp Act in fiery terms. Suggesting that the Act would eventually force the colonies into revolt and be the downfall of King George III, Henry urged fellow legislators not to turn back: "If this be treason, make the most of it."


                Today, on one side we have Hillary Clinton, a warmonger who pretends to be the friend of African Americans, while getting money from criminal friends like Gilbert Chagoury, who advised and helped the dictator Sani Abacha of Nigeria to stash more than $4 billion of the Nigerian people's money in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, and the Isle of Jersey. On the other side we are stuck with Donald Trump, a racist who wants to free Americans by erecting walls. He also wants to create jobs but hates to pay his workers for the jobs they do.


                I rather be a bad citizen and abstain than impose an evil on American people by my vote.


                Sources:


                http://www.offthegridnews.com/religion/the-4-acts-that-lead-to-the-american-revolution/


                http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/bribe/2010/01/nigeria-chasing-the-ghosts-of-a-corrupt-regime.html


                JE comments: I'll echo Ric Mauricio. If you feel this way about the two main candidates, vote for one of the minor leaguers. Here's the latest dark horse to enter the fray: Evan McMullin. He has pulled even in Utah, where conservative Mormons are particularly hostile to Trump.  Only 49 states to go.


                https://www.evanmcmullin.com/home

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                • Don't Not Vote! On Voter Mistrust (John Heelan, UK 10/18/16 11:55 AM)
                  Massoud Malek (18 October) reminded us that in the 1770s the political angst was "a new cry of 'no taxation without representation.'"

                  I wonder if worldwide we are hearing a new cry, "We no longer trust the Establishment to do what the electorate demands!" Last night, the BBC screened a documentary by the acerbic commentator, Jeremy Paxman, on why both Trump and Clinton are seemingly despised. A frequent comment from his Republican and Democrat interviewees from was "Washington is ignoring us!"


                  If so, this might explain the Arab Spring revolutions, the Brexit vote, and the "Trump phenomenon." The danger is that angst could lead to populist dictatorships and/or anarchy given the increasing polarisation to both Left and Right ideologies.


                  JE comments: Or, ochlocracy!  I'm going to repeat this word until I remember it.


                  John Heelan has hit the nail squarely on the head:  the electorate doesn't trust the politicians.  We've been saying this for...generations?  But now we really, really mean it.


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                  • Voter Mistrust--Whither the US? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/18/16 7:41 PM)
                    This discussion about how the American people have to choose between two unwanted, less-than-decent candidates for the highest office is extremely depressing.

                    I have been screaming in the wilderness for years about the strong symptoms indicating the slow demise of US democracy, but never imagined the perverse nature of this situation: people are strongly divided along the major party lines to the point where no one can really win and govern properly, since both candidates are viewed as unworthy by a large segment of the population.  There is no possible compromise in sight.


                    What next? Please God, not a civil war.


                    JE comments: I don't think we have to worry about that. But if so...the liberals will be outgunned.


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                  • Voting Against vs Voting For (Carmen Negrin, France 10/19/16 2:51 AM)
                    Following Massoud Malek's comments on voter abstention, I think we all know that politicians alone cannot really solve our problems, or the world's problems for that matter, but they can certainly make things worse, which is why for years, and in two countries, with very few exceptions, I have always voted against someone and not for someone.

                    Inasmuch as I have no doubts on who is the worst candidate in the US this year, I might have a hard time voting in the second round for the least worse in France next year if it ends up being a race between Le Pen and Sarkozy, who is just a bad copy of Le Pen! But even then, I will "sacrifice myself" and vote for the least worse.


                    And, whether we like the candidates as much as we would like to or not, it's a real privilege to be able to vote.


                    JE comments:  Carmen Negrín's formula:  vote for the gal or guy who will do the least damage.  Whether they're aware of it or not, this is the decision facing most Americans this year.


                    Carmen:  could you give us a preview of next year's elections in France?  Are Hollande's Socialists more or less assumed to lose?


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                    • France's Presidential Election, April 2017 (Carmen Negrin, France 10/19/16 9:05 AM)
                      John E asked me for a preview of next April's presidential election.

                      The Socialist party is repeating the same mistake it did with Jospin: starting the campaign too late. There is still no official candidate, and whoever is chosen will only be able to really start exposing his/her ideas in December. Hollande seems to want to be chosen, since he has started explaining what he has been doing since he was elected, but if the message hasn't gotten through in all these years, there is no reason for it to do so now.


                      As for Sarkozy, he seems to have forgotten that, by and large, people didn't vote for Hollande but against Sarkozy. However, he could still be picked by his party. If Juppé is chosen to represent LR, which is quite possible, especially if left-wing people vote in the primaries, things would be very different. He probably would be the final winner, even though there was a full one month strike when he was Prime Minister and although he was condemned for corruption (but everyone knows he was covering up for Chirac).


                      As things stand right now, and whatever happens with these two parties, Le Pen will come out in the second round, partly because of the supposed problems related to immigration (in reality only a little over 10,000 Syrians in March), but mainly because of unemployment (even though her Frexit program should make it worse). In addition there is Mélanchon who seems to be attracting some socialists, comparable to Podemos in Spain. I don't think he will get very far but he will harm the Socialists.


                      In general, it's a grim future!


                      JE comments:  Thank you, Carmen!  With a Juppé, a Le Pen, and a Sarkozy in the contest, no one can accuse the French of not "recycling."  A French civics question:  are the party nominees chosen in an open primary system, as in the US?

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                      • Do France's Political Parties Hold Primary Elections? (Carmen Negrin, France 10/20/16 8:30 AM)
                        To answer John E's question, this will be the first time that both parties in France hold primaries. Although there is a debate going on about whether it would be necessary for the Socialists to organize primaries if Hollande runs again himself, and then who knows under what label or even how other candidates such as Montebourg would make it.

                        JE comments: I didn't know Arnaud Montebourg.  This FT article gives details.  Robert Whealey will scold me for superficiality, but I'll say that Montebourg looks both very presidential and very French.


                        I'm looking forward to the French elections--anything but what we've seen here.



                        Carmen:  what can you tell us about Hollande's rival from the Left?



                        https://www.ft.com/content/3ed5f110-67b3-11e6-ae5b-a7cc5dd5a28c



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                        • Arnaud Montebourg (Nigel Jones, UK 10/20/16 11:36 AM)
                          I am not sure why our esteemed editor is seeking to elicit more information from Carmen Negrín (20 October) about the candidates (ie. the Leftist ones) who are sure to lose France's coming Presidential elections, rather than those on the Right who are going to win.

                          The disastrous Presidency of Francois Hollande is yet another example to add to the long catalogue of Socialist failures that have characterised the last century or so. Will we never learn?


                          I have repeated this line very often on WAIS, yet it clearly needs repetition: Socialism doesn't work.


                          JE comments: I had educational, not ideological, goals with my question about Arnaud Montebourg.  Aren't most WAISers already familiar with Marine Le Pen (as well as Juppé and Sarkozy)?


                          Nigel:  Do you think Le Pen will claim the prize that eluded her father for decades?


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                          • A Mitterrand Quote (Edward Jajko, USA 10/21/16 3:30 AM)
                            In response to Nigel Jones (20 October), while I hold no brief for socialism or socialists, or for presidents of France, I have always liked a clever line attributed to the late François Mitterrand. He was supposedly a man of great reserve and formality (notwithstanding his mistresses and illegitimate children, which might suggest a certain, oh, bonhomie). This was at the root of the saying.

                            If I remember the story correctly, he and a peer or someone junior to him were collaborating on something and the other person was getting warm and fuzzy feelings that a close friendship was building up, so he wound up asking Mitterrand if they could address each other using the familiar second-person singular. The question was asked, "Puis-je tutoyer?" To which Mitterrand replied, "Comme vous voulez."


                            JE comments: I am reminded of our Pike-WAIS dictionary project, which we need to go back to.  (http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&o=91592 )


                            French and Spanish have a verb that cannot be translated into English:  tutoyer and tutear.  Is it the same in Italian?  In Portugal, I believe they say "tratar-se por tu," but in Brazil it makes no difference, as they use "você" for the intimate second-person pronoun.


                            Ed Jajko brings up a question I'd like to explore further:  who is your "favorite" French president?  Any votes for Pompidou?

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                            • Tutear, and a Franco Quote (Paul Preston, UK 10/22/16 4:39 AM)
                              Regarding the Edward Jajko story (21 October) about Mitterrand and the tu/vous and tú/usted issue, I am reminded of a very similar story about Franco.

                              José Sanchiz, an habitual hunting companion for more than a decade, a relative by marriage and someone who did property deals for the Caudillo, said to him one day: "¿No le parece que hemos llegado al punto en que nos podríamos tutear?" (Don't you think that we have reached the point where we can use the "tú" form?)


                              Franco replied glacially, "El trato que me corresponde es 'Excelencia.'" (The manner in which I should be addressed is "Your Excellency.")


                              JE comments:  I like the excelencia of this story.  If Franco and Mitterrand ever met, at least they would be clear on the protocol...

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                              • Informal Second-Person Pronouns: German (John Heelan, UK 10/22/16 5:34 PM)
                                Paul Preston's tutear story (22 October) reminded me that when we lived in Germany, my wife had a very close friend and neighbour, a German lady, with young children the same age as ours.

                                After some months of meeting for coffee or lunch most days, my wife said to her friend, "When do we start using 'Du'"? The friend blushed and replied, "Well, I was waiting for you to suggest it, as you are older than I." My wife was five days older than her friend! However, it demonstrates how socially sensitive the switch between Duzen and Siezen could be.


                                JE comments:  Gary Moore (next) asks the fundamental question: when (and how) do you switch to the informal pronoun?  As John Heelan shows here, it often entails a complex dance of cultural codes.

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                              • When Do You Switch to the Informal Pronoun? From Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 10/22/16 5:45 PM)
                                Gary Moore writes:

                                I have a question for WAISers on the taut pair of anecdotes from Edward Jajko and Paul Preston (October 20-21), re: linguistic protocol, and how two olympian figures, Mitterrand in France and Franco in Spain, kept their dignity on the issue of when to use the familiar form of "you" (tú or toi) when addressing an increasingly familiar acquaintance.


                                I've always wondered if you have to ask to make the switch (as the snubbed petitioners did in the anecdotes), or whether you're supposed to just slip into it unheralded--effortlessly moving from you to thou at tea, and drawing on an instinct that unpracticed English-speakers tend to lack--and thus skipping nimbly through the minefield of unintended insult. Are there flags that say when to switch? Does one need to ask? What say thee--pl. theen? y'all? youse guys?


                                JE comments: Sometimes you never know. For Spanish, the general trend is towards an increased use of the informal pronoun, especially in Spain. English speakers tend to see the informal pronoun as a "goal," but one can be very intimate with someone without ever making the pronoun switch. In Chile, for example, you see the hyper-intimate "usted," which is common between romantic partners and when addressing small children.


                                There's a lot more to say here.  I hope we'll hear from our informants across the language spectrum.


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                                • Informal Pronoun Usage: Spanish and German (Enrique Torner, USA 10/23/16 7:38 AM)
                                  Unless the culture of Spain has changed in the last 30 years (I can't believe I've been away that long!), in my country you are supposed to use the "Usted" form until the other person allows you to use the "tú" form. I would never dare to ask if I could switch to the "tú" form.

                                  When I was in Germany, my impression was that Germans are even more formal than Spaniards, and use the "Sie" pronoun even when in Spain we would use the "tú" form.


                                  JE comments: I have observed a general trend in Spain towards more familiarity, akin to the "first name" phenomenon you get in the US at banks and such.


                                  Cameron Sawyer (next) weighs in on "vy and ty" in Russian.

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                                • Informal Pronoun Usage: German and Russian (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 10/23/16 8:30 AM)

                                  I suppose only native English speakers will be so fascinated with familiar/formal pronouns, as this is an everyday matter for native speakers of other European languages.



                                  To answer the question posed earlier:



                                  The practice varies greatly from country to country and time to time. When I was a student in Germany the first time, and so struggling to learn for the first time to hear this, students and children would automatically use "du" with each other; but others were cautious. To address someone as "du" peremptorily was a fairly grave insult. People transitioning from "Sie" to "du" would usually discuss it, and there was a tradition of drinking to it. In the textbooks, it was written that between master and servant, parent and child, Sie/du could be used asymmetrically, but I have never once seen this. God, der Gott, is always addressed as "du," as I learned from textbooks.



                                  I had an awkward moment once, during my first year in Germany. I had become friends with one of my professors. We used to have meals together and go to concerts. We had moved over to "du." So in the classroom, I felt terribly awkward--do I address him with "du," in front of the other students? I thought that might put him on the spot, so I used "Sie," and he was offended!



                                  These days in Germany it seems to me that much of the formality of that time has disappeared, and that many adults now go straight to "du," or almost straight to "du," with new acquaintances in many situations, as we students did in the old days. Using "Sie" overly much seems to have an air of stiltedness or pretension. As far as I can feel it now (I do spend much less time in Germany than I once did), the rule is to use "Sie" minimally with even passing acquaintances, and go almost straight to "du" without making a big deal out of it.



                                  Russia is much further behind in this development, and the distinction between "ty" and "vy" is still packed with nuance and meaning (like everything else in the Russian language, it must be said). "Vy" is a double-edged sword--it can and generally does express respect, but it can also express distance and coldness. "Ty" expresses intimacy, but it can also express disrespect, or haughtiness, when used peremptorily. The rapid transition to "ty" is also an indicator of what the Russians call a "low cultural level"--more educated and refined people stick with "vy" for far longer. Sometimes forever, actually--I know two Muscovite ladies who are business partners and best friends, spend all their vacations together, are godmothers to each other's children, etc., and after 15 years of this friendship, which is more like sisterhood, they still call each other "vy." I asked about this, and the elder of them said "I respect her so much, I just can't imagine using ‘ty.'" In any case, the transition to "ty" is still often a big deal, is discussed, and is not infrequently celebrated with a drink, often taken with interlocked arms, and even a kiss. The ceremony is called "drinking to Brudershaft"--the German word for "brotherhood" is used, and is described here: https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%91%D1%80%D1%83%D0%B4%D0%B5%D1%80%D1%88%D0%B0%D1%84%D1%82



                                  Ty/vy can be, and is used asymmetrically, as I discovered in my first days in Russia. Your addressing an employee with "ty," did not convey the reciprocal right. Even people with whom I had a very close relationship with might even refuse to address me with "ty," even when I asked them to, if they were in a subordinate position professionally. After a certain period of time, I stopped trying to go over to "ty" in the office, and now only use "ty" with a couple of people I've worked with for more than 20 years. Unlike in Germany, using "vy" does not have any smell of pretentiousness. On the contrary, it expresses respect, a bit of distance, and being well brought up--exactly what you want in the workplace.


                                  JE comments:  It's interesting that Russian took a German term for the transition to linguistic intimacy.  Click on the link above to see a typical photo of the ritual:  interlocking arms, and a bracing snort of vodka.


                                  Cameron Sawyer makes a point that English speakers often fail to grasp:  the formal pronoun is not necessarily something to be "overcome."  Sometimes it is maintained forever.  The legendary Chilean comic book hero, Condorito, has used "Usted" with his best friend, Don Chuma, for 70 years.

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                                • Informal Pronoun Usage: Danish (Leo Goldberger, USA 10/24/16 3:40 AM)
                                  On the topic of cultural ways vis-à-vis my own experience growing up in Denmark in the 1930s and '40s, it was unthinkable for a child to address any adult, familiar or strangers, with the now most common informal "Du" rather than "De" or by their first name. Even adults always addressed each other with the formal "De" until they--after some unspecified length of time and increasing familiarity--went through a mutually agreed upon ceremonial moment, drinking "dus," by intertwining their arms as they drank a glass of beer, along with their traditional "Skål" salutation.

                                  In contemporary Denmark, the use of the formal "De" has all but disappeared--to the chagrin of some of us old-timers, including the Queen herself--who famously scolded a reporter addressing her with a "Du" at her 75th birthday press conference in 2015, indignantly saying: "Did we go to school together?"


                                  On the same note, I recall an experience I had at New York University with a Hungarian-born visiting professor, much senior to me and known for his formal ways despite his many years in the USA, even with colleagues with whom he had worked for many years. Needless to say, I always addressed him as "Professor" or "Doctor"-- though behind his back he was most often referred to by his initials, certainly never by his first name. It so happened that one evening when he and I were the only ones left in the department, he knocked on my office door and with some obvious hesitation, if not embarrassment, asked me for a small loan; he had forgotten his valet and needed a subway fare. After giving him a dollar, he not only assured me he'd pay me back the nest day, but to my astonishment added: "Please, you may call me David." And here I was, just a young, unknown, aspiring assistant professor. It's still a mystery to me.


                                  JE comments:  Indebtedness is the great humbling force! 


                                  Fascinating post, Leo.  It's cheeky to address royalty with such informality.  Only in famously egalitarian Denmark is such a thing even imaginable.


                                  My five-minute Internet lesson on Hungarian reveals that there is the informal te and two formal pronouns:  ön and maga, as well as the archaic kend. John Torok was recently in Budapest brushing up on his Hungarian.  Can he elucidate?

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                                • Informal Pronoun Usage: Spain (Jose Manuel de Prada, Spain 10/25/16 7:46 AM)
                                  This situation with second-person pronoun usage in Spain certainly has changed.

                                  Nowadays, at least in my experience, the tendency is to use the "tú" indiscriminately, at least among the younger generations.


                                  I try not to be a slave of formalities and conventions, but this can often be quite confusing.


                                  I call my neighbour, who lives in the apartment in front of mine, "Señora Creus."


                                  She is 80 years old and I feel that not treating her "de usted" would be wrong.


                                  When I interview elderly people during my fieldwork I also use always the formal address, but there are other situations in which I really don't know what to do and just follow what the other person does.


                                  Yet I confess that being treated "de usted" makes me feel odd too.


                                  Part of the confusion mentioned above, no doubt.


                                  I think this trend started about 20 years ago.


                                  In Italy, however, as far as I know, people are still very strict about these things.


                                  JE comments: I can envision Spain losing the "Usted" form altogether in another generation. Latin America may take longer, although "tú" seems to be taking over in addressing the anonymous consumer in advertising.


                                  As for Italian, see Luciano Dondero, next.

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                                • Second-Person Pronoun Usage: Italian (Luciano Dondero, Italy 10/25/16 8:58 AM)
                                  I'd like to make some comments on Tu/Lei/Voi (in Italian, Spanish, etc.)

                                  The Italian language splits this usage of formal/informal three ways, with Tu (the normal, singular You), Voi (which is also the normal, plural You) and Lei (which is also the regular third-person feminine gender). The latter is in some situation further embroidered as Ella.


                                  For several centuries Voi was used to express a form of respect. Then Lei became more frequent, possibly following the Spanish usage (Usted). In the last few years of Mussolini's rule, Voi was restored to formal usage, and Lei was banned as part of a nationalistic push to dismiss supposedly un-Italian things. Opponents of fascism would sometimes make a point of showing this by pointedly using the Lei to address each other.


                                  After the war, Lei was restored to its normal place, and Voi was not banned. Luckily, because most Southerners still use it instead of Lei.


                                  Similarly to what happens in Spanish, the formal Lei in Italian requires the verb to be in the third-person singular, while the (deprecated) Voi wants it in the second person plural--thus in order to say "You are" to one person we might utter "Tu sei" or "Lei è" or "Voi siete." If you are addressing a group of people "You are" it's either "Voi siete" or the very formal "Loro sono" (which is identical with the normal third-person plural).


                                  The German language's use of Du/Sie is slightly different in that the formal Sie (while it can also be the equivalent of she, just like the Italian Lei) wants the following verb to be in the third person plural, because Sie also means they. And given that you use Sie also to speak to a group of people in a formal way, Sie can be four different things. (Informally, the normal "You" plural is Ihr.)


                                  In Spanish, which seems the be the culprit of introducing this mess into so many European languages, things can get really complicated.


                                  Apparently Usted is a contracted form of an ancient Vuestra Merced, something like Your Grace. But it has a contracted form of its own, Ud. (always followed by a dot).

                                  And unlike Italian and German, it seems that it is its own boss--you use Usted only to formally address one person, and that's it.


                                  But given that Spanish has become the established language on both sides of the Atlantic, in Latin America ancient forms are still current. There instead of using Vosotros to address a group of people, similarly to the Italian Voi, the regular form is Ustedes.


                                  And Argentina really sticks out. While most Spanish-speaking people use tú in the singular, Argentinians (and a few other Latin Americans) use Vos.


                                  Thus "You are" to one person in Spanish can be "Tú eres," "Usted es" or "Vos sos."


                                  If you are addressing a group of people "You are" it's either "Vosotros sois" (most of Spain and a few former colonies) or "Ustedes son" (most of Latin America, and the Canary Islands and parts of Andalusia).


                                  JE comments: Thank you, Luciano! I am flummoxed by how a regime could ban an entire pronoun.  "Watch out!  It's the pronoun police!"  Is there any chance the Fascists banned "Lei" because it's also feminine?  I associate Mussolini's regime with a sense of hyper-masculinity.


                                  In the old days in the Spanish-speaking world, "Usted" was more commonly abbreviated as Vd--the vestiges of Vuestra Merced. "VD" used to have a different connotation in English, but that in turn has been replaced by STD. Coincidentally, perhaps ironically, STD could conceivably become another abbreviation of uSTeD.

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                                  • Tu and Lei in Italian (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/27/16 6:30 PM)
                                    To follow up on Luciano Dondero (25 October), in Italy the tu is now predominant and sometimes I do not like this very much. One anecdote on pronoun usage: For many years I sailed with a Chief Engineer, the late Bruno Pillepich from Fiume. We were close friends, becoming best friends, but as long as we were on the job we kept using the "Lei"; only when retired did we shift to the "tu."

                                    Bruno also came to US and we lived in Mount Prospect, Illinois, in houses just 20 meters apart.


                                    JE comments: Sorry about the passing of your friend, Eugenio. Pillepich as a surname has a Slavic sound to it--Croatian? Just curious about the complex history of Fiume/Rijeka.

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                                • Second-Person Pronoun Usage: Portugal (Mendo Henriques, Portugal 10/25/16 7:09 PM)
                                  The first thing you want to do with a language is talk to people. In Portugal, you are liable to be addressed in four or even five different ways, each determining a different kind of relationship. There is some old-fashioned formality of address in Portuguese, almost Oriental.

                                  The second-person singular Tu is used by adults to children, brothers and sisters, lovers, husbands and wives, close friends and schoolmates. It may be avoided by soi-disant upper-class people. Tu is a most intimate form. Formerly, Tu was also used to indicate condescension to an employee.


                                  Less close friends and acquaintances are addressed as você, with the verb in the third person. This word, now used as pronoun, is a corruption of the archaic vossa mercê, "Your Honour"; it became in due time vossemecê and now você. Of course nobody remembers the origin of você. If a person is a stranger or not so close as to be addressed as você, he will be addressed as o senhor (the gentleman) or a senhora (the lady), o menino (the boy) or a menina (the girl). Here again the verb takes the third person.


                                  On TV a celebrity may be addressed with an article prefixed, v.g. O Cristiano Ronaldo (the Cristiano Ronaldo), O Mourinho (the Mourinho); third person again.



                                  The second person plural Vós, is rarely used, being reserved for Deity--and not ever--or some large audiences.


                                  Now this a complex system, full of dangers for the uninitiated. Carelessness can bring retribution, though not for the foreigner, who is excused almost everything. Portuguese are touchy in these matters and there is ample scope for many a subtle slight.


                                  JE comments: This is complex indeed.  Most of Brazil, with the exception of Rio Grande do Sul, has lost the "tu" entirely in favor of "você."


                                  A language question for Mendo Henriques:  does Portugal use "a gente" to mean "we," as in Brazil?  This is profoundly confusing for a Spanish-speaker, for whom "la gente" means everyone but "we."



                                  Unlike Portuguese, Spanish uses the informal "tú" when praying to God.  Cameron Sawyer taught us recently that German does the same.  This is a good example of pronoun usage not necessarily reflecting one's power status vis à vis the other person.

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                                  • Second-Person Pronoun Usage: Brazil (Clyde McMorrow, USA 10/26/16 5:05 PM)
                                    I am not an expert in Brazilian Portuguese (just a confused listener), but "a gente" is always used with the third-person singular verb "a gente vai" and can be used for we or I (the limiting case of we) at least in Rio. Tu is used commonly by Southerners and in Bahia but is not common in Rio. A Senhora, Dona, Senhor, Doutor, and--in the roça--Coronel are used if there is a perceived social separation, followed by the first name.

                                    I've never heard the 2nd-person plural used.


                                    JE comments:  The roça is the countryside--right, Clyde?  On coronelismo, the semi-feudal system that predominated in rural Brazil, see this 2006 post from Istvan Simon:


                                    https://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=10859&objectTypeId=5109&topicId=1


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                                • Tu, Usted, Vos in Spanish America (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 10/28/16 2:31 AM)
                                  Our recent discussion on second-person pronoun use has been of interest to me, because a long time ago I had noticed its differences in South and Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean regions.

                                  WAISers have already noted that there is a great variety in the use of the second-person singular tú, Usted and vos, or the plural Ustedes, instead of the vosotros most used in Spain. To make things more confusing, I believe, this variety is surely related to cultural aspects as well as to people's nature, idiosyncrasies, the cultural level or social class prejudices and conventionalism, or even the climate in the different countries.


                                  Where people tend to be much more open, informal, friendly and somehow irreverent or, better, overly familiar, or when there is greater social permeability, the tú form is more frequently and generally used. This is the case in the Hispanic Caribbean region, Venezuela, the Colombian Caribbean coast, Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The use of form vos in those countries is regionally limited and is the exception; the form Usted is used only to express an exceptional sign of respect, and is very quickly changed, if possible or allowed, to the more familiar tú or vos.


                                  The Usted form, instead of tú or vos, is more generally used in the Andean countries, Colombia, and partially in the Venezuelan Andean regions, as well as Ecuador and Peru. People in these regions are more traditional, conservative, less open, and more respectful. Although they are generally of a higher cultural or academic level, in many cases they suffer from social sectarianism, or there is less social mobility. In Mexico, the common use of Usted as a sign of respect is changed, depending on the social level, to the form tú, when there is some confidence and familiarity,


                                  There are perhaps exceptions such as Chile, Bolivia, and Paraguay, where the form tú, vos and Usted are all used, depending on the confident level, being Usted a respectful treatment.


                                  Of course the vos form is most commonly used in the region known as the Cono Sur, Argentina and Uruguay, almost without exception. The vos also appears partially in Paraguay and in Bolivia. In these place the tú form is considered out of place in normal everyday conversations, except to show some confidence level, vos for intimacy, tú for confidence, and Usted for respect.


                                  In the countries in Central America I have visited, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and El Salvador, the people also use vos, but they also use the tú or Usted form, depending again on the confidence level and the social status.


                                  It is interesting to note that the historical origin of the vos form was reverential, used to show respect. Today it is the opposite, as it implies familiarity. According to some linguists, its current use is related to the greater development of cultural Spanish colonialism in some regions over others.


                                  Of course the plural form Ustedes is commonly used in all the South American countries. Vosotros is only used in Spain, except in the Canary Islands, and in some rare places in Andalucia, where the people use the form Ustedes.


                                  In conclusion, the use of the second- or third- person pronouns in Spanish-speaking countries, despite showing trends and generalized uses, have no clear rules for the "proper" accepted or conventional use. In my experience it depends on the person and the situation.


                                  JE comments: One thing I've always understood (and taught to my students) is that the archaic "vos" form survives in those regions of Spanish America that were remote in the colonial times--primarily, Río de la Plata (Argentina/Uruguay) and the forgotten corners of Central America. On a related note, Caribbean Spanish often uses the expressed or stated "tú" in many questions, whereas other parts of the Hemisphere commonly avoid the pronoun altogether, given that the verb form ("s" ending) marks the subject:


                                  Puerto Rico/Cuba: "¿Tú quieres venir a mi fiesta?"

                                  Outside the Caribbean: "¿Quieres venir a mi fiesta?"


                                  Chile is an unusual case, as "tú" is the standard form for familiarity, and "vos" often borders on contempt.  A young man would never address a young lady with "vos," although it's the norm with his drinking buddies.


                                  Are second-person pronouns swimming in your head?  Maybe they dance?  Gary Moore (next) has sent a detailed summary of our discussion so far.

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                                • Gary Moore on the Second-Person Pronoun (John Eipper, USA 10/28/16 3:15 AM)


                                  Gary Moore writes:




                                  WAIS has begun an enlightening survey of that social-linguistic minefield that can otherwise be forbidding:
                                  How do you know, in any given language, when to use the formal or familiar form of "you"?
                                  In the spirit of preserving the survey, I'll recap.  (I hope I didn't miss anybody!)


                                  1. Edward Jajko (Oct 21) phrased a haughty rebuff in French:
                                  Petitioner: "Puis-je tutoyer?"
                                  Refuser (in this case, Mitterrand): "Comme vous voulez" [using the formal "vous" to icily emphasize his preference].  JE added: "French and Spanish have a verb that cannot be translated into English: tutoyer and tutear. Is it the same in Italian? In Portugal, I believe they say 'tratar-se por tu,' but in Brazil it makes no difference, as they use 'você' for the intimate second-person pronoun."


                                  2. Paul Preston (Oct 21) then phrased a still haughtier rebuff in Spanish--with some handy twists of phrase:
                                  Petitioner: "No le parece que hemos llegado al punto en que nos podríamos tutear?" (Don't you think that we have reached the point where we can use the "tú" form?)
                                  Refuser (in this case, Franco): "El trato que me corresponde es 'Excelencia' '" (The appropriate way to address me is Your Excellency).


                                  3. John Heelan (Oct. 22) recalled the complexities in Germany:
                                  "When we lived in Germany, my wife had a very close friend and neighbour, a German lady, with young children the same age as ours.
                                  After some months of meeting for coffee or lunch most days, my wife said to her friend, 'When do we start using "Du"'? The friend blushed and replied, 'Well, I was waiting for you to suggest it, as you are older than I.' My wife was five days older than her friend! However, it demonstrates how socially sensitive the switch between Duzen and Siezen could be."


                                  4. Enrique Torner (Oct. 23), on Spain and Germany: "Unless the culture of Spain has changed in the last 30 years... in my country you are supposed to use the 'Usted' form until the other person allows you to use the 'tú' form. I would never dare to ask if I could switch to the 'tú' form.
                                  When I was in Germany, my impression was that Germans are even more formal than Spaniards, and use the 'Sie' pronoun even when in Spain we would use the 'tú' form.
                                  [JE thereby commented on "a general trend in Spain towards more familiarity, akin to the 'first name' phenomenon you get in US at banks and such."]


                                  5. Cameron Sawyer (Oct. 23), on German and Russian.
                                  "When I was a student in Germany...students and children would automatically use 'du' with each other; but others were cautious. To address someone as 'du' peremptorily was a fairly grave insult. People transitioning from 'Sie' to 'du' would usually discuss it, and there was a tradition of drinking to it. In the textbooks, it was written that between master and servant, parent and child, Sie/du could be used asymmetrically, but I have never once seen this. God, der Gott, is always addressed as 'du,' as I learned from textbooks.
                                  [...] Russia is much further behind in this development, and the distinction between 'ty' and 'vy' is still packed with nuance and meaning (like everything else in the Russian language, it must be said). 'Vy' is a double-edged sword--it can and generally does express respect, but it can also express distance and coldness. 'Ty' expresses intimacy, but it can also express disrespect, or haughtiness, when used peremptorily. The rapid transition to 'ty' is also an indicator of what the Russians call a 'low cultural level'--more educated and refined people stick with 'vy' for far longer. Sometimes forever, actually."  To this, JE commented:  "Cameron Sawyer makes a point that English speakers often fail to grasp: the formal pronoun is not necessarily something to be 'overcome.' Sometimes it is maintained forever. The legendary Chilean comic book hero, Condorito, has used 'Usted' with his best friend, Don Chuma, for 70 years."


                                  6. Leo Goldberger (Oct. 24) recalled growing up in Denmark in the 1930s and '40s. "It was unthinkable for a child to address any adult, familiar or strangers, with the now most common informal 'Du' rather than 'De' or by their first name. Even adults always addressed each other with the formal 'De' until they--after some unspecified length of time and increasing familiarity--went through a mutually agreed upon ceremonial moment, drinking 'dus,' by intertwining their arms as they drank a glass of beer, along with their traditional 'Skål' salutation.
                                  In contemporary Denmark, the use of the formal 'De' has all but disappeared--to the chagrin of some of us old-timers, including the Queen herself--who famously scolded a reporter addressing her with a 'Du' at her 75th birthday press conference in 2015, indignantly saying: 'Did we go to school together?'"


                                  7. Jose Manuel de Prada (Oct. 25), on the changing linguistic fashions in Spain, with a mention of Italy:
                                  "Nowadays, at least in my experience, the tendency is to use the 'tú' indiscriminately, at least among the younger generations.
                                  I try not to be a slave of formalities and conventions, but this can often be quite confusing.
                                  I call my neighbour, who lives in the apartment in front of mine, 'Señora Creus.'
                                  She is 80 years old and I feel that not treating her 'de usted' would be wrong.
                                  When I interview elderly people during my fieldwork I also use always the formal address, but there are other situations in which I really don't know what to do and just follow what the other person does.
                                  Yet I confess that being treated 'de usted' makes me feel odd too. Part of the confusion mentioned above, no doubt.
                                  I think this trend started about 20 years ago.
                                  In Italy, however, as far as I know, people are still very strict about these things." 
                                  [JE commented: "I can envision Spain losing the 'Usted' form altogether in another generation. Latin America may take longer, although 'tú' seems to be taking over in addressing the anonymous consumer in advertising."]


                                  8. Luciano Dondero (Oct 25) gave a great historico-linguistic tour of how
                                  Italian "splits this usage of formal/informal three ways, with Tu (the normal, singular You), Voi (which is also the normal, plural You) and Lei (which is also the regular third-person feminine gender). The latter is in some situation further embroidered as Ella. For several centuries Voi was used to express a form of respect. Then Lei became more frequent, possibly following the Spanish usage (Usted). In the last few years of Mussolini's rule, Voi was restored to formal usage, and Lei was banned as part of a nationalistic push to dismiss supposedly un-Italian things. Opponents of fascism would sometimes make a point of showing this by pointedly using the Lei to address each other."
                                  [...]  And German:
                                  "The German language's use of Du/Sie is slightly different in that the formal Sie (while it can also be the equivalent of she, just like the Italian Lei) wants the following verb to be in the third person plural, because Sie also means they. And given that you use Sie also to speak to a group of people in a formal way, Sie can be four different things. (Informally, the normal 'You' plural is Ihr.)" 
                                  And influence from Spanish:
                                  "In Spanish, which seems the be the culprit of introducing this mess into so many European languages, things can get really complicated.
                                  Apparently Usted is a contracted form of an ancient Vuestra Merced, something like Your Grace. But it has a contracted form of its own, Ud. (always followed by a dot).
                                  And unlike Italian and German, it seems that it is its own boss--you use Usted only to formally address one person, and that's it.
                                  [...] While most Spanish-speaking people use tú in the singular, Argentinians (and a few other Latin Americans) use Vos."  To this JE added: "In the old days in the Spanish-speaking world, 'Usted' was more commonly abbreviated as Vd--the vestiges of Vuestra Merced. 'VD' used to have a different connotation in English, but that in turn has been replaced by STD. Coincidentally, perhaps ironically, STD could conceivably become another abbreviation of uSTeD."


                                  9. Mendo Henriquez (Oct 25) captured the complexities of Portuguese:
                                  "In Portugal, you are liable to be addressed in four or even five different ways, each determining a different kind of relationship. There is some old-fashioned formality of address in Portuguese, almost Oriental.
                                  The second-person singular Tu is used by adults to children, brothers and sisters, lovers, husbands and wives, close friends and schoolmates. It may be avoided by soi-disant upper-class people. Tu is a most intimate form. Formerly, Tu was also used to indicate condescension to an employee.
                                  Less close friends and acquaintances are addressed as você, with the verb in the third person. This word, now used as pronoun, is a corruption of the archaic vossa mercê, 'Your Honour'; it became in due time vossemecê and now você. Of course nobody remembers the origin of você. If a person is a stranger or not so close as to be addressed as você, he will be addressed as o senhor (the gentleman) or a senhora (the lady), o menino (the boy) or a menina (the girl). Here again the verb takes the third person." 


                                  10. Clyde Morrow (Oct. 26) replied on Brazil: " 'a gente' is always used with the third-person singular verb 'a gente vai' and can be used for we or I (the limiting case of we) at least in Rio. Tu is used commonly by Southerners and in Bahia but is not common in Rio. A Senhora, Dona, Senhor, Doutor, and--in the roça--Coronel are used if there is a perceived social separation, followed by the first name. I've never heard the 2nd-person plural used." [In response, JE explained that la roça means the countryside]


                                  And finally, my comment: What a sweeping panorama--and what a credit to WAIS!


                                  JE comments:  Absolutely.  I like a self-patting on the back.  A thought:  I'll upload this summary from Gary Moore to our homepage "slider."  (If you've never visited our homepage, shame on you:  waisworld.org). 


                                  But first we need an accompanying photo or an image to do the sliding.  Any suggestions?  Also, I'd like to add a comment or two on non-Indo-European languages.

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                                • Informal Pronoun Usage: Catalan (Paul Preston, UK 10/29/16 6:48 AM)
                                  In the interests of completeness, may I note that one of the languages that has not figured so far in this debate is Catalan.

                                  Its intimate form is "tu" in the second-person singular and "vosaltres" in the second-person plural. The most commonly used formal address is "vostè/vostès" in the third person singular/plural. The complication comes with vos, which is used to express the most exalted form of respect for one person and, like the French vous and the Italian voi, conjugates in the second-person plural.


                                  Theoretically, the tutear/tutoyer equivalent is tutejar but it is never used (as far as I know). The request to move from vostè to tu is "podem tractar-nos de tu?"


                                  JE comments: The "vos" runs the whole spectrum, from the level of street jargon in Chile to the most exalted form of address in Catalunya.


                                  It would be interesting to branch out to religiously inspired swearing.  "Tabernacle" in Quebecois French and (egads!) "hostia(s)" in Spain are two examples.  Yes, they are truly, deeply offensive "cuss words" in their respective cultures. 


                                  I wonder if the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has ever performed in Montreal, and if so, whether they changed their name.


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                                  • Languages of Spain: Catalan, Valencian...and Politics (Jordi Molins, Spain 11/01/16 3:19 AM)
                                    Paul Preston wrote on October 29th, in relation to the usage of the second-person singular: "The complication comes with vós, which is used to express the most exalted form of respect for one person."

                                    "Vós" is rarely used in Catalan, unfortunately. Probably, most Catalans speakers do not even know this word exists (this is one of the consequences of the Spanish nationalist oppression in Catalonia for three centuries). However, a few days ago, and after a Microsoft update, I decided to change the default language settings from English (which I have used for years) into Catalan. I was surprised that Outlook uses "Vós" to refer to my private email address. Could it be that the recovery of proper words in Catalan will come from foreigners, not subject to that psychological oppression, invisible but pretty real?


                                    That thought is not so far-fetched: Spanish nationalism has been able to create an "inferiority complex" in Catalonia. For example, the usage of Catalan in the justice system is almost negligible. The main reason is that Catalan speakers may feel that using Catalan could lead to a Spanish nationalist judge to have a negative predisposition towards them. Madrid is always pushing to send non-Catalan judges to Catalonia, exacerbating this dynamic.


                                    Another example of this Spanish nationalist oppression is John Eipper's statement, "Valencians consider their language to be distinct from Catalan." Valencian is a variation of Catalan. Stating otherwise is a boutade analogous to "American is a different language from English" or "Andalusian / Peruvian / Mexican is a different language from Spanish." These statements can only be claimed in the middle of a process of determinate extermination of a language and culture, whereby the "oppressors" decide "truth be damned," and barbaric and surreal lies are worth the effort for the "big cause" of getting rid of the "enemy." This is the reason why those claims still persist in Spain.


                                    Just two facts on this issue: the Spanish Constitution written in "Valencian" is exactly the same, word by word, as the Spanish Constitution written in Catalan. Secondly, a Catalonian person has a hard time distinguishing the Catalan spoken in the south of Catalonia from Valencian (as opposed to, for example, "Andalusian" from Spanish). In fact, I have had the embarrassing experience of asking a new acquaintance: "You are Valencian, right?" And receiving the reply, "No, I am a Catalan."


                                    After the Popular Party's Mariano Rajoy became the new Spanish Prime Minister, with the Socialist party having finally given up all the dignity of its fight against the Francoist dictatorship, it is clear that the process of "sub-humanization" of Catalans is advancing with no deterrent whatsoever. Civil rights are being curtailed in Spain at a very fast speed, with no part of Spain (ex-Catalonia) having any kind of remorse about it. Quite soon, we will have Catalan politicians sent to jail just for their political opinions, and no Spaniard (or European!) is moving a finger to do anything. The Spanish Socialist party has decided that between Spanish unionism and civil rights, the former is more important than the latter.


                                    Finally, in relation to a recent post by José Ignacio Soler, Aranès is not derived from Catalan, but it is a proper language, the Occitan, in the Gascon variation, not the Lengadocian one, which is more related to Catalan. A few years ago, the Catalan Parliament voted to give La Vall d'Aran (where Aranès is spoken) the status of a nation, and to grant it the right of self-determination. Of course, Spain / Madrid does not recognize that right.


                                    JE comments: I'll take my scolding from Jordi Molins on the Valencian/Catalan issue, but in the past I've been similarly reprimanded by Valencians for not giving their language the status of a language.  Jordi Molins is correct that naming a language is a political act in itself.  Perhaps the Valencians just want recognition, too.  I've seen references to the totally unwieldy "Catalan-Valencian-Balear."  Serbo-Croation used to be one language until the shooting started.


                                    I'm intrigued that Jordi's Microsoft program would choose the hyper-formal "vós."  All the non-Anglophone computers I'm familiar with, particularly in Spanish and Polish, talk to me as an intimate.  Or as an inferior?

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                                    • Language and Politics in Spain, Revisited (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 11/25/16 11:36 AM)
                                      In response to Jordi Molins's post of November 1st, I believe our colleague Jordi seems to have mixed linguistic issues with political issues that are out of context.



                                      I am afraid that I must comment on remarks of this sort: "Spanish nationalist oppression in Catalonia," "psychological oppression," "Spanish nationalism...created an inferiority complex in Catalonia," "[an] example of nationalist oppression is that... Valencias consider their language to be distinct," and the "sub-humanization of Catalonians," Jordi seems once more to self-victimize Catalonians. I am Mallorquin and Spanish, and I feel offended by Jordi´s insensitive remarks about Spain and the supposed oppression on Catalonia and the Catalans.



                                      It might be true, to a certain extent, that during Franco´s dictatorship some nationalistic and cultural expressions, such as the languages of Catalonia and Euskadi, were oppressed perhaps as Franco´s personal retaliation for the strong support and resistance to Franco´s forces in these regions during the Civil War, or under other consolidation objectives of his regime. However it is clear that this situation changed after Franco´s death and the 1978 Democratic Constitution approved by the majority of Catalonians. If I remember correctly, there was a participation of about 60% or 70%, and a yes vote of approximately 90% in the provinces of Catalonia.



                                      This same constitution includes Catalan, Euskera and Gallego as co-official languages with Spanish and constitutionally classifies these communities as Comunidades Autónomas, almost equivalent to Federal States, with their own autonomous government, parliaments and judicial systems. This same constitution, as any other constitution in the world, strives to preserve the territorial unity and sovereignty of the Spanish Nation.



                                      This is the same constitution that gives the "right" to independentist Catalonians to speak freely and democratically in the Spanish parliament or congress, to express their aspirations, even to offend and insult other fellow members of congress, as they have frequently done, and most recently during Mariano Rajoy´s government.



                                      I must repeat this again and again to Jordi, if the majority of people in any region in Spain, subjected to a National Constitution, feel they are oppressed and want to be independent, it is obvious and legally required first to change the constitution that guarantees the integrity of the nation. To do so, it is first necessary to reach a political consensus among the political parties involved, and probably a national referendum. To do otherwise is illegal, period.



                                      Jordi's remark about "Quite soon, we will have Catalan politicians sent to jail just for their political opinions" is absolutely biased. He confuses "Free Speech" as a legitimate Human Right with illegal acts, such as continuous and challenging acts committed by Catalonian politicians against the constitutional norms and laws, or current judicial current decisions, even in Spanish or Catalonian Supreme Courts, and those acts probably deserve some kind of punishment.



                                      Jordi's statement that an "example of nationalist oppression is that...Valencians consider their language to be distinct" is ridiculous, and only expresses Jordi´s opinion. It is naïve to believe that there is an official or non-official popular conspiracy of the Spanish nation to get rid of the Catalonian language or diminish its influence, as Jordi seems to imply. It is as naïve or unrealistic as believing that Chinese military bases in Barcelona will support the independence of the region.



                                      I would not be surprised if during Franco´s regime, authoritarian as it was, these cultural-linguistic repressions had also occurred with the strategic objective to consolidate the state through language uniformity. I understand similar "repressive" processes were used in France, against Occitan, Gascon, and other minority languages and dialects, or in Germany with the creation, and its imposition as an official language, of Hochdeutsch with perhaps the similar strategic objective of national consolidation. While different to some degree, they all pursued the same purpose.



                                      Finally, a small, but important correction, if I remember accurately, and please correct me if I am wrong. The Catalonian parliament in 2013 did not vote to give La Vall d'Aran (where Aranès is spoken) the "right of self-determination." What they voted on was the "right to decide," which is a very different concept, more a political than legal term. In fact, I understand that the "Right to Decide" does not legally exist anywhere for the matter. I discussed this issue with some lawyer friends, and if there is interest I will gladly develop this interesting argument in a future post.

                                      JE comments: We have many correspondents in California, and after November 8th, the once Quixotic "Calexit" movement is gaining momentum. Anyone care to comment? Calexitistas should send some representatives to Catalonia to learn organizational strategies.


                                      Finally, my apologies to José Ignacio Soler for the delay in posting this comment. The US elections got in the way.

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                                • Second-Person Pronoun Usage: Romanian (Luciano Dondero, Italy 10/30/16 4:20 AM)
                                  With the help of a young lady who is studying Economics at Genoa university, Lavinia Bura, here is some information about Romanian.

                                  The singular you is Tu, and the plural you is Voi, just like in Italian.


                                  These are for informal conversations.


                                  When addressing someone in polite or formal speech, Dumneavoastră is used in their place. It is abbreviated in writing as dv., dvs., or d-voastră. Dumneavoastră always takes verbs in the second person plural forms, that is, the same forms as Voi.


                                  Thus "you are" in the singular is Tu esti, the formal (both singular and plural) is Dumneavoastră sunteți and the plural form is Voi sunteți.


                                  But there is also another form, Dumneata, which is more polite than Tu, but less formal than Dumneavoastră, and it uses the second-person singular conjugated form of the verb, as with Tu.


                                  "Whenever I speak to my grandmother or grandfather I say Dumneata. I'd never use Tu," says Lavinia. Comparing Italian and Romanian, she says that Romanian is much more conservative in sticking to the more formal pronoun. "I was astonished to hear how students would address their professors in Italy, with just a "Hi Prof" and in general the ease with which people use the Tu even when speaking with people who are older than them."


                                  This completes WAISdom's excursion into this topic for the main Romance languages (i.e. those "with an army and a navy").


                                  It would appear that if we take the Spanish (Tu/Usted) and the French (Tu/Vous) formats as reference (just for the sake of clarity), two more Neo-Latin languages follow the Spanish usage and one the French.


                                  German also adopts the Spanish format, while Russian follows the French.


                                  It would be interesting to see what the other Germanic and Slavic languages do. Do they follow the lead of German and Russian, respectively, or do something else?


                                  English, for one, has adopted another path, removing the formal/informal distinction from the verb and pronoun usage, and requiring additional information in order to determine what the reciprocal relationship is.


                                  Missing from the WAIS investigation so far are several Indo-European languages, some of whom are actually in our membership or in our circle of relatives and close friends, and above all, we have had no contribution regarding non-Indo-European languages.


                                  Now, the Internet provides ample information about all of these, but this would have to be checked with native speakers (or people who are truly knowledgeable).


                                  JE comments: Thanks for bringing Ms Bura into the conversation, Luciano!  I invite Tom Hashimoto to give us the story with Japanese. Second-person pronouns don't really exist in that language, if I recall from my studies years ago, although there are three or four different levels of interaction with an interlocutor.


                                  I have a Polish-speaker at WAIS HQ, and I'll have to ask her for the complete story.  For now, I can say that Polish has the "ty" informal pronoun, as in Russian, plus the "Pan/Pani" combination for polite usage.  This is the equivalent of Mr/Ms, and they take the third-person pronoun.  The plural form is "Panstwo," which translates as "ladies and gentlemen," but also as "state" or "nation."  This is quite unlike the other Slavic language I'm familiar with, Russian.


                                  Ed Jajko:  Did I get that right?


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                                  • On Learning Czech; Thoughts on Gendered Languages (Paul Pitlick, USA 10/31/16 4:10 AM)
                                    My wife Jan and I have been trying to learn Czech, which is a Slavic language. As in Russian (per Cameron Sawyer), "ty" is the familiar second-person form (with the singular verb), and "vy" is used for both 2nd-person formal and 2nd-person plural, both accompanied by a plural verb. Many Czechs speak English, and most of the time we don't have to practice our Czech, so we haven't insulted anyone yet.



                                    Another aspect of Czech that we don't have to deal with in English is gender. In English, virtually all objects are neuter; in Czech, objects can be masculine (either animate or inanimate), feminine, or neuter. Tea (čaj) is masculine; coffee (kava) is feminine. While it's hard enough to keep track of that, if there's an adjective, the ending must match the gender--so if the liquid is hot, it's "horký čaj" but "horká kava." I'm sure other languages do this, so I'm not introducing anything new. But how will those languages deal with the following modern-day quandary?



                                    I used to work in New Mexico occasionally.

                                    Coincidentally, right after one early Czech lesson where we dealt with genders, endings, etc., I had to go to Albuquerque. I happened to pick up the student newspaper of the University of New Mexico, and ran across an article which explained the terminology they had used for an item which concerned a non-gender-conforming person:


                                    http://www.dailylobo.com/article/2015/04/09-gender-neutral-pronouns



                                    I asked our teacher how the Czechs will deal with this. She basically said, "To není možné."


                                    PS:  As per JE's comment, for Czech, "Pan" and "Paní" translate pretty much directly to "Mr./Mrs." in English. For both languages, there is really only one term to address unfamiliar people. In English, even this formality seems to be going by the wayside--I get a lot of e-mails from people I've never of before, which start: "Hi Paul: let me tell you about our new product..."


                                    JE comments:  I don't think this topic has arisen before on WAIS:  how are highly gendered languages entering our Age of Gender Fluidity?  English, which has no grammatical gender, seems (paradoxically) to be more concerned with gender.  The University of New Mexico student paper opts for "ze" and "zir."  (Some gender-fluid people prefer a plural address:  "they.")  Slavic languages already have a neuter pronoun (ono in Russian and Polish), but to use it to refer to a person would be the equivalent of "it."


                                    I've noticed one innovation in Spanish of late:  adopting the "@" as an inclusive adjective ending:  "Está muy content@" would translate as "He/she is happy," or if you prefer, "Ze iz happy...."


                                    Paul Pitlick and I belong to the select group of Anglophones who've struggled to learn a Slavic tongue.  We deserve praise.  Some say Czech is harder than Russian.  Others argue the opposite.


                                    Next up:  Ed Jajko comments on second-person pronouns in Polish.


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                                    • Relative Difficulty of Different Foreign Languages (Luciano Dondero, Italy 11/01/16 3:51 AM)
                                      With reference to the WAIS discussion on second-person pronouns, a blog at The Economist ran an interesting essay a few years back, see "Johnson: We are all friends now": http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2013/12/formality-language

                                      For a partial summary of different languages, Wikipedia has a useful article here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-V_distinction .


                                      Our editor raised a topical issue in a comment: "Paul Pitlick and I belong to the select group of Anglophones who've struggled to learn a Slavic tongue. We deserve praise. Some say Czech is harder than Russian. Others argue the opposite."


                                      It goes without saying that there isn't an absolute scale of difficulties in learning a foreign language.  It all depends upon where you start from.


                                      But one can roughly say that for a speaker of a Germanic language it will be to a certain extent easier to learn another Germanic language rather than a Neo-Latin one, and viceversa.



                                      Then, it should be easier to learn another Indo-European language as opposed to a language belonging to another family of languages, say a Turkic or an Ugro-Finnic language. They, together with the Basque language, are the only extant non-Indo-European languages used natively in Europe.



                                      There are some exception, like Swahili, which is rather easier to get into than many other languages--but that perhaps has to do with its origins as an ancient Lingua Franca based on local African languages, on Arabic and on various Southern European languages (basically what was spoken by traders operating in the Eastern African region in the early and late Renaissance periods).



                                      One issue of great importance in gauging the difficulty of learning a new language is the script used to write it. Most Western European languages use the Latin (or Roman) alphabet, with slight variations. But Greek doesn't, as it has its own script.



                                      And as soon as you move further East, you get into Serbian, Bulgarian and the Russian family of languages, who all use the Cyrillic script.



                                      Many other Indo-European languages have their own script: Farsi/Dari, i.e., Persian as used in Iran and Afghanistan, respectively (adapting a variant of the Arabic script); Hindi, Bengali and the other Indian languages have each their own script, following a common pattern, which is adopted also by other Indian but non-Indo-European languages, like Tamil, which is "one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world" (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_language ).



                                      Nonetheless, the difficulty in learning a language scales up quite a lot as you move out of these languages that have an alphabetical or semi-alphabetical structure and move into the field of the ideogramatic languages of Eastern Asia, i.e., Chinese, Japanese and Korean. These languages use in toto or in part the Chinese characters, in regular format or modified (Korean).



                                      This is harder and harder for speakers of Western European languages, many of whom only know the Latin alphabet and are at best acquainted with other, similar languages.

                                      For a discussion of this with Japanese as an example, see https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-specific-methods-for-acquiring-ideogrammatic-fluency-in-a-language-particularly-in-Japanese .



                                      To sum it up, and to enter the fray, I'd say that Russian is harder to learn than Czech or Polish, simply because you need to learn the Cyrillic script.



                                      A personal reminiscence. When I began studying it, I noticed that about half of the students gave it up as soon as they had reached the stage of reading and writing words in Cyrillic. Because after all that work (it took about a couple of months in non-intensive studies) you realize that, yes, you can read it, but... at best, you just have a vague idea of what it means.



                                      Basically, you still have to start learning the language. And that's why many dropped out at that stage.



                                      I had my own motivations--I was supposed to be part of a glorious Trotskyst-led "political revolution to overthrow the Stalinist bureaucracy and restore Soviet democracy in the workers state"--and that kept me going. It may be one of the few things I don't regret of my previous militancy.


                                      JE comments:  When I studied Russian, we learned the alphabet in a week.  The rest of the journey lasts a lifetime.  Cyrillic is actually better suited to Slavic sounds than the Latin alphabet.  Some phonemes, such as the tongue-twisting "shch" consonant, take four letters in Polish (szcz) when one will do in Cyrillic:  щ.  Elegant.



                                      I would argue that some languages are indeed harder than others.  Any inflected or case-intensive language is hellish for speakers not used to them.  Every sentence becomes an exercise in "diagramming" a sentence.  "Gosh, I'm in the middle of a conversation.  What's the feminine instrumental singular of this adjective?"  Another exasperating aspect of Slavic languages is just that:  aspect.  Every verb is two verbs--the "perfective" and the "imperfective."  In Russian for example, the two verbs often look almost alike.  Other times, the "pairs" are completely different.  Diabolical.  And then there are the Slavic verbs of motion.  Feel like "going" somewhere?  In the Slavic world, this takes a few years of study.


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                                  • Second-Person Pronoun Usage: Polish and Arabic (Edward Jajko, 10/31/16 9:36 AM)
                                    The discussion of variations in usage of the second-person singular and plural is of great interest to this philologist by inclination and training. I was raised speaking a language in which I had to be aware of and careful about 2nd-person forms of address, and studied numerous others in several language families that had their own patterns, becoming intimate with a couple of them.

                                    It has been my experience that native speakers of English have lost touch with the fact that "you" is a plural. For some who try to study other languages, it is difficult to learn and use a 2nd-person singular form.


                                    Further, the tendency to blur all 2nd person usage into "you" causes problems in translation, notably in sacred scriptures, where the thou/you distinction is of great importance. In the Qur'an, for example, there are places where God addresses Muhammad in the singular, and others where he addresses the community or mankind, in the plural. In many translations, both are now rendered as "you," which leads to ambiguity and confusion, while on the other hand versions that preserve "thou" are derided as old-fashioned. I recently bought a new translation of the Qur'an, "The Study Qur'an: a New Translation and Commentary," by Seyed Hossein Nasr and Caner Dagli (Harper and Row). The work is extensively annotated, but one thing I found especially attractive is that the translator-authors sensibly preserved "thou," the 2nd person singular.


                                    English speakers are of course accustomed to addressing the Almighty as "Thou." This usage lead to an embarrassing misuse of the language in one of the Star Wars movies. In the film in which Luke Skywalker battles his father--spoiler alert--and the evil emperor is killed, Darth Vader addresses the emperor as "thou," presumably reflecting the reverential use in prayer and missing the point that "thou" is used in prayer not to show respect but rather to express a relationship of familiarity with God.


                                    My late grandmother, father, mother, and all of our relatives and most family friends spoke Polish. My late brother and I used the language at home and had Polish lessons from the Felician Sisters in parochial school, he for eight years, I for almost six. In church before Vatican II, whatever was not in Latin was in Polish.


                                    Polish has a complicated system of 2nd-person address. Between intimates, equals, and possibly but not necessarily toward subordinates, one uses the singular "ty," with gender supplied by accompanying 2nd-person singular verb, adjective, etc. (Polish has masculine, feminine, and neuter.)


                                    To address a group of intimates, equals, subordinates, and sometimes groups in general, one uses plural "wy," with 2nd-person plural verb.


                                    While there is a certain loosening of things with regard to the 2nd person, an increase in familiarity, Polish nevertheless remains a language of considerable formality.


                                    When addressing strangers, superiors, or anyone to whom respect is owed or presumed to be owed, Polish requires one to go beyond "Lei" and "Sie" to the sort of language one hears from butlers and valets in BBC dramas, i.e. indirect speech in the 3rd person singular or plural.


                                    Thus, asking a gentleman if he would like X, one asks, "Does Sir wish...?" In the Polish, "Czy Pan chce...?" which is /interrogative particle--Sir/Lord--he, she, it wants/. This, to express "Sir, do you want...?"


                                    The feminine would be "Pani," Madam/Lady.


                                    Addressing two or more, one would use the neuter word "Panstwo," which translates as Lordships but also as State, and would use the 3rd-person singular verb. I believe I can recall it being misused, with the 2nd-person plural verb.


                                    Polish usage of the indirect 3rd person as the formal 2nd person requires use not just of "Pan," "Pani," "Panstwo," or even the now outdated "Panna" (Miss), but of titles: father, mother, grandmother, aunt, uncle, priest, doctor. My brother was addressed in Polish as "Panie Generale Jajko," Mister General Jajko, or "Panie Professorze," Mister Professor, or a combination of the two, and this plus the 3rd-person singular verb would have been the equivalent of "thou" or "you."


                                    We spoke this way in my family. My parents, grandmother, aunts and uncles and various others addressed my brother and me in the 2nd-person singular. In turn, we addressed our parents, etc., in the indirect 3rd person.


                                    "Co Mama chce?" = /what--Mama--he, she, it wants/ = "What do you want, Mom?"


                                    "Niech Wujancia posiada sie" = /hortative particle--Aunt--he, she, it seats--self/ = "Please have a seat, Aunt."


                                    Among our friends were a beloved family we would see at most twice a year after an almost 100 mile drive from Philadelphia to Bloomfield, New Jersey. One of the things that I did not appreciate about the friendship of out families until I was of somewhat mature years was that even though my father and the pater familias friend were from the same town in Poland, had known each other there, and had in effect been lifelong friends, they always used the indirect 3rd person form of address with each other, always addressed each other as "Pan," and always maintained that formality of speech.


                                    I have become somewhat accustomed to the increased familiarity but find it jarring. The indirect 3rd person form of address is deeply ingrained, as is Polish formality. When I visited Poland in 1967, my uncle Wojciech picked me up at a university dorm hostel. He brought along his son-in-law Leszek, my first cousin by marriage. I noticed Leszek addressing my uncle as "Tatu," Dad, and using "ty" and the 2nd person singular. So I addressed my uncle ss "ty" and in the 2nd person singular, and he bristled. I don't recall how, exactly, but my newly-met Uncle Wojciech made it clear that this was unacceptable, so I switched to the indirect 3rd person, and all was sweetness and light.


                                    Days afterwards, while I was walking around the paternal hometown of Brzozow, I was approached in the street by two women, who identified themselves as daughters of my uncle Michal, the youngest Jajko brother and younger of the two who remained in Poland after the five oldest had emigrated to the US. They insisted on addressing me as "Pan," Sir or Mister, and using the indirect 3rd person. I protested, saying that we were cousins, they should use my Polish nickname, and use "ty." They refused, saying it would not be appropriate since we were really not acquainted. So these newly found first cousins insisted on calling me "Panie Jajko." ("Panie," which I have used before, is the vocative case form of the nominative "Pan.")


                                    In communist days, Polish governments tried to abolish this grammatical relic of the bourgeois past and to force Poles to use "ty" and "wy," 2nd person singular and plural, in line with Russian usage. While some other Russifications may have succeeded, this attempt failed and Polish conservatism and formality won.


                                    When I listen to operas, I seem to hear a fluidity of usage, with "tu" and "voi," "tu" and "vous," being used to address a single person. One of these days I will fulfill my resolution and study the libretti. Someday. In the "Ring," at least, Wagner got around the problem of the German 2nd person singular by using "Du" only. I do seem to remember from older German literature read in college the use of the feminine singular as 3rd person indirect.


                                    It is too many years since I studied Chinese. My recollection of that comparatively and refreshingly easy language is that its simplicity extends to 2nd person usage: "ni," low falling and rising tone, for "thou," and "nimen" for the plural, with an option for "nimendou," "you all," as an intensifier or specifier of the plural. There is no gender; no conjugation; tense, mood, voice, completed action, etc., being expressed by particles or auxiliary words.


                                    In contrast to Luciano Dondero's analysis (Oct. 25) of Spanish "usted" as deriving from "vuestra merced," I learned the thesis that it came from the days of Arab Spain and the Arabic word "ustadh." This word means "professor, teacher, master." One can be "ustadh kulliyah," college professor, or "ustadh jami'ah," university professor. "Ustadh" is commonly used to mean "mister."


                                    Arabic is ordinarily or in theory egalitarian in its 2nd person usage--thou and you, with another word expressive of or referring to two people (the "dual").


                                    The 2nd person singular pronouns for "thou" are "anta" (masc.) and "anti" (fem.), which take verbs, adjectives, etc., in the corresponding gender. Like other Semitic languages, Arabic has masculine and feminine gender.


                                    The plural "you" for three or more is expressed by "antum" (masc.) and "antunna" (fem.), which take 2nd person plural verbs in appropriate gender, etc.


                                    In addressing two people, one uses the dual form (there is also a 3rd person dual). "Antuma," long final A, for the masculine "you two" and "antuna" for the feminine, both take the dual verb form and other duals.


                                    With the minor complication of the dual, this is all straightforward. But in actual practice Arabs tend to add in formality toward betters, superiors, those in authority, and those to whom courtesy is extended. One common way of doing this us to use the plural pronoun and verb forms when addressing an individual.


                                    Another and very common way is to use the second person singular verb, in the appropriate gender, along with one of the many honorifics that are generally used. Here are some examples from examples from Egyptian colloquial Arabic:


                                    Siyadtak/siyadtik: Lordship-thy/Ladyship-thy


                                    Sa'adtak/sa'adtik: thy happiness


                                    Fakhamtak/fakhamtik: thy excellence


                                    And the most commonly used:

                                    Hadritak/hadritik: thy presence


                                    These expression add formality to the egalitarian-leaning Arabic.


                                    Wa-'alaykum al-salam wa-barakat Allahi subhanahu wa-ta'ala.


                                    JE comments: Dziekuje and shokran, Panie Jajko! Intimately related to the second-person pronoun is the vocative case, which English has to render in a stilted "O Edward!" fashion. "Hey" is more appropriate today. The Polish vocative for feminine interlocutors always struck me as bizarre: you change the "a" ending to "o," which to a Hispanist sounds like you're switching gender. Mama, for example, becomes "Mamo," which also translates as "I suckle."

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                            • Favorite French Presidents: A Vote for De Gaulle (Nigel Jones, UK 10/22/16 5:40 AM)
                              To answer John Eipper's presumably playful question (October 21) about favourite French Presidents: if we are just talking about the present Fifth Republic (dating from 1958 when Charles De Gaulle set it up for his own benefit), it has got to be Le Grand Charles himself. He was a bitter enemy of my own country, and cannot be anyone's "favourite," but it has to be acknowledged that De Gaulle was a "great" man in the traditional sense of the word. To have saved France not once but twice is an astonishing achievement by any standards.

                              As a historian I still puzzle how a relatively unknown junior General in 1940, with no army behind him and his country defeated and occupied, could, by 1944, have parleyed his way to being one of the "Big Four" Allies at the end of the war. He outsmarted and outmanoeuvred pretty well everyone--including an implacably hostile FDR--and mainly by the force of his own towering personality. A very untypical Frenchman.


                              Mitterrand was a close runner up in terms of political guile, and was a fascinating if deeply flawed personality. He wasn't really a Socialist, of course, and happily abandoned any attempt to pursue socialist policies within a year of achieving his long pursued aim: power. He was a supreme opportunist, and utterly amoral, moving from pre-war student Fascism, to Vichy official, to "resistant"; to right-wing colonial Fourth Republic Minister, to "Socialist"--the party that was most convenient as a vehicle to take him to the Elysee palace.


                              Of the other Fifth Republic Presidents, Chirac was a corrupt run-of-the-mill politician, Pompidou a clever but rather colourless banker, and Giscard aloof and unpopular. ("Giscard? His only trouble is the people," as De Gaulle rightly remarked.) Sarkozy we have already dismissed, and Hollande--well, the least said the better. The descent from De Gaulle to this absurd figure illustrates in itself the precipitous decline of the West.


                              A couple of amusing stories about De Gaulle to cap Ed Jakjo's typical tale about Mitterrand. In 1968, forced to fly to French army HQ in Germany to escape the student revolt in Paris and secure the army's support, De Gaulle met General Massu, a grizzled, tough, and not hugely bright veteran of the dirty war in Algeria (which De Gaulle had controversially ended, alienating much of the military in doing so). De Gaulle greeted Massu with the salty words:


                              "Alors, Massu: toujours con?" to which the old soldier loyally replied.


                              "Oui, Mon General--et toujours Gaulliste."


                              When De Gaulle was President and his wartime colleague, the then Tory Prime Minister Harold MacMillan, was abjectly and vainly seeking De Gaulle's support for Britain's entry to what was then called the Common Market (now the EU), they dined together at the Elysee with their wives. Madame De Gaulle was a notoriously straight-laced and puritanical Catholic who did not even allow divorced people to be received at the Elysee. The quartet were discussing what made life worthwhile, and MacMillan, with olde world courtesy, leaned across to Mme De Gaulle and inquired:


                              "And you Madame, what would you like most in life?"


                              Madame De Gaulle replied: "A penis."


                              A stunned silence ensued, before her husband explained: "Madame means 'appiness."


                              If we are talking about Presidents of previous French republics, my favourite has got to be Felix Faure, a rather dim and undistinguished politician at the time of the Dreyfus Affair in the 1890s. Not for his life, but for the manner of his death: he was entertaining his mistress Marguerite Steinheil in the Elysee on 16th February 1899 when loud screams were heard from the President's private office. When staff entered, they found the President dead or dying, his fingers entwined in the tresses of a naked Mme Steinheil's flowing locks. Faure had had a stroke while Mme Steinheil was performing fellatio, so at least he died happy. His passing was marked by my favourite French politician of all, Georges "the Tiger" Clemenceau, who remarked with typical sardonic cynicism: "When entering the void Felix Faure will feel quite at home."


                              Incidentally, Mme Steinheil was quite a lady: she was later suspected of murdering her unfortunate artist husband and stepmother. (She was found tied to a bed near their bodies) and finally went into English exile, having made even Belle Epoque France too hot to hold her. She then married into the English aristocracy, becoming Lady Abinger (film footage of the nuptials exists on YouTube) and surviving until 1954.


                              John mentions Georges Pompidou. Though not himself implicated in scandal, his socialite wife Claude was allegedly the lover of a Yugoslav gangster named Markovic who was murdered in the late 1960s. It should be noted that all French Presidents of the Fifth Republic, including the current incumbent, with the sole exception of De Gaulle, were notorious for their many mistresses in time-honoured Gallic style.


                              When De Gaulle died, Pompidou, his successor, announced the news on TV with the simple sentence:


                              "Francais, Francaise--La France ce une veuve. General De Gaulle est mort." ("Frenchmen, Frenchwomen. France is a widow. General De Gaulle is dead.")


                              Can we imagine an Anglo-Saxon politician saying the same with such poetic, economic, and simple grace?


                              JE comments:  I learned a lot from this excellent analysis of De Gaulle, who was certainly the last of the French "Greats."  Nigel Jones makes an important point:  De Gaulle maneuvered himself and the French nation into "Big Four" status by the end of the war.  Could anyone else have accomplished such a feat?


                              I've heard the "appiness" anecdote in several different contexts.  It would be interesting to research the provenance.


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                          • France's Next President (Nigel Jones, UK 10/21/16 3:44 AM)
                            John E asked me if I believe Marine Le Pen will win next year's elections in France. No, I believe the country will follow its usual pattern in presidential elections. In the first round the FN (Le Pen) will do well, coming second or even first. The Socialists will be eliminated.

                            In the second round, enough Socialist voters will hold their noses and vote for the Centre right Republicans to hand them a victory. I expect the Republican candidate and the next President of France to be Alain Juppé rather than the discredited and widely despised Nicholas Sarkozy: he had his turn and failed.


                            The only thing that may alter my prediction and hand a win to Marine Le Pen would be a massive Islamist terrorist outrage equal to or exceeding those in Paris and Nice. God forbid.


                            JE comments:  Juppé was discredited, too, but it was long enough ago that he must be ready for a "do-over."  What can our France-watchers tell us about a Juppé administration?


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        • US Foreign Policy Under Hillary Clinton (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/16/16 6:10 AM)
          Commenting on the excellent post of Nigel Jones, 13 October, JE posed some questions about the relations between NATO and Russia under a Hillary Clinton presidency.

          Let's start by making some calculations on the dangers of Russian aggression, as presented by Hillary.


          The military budget of the USA is $596 billion, China $215 billion, Saudi Arabia $87.2 billion, and Russia $66.4 billion, but apparently in 2016 it will drop to $41 billion due to financial problems because of sanctions and the low price of oil and gas. Anyway, Putin has a 10-year plan of military expenses of $454 billion, which is 76% of what is spent in the US in only one year.


          Nor should we forget the military expenses of the other NATO nations. Unless Putin can perform miracles with the ruble or the American arms suppliers and generals are squandering all the money, it is difficult to see the Russian Bear as a cold aggressor.


          So far, under Hillary's sponsorship, the aggressor has been NATO, by extending eastward (following Hitler's ideas?) against the promises made upon the dissolution of the USSR. By the way, Italy has also been compelled by the Empire to send its troops to the NE (or more precisely, NW) borders of Russia, but for 71 years I heard that the worst Italian crime of WWII was to send its troops to Eastern Europe against the poor Russian people.


          Let's check the forces on the field:


          According to Wikipedia, the US has 3,385,000 men and women in uniform, including those in the 700 foreign bases.  Just for the Italian bases, Italy is reported to pay a contribution of $400 million (how stupid). Russia's active strength is 1,994,000, to be reduced to 1,200,000, unless this changes due to the impending crisis.


          The Russian air forces now have excellent planes, compared to the failure of the F35, but their number is much less than those of the US/NATO. Regarding armor, in spite of the excellent new tank Armata, the Russian forces are inferior to the Westerners.


          Finally the Russian Navy is bottled up in the Baltic and Black seas. Only its nuclear submarines are a real danger.  Nuclear warheads are more or less equal for the US and Russia, but the new Russian anti-missile technology is said to be extremely good.


          The proof that Russia does not want to attack is in the adoption of the old defensive NATO doctrine: if the "trip wire" line is overcome, it will automatically start a nuclear retaliation.


          Russia is under continuous propaganda attack--and not only by propaganda:


          In Syria where it is just trying to redress the bloody mess created by the Empire (sponsored by Hillary), please forget the civilians of Aleppo and remember Faluja, Serbia, and going back to Vietnam, Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, etc. And why not my home town of Savona?


          Regarding the Russian computer hackers, of course Hillary is making a fuss of it so nobody will care about the content of the hackers' findings.


          But let's be even more frank. What the heck were the various US NGOs doing in Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, etc? The Soros Foundation, National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, Education for Democracy Foundation, East European Democratic Center, etc., were putting pressure on the local electorate and organizing "colored" revolutions.


          Russia is criticized for reuniting (peacefully and by a referendum) a Russian Crimea to the motherland, but are you remembering the war against Serbia to create the new state of Kosovo, which is now a paradise of smugglers and jihadists? But it is also a great military base for the Empire.


          Hillary is a strong advocate of continuous pressure against Russia and extension of the Empire.  Bears generally avoid humans. But if they appear not to have a way out, they viciously attack. So is the Russian Bear.


          Furthermore, consider Hillary's dependence on Saudi Arabia and Israel.  See the donations to her Foundation, which indicate a continuous nightmare in the Middle East.


          My conclusion: the possibility of a theoretically unwanted war but provoked by a poorly calculated push by a Hillary President is very high. This does not mean that Trump may be a good choice. Perhaps he is bad or very bad for internal US politics, but probably less dangerous for the whole world.


          JE comments: I just cannot warm up to this image of a cuddly Russian Bear.  For example, can we believe for an instant that Russia is in Syria for humanitarian reasons? I'm going to go with protecting its naval base and its client, Assad.


          Eugenio Battaglia, who has often come to Putin's defense, gives us a different perspective. That's what WAIS is all about.  Eugenio has less fear of Trump shooting off his mouth than of Hillary's more lethal shooting.  I hope we will discuss this further.


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      • Clinton v Trump: Another Rebuttal to Nigel Jones (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/14/16 3:35 AM)
        Once again I have to express my objection to Nigel Jones (13 October), for calling people names without providing an iota of evidence to back his aspersions.

        A few weeks earlier, Nigel engaged in useless name-calling against Bernie Sanders.  I asked what specific policies or positions Sanders proposes that Nigel is so vitriolic about. I detected no reply.


        In his most recent post, once again he called Sanders ludicrous without any reasoning to justify it. This is not the type of discussion we strive for in WAIS.


        JE comments: Nigel Jones has explained his position on Sanders, with a strident, even tautological, anti-socialist argument. Sanders is a self-proclaimed socialist, socialism is a failed ideology, therefore...


        Nigel's countryman John Heelan sees the paucity of "statesmen" as a global problem.  Stay tuned for John's post.



         

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      • Where Are the Statesmen? on Ochlocracy (John Heelan, UK 10/14/16 4:16 AM)
        Nigel Jones's comment (13 Oct) highlights the dearth of political talent worldwide (not least in the UK).

        PR is the new "politics" in this new media world. How many states(people) rather than "PR celebrities" can WAISers identify in today's global political world? Wikipedia reminds us that "Anacyclosis states that three basic forms of 'benign' government (monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy) are inherently weak and unstable, tending to degenerate rapidly into the three basic forms of 'malignant' government (tyranny, oligarchy, and ochlocracy)." Note that "ochlocracy" refers to mob rule, not the concept of democracy created in the late 18th century.


        According to the doctrine, "benign" governments have the interests of all at heart, whereas "malignant" governments have the interests of a select few at heart. However, all six are considered unworkable because the first three rapidly transform into the latter three due to political corruption.


        Perhaps the world is heading for either widespread dictatorships or anarchy?


        JE comments: John Heelan gives us today's WAIS WordPower!™ entry: ochlocracy.  Democracy at its messiest does seem like mob rule.  What present-day government best exemplifies ochlocracy?  Perhaps Venezuela?


        So where are the stateswomen and statesmen--the Wilsons, the Churchills, the De Gaulles, the FDRs?  Do you have to be dead to become one?


        Anyone want to rise to John's challenge:  are there any statespeople in today's political landscape?


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      • Is Trump a Good or a Terrible Politician? (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 10/14/16 4:38 AM)
        John E wrote on 13 October: "I've been thinking all morning about David/Bert Westbrook's claim that Hillary is the 'second worst' US politician we've seen in ages. I infer from this that Bert considers Trump the worst. I'm going to disagree: that Trump has made it this far with no credentials whatsoever suggests exactly the opposite. In a culture that celebrates soundbites, celebrity, and media saturation more than anything that would approach substance, Trump is the consummate master. He's not a bad politician; politics rather have come around to 'brands' of the Trump ilk."

        I disagree. Drumpf is a dreadfully terrible politician. Being able to attract attention to yourself is not enough to do politics, even on the lowest gutter levels. Let's put aside "substance," that is concrete policy, for a moment--because Hillary Clinton also utterly lacks substance, as we have seen from her leaked Wall Street speeches revealing her "public" and "private" positions, and especially, her leaked emails where she discusses cynically hitting Obama for pro-trade positions which are more moderate than her own. There is no "substance" at all in this campaign; both candidates are interested only in power and, in the case of Drumpf, more and more attention.


        To do politics, you have to be able to put together coalitions, exercise leadership, and you have to be able to move people towards something, if only towards voting for you. Drumpf is unable to do any of this; he's nothing but a bag of wind. Hillary goes around transparently telling different groups exactly what she thinks they want to hear, without a thought about the fact that these messages are all in violent conflict with each other. This doesn't really work, because people don't believe it.  What they respond to would be a clear and coherent vision that is truly her own, and which the interests of the broad spectrum of society fit into--Ronald Reagan being the most brilliant example of this. This is leadership. But at least she tries--at least she has some concept that these different constituencies have certain interests; also she knows how to trade horses.


        Drumpf is not even capable of pandering--the best he can do is to, for example, tell African Americans that they "live in hell" and, "what do you have to lose?" And for all his self-promoted supposed deal-making ability, he is not capable of trading horses, either. As a politician, he is completely tone-deaf, alienating every possible constituency one after the other, and then alienating every possible political ally.


        As to substance--the best Drumpf can do with policy is to suggest solving our fiscal problems by writing off our debts (destroying the full faith and credit of the US government--the most astonishingly stupid policy suggestion ever made in the history of presidential campaigns, as far as I know), and building his idiotic wall at the expense of the Mexican government by blackmailing the Mexicans by blocking remittance payments. These things were accurately lampooned by Borowitz in the New Yorker ("Christie Calls Trump Genius for Plan to Burn Down White House and Collect Insurance"; http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/christie-calls-trump-genius-for-plan-to-burn-down-white-house-and-collect-insurance ). Drumpf has the mind of a juvenile delinquent; 9 out of 10 high school sophomores could come up with more serious policy platforms.


        So I agree with Bert--Hillary is a dreadful politician who is not the worst we have ever seen only because she is running against a scarecrow. She is the embodiment of the complete decay of American politics--the death of policy, the death of real political leadership, and the triumph of cynicism and corruption. Many, many things in her record rise to the level of actual crimes, more and more of which are coming out of the Wikileaks files. The only thing coming out of the Drumpf campaign which I can agree with is "Lock Her Up!"


        I hope she is impeached and in jail before her first year of office is over, and in my opinion, there is every chance of that. President Kaine will be far, far better, and that is the happiest outcome we can hope for.


        JE comments:  The British tried the Burn down the White House trick back in '14.  (That's 1814.)


        My point was not that Trump is adept at doing politics they way they should be done, but rather that he has mastered the vile game of politics today.  His winning the Republican nomination over a field of opponents is proof of this.  (Francisco Ramírez, who is next in the queue, argues that Trump succeeded in destroying the entire Republican party.)  Politics today are like sausage-making...today.  But dirtier, and far less tasty.


        Nonetheless, I'll applaud Cameron Sawyer's astute "unpacking" of the two candidates, and their substance or lack of it.


        Today on WAIS we've heard from at least three of our Board members:  Cameron Sawyer, Paul Pitlick, and Francisco Ramírez (next).  And me:  that makes four.  A happy coincidence.



         

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        • More on Trump as a Terrible Politician (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 10/15/16 5:06 AM)
          JE wrote on October 14th: "My [response to Cameron Sawyer is] not that Trump is adept at doing politics they way they should be done, but rather that he has mastered the vile game of politics today."

          But he has not! Anyone "adept at politics" is adept at building up coalitions and supporters, both at the level of political elites and donors, as well as at the level of different constituencies of voters. Drumpf has hardly raised any money, has no real support from any part of the political establishment, and in fact was nominated by default, out of an exceptionally weak field of candidates, and with the Republican party leadership in a catatonic state. He has not managed to mobilize any political forces at all; the Party itself only grudgingly even accepted his candidacy. A certain, rather small, and exceptionally stupid part of our society actually likes him; all the rest who have said they will vote for him are only doing it because they think Hillary will be even worse. They are only doing it for the sake of the Supreme Court, or whatever other concrete thing which they know Hillary will ruin.


          I guess that in the event, Drumpf will go down in a landslide, despite the exceptional weakness of his opponent. That is because that part of his apparent supporters, who are only planning to do it with their noses held, will not bother doing it at all when it becomes obvious that he cannot win. They will stay home in droves and spare themselves the emotional distress of pulling the lever for that clown, once they see there will be no effect from their doing so.


          I'm predicting that Hillary will win by a landslide, and this will be the first landslide by default in our history. Unless someone can persuade him to step down in favor of Pence, which would be the smartest possible thing he could do. Even I would vote, if I could vote for Pence, as against that evil witch.


          JE comments:  Cameron Sawyer, like Massoud Malek, will choose conscientious abstention next month.


          I've been doing a poll of yard signs in Adrian over the last few weeks.  Trumpists outnumber Hillaryites about 50 to 1.  I found the lone Hillary sign in a yard on my street.  It belongs to a colleague of mine, a History PhD from Princeton.


          To my mind, the interesting thing is how the world's intellectuals/Brahmins have repeatedly underestimated Trump.  Call it White Man's angst (Francisco Ramírez), an existential crisis (David A. Westbrook), or even exceptional stupidity (Cameron Sawyer).  But there's something there, there.

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    • How Do We Explain Trumpism? (Francisco Ramirez, USA 10/14/16 11:41 AM)
      In an earlier e-mail I identified what I thought were some of the important issues in this presidential election and indicated why I would vote for Hillary Clinton. It is simply not true that I merely consider her the lesser of two evils. The Washington Post endorsement echoes my assessment.

      I too think of Trumpism as a symptom of a larger set of concerns. In the American context there is Globalization and Its Discontents (to coin a phrase) and there is White American Men coming to terms with the fact that whiteness and maleness are no longer unchallenged elements of what it means to be American leaders. Not only have there been demographic changes that add up to a system shock, but those who are not white men enjoy greater standing than they once did. The Black Man in the White House was the final straw in the erosion of white male privilege. From the outset his legitimacy was challenged, and this is happening as the country is reeling from its worse economic downturn since the Great Depression. If the 1988 to 2008 period constituted the era of high globalization (as The Economist contends) we are surely in a time when anti-globalization movements soar. The Black Man in the White House fueled fears and anxieties that the economic downturn would have generated anyway. But now there was the sense that other certitudes were also being undercut--more rights for more of "them" as "we" endure economic hardship no longer softened by a sense that at least "we" are the real deal. This indeed is an identity crisis.


      You can read all about it in the late Samuel Huntington's Who Are We? His main thesis is that cosmopolitanism (he does point to human rights discourse as indicative of cosmopolitanism) and multiculturalism are undercutting a sense of common national identity, that which binds people to one another. What we need is a return to rugged Americanization, a project the schools and other institutions promoted with greater effectiveness. Catholics and Jews, he asserts, ended up with Anglo-Saxon Protestant Values (and in the process were imagined to also be white, something he does not assert). Huntington rejects two alternatives: building a wall (not his words, but almost) or just drifting along.


      Huntington, Samuel. P. 2004. Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity. New York: Simon and Schuster.


      Huntington (better known for Clash of Civilizations) wrote this four years before the surprising election of Obama and before the Great Recession (2007-08). Both of these shocks to America exacerbated anxieties that had been percolating for decades. One reaction to the election and then the re-election of Obama was the idea that the GOP needed to reach out to not white Americans. The party leadership said so, and so did WAISer Richard Hancock. This idea would have led some to believe that having a Mexican wife and speaking Spanish would be an asset (Bush) or that having Hispanic heritage would be a plus (Cruz and Rubio). But it turns out this was too late. The election of Obama gave rise to the birther movement and to the Tea Party, and right-wing shock radio and TV got normalized. To his credit, McCain told a supporter who said Obama was an Arab, not an American, that she was wrong. McCain said that Obama was a good American with whom he had strong disagreements on virtually all sorts of policy issues. To their discredit, many GOP leaders looked the other way as the anxieties gave rise to the he is really not an American ("us") narrative, the ultimate delegitimization narrative.


      The desire for Rugged Americanization is a collective response to the cultural and economic shocks that have left many fearful that we no longer are what we used to be. Now some will argue that what we used to be was God-fearing families and communities and others that we used to win wars. My contention is that Make America Great Again is really Make America White Again, and what is pined for is Rugged Americanization in educational and other institutions. The more nuanced Huntington turns into Rush Limbaugh and now Trump's army. They believe: He is authentic. He talks like one of us. He says things we feel. And now we can feel it is OK to say these things and to do some things. And if you call us racist or sexist we can just say you are just politically correct. She is weak (no penis) but dares to act like she has one (wicked).


      I have a paper called "The Valorization of Humanity and Diversity." It is based on an analysis of textbooks over time and across countries that finds evidence of growing valorization of humanity (human rights) and diversity (more groups are recognized favorably.) The time frame is 1970 to 2008, the end year for the high period of globalization (?). The national does not disappear, but co-exists with the cosmopolitan and the diversity frames. Perhaps what we shall subsequently find is a resurgence of the national and a diminution of the frames Huntington feared.


      I know that Bert Westbrook (13 October) is also thinking about globalization and its impact on things like national identity. We have shared papers re globalization and universities and I would like to hear more about what he thinks underlies Trumpism. He correctly predicted the implosion of the GOP sometime back.


      PS:  For the record I am a White man with a Spanish surname with roots in the Philippines and the USA.


      JE comments:  I'd like to make Francisco Ramírez's essay required reading for...everyone. If Trump is the maximum articulation of the Post-Globalization period, and assuming that he will be defeated in three weeks, what then awaits us--next?

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      • How Do We Explain Trumpism? (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 10/15/16 5:32 AM)
        In response to Francisco Ramírez (14 October), long before Huntington there was historian Arthur Schlesinger, a JFK advisor, who predicted and warned about the ill effects of multiculturalism on the ties that bound America together.

        Likewise, some of his contemporaries predicted the penetration of lower-class values into middle-class society through the media and entertainment mediums. This too has happened. The result is today's America and the race to the bottom, in my humble opinion, is highlighted by the scumbags running for and serving in high office.


        Have you seen the video of Obama parading an erection to women on board Air Force One? Go Google it and then tell me that I am wrong.


        JE comments:  Francisco Wong-Díaz sent the link in a separate e-mail.  It wasn't filmed on Air Force One, but rather on a campaign plane in 2008.  I have no "position" on Obama and erections, but it's impossible not to notice how much he's aged in eight years.


        Are we seeing a "race to the bottom" in politics?  There hasn't been a non-Ivy Leaguer in the White House since Ronald Reagan.  If Hillary wins, it will be five in a row.


        https://news.grabien.com/story-video-2008-campaign-appears-show-obama-flaunting-erection-fe


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      • Trump Meltdown? (Leo Goldberger, USA 10/16/16 7:53 AM)
        Admittedly, it is with a good bit of Schadenfreude that I await the demise of the Trumpian scourge. As more and more Republicans are distancing themselves from the egomaniacal poseur, it seems unlikely that he will have the support beyond his fanatical supporters who seem unable to resist his demagoguery and his "celebrity" status.

        As someone who personally experienced life under the rule of a demagogical egomaniac, I feel a sense of relief--while still troubled by the obvious societal problems that enabled him to reach this far in light of his so obvious lack of fitness for the job as president.



        The big question soon to be faced is how venomously he will respond to his downfall--a topic touched on in this timely Op-Ed piece by Timothy Egan (New York Times, 10/15/16).


        JE comments: Here's Timothy Egan's essay:


        http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/14/opinion/burning-down-the-house.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0


        "Burning Down the House," or "Total Meltdown"? Tomorrow you can purchase the latest issue of Time magazine, which shows Trump's caricatured image and hairdo transformed into a molten puddle of Donaldial Ooze.  But--I'd say don't count him out just yet.



        http://creativity-online.com/work/time-donald-trump-total-meltdown-cover-animation/49472

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