A laugh at the laughy lexicon
Marvellous article ["A laughy lexicon of unwipeable English phrases," by Matthew J. Reynolds, Vol.6, No.30 August 14 to 20] - and only too true. I found The Slovak Spectator from Central Europe Online - where I [also] found the headline 'Britons, Canadians Held In Belgrade Well' and rushed to the article, imaginging these poor men forced into a deep damp hole in the ground by beastly Yugoslav jailers. The word 'well' turned out to be the adjective, not the noun - and that the detainees were in fact being 'well'-treated.
The unwipeable article
Matthew Reynolds' article on the peculiarity of Slovak "English" ["A laughy lexicon of unwipeable English phrases," by Matthew J. Reynolds, Vol.6, No.30, August 14 to 20] reminded me of an article I once read about the problems encountered by multi-national companies that try to adapt their various advertising campaigns to local markets around the world.
My favourite anecdote in this article was about the car maker Mazda and its campaign for the "MR2" sportscar in France. Mazda quickly realised that they would need to change the name of the car in that country because no one wanted to buy a car whose name, when pronounced in French, came close to sounding like the French word for 'shit'
The other thing that Mr. Reynold's article reminded me of was the attempts of a Slovak brought up in an English speaking country, trying to speak Slovak correctly. There are howls of laughter to be heard from the Slovak side, I can tell you, as can my wife who has spent most of her life in Slovakia and bursts into spontaneous guffaws at some of my utterances.
There is a nice saying in Slovak, almost completely untranslatable with the correct tenor in English (mainly because it is intentionally incorrect grammatically), which is "dávaš tomu slovenčinu", or, "you're really socking it to that Slovak language".
If Mr. Reynold's has tried his Slovak on his fellow Slovaks, I am sure this saying has been uttered a few times, and probably in his presence because, as Mr. Reynold's intimated in his nice article, Slovak's are not shy about the same things as "Les Anglo-Saxons".
Don't fix the High Tatras
I loved your editorial about the High Tatras and tourism ["Tourism in the Tatras: If it ain't broke, don't fix it", Editorial, Vol.6, No.30 August 14 to 20]. This is my seventh year in the United States, but I still remember the times I spent hiking and climbing in the High Tatras.
Quite often I would talk about the potential of our country as a tourist destination. But after reading your article I have to admit that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I travelled through Switzerland and Austria, and I have to admit that the cleanliness and efficiency and high quality and prices of everything did become an annoyance after a while.
Keep up the good work
Farmington, New Mexico
The wrong country
Andrej Warhola was never a "native" or "citizen" of Czechoslovakia at all ["Andy Warhol and his friends on display", by Zuzana Habšudová, Vol.6, No. 30, August 14 to 20]. He was a native of Austria-Hungary who emigrated to the US early in the 20th century, returning to his native village of Mikova in 1913 to marry Julia Zavacky. He returned to the United States before World War I broke out.
His young wife (and Andy's mother), Julia Warhola, was trapped by the war, but left in about 1921. Since she was a resident of Mikova after 1918, you could safely call her a "native of the former Czechoslovakia".
As for the Warhola family, they were ethnic Rusyns (or Ruthenians, depending on your preference). Not to identify their ethnicity and their connection to modern-day Slovakia (in case you don't know, Mikova is near Medzilaborce in eastern Slovakia) is inexcusable for The Slovak Spectator.
28. Aug 2000 at 0:00