Oh, God, I want to give away the ending so bad, but I won’t, even though it’s been over eighty years. It’s one of the most absolutely harrowing endings in film history, and completely unthinkable for a studio film to end on that kind of a note at the time. Oh, God, watch it yesterday and call me when you’re done so we can talk about it for hours.
Whereas modern Mandarin is merely perversely hard, classical Chinese is deliberately impossible. Here’s a secret that sinologists won’t tell you: A passage in classical Chinese can be understood only if you already know what the passage says in the first place. This is because classical Chinese really consists of several centuries of esoteric anecdotes and in-jokes written in a kind of terse, miserly code for dissemination among a small, elite group of intellectually-inbred bookworms who already knew the whole literature backwards and forwards, anyway.
The song that made me learn Portuguese. Desafinado with João Gilberto.
I’d had the idea since I came back from Australia that I wanted to learn another European language. Actually, what I really wanted to learn was Persian but there was no realistic way that was going to happen and I was fine with something European. Portuguese seemed like a good candidate. But I just had the idea, I didn’t do anything about it for a while.
Then I was in a cafe and this song came on in the background, Desafinado from Getz/Gilberto. It’s a great album I wasn’t familiar with then. I thought, I really really like the sound of those lyrics – and I’m not sure but I think that’s Portuguese. I decided that if it turned out to be Portuguese I’d definitely try learning it. So I looked it up and sure enough, it was. Or, Brazilian really but close enough. This was all while the song was still playing.
So now I’m learning Portuguese, have been for a couple of months. It’s a really lovely language.
The only answer that I have found to these issues is to stop considering Australia’s political landscape as being the first-world democracy which we’re used to. […]
Politics should be, and often has been in Australia, about the chance to glimpse a brighter future. But at the moment it feels like we are grappling with a different beast entirely, and must change our reaction to that as a consequence.