Saturday, August 28, 2010

Theory of language

She told me her theory of language: how most languages distinguished the informal you from the formal you - had at least two yous - and how the formal and the plural form were generally the same. She also said that English had lost the informal you (the thou), not the formal one as most people thought, and that this must have happened as a result of a deliberate rejection - a rejection that was occurring right now among the more pretentious of the middle classes in France; how those families in Versailles who wished to seem smart (she had heard) were instructing their children to address them with the formal you only - with vous, rather than tu - and if this rejection had successfully occurred in the English speaking world, where the thou had been banished from everywhere with the exception only of the pubs of Yorkshire, new editions of the King James Bible and collections of old poetry that nobody read - these viral middle classes whose feeling for language was blunt in the extreme - it was only among the supposedly uneducated in Australia that it had slipped in sidewards through a sleight of words, since the plural form youse was being used, she had noticed, not only for the you in the plural but also for formal situations in the singular - a choice of language, she said, which was both intelligent and shrewd. Last week, she was walking along a street which a team of workmen were digging up when she was asked, could youse just cross over to the footpath please? and as far as she could recall she was alone at the time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The suited man's smile

Just now I described how, as I approached Yaama Dhiyaan and could see the television vans parked on the raised part under the Carriageworks sign, I reasoned that there must be an event going on and, since it was less than two weeks before the election, an Aboriginal political event, or at least a political event that attempted to connect itself with things Aboriginal, and when a suited man smiled at me as he passed me on the path, I decided that this man had smiled because, either as a politician or as a journalist, he had assumed that he would be recognisable even to someone who never watched television – and how, while reflecting on these kinds of thoughts I went to cross the road and, happening to look back in the direction he had gone, I saw that the suited man was talking to someone who would have been behind me on the path at the moment he smiled, and I could see that there was really no way of telling whether the suited man’s smile had had anything to do with me at all.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


We have been told that the six-year girl who was supposed to have gone to bed at nine thirty, twenty minutes before the end of a screening of The Golden Compass on Saturday evening, and been found missing twelve hours later has not been seen by anybody apart from her mother and stepfather for nearly a month. The police have said: It’s important for us to try to backtrack if we can to establish her last movements.