L.B.: A Very Bad Reporter

Left Behind, pp. 292-298 (round 2)

Buck Williams, our hero, is a terrible reporter. During the past two days he has conducted two blockbuster interviews packed with astonishing revelations. He will not write about either of them. Ever.

First, back in London, he spoke with Inspector Alan Tompkins. Tompkins recounted scenes of brazen corruption, including his own eyewitness testimony of explicit death threats against police officers and their families. Those threats were made by a prominent public figure, Todd-Cothran, who as the head of the London Stock Exchange has to be concerned about his reputation and respectability.

Tompkins' allegations were so explosive that I could understand Buck hesitating to publish them without confirmation from an additional source. But then again the interview ended with Tompkins' execution, which would seem to provide at least enough confirmation to go ahead with publishing an account of his assertions about death threats moments before they were carried out.

But Buck never even considered doing that. Nor did he consider, at the very least, writing up his own eyewitness account of Tompkins' death. Buck's fleeing the scene made sense because the police were complicit in this murder, but that only makes this an even bigger story, a story that needed to be told.

Yet when he arrives safely back in New York, riding in a cab with his editor, neither of them even thinks of calling Todd-Cothran to force him to deny Tompkins' story. Neither of them gives Tompkins' story a second thought. Instead, they rush off to hear a speech about the history of the United Nations.

Now it's early Tuesday morning, less than 48 hours after the London interview, and Buck is sitting in the Plaza Hotel, talking to the president of Romania and with scarcely any prodding he begins telling Buck about the very same conspiracy that Tompkins told him about. Now he's got two sources telling him the same thing and he's still not interested in the story.

In Buck's defense, the authors hint that he may be under the spell of Carpathia's Antichrist mojo:

The Romanian sat forward and looked directly into Buck's eyes. That gave Buck such a feeling of peace and security that he felt free to tell him everything. Everything. Even that his friend Dirk had tipped him off about someone meeting with Stonagal and Todd-Cothran, and Buck's assuming it was Carpathia. …

That was the news that put Buck Williams on a plane to England — the hot tip that a banker, a stockbroker and a politician had attended a meeting. Riveting stuff. Very dog-bites-man, but without quite so much action. Here then is all you need to know about Buck's idea of what constitutes a story: "Businessmen conduct meeting" is big news; "Businessman kills police inspector with car bomb" is not.

"It was I," Carpathia said. "But let me make this very clear. I know nothing of any conspiracy. I have never even heard of such a thing. Mr. Stonagal felt it would be good for me to meet some of his colleagues and men of international influence. I formed no opinions about any of them, neither am I beholden to any of them."

And then, after clearly stating that he's never heard of any conspiracy, that he has no opinions about Stonagal's friends, and that he owes nothing to anyone, Carpathia goes on — for the next several pages — to sketch out the shape of the conspiracy, to provide his opinion of those involved, and to explain the rather large favors they are doing for him. Stonagal, for example, plans to use his wealth and leverage to ensure that the current secretary-general will step down and be replaced by Carpathia. The group will then, well, conspire to ensure that Todd-Cothran represents the U.K. on a reconfigured Security Council.

"Would that not be interesting?" [Carpathia] said. "A nonpolitician, a brilliant financial mind, one who was wise enough and kind enough and globally minded enough to allow the world to go to a three-currency system that did not include his own pounds sterling?"

So again, no conspiracy, nope, none at all. And he doesn't have any opinion one way or another about Todd-Cothran.

LaHaye and Jenkins used these interviews with Tompkins and Carpathia as expository shortcuts, a way of telling the readers about the machinations behind Nicolae's rise to the U.N. "throne." But in the course of this, Buck has learned about all of this too. He now knows all the details of an international conspiracy — one that includes bribery, extortion and murder — to alter the world's currency system. (He still doesn't know why these criminals would want a three-currency system, but he knows they're using criminal means to bring it about.) Any respectable protagonist at this point ought to be thinking that he's got to get out of there and find a reporter who will listen to his story, but of course Buck is a reporter.

We've all seen bad movies in which the plot doesn't make sense because they haven't provided a valid reason why the heroes don't just go to the police. This is that movie. Except here it's worse because the hero is a policeman and he won't even go to himself.

The authors haven't forgotten that Buck is a reporter, it's just that, like Buck himself, they can't seem to imagine how that might be relevant. In these same pages, while Carpathia tells of his past — and of why he is deeply, massively "beholden" to Stonagal — the authors try to portray Buck as a tough, probing investigative journalist. "This is the kind of thing I write against," he says at one point. And then, of course, he doesn't.

When he was younger, Carpathia says, he made some money as a businessman:

"I studied at night, many languages, the ones I needed to succeed. …"

L&J seem to think that fluency in multiple languages is a path to riches. They should know better since, after all, they're millionaires and they're not even fluent in English.

"During the day I ran my own import-and-export business and made myself wealthy. But what I thought was wealth was paltry compared to what was possible. I needed to learn that. I learned it the hard way. I borrowed millions from a European bank, then found that someone in that bank informed my major competitor what I was doing. I was defeated at my own game, defaulted on my loan, and was struggling. Then that same bank bailed me out and ruined my rival. I didn't mean to or want to hurt the rival. He was used by the bank to lock me into a relationship.

"Was that bank owned by an influential American?"

Carpathia ignored the question. "What I had to learn, in just over a decade, is how much money is out there."

"Out there?"

"In the banks of the world."

"Especially those owned by Jonathan Stonagal," Buck suggested.

Carpathia still wasn't biting.

And he never does "bite." He never gives Buck a straight answer to his slanted questions about Stonagal. He never has to because Buck just lets it drop. The authors, or Buck, or both seem to subscribe to the Tim Russert school of journalism: As long as you ask the tough questions it doesn't matter whether or not you insist on, or receive, an answer.*

In all of this there is a seed of something better. There's a hint here of Carpathia as an idealistic man who has allied himself with powerful but ruthless men in the hopes that they will enable him to achieve his own aims without interference. That could have been an interesting story — the Antichrist as a tragic figure. But the authors don't have time for that, and any hint that Carpathia's purported idealism is genuine gets blown away (literally) in the following chapters.

Carpathia prefaces the personal history above by asking Buck a question:

"I believe in the power of money. Do you?"

Buck says, "No." I take it he means that he believes that money is not the only power, or not the greatest power, because otherwise, for an investigative reporter who's been on the job for more than a day or two, that's the wrong answer. One of the fundamental rules of investigative journalism after all is, in the words of Deep Throat [in William Goldman's screenplay], "Follow the money." Buck himself says that he "writes against" this power. Why bother doing that if it wasn't real?**

For Buck, I suppose, money — even the manipulation of international currency systems by a cabal of bankers and stockbrokers — falls into the same non-newsworthy category as the assassination of police officers.

[CX: Fixed attribution for "Follow the money," thanks Stephen.]

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* If you're ever elected to office and subsequently caught red-handed in a lie, scandal or high treason, get yourself booked on Russert's "Meet the Press." Then, when he confronts you about it, say this, "I love America, Tim." He will, unfailingly, treat this non-sequitur as a satisfactory answer and — for the rest of the interview and for the rest of your long, successful career in politics — your lie/scandal/treason will miraculously be transformed into an "old story" that has been "dealt with."

** We tend to think of the monolatrous passages in the Hebrew scriptures — things like 1 Samuel 5 or Psalm 82 — as anachronistic remnants from before monolatry gave way to monotheism. But there's at least one such passage in the New Testament as well: "You cannot serve God and Mammon."

"Nicholas Cage - any news of another "National Treasure" movie?"

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  • Ken

    Even a half-hour talking with a veteran reporter would have helped make Buck more realistic. But I suspect L&J don’t care that Buck seems pathetic.
    Because he’s just another placeholder on the End Time Prophecy Checklist.
    And Jenkins’ Gary Stu.

  • Ryan Ferneau

    Gosh darn it, it’s Mary Sue, not Gary Stu.

  • Jeff

    opopo: a porch and a stoop are two entirely different things. and i’ve never met any native speaker of American English who used the word “veranda” at all (and i’ve lived in a few different dialectical regions). and to my ear, a veranda is more like a terrace or patio, anyway, not really a porch.
    One of these days I’ll think to check BEFORE I write. I was referring to the study of “American dialect” done by Burt Vaux of the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Out of millions of words in the “American” language, a scant hundred or so vary to any extent. Compare “English”, “American” and “Australian” and the number might double, but the written words would, by and large, be the same.
    also, Jeff, you and I are saying completely opposite things
    Wouldn’t be the first time, nor, I fear, the last.
    for instance a Southerner will say the word the word “right” in a way that sounds a lot more like “rot”. but nobody is yet saying that southerners and northerners speak two different languages.
    I’m not counting accents. I doubt anyone thinks that two different accents are even different dialects . If Nicky spoke “perfect American” with a Rumanian accent, he’d still be speaking the “American” dialect. (Substitute “Queen’s English” for “American” and it makes more sense.)
    the reason that Australians and Americans speak dialects of the same language (even though we can’t understand each other a lot of the time), and the Swedish and Norwegians speak two different languages (even though they can often understand each other), is because of political and cultural divisions. not because of any substantial difference in the languages themselves.
    I haven’t looked at Norwegian, but from what I recall, most words were at somewhat different. They may be close enough to understand, but different enough to be a separate language. As for understanding each other, some accents of English (Midlands, for example) are so thick that other Englishers can’t understand them. I wouldn’t call them separate languages; but possibly different dialects.
    Again, I’m not a linguistics expert or anthropologist — I’m just saying what makes sense to me. YMMV; in fact YMDV.
    Ryan: Gary Stu is the male equivalent of Mary Sue.

  • the opoponax

    “but the written words would, by and large, be the same.”
    Vaux’s linguistic survey has basically nothing to do with what the “written” words are. linguistics as a field is not a study of the written word. furthermore, in writing you would rarely see most of the regional differences that Vaux studied (for instance regardless of the regional origin of the writer, very few people will describe a grocery bag as a sack or poke, a toilet as a commode, a milkshake as a frappe, etc. and much of Vaux’s survey had to do with the pronunciation of words — you will virtually never see “CAR-mil” for caramel or “MY-nez” for mayonnaise in writing, because regardless of regional pronunciations those words’ spellings have been standardized for many years.
    though one thing that is quite true, and it might be the difference between what you and i are saying, is that a major reason we consider (for example) American and Australian the same basic language is that English language spelling was crystallized before the two languages began to diverge. which means that even though Americans and Aussies are speaking very differently from each other, we’re writing almost identically. which makes it seem like our language is more alike than it really is and prevents us from thinking of each other as speaking different languages. this is not the case between languages like Catalan and Andorran — those languages diverged before systems of writing were set in stone.

  • the opoponax

    “Much of Latin’s speciation into Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Romanian, etc., occurred during the Dark Ages after the collapse of the Roman Empire.”
    i would also guess that a lot of the differences were there the whole time — our idea of Latin doesn’t resemble the everyday spoken language of Romans very much at all, and keep in mind that most of Western Europe was the absolute hinterlands of the empire, which would have been less directly influenced by Latin the further one traveled from the city of Rome. also keep in mind that what we now call “Italian” didn’t gel as one standard language until quite recently; even know you should hear the arguments that spring up between Florentines and Sicilians about whether it’s “MOT-za-rel-ah” or “moot-za-REL”, among many many other things.

  • Jeff

    this is not the case between languages like Catalan and Andorran — those languages diverged before systems of writing were set in stone.
    I think you might be right about the “setting” of a language. With Spanish, for example, I would think that the “languages” of the different nationalities of Central and Southern America are more likely dialects than distinct languages. Spanish was fairly “set” (IIRC) by time the Americas were colonized/plundered/raped/however you want to describe what the Spanish did (I’m think that the c/p/r/h wasn’t broad-based enough to impact the language until the 1600s, at least).
    It would be interesting to compare linguistic splits, such as happened in the Americas, or with the Boers in South Africa, and compare them with how “settled” the root language was when the “child” language/dialect was formed.

  • the opoponax

    should be “even now”, sorry.

  • the opoponax

    “With Spanish, for example, I would think that the “languages” of the different nationalities of Central and Southern America are more likely dialects than distinct languages. Spanish was fairly “set” (IIRC) by time the Americas were colonized/plundered/raped”
    first of all, quick note — there’s actually no such language as Andorran, i made a mistake and really meant Aragonese. Catalan is, in fact, the official language of Andorra.
    i don’t know exactly what you mean, here. my example of Catalan and Aragonese has to do with regional differences in Spain itself. and you just try telling Catalans and Aragonese that they’re actually speaking dialects of one language that is actually called “Spanish”.
    in terms of latin america, language differences there largely have to do with the fact that different cultures who spoke wildly divergent languages of their own were colonized/what-have-you. someone learning spanish as a speaker of Quechua is going to approach it very differently than someone learning spanish as a speaker of Nahuatl. i don’t know what Spanish’s relative “settlement” has to do with this. in fact, if anything, latin americans tend to see “Spanish” as more of an iconic thing than the Spanish in Spain do, because Spaniards call it “Castilian” and think of it mainly as the language of Castile. Spanish is only “settled” as a language in that Castilian has gradually come to dominate the other regions.
    all in all, even within European countries we see as having one iconic language (Italy, France, Spain, Germany, etc), actual langauge as used is far more fragmented than most Americans are aware.

  • the opoponax

    “I’m not counting accents. I doubt anyone thinks that two different accents are even different dialects .”
    when talking about a native speaker of a language, this makes basically no sense. a southerner who says “git ohvur heah rot naiow” is speaking her home dialect, not some other language “with an accent”, in the way that you would say that a Romanian might speak English “with an accent” (i.e. having an offkey sense of prosody and phonetics due to learning a language later in life). furthermore, the idea that you can create a hierarchy of “accent”, “dialect”, and “language” is contrary to basically all of linguistic scholarship. or to say it less politely, it’s wrong.
    someone who speaks a non-native language “with an accent” is doing something fundamentally different from someone who is speaking a nonstandard regional variety natively. and there is just no such thing as a hard-wired difference between “dialect” and “language”. they are for the most part the creations of politics and cultural assumptions. remember, for instance, that Italian and German actually didn’t exist as “languages” until those countries united as nations during the 19th century.

  • Jeff

    the idea that you can create a hierarchy of “accent”, “dialect”, and “language” is contrary to basically all of linguistic scholarship. or to say it less politely, it’s wrong.
    I’m glad you gave me the polite version first! [grin]
    I’m not going to argue with your knowledge of linguistics scholarship. Is there any definition of “accent”, “dialect” and “language” consistant in the current literature, or are they are pretty much overlaps of each other?

  • the opoponax

    well, “accent” isn’t a technical term at all. it’s possible it’s used in phonological or second langauge acquisition circles to talk about exactly what i just said in my above post (a non-native speaker’s use of off-kilter prosody, phonology, word choice, etc).
    “variety” is prefered to dialect or language in the sense we’ve been talking about, as far as i can tell, because it’s less weighted with assumptions about whether something “really” a language or not. but all in all, this issue is not one of terminology, but of the existence or lack thereof of hierarchies. it’s not interesting to linguists whether a particular variety is a seperate language or “just a dialect”. all varieties can be described as both langauges and dialects, depending on the situation. Castilian is a Spanish dialect every bit as much as Catalan is, even though Castilian is more “standard” and much more widely spoken. and nothing is “a dialect of a language”, because that’s a hierarchy that just isn’t apt within the field of linguistics.
    basically there’s just no such thing as whether something is a dialect vs. a language.

  • cjmr

    I tend to use ‘accent’ to mean ‘regional phonology/pronunciation pattern’. It isn’t technically correct, linguistically speaking, but it is useful when talking to non-linguists.
    Recently husband and I were at a birthday party where everyone else was from either Tennessee, Arkansas, or Maryland*. It quickly became clear that there isn’t a generic ‘Southern accent’–the three Southern states had very different ‘accents’. I was sitting there with my northern-Ohio, influenced by 16 years living Detroit-ish**, influenced by 15 years living in MD ‘accent’, trying very hard not to start doing anything, pronunciation-wise, that wasn’t part of my normal speech pattern.

  • chris y

    opoponax, I’d have said that Catalan, Aragones and Castilian were more clearly separate languages than the nordic examples, as far as mutual intelligibility goes. Catalan has borrowed a huge amount of vocabulary from Castillian, but its roots are in old southern French (langue d’Oc), like Provencal, whereas Castillian is usually grouped as “Hispano-Romance” with Portuguese and Gallego. Which is all pedandtry. The bit that matters is that it gives the lie to the popular misconception that related tongues within the same state must in some way logically be dialects rather than languages.

  • Stumped Norwegian

    I think I should chime in about the Scandinavian languages. They are basically dialects, there are fewer differences between any Scandinavian language than there is between the various English dialects.
    It gets even better when you compare the dialects in the border regions. People near the border may have a dialect that’s more like the one they speak just across the border, than the one spoken further away in their own country.
    The dialects spoken in different regions of the same country, can also be nearly impossible to understand for people from another region. Conscription often had the funny side effect that there’d be one or two guys in each company that *no one* could understand.
    In recent years that has changed, differences between domestic dialects grow smaller, and the difference between the three languages increases. Television and increased travel has a lot to do with this.
    It’s not that hard for a Norwegian to understand Danish; if you really can’t make yourself understood in Norwegian then you can just write the words down. Written normal Norwegian is very similar to written Danish.
    SWEDISH on the other hand…
    Picture yourself looking through a Swedish website looking for a jack plug and a jack socket (phone plug and phone jack for you Americans). After going nearly insane you find something they call a skarvjack (a jack socket / phone jack) and so you might think that the counter part is a skarvplug? Oh no, it’s called a teleplugg.
    Swedish technical language, and language in general, strikes an outsider as being so utterly random that you wonder if they pull words out of a hat and assemble them.

  • the opoponax

    i don’t have a cite on this, but my linguistics professors always insisted that research shows pretty conclusively that TV has had little or no effect on regional diversity in language. of course the main issue there is that radio came before TV, so the damage would already have been done. and we don’t have many recordings of regional speech before the advent of radio. in fact, i would be very interested to actually find the research on this.
    but the consensus seems to be that, contrary to what popular opinion tells us, broadcast media doesn’t seem to be affecting the existence of non-standard dialects (mainly because children primarily learn language from the people around them, not the TV or radio, which can’t talk back to them).

  • the opoponax

    also, yeah, cjmr, in non-ling circles (which is most circles for me since finishing college) i tend to use “accent” to mean ‘regional variety’. just because you come off as kind of a dick if you’re all “actually, there’s no such THING as an accent…” when you’re sitting around at a party marveling at how different everybody sounds.
    in fact, i often get “wow, you’re from louisiana? but you don’t even have an accent!” from acquaintances, and they usually can’t even handle my stock response of “everyone has an accent. i just have the same one you do.” let alone the attempt to explain that because i’ve lived in NYC for 7 years now and am a bit of a verbal chameleon, i’ve picked up the local “accent”. or the fact that the “accent” of my home city sounds a lot like Brooklynese anyway, and not all people below the Mason Dixon line talk like characters on Hee-Haw.
    dude, i can’t even stop myself from saying thing like “i waited on line for 2 hours” anymore!

  • Erick Oppeen

    I do know that “Dutch” is considered a separate language from “German” mainly because the Netherlands stayed independent. Along the German/Dutch border, it’s quite possible to see local farmers from different sides of the border communicating happily in their local dialect; German sort of “shades into” Dutch, and I’ve heard native German speakers say that Dutch sounds, to them, rather like someone speaking medieval German with a chicken bone stuck in his throat.

  • hapax

    On t’other hand, when I was in Amsterdam, I found that English was a lot more helpful than German in understanding the conversations around me (admittedly, my English is much better than my German.)
    I have a friend who grew up speaking Yiddish as her first language, and she had no trouble at all understanding Dutch.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    “…our idea of Latin doesn’t resemble the everyday spoken language of Romans very much at all.”
    That’s true, Opo. The Latin used by writers such as Cicero, Vergil, and Pliny was quite different from the Latin used in Catullus’s poetry and in the Satyricon. Many grammatical features of the modern Romance languages, such as the lack of noun declension, were already being to occur in “vulgar” Roman speech as early as the 1st Century. This is obvious in the graffiti inscriptions from Pompeii.

  • the opoponax

    hapax, this is probably because the German you know High German, not the Neiderdeutch dialect that Dutch is so similar to. German is yet another european language that Americans see as one universal thing, but which really consists of a hodgepodge of different local langauges, one of which ultimately became the “standard” variety.

  • Jeff

    Tennessee, Arkansas, or Maryland* … the three Southern states had very different ‘accents’.
    Maryland is the northern border of the Mason-Dixon Line, but I don’t know that it’s considered “Southern” (according to The Mighty Wikitzer — you should hear in on the Tocata and Fugue! — MD is only ocassionally considered “Southern”. Maybe 2.5 Southern accents?
    Michigan has at least three regional ‘accents’–Detroit-area people sound different from Bay City/Saginaw/Midland people sound different from people from the Upper Peninsula
    Not to mention that Detroit has one of the largest Arabic populations in the US. Designing a welfare system that took into account the ethnic stew of Detroit AND Jim from down the way who needed $20 to get through the week would have been hard enough, even if the bosses weren’t idiots.

  • cjmr

    Maryland is the northern border of the Mason-Dixon Line
    Ummm, no, Maryland is south (and west) of the Mason-Dixon Line, which forms the border between MD and PA and also the border between MD and DE. (Also WV and PA).
    Southerners don’t consider MD to be South, because we weren’t part of the Confederacy, but the North-east doesn’t appear to want us, either.

  • cjmr

    I apologize for not closing my link and hope this fixes it.

  • the opoponax

    wasn’t the Mason Dixon line created to divide Maryland from PA, to the north, thus being the official slave/free dividing line? or something?

  • Jeff

    Maryland is the northern border of the Mason-Dixon Line
    Ummm, no, Maryland is south (and west) of the Mason-Dixon Line
    Two different ways of saying the same thing (perhaps with different accents?). North Dakota is part of the northern US border but is south of said border.
    BTW, Preview is your friend.
    wasn’t the Mason Dixon line created to divide Maryland from PA, to the north
    thus being the official slave/free dividing line? or something?
    More “or something”. See the Wikipedia article cjmr linked to. It gives a pretty good history of the Line.

  • cjmr

    In my dialect you could say, “The northern border of Maryland is the Mason-Dixon Line”, but not “Maryland is the northern border of the Mason-Dixon Line”. A line is one-dimensional and does not have borders. Besides Maryland would still be the southern ‘border’ of the M-D Line.
    Yeah, preview is my friend. Unfortunately, the house I’m visiting right now doesn’t have a high-speed internet connection, so preview takes a long time. I’ve gotten spoiled–I’d forgotten how slow the internet could be.

  • hapax

    cjmr, you have to remember to shake your telephone line every now and then. Sometimes some of the ‘1’s fall sideways, and cause a logjam of the 0’s.

  • Bugmaster

    You can also try waxing your modem, to make it go faster.

  • Neurosis

    This may have already been stated, but economies would never accept a common currency over such broad areas. There is some sense in a normalised currency over certain areas, but nothing too expansive. By adopting the same currency, one then needs to accept a common central bank. Different areas will have vastly different economic needs, and having a centralised body control interest rates over such a large area is not desirable. Dollarisation or a hard currency peg works for developing countries as it gives them stability, and gives their central bank credibility in its actions (this is especially so for countries with strong ties to the currency or basket of currencies it is pegging itself to). However, for developed nations, it’s not desirable. The Euro is a pretty problematic currency itself… And probably not overly economically wise.

  • the opoponax

    yeah, in no way can i see the sentence “Maryland is the northern border of the Mason-Dixon line” as meaning anything but “Maryland is north of the Mason-Dixon line.” which it’s not, as stated above. You could, however, switch Pennsylvania for Maryland and be perfectly correct.

  • Chrissl

    Stumped Norwegian wrote: It’s not that hard for a Norwegian to understand Danish; if you really can’t make yourself understood in Norwegian then you can just write the words down. Written normal Norwegian is very similar to written Danish. SWEDISH on the other hand…
    I find that having learned Danish makes it fairly easy to understand written Norwegian and Swedish — some of the vocabulary words are different (including the common words for “boy” and “girl”, which are completely different in all three languages!) but the basic grammar and the way sentences are structured is similar enough that I can usually get the gist of a passage (with a dictionary).
    Thirty years ago or so, when I was living in the area for about six months, I found that I could usually make myself understood to Norwegian and Swedish speakers, once they figured out that it was _Danish_ I was speaking and not their own language. Apparently native speakers get enough exposure to the other languages that they usually do all right understanding them once they have the correct “mindset.”
    Complicating the situation in Norway is that some of the regional versions are different enough to have earned a sort of official recognition — and thus, to have been consciously maintained as “different.”
    (There’s this thing called “Nynorsk”, literally “New Norwegian,” which was an attempt in the early 20th century — based on some of the less-mainstream regional varieties of Norwegian — to reconstruct a “Norwegian as it might have been” without the historical Danish influence.)

  • Jeff Weskamp

    Since we’re currently discussing language on this blog, I thought I’d share this with you all:
    Cornelius Agrippa, in his book Occult Philosophy (published 1533), claimed that the original human language was changed into 72 different languages at the Tower of Babel, and that all modern tongues evolved from these original 72. If you’re all wondering where Agrippa got his information, he claimed to have conjured an angel, and the angel told him. Maybe that’s where L&J are getting some of their info! :-)

  • Jeff

    cjmr: Yeah, preview is my friend. Unfortunately, the house I’m visiting right now doesn’t have a high-speed internet connection, so preview takes a long time. I’ve gotten spoiled–I’d forgotten how slow the internet could be.
    Sympathies and condolences. About every other week-end, I use dial-up from San Diego. Remember the “Election” thread and how long that became? Do you feel me?

  • cjmr

    I have absolutely no desire to feel you. Now or in the future. Now 85%Duane on the other hand…

  • Ryan Ferneau

    and to my ear, a veranda is more like a terrace or patio, anyway, not really a porch.
    Great, that makes five things I have to learn the differences among just to know what the entrance to a house is like!
    And now I ought to go find confirmation that the male equivalent of “Mary Sue” isn’t “Mary Sue” as I had thought. Because I think it’s just that much more insulting to male Mary Sues not to masculinize the term, not to mention it immediately recalls the original use rather than being a strange derivative.

  • Jeff

    Now 85%Duane on the other hand…
    \me bites back sarcastic comment re 85%.

  • the opoponax

    terraces and patios are usually at the back of a house, or otherwise not a main entrance. as is a veranda, in my personal opinion. terrace, to me, implies something probably not at ground level (but not necessarily). a patio is basically synonymous with a back porch. a stoop is a very specific style of prominent front steps without any kind of covering on a multi-story townhouse style home. “porch” being just the generic word for a covered area in front of a main entrance with steps leading up to it.
    this is all The World According To The Opoponax, though. i think this may be one of those things where everybody has their own interpretation of each word. though i’m definitely willing to assert that my understanding of stoop as a more specialized term is standard, even in areas where the term is used (though that specialized kind of building entrance may be ubiquitous, leading people in the area to assume that it’s an all-purpose term).

  • Jeff

    My take:
    Terrace: back of the house, finished with brick or flagstones
    Patio: back of the house, ground level, may be finished or unfinished.
    Stoop: front steps without any kind of covering on a multi-story townhouse or brownstone.
    Porch: covered area with steps leading up to it. Unmodified “porch” is in the front of the house; otherwise, it’s a “back porch”
    Veranda: A porch which runs most of the length of the house. (It’s the thing that Jimmy Stewart sits in in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.)
    Deck: A raised wooden area in the beck of the house

  • cjmr

    \me bites back sarcastic comment re 85%.
    Well my comment was certainly supposed to be oozing with it.
    (sarcasm, that is)

  • Ken

    Michigan has at least three regional ‘accents’–Detroit-area people sound different from Bay City/Saginaw/Midland people sound different from people from the Upper Peninsula
    So there’s “Terrist” (Detroit),
    “Troll” (Bay City/Saginaw/Midland/Rest of Da Mitten)
    and YOOPER! (Da U.P., eh?)

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  • “A nonpolitician, a brilliant financial mind, one who was wise enough and kind enough and -”

    HE FREAKING KILLED SOMEONE. “Don’t praise murderers” is such an obvious rule of Pretending Not To Be Evil that they don’t even feel the need to mention it on most lists…