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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."

  • Elmo

    opoponax asked: “Since when would the UN have the power to make fundamental currency changes?”
    It is critical that we understand the mind of TimJerry LaHayeJenkins who are pandering to an audience which has no trouble believing that doG created the universe in 6 x 24 x 60 x 60 seconds and accepts as a point of faith that the United Nations is a front for the One World/Trilateral Commission/Secret 600 people who are conspiring to bring about the downfall of doG.

  • Richard Hershberger

    Regarding duelling versions of the King James Version, there is also a small minority that favors using the Geneva Bible: the Bible of OliverCromwell and the Puritans. This seems to be a small minority view, but it highlights that the KJV is, after all, the Authorized Version, and the person doing the authorizing was high church elite.
    Personally, I say that every translation since Wyclif if of the devil…

  • Jos

    Nonsense, all of it. The Only True Translation is quite obviously the Willibrord translation.
    Because that’s the one that I have.

  • Raphael

    At least the authors unability to understand what is news and what isn’t partly explains many conservatives’ belief that the media’s reporting is based on evil plans to destroy All That Is Good And Decent: Since they don’t understand the difference between big news and small news, they don’t understand why things are reported as much or as little as they are, so it’s easy for them to believe that news outlets decide that kind of thing the way they do because they’re Eeeeeevil.

  • treeandleafster

    On a side note, Switzerland isn’t a member of the EU; it would conflict with their principles of neutrality.

  • the opoponax

    whoops, sorry about that.
    man, now that is a SERIOUS commitment to neutrality…

  • Jeff

    The guy who wrote All The President’s Men also did The Princess Bride? That’s just begging for some kind of #$%@ed-up YouTube mashup clip.
    Among Goldman’s credits:
    Hearts in Atlantis (2001) (screenplay)
    The General’s Daughter (1999) (screenplay)
    The Chamber (1996) (screenplay)
    Maverick (1994) (written by)
    Misery (1990) (screenplay)
    The Princess Bride (1987) (book) (screenplay)
    Magic (1978) (novel) (screenplay) – Romantic Thriller
    A Bridge Too Far (1977) (screenplay)
    Marathon Man (1976) (novel) (screenplay)
    All the President’s Men (1976) (screenplay)
    The Great Waldo Pepper (1975) (screenplay)
    The Stepford Wives (1975) (screenplay)
    The Hot Rock (1972) (screenplay) – Comedy Crime Caper
    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) (written by)
    No Way to Treat a Lady (1968) (novel) – Comedy/Thriller
    He and Rob Reiner tell of Goldman’s first and only visit to the set of The Princess Bride: During one scene, a flashpot goes off and a flame singes Buttercup’s dress. Goldman had written the scene, he knew it was coming and he still made an audible cry when the “fwoosh” came. Needless to say, he was (somewhat voluntarily) banned from the set.

  • the opoponax

    He’s also the author of a couple of very good hollywood memoirs/guides to the screenwriting business. I have one, called “Which Lie Did I Tell?”, and there’s another more famous one i don’t remember the title to.

  • Jessica_Guilford

    I like the Standard Text Revised International Version, myself. But I’m biased.

  • Brian J.

    Actually, Norway isn’t an EU member either.
    In fact, less than half (13 of 27) of EU members use the euro. The rest either don’t want to use it yet (UK, Denmark, Sweden) or haven’t met the economic conditions to use it (the new, mostly Eastern European members). Denmark has its krone pegged to the euro, and the krone is used by its possessions of Greenland and the Faeroes, which technically aren’t part of the EU.
    Then there are Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican which aren’t EU members, but use the euro and are allowed to mint coins (in Andorra’s case, starting this January 1).
    And then, there’s Kosovo and Montenegro, which aren’t EU members and can’t mint coins but use the euro anyway…
    Currency is a lot more complex than LaJenkins make it sound. But then, what isn’t?

  • hapax

    LMM: “It occurred to me — is American fundamentalism the *only* religion in the world which believes that a *translation*, and not the original it was based on, was inspired by God?”
    The Septuagint translation of the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) was widely considered to be both Divinely inspired and even miraculous.
    “In another lifetime, I’m going to start a fundamentalist church which actually reads the original *Greek* version of the Bible.”
    Ummm. Most of the “Bible” wasn’t written in Greek. And as far as “original version” — there’s a huge amount of assumptions about how a mishmash of oral traditions, legal codes, poetry, legends, letters, quote collections, and the fine hand of editorial spin control was compiled into anything like the form we have now. Even the Greek versions of just the New Testament had wildly different for millenia, and the most commonly used Greek edition was based on seriously crappy manuscripts.
    As far as English translations go, I use the Authorized Version for the poetry, RSIV (mostly) for general meaning, and Clarence Jordan’s Cotton Patch translations (see http://rockhay.tripod.com/cottonpatch/index.htm) for the theology and sheer fun of it (I adore his version of the Good Samaritan (Doings, 10:25-37), and Paul’s trial (Happenings, Ch. 25-26))

  • mcc

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_noted_polyglots
    # Pope Benedict XVI, current head of the Roman Catholic Church, speaks at least ten languages (his native German, Italian, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and ecclesiastical Latin among them).
    # Pope John Paul II, former head of the Roman Catholic Church, learned as many as eleven languages during his lifetime, including Latin, Hebrew, Greek, Spanish, French, Italian, German, English, Portuguese, his native Polish, and also had some facility with Russian
    So… antichrist? :O

  • Drocket

    *Since they don’t understand the difference between big news and small news, they don’t understand why things are reported as much or as little as they are, so it’s easy for them to believe that news outlets decide that kind of thing the way they do because they’re Eeeeeevil.*
    When everyone knows that those decisions are based on stupidity and shallowness. Although evil IS a relatively good explanation for how much coverage Paris Hilton has been getting, I think…

  • Erick Oppeen

    The thing about polylingualism is that in a lot of cases, learning one language gives you a big leg-up on others. IOW, if I knew Russian, (to take one example I happen to be middlin’ familiar with) I’d have a lot less of a tough time with Polish or other Slavic languages than I would if I came to them knowing nowt but English.
    And then we get into the question of “language vs. dialect”—IOW, when does a “dialect” get promoted to a “language?” The usual rule-of-thumb is a “language” is a “dialect” with an army, but that’s a bit cynical. You can set off lots of interesting arguments among linguists over this one.

  • Jeff

    He’s also the author of a couple of very good hollywood memoirs/guides to the screenwriting business. I have one, called “Which Lie Did I Tell?”, and there’s another more famous one i don’t remember the title to.
    I like the Standard Text Revised International Version, myself. But I’m biased.
    Goldman comes in variations? Who knew?!
    I haven’t read it in a while, but I liked the Jerusalem Bible. It seemed to a fair amount of explanation for the text. The Cotton Patch translation looks good (direct link here), but I’ve only glanced at it.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    The difference between languages and dialects is this: Speakers of two different dialects can still understand each other, albeit with some difficulty. Speakers of two different languages are unable to understand each other at all.
    “In another lifetime, I’m going to start a fundamentalist church which actually reads the original *Greek* version of the Bible.”
    The Church of Christ, in which I was raised, does not regard ANY English translation of the Bible as inspired in and of itself; they believe that only the source documents in the original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) and inspired and infallible. My old preacher constantly used Greek words and terms in his sermons and lessons, and an understanding of Greek is necessary to graduate from Bear Valley (the “seminary” of the CoC in Colorado).

  • bulbul

    The difference between languages and dialects is this: Speakers of two different dialects can still understand each other, albeit with some difficulty. Speakers of two different languages are unable to understand each other at all.
    Um, no.
    Two cases in point:
    a) Slovak and Czech. Two different languages, yet mutual intelligibility is almost 100%. Similarly – though perhaps the percentage is much lower – Danish and Norwegian, Russian and Ukrainian, French and Occitan etc.
    b) German dialects. Speakers of Low German or Plattdüütsch (dialect of Northern Germany) have a hard time communicating with speakers of Viennese and vice-versa.
    It all depends on cultural ties, the size of the territory where the language is spoken and a lot of other things.

  • Fraser

    My best friend goes to a charismatic church and has learned Greek and Hebrew precisely so she can get past English translations. But she’s pretty smart (much as our religious worldviews diverge).
    As for problems with original manuscripts, hapax is spot on. I think Bart Ehrman’s statement was that there are more differences between manuscripts of the New Testament than there are words in the new testament.

  • bulbul

    I thought somebody here was saying not long ago that something like 7 languages was about as much as a person’s head could be expected to hold at once.
    IIRC, it was opo, so I’d take that with a grain rock of salt :o)

  • Lusec

    Danish and Norwegian? Well, I suppose I might be able to understand them if they speak slowly, but it can be pretty difficult. Belive me, I’ve tried. Think of it like trying to understand somebody who’s talking with a hot potato in his mouth. Norwegian and Swedish, on the other hand, works pretty well.
    The irony is that while Danish has been a considerable influence on Norwegian due to the 434 year long Danish-Norwegian union, the much more recent Swedish-Norwegian union (1814-1905) had no effect whatsoever on the Norwegian language.
    In other news, I’ve met perfectly sober Norwegian whom I were almost incapable of communicating with. It was pretty embarassing, really. I and a bunch of friends met him downtown late in the evening, and agreed to show him the way to the central station. None of us could understand much of what he said, so we had to resort to the good old smile and nod tactic.

  • kenmorefield

    The incongruities of Buck’s professional decisions are probably explained by the general incongruities of the anti-Christ’s powers. There’s no point in trying to publish a story when the anti-Christ has the non-saved (including Buck’s editors) hypnotized or whatever. So the only way Buck (or anyone) doesn’t get mind-controlled by Carpathia is doing exactly what God “tells” him to do, maintaining his Holy Spirit force shield.
    Therefore, I come to the conclusion that Buck isn’t a bad reporter, God is. (And, hey, the ways of God are mysterious, you know…his thoughts being above ours and all…)
    Or, if you prefer (and more realistically) Buck only becomes a bad reporter when he becomes a Christian (and starts being ruled in his decisions by his understanding of what God wants rather than the standards of his profession). Turns out pop music isn’t the only vocation where “Christian” means six months later and 1/2 as good…

  • PepperjackCandy

    I can do about 10 active, some 25 passive
    :is jellus:

  • cjmr

    Oh yeah, way jealous…
    I’m currently at 2 active, 3 or 4 passive. I need native speakers to practice with, damnit!

  • the opoponax

    “The usual rule-of-thumb is a “language” is a “dialect” with an army, but that’s a bit cynical.”
    no it’s not, it’s pretty damn spot on. there is little or no purely linguistic justification for which varieties are called languages and which varieties are called dialects (other than some obvious ones, like we can now be pretty sure that English is not “just a dialect of German”). mutual intelligibility has very little to do with it, as bulbul says (for instance the original Mad Max had to be redubbed in more “American friendly”, yet still Aussie sounding, English for release in the US, because it was discovered that speakers of American English were having a really hard time understanding what is generally considered to be “a dialect” of their own language. Similarly, during my visit to Montreal last week I got answers all over the place when I asked how different Quebequois is from Standard French, and whether it constitutes its own language or simply a French dialect. As far as I could tell, people’s answers seemed to have more to do with their political and cultural views than anything else.
    “IIRC, it was opo, so I’d take that with a grain rock of salt :o)”
    nope, certainly wasn’t me. i’m pretty competent in 4 languages myself (and currently studying a 5th which has little resemblence to the other 4), and definitely don’t feel i’m getting down to the dregs yet. the fact that in addition to those 4 or 5 varieties recognized as “languages”, i’m multi-dialectal in terms of American English regional varieties (i can slip back and forth between New York, Southern, Cajun, and Midwestern, and sometimes even distinguish between Cajun, New York, and the particular variety used in and around New Orleans which is somewhere between the two), as well as being somewhat able to use certain non-American dialects like BBC English or Canadian.
    not to mention that in my undergraduate days i was a research intern on a project that mapped dialectical differences in Cajun English and French between different parishes (aka counties) of Louisiana — being aware that people living 2 bayous away can speak dramatically different varieties of either English or French, it would be hard to assume that the human mind could only hold on to 7 different languages.
    one thing i will happily propose, however, is that the human mind cannot keep track of more than about 7 people at the same time. i learned this today trying to navigate a huge local festival within a group of almost 20. inevitably, we would split up into 3 posses of 6 or 7. weird, huh?

  • none

    “What I had to learn, in just over a decade, is how much money is … in the banks of the world.”
    Well there’s Buck’s story right there: “banks have a LOT of money.” That’s right up there with “businessmen conduct meeting”

  • Craig

    In Buck’s defense, the authors hint that he may be under the spell of Carpathia’s Antichrist mojo…
    I’m again reminded of how much better the LB movie is.
    Oh, it’s awful, certainly. But it, at least, saw some dramatic purpose in holding back on blatantly fingering Carpathia as the final boss this early in the proceedings. In fact, they made a pretty good decision with the guy they cast as Nicky; the actor does a decent job of remaining so innocuous, so naively wide-eyed regarding his newfound position, that it’s not too hard to think, if only for a second, that he might actually be just a pawn for Stonagal and T-C. Then Nicky whacks them and brainwashes the UN council and suspension of disbelief dies a fiery death. Still, credit where it’s due.

  • Fraser

    Opo, the original Alfie with Michael Caine also had to be redubbed for American release: The Cockney was so thick in the original, even Brits had trouble with it (or so Caine says).
    As for Carpathia’s antichrist mojo, there’s a scene in this week’s Dr. Who that does it right (I’ll say no more).

  • Ursula L

    Another factor in defining languages is the alphabet used. Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian are quite similar, when spoken. But each group is dominated by a different religion (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Muslim) and writes using the alphabet associated with their faith (Latin, Cyrillic, Arabic.)
    Instant “different” languages.

  • Abelardus

    Ursula,
    Are the languages Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian respectively linked to their religions in your post (e.g., Serbian is to Catholicism etc.)? It’s just fascinating to see the branches that spring from Fred’s initial post, and certainly there’s relevance even as far as each subject has moved therefrom.

  • Dahne

    Good to hear that the 7 language max thing is a myth. I was hoping so. I like the idea that you can keep learning for as long as you want to keep putting time and effort into it.
    But then, I haven’t even gotten near to fluency in Japanese and I’ve barely picked up the basics of Russian, so even if it were true I wouldn’t have much to worry about for a while. :)

  • Ursula L

    Ableardus,
    From what I understand, the different ethnic groups in the region started out by being defined by the religion followed. So if you were Orthodox, you were called “Serb” and used the Cyrillic/Greek alphabet. If you were Catholic, you were called “Croatian” and used the Latin alphabet, and if you were Muslim, you were called “Bosnian” and used the Arabic alphabet. Probably related to the fact that education and literacy were tied to churches, historically. You’d go to your clergyperson of choice to get things read or written down, or to be taught to read and write.
    This isn’t absolute, of course, since people moved around, and labels might be assigned to a whole town even if it had a mixed population, based on which group dominated politically. And there was also geographic divisions based on people in a town or region converting as a group.

  • Bugmaster

    There’s some research (which I can’t quote right now, it’s been a while since my CogSci class) that indicates that the human short-term memory can only recall approximately 7 distinct objects at the same time (shopping list items, used cars you’ve looked at, etc.). Similarly, you can look at a pile of stuff and estimate the number of items in it without counting, as long as there are appromately 7 or fewer items. However, none of this applies to long-term memory, and complex objects of study such as languages, or any other learned skills for that matter.

  • pepperjackcandy

    There’s some research (which I can’t quote right now, it’s been a while since my CogSci class) that indicates that the human short-term memory can only recall approximately 7 distinct objects at the same time (shopping list items, used cars you’ve looked at, etc.). Similarly, you can look at a pile of stuff and estimate the number of items in it without counting, as long as there are appromately 7 or fewer items. However, none of this applies to long-term memory, and complex objects of study such as languages, or any other learned skills for that matter.
    Grouping helps. One person can more easily keep track of two groups of seven people (like sports teams — are there any sports with seven people per side (other than Quidditch)?) than one group of 14.

  • Bugmaster

    Yes, that’s exactly right; there are lots of mnemonic techniques based on grouping that you can use to overcome the 7-item barrier.

  • bulbul

    opo,
    sorry, must have remembered wrong.

  • chris y

    On the question of languages vs. dialects, you need look no further than the perennial debate over the status of Scots (incidentally the vernacular of King James) in relation to English (the vernacular of Lancelot Andrews and Co.). I’ve seen it argued that the decision of Knox to prescribe the (English) Geneva bible for use in Scottish churches rather than commissioning a Scots translation was crucial in diminishing the status of the Scots tongue.

  • Jeff

    I think the distinction of language vs dialect comes down to dictionary. If two “tongues” share most of a common dictionary, and vary largely only by accent (Southern and Mid-Atlantic English, for example), it could be said that they are dialects. If the dictionaries are different (Spanish and French), they are separate languages.
    I’m not sure this solves the controversy, but I think it might help.

  • the opoponax

    no. that’s simply not true. first of all “dictionary” only deals with the semantic/vocabulary side of language (which is a very tiny portion of what a language is), and secondly, often varieties which are borderline will have a lot of words in common. i mean even between English and French, probably 30% of any English dictionary is cognates with French (even down to very basic words like “beef” and “autumn”). but nobody would ever call English a dialect of French, in fact linguists don’t even consider them to be very closely related.
    i recently saw a film in Italian with French subtitles. i have decent proficiency in both of those languages (more active in the case of french, more passive in the case of italian), but it had never really occurred to me how closely related they are until i found myself hearing a word in Italian and seeing its French counterpart written out. you can tell quite easily in that situation that in many ways the two only differ by “accent”, i.e. the word is pretty much the same, except in Italian it sounds, well, more “Italian”. for instance the French “comme” is basically just the Italian “como”, except more ‘french-sounding’, or vice versa. even some of the colloquial expressions are virtually identical. but nobody thinks French is a dialect of Italian.

  • aunursa

    kenmorefield,
    Or, if you prefer (and more realistically) Buck only becomes a bad reporter when he becomes a Christian (and starts being ruled in his decisions by his understanding of what God wants rather than the standards of his profession).
    The problem is that Buck doesn’t come under God’s protection until the final chapter, but he is a pathetic journalist throughout the book.

  • hapax

    I dunno, aunnursa. Don’t they say that God takes care of children, drunks, and idiots?

  • Jeff

    Sorry, I should have used “vocabulary” for “dictionary”: I was trying to convey what you said: that different languages use different words in most cases. (I’m not phrasing this well, so I hope you can get what I mean.)
    Southern US and Mid-Atlantic may have a few differences (“soda”/”pop”, “porch”/”veranda”/”stoop”), but most of the words are common. That’s not the case with even closely-related languages like French and Italian.

  • Drak Pope

    I dunno, aunnursa. Don’t they say that God takes care of children, drunks, and idiots?
    Uh…
    God slaughtered all of the children on the planet for no reason in the first book and all RTC know that drinking alcohol is a sin. He doesn’t mention idiots though so feel free to make an ass out yourself in public.

  • kenmorefield

    Maybe Buck had some prevenient grace, being predestined to not just be the GIRAT but also saved.

  • aunursa

    Maybe Buck had some prevenient grace, being predestined to not just be the GIRAT but also saved.
    As I’ve pointed out on previous threads, this apparent predestined salvation is given to almost every major and minor character in the entire series (except those who are portrayed as depraved evil, like Nicky and his bumbling sidekick), as well as all of their close friends and friends. Almost without exception**, none of the characters has to face the realization that a loved one died without accepting Jesus and is, therefore, suffering in eternal torment. Even such unlikely candidates for conversion as Buck’s family, Ming Toy’s stubborn father (in one of the latter books), and Rayford’s demented father (in the prequel), they all eventually accept Jesus before death.
    ** Among the few exceptions to this rule are Hattie’s sister, Leah Rose’s husband, and IIRC Ming Toy’s husband, each of whom is presumed to have died unsaved. However the reader never actually gets to meet these characters, and these women are never shown contemplating the idea that their loved ones are burning in everlasting hell.

  • aunursa

    close friends and friends.
    Should be “close friends and relatives.”

  • Ryan Ferneau

    Until now, I honestly thought that a porch, a stoop, and a veranda were three completely different things.

  • the opoponax

    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.
    also, Jeff, you and I are saying completely opposite things, if I get your meaning right. I’m saying that it’s about WAY more than vocabulary, for a lot of reasons, among them being that a lot of languages which are closely related, but which are still considered seperate languages, have vocabularies which are very, very close to each other. especially if you count words that sound a little different but are clearly basically the same word, 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.
    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.

  • Tonio

    “Buck doesn’t come under God’s protection until the final chapter, but he is a pathetic journalist throughout the book.”
    My apologies if Fred brought this up in an earlier entry – I wouldn’t be surprised if L&J used their memories of old movies as their sole source of information about journalism. In a series where the reporter is a main character, and where the plot highlights his job, this is inexcusable. 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.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    French and Italian are so similar because 1,600 years ago, they were the same language: Latin.
    An important factor in a single language “speciating” (to borrow a biological term) into different languages is the breakdown of travel and communication between groups speaking the language. Much of Latin’s speciation into Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Romanian, etc., occurred during the Dark Ages after the collapse of the Roman Empire.
    The Romance languages were also heavily influenced by neighboring languages after their initial divergence. Romanian vocabulary and grammar are heavily influenced by the Slavic languages, Castillian Spanish by Basque, New World Spanish by the Native American languages (especially Nahuatl, which gave the world, via Spanish, words like tomato, potato, chocolate, coyote, and chili).
    And of course, all of the Indo-European languages were probably a single language some 6,000-8,000 years ago. As the speakers migrated and broke off into separate groups, Proto-Indo-European developed into the various proto-languages: Proto-Germanic, Proto-Slavic, Proto-Celtic, etc. Later on, these evolved into the separate languages of today.
    “30% of any English dictionary is cognates with French (even down to very basic words like “beef” and “autumn”).”
    Much of this vocabulary entered the English language after the Norman Invasion of 1066. Some of the French words were borrowed because they described things new to the Britons (“wine” and “lion” for example), but others simply replaced Old English words. (“giant” replaced “eoten,” “demon” replaced “thyrs,” “city” replaced “ceastor,” “Pestilence” and “Plague” replaced “cwieldd,” etc.)

  • Ken

    French and Italian are so similar because 1,600 years ago, they were the same language: Latin.
    As some blogger put it when the mainstream media was swooning over Teresa Heinz Kerry’s language skills three years ago: “I’m from New York. Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese are just Latin spoken in three different neighborhoods.”
    And about Americans being mono-lingual, a German contact of mine put it this way:
    “Americans don’t need to learn other languages. Everyone speaks English from one coast to the other, over the whole continent. In Europe, you travel 500 kilometers and you’re in a different country with a different language, so you have to learn. In America, you travel 5000 kilometers and you’re in the same country with the same language.”
    And “Americans are the world’s biggest island people. Just like the English. They notice what happens on their island, not what happens beyond their shores.”


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