The Mexican puzzle of "kalucha"

I play a lot of amateur soccer ("football", henceforth), as my poor right knee can attest. In the U.S., this inevitably means playing a lot with Spanish-speaking immigrants. As a result, my football Spanish has always been a lot better than my general-purpose Spanish (I do have to work on the latter).

One puzzle I've had for a while (at least a year) is why Mexicans call African players "kalucha". I've become quite used to being called that recently. Every call to me or other Africans on the field would use the term—"otra vez, kaLUcha!" or "chuta-la kaLUcha". I tried to puzzle it out in linguistic terms. Maybe it had something to do with "lucha"—"fight", "wrestling bout". Maybe it was a dig at the rather combative style of soccer African immigrants are used to. That didn't really sound right. When I asked a few of my Mexican friends, they said, they were not sure: they'd picked it up from their friends.

Last night I finally figured it out. Lori and I were watching a documentary that touched on the terrible tragedy of the 1993 Zambian football team plane crash. They happened to talk a bit about Kalusha Bwalya, the Zambian star who (with Charles Musonda) happened to miss the fatal plane ride because he played his professional football abroad and was to fly to Senegal separately. I'd known Kalucha had gone to Mexico, but I didn't know he played a time for the very popular Club América, nor did I know how hugely popular he'd become.

Mention Kalusha to any Mexican soccer fan and you could be certain they've met, heard of, or watched him on the screen. Having lived in Mexico for over five years , Kalusha has won hearts of most Mexicans and earned himself much respect.

In retrospect, this should have been obvious to me. As an example, I mentioned above the bit of Spanglish "chuta-la", in which "chuta" is a corruption of the English "shoot", because the "sh" sound does not occur naturally in Spanish and is generally corrupted to "ch". The same effect was changing "Kalusha" to "Kalucha". Most big-time soccer nations have a custom of local football nicknames taken from prominent stars. In Nigeria, we called each other "Keshi" or "Sia-Sia" depending on playing style or looks. Senegalese immigrants here in Colorado call each other "Diouf" and "Titi Camara". Mexicans call each other "Rafa" or "Borghetti" (wicked exciting player, that one). Clues were everywhere.

People call Bwayla "Kalu" for short. This is one of those names like "Obi" that are common throughout the African continent, with different meanings almost everywhere. In Igbo "Kalu" (with high tone and emphasis on the first syllable) is generally short for "Kamalu", meaning "thunder". It's a name I considered for Jide. Soccer is full of prodigious Kalus, including Nigerian Igbo Kalu Uche and Ivorian Bonaventure Kalou.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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"The Triumph of Bullshit"

"Bullshit: invented by T.S. Eliot in 1910?"—Mark Liberman, Language Log

This entry discusses one of the conjectures for the origin of the word "bullshit", including discussion of a characteristically phlegmatic poem by T.S. Eliot. Eliot has always been a very nasty sort, and you can perceive that from far less than a reading of "Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar" or accounts of his treatment of his first wife, Vivienne. As with most student poets, I'm in awe of his genius, and intend to learn as much from him as possible in a literary sense, but I find him in many ways a personally despicable figure. Even Ezra Pound, who paid dearly for his own egotistic sense of mores, is a far more sympathetic figure. His punishment was excessive (especially considering the general hypocrisy of his prosecution), and he did repent much of his petty bigotry late in life.

I don't remember having ever seen the Eliot poem quoted in the above article, though I've found a lot of Eliot rarities. It's likely that if I did, I shrugged it out of my memory. It uses classic Ballade structure, three stanzas and an envoi, with an unconventional rhyme scheme (for the classic overall effect, see, for example, Villon's "L'Épitaph (Ballade des pendus)". Eliot translates the passion of Ballade into plain spite.

Ladies, who find my intentions ridiculous
Awkward insipid and horribly gauche
Pompous, pretentious, ineptly meticulous
Dull as the heart of an unbaked brioche
Floundering versicles feebly versiculous
Often attenuate, frequently crass
Attempts at emotions that turn isiculous,
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.

Eliot—second stanza of "The Triumph of Bullshit"

Horrid genius. Eliot attaches several senses to "ladies", including (and this is the sense that does find best concord with the poem), the society matrons who influenced popular, and hence critical, taste. But Eliot is also a bit of a coward here. What is it that he did finally offer the "ladies", that made his fortune?

Time for you and time for me.
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—

Sure he's still lampooning the Society of Taste, but he doesn't in public dare not to put himself under the glass as well, and seeks indulgence and sympathy as an object of ridicule.

There is also his extraction of Ophelia from Vivienne (or was that Viv doing herself?) from "A Game of Chess": Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night. Spoken with a knowing wink.

No, when it's time for brave, open sally, Eliot prefers weak targets. My thanks to Mark, though, for finding a poem that is as interesting as a badge of character and illustration of craft as it is an etymological marker.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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Hip-hop slanguistics

Mark Liberman responded to my earlier ribbing. He says:

His conclusion: "My personal theory is that hip-hop slang is far too rich and fast-moving for linguists to easily keep up".

Well, I'll defend my profession by claiming that a linguist who tried to keep up with it -- and there probably are some in that category -- could do as well as anyone else.

Mark is right, of course. I was mostly teasing. But as I responded in e-mail to him:

I do wonder where such linguists may be hiding. I mentioned some of the claimed Wolof origins of common urban slang, and I'm never entirely sure what to believe along those lines because often the chain of citation is not as rigorous as what I've come to expect from linguistics. Yes, I know that it's hard to figure out the record through the dark ages of slavery and all that, but I do wonder whether there is enough linguistic attention to what (hip-hop slang English) I think is the richest dialect of any language in common usage (and I know quite a few dialects, non-linguist though I may be).

I'm especially suspicious of the grandness of some of the claims, for example that the term "OK", notorious for its etymological coyness, derived from Wolof expressions. I don't believe this derivation is generally accepted in linguistics. I know I'm in danger of being called a House Negrah who is too keen on seeing authority in white professors, but the reality is that I can't imagine any possible motivation for linguists to deny such etymology, if it's plausible. Linguists already accept all sorts of derivations in English from cultures that are not fashionable to Eurocentrists.

I'm also a bit skeptical because I understand that Igbos made up a large proportion of slaves, which should allow me, as a decent Igbo speaker, to recognize some corruptions of Igbo into Black American slang, but I've tried and can't find any examples that make much sense. Maybe Wolof folks were more determined to clutch to their language than Igbos, but I do wonder.

One site I did find is this one, which attempts to classify the morphology of hip-hop slang. It's probably not rigorous linguistics, because I can comprehend the terminology, but I'd still love to find other such resources.

For my part I keep up with hip-hop slang by listening to the music and hanging out on hip-hop boards such as Okayplayer. I've never lived in the hood (another rear end slang), pumped a gauge, smoked dro nor boosted any lo, and I don't expect a linguist would need to either. They would, however, have to sort out the various slangs of New York, Atlanta, LA, The Bay Area, St. Louis, New Orleans, London, Kingston, and so on. It would be a big task.

One side note on Liberman's entry. He quotes Kanye West:

I drink a boost for breakfast, and ensure for dizzert
Somebody ordered pancakes I just sip the sizzurp
That right there could drive a sane man bizzerk
Not to worry y'll Mr. H 2 the Izzo's back to wizzerk

On line 2, Kanyeezee is making a joke. He doesn't mean codeine syrup (which "sizzurp" almost always means). He means plain old maple syrup. Liberman says:

Exercise for the reader: in the the last line, what did Kanye actually say, and what did he mean?

Solution: Hip Hop icon Jay Z is nicknamed "HOVA", and in one of his hit songs the chorus went: "Aitch to the izzo, vee to the izzay", basically spelling his nick name. Jay Z is the one who gave Kanye West his break, and Jay Z is also known for retiring, unretiring, retiring again, and then becoming president of Def Jam records. Kanye is just paying homage by mentioning the unretirement ("back to work").

[Uche Ogbuji]

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Liberman's urban slang needs a bit of rust-proofing

I love those cats on Language Log. I love how unpatronizing their attitude towards English usually is. But I've noticed that they tend to get themselves into a bit of fog when dealing with hip-hop slanguage. My personal theory is that hip-hop slang is far too rich and fast-moving for linguists to easily keep up. In "The ships, it shuts everything up", there are two separate head-scratching comments.

first heard back-end abbreviations -- like "stache" for moustache and "rents" for parents -- about 30 years ago, and I thought this fad was more or less over, except maybe as a way of forming nicknames like "Zo" for Alonzo Mourning (who probably got his monicker 25 years ago, anyhow). For example, calls za "an old way of sayin pizza, its stupid noone says it so dont".

Well, "za" is bougie college speak. No edge whatsoever (thus the Urban Dictionary comment). But there are many such abbreviations in hip-hop slang. Some examples:

  • "dro", for a particularly potent form of hydroponically grown marijuana (shortened from the slang term "hydro")
  • "lo" for Ralph Lauren Polo clothing
  • "nana" or "nanny", for female genitals, shortened from "punanny"
  • "gauge", a shotgun, shortened from "twelve gauge"
  • "zurp", for a codeine cocktail, shortened from "sizzurp", a corruption of "syrup"
  • The old school "fro" for "afro"

Of course there's the Rap Group "Tha Liks", who were originally "Tha Alkaholiks" (and pretty dang good, too).

And on the sports theme, one should really count "Bama".

Another quote:

I thought that cats was also obsolete slang, but apparently it's back on the streets -- with a difference. For the likes of Louis Armstrong, cats were the musical in-group, but it looks like these days, it's Dogs Out against "you cats".

"cats" never really went away, but it did become generalized from just members of the hip, cool set to refer to any person. According to American African Studies profs it came from the Wolof "kai" signifying "person" in compound words (they claim similar origins for "hip" and "cool"), so I suppose it might have just been finding its roots. "Cats" has been common urban parlance all through the hip-hop era.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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"Aestheticae"—Peter Saint-André

Peter's centerpiece is a very rich quote from Alexander Baumgarten. Do certainly read Peter's entry in its entirety, but two thoughts struck me upon reading it. First a reaction to Baumgarten.

The Greek philosophers and the Church fathers have already carefully distinguished between things perceived [ αισθητα ] and things known [ νοητα ]. It is entirely evident that they did not equate things known with things of sense, since they honored with this name things also removed from sense (therefore, images). Therefore, things known are to be known by the superior faculty as the object of logic; things perceived are to be known by the inferior faculty, as the object of the science of perception, or aesthetic [ aestheticae ].

Dangerous for me to be second-guessing such a figure, but this seems rather pat. The Greeks are too often used as faceless symbols of steely rationality, and this doesn't do them any service. Clearly "The Greek philosophers" here is code for Aristotle-and-not-blinking-Plato (oversimplifying for my part), and although I'm probably more of an Aristotelian myself (I'd guess most classicist computer scientists are), I shrink in horror from the characterization of Idea [ Ιδέα ] as medium of an inferior faculty. And of course even within νοητα there is the spill-over of dianoia [ Διάνοια ], which is in effect a marker between the perceived and the known. Yes, yes, in Plato's discourse, the perception was a matter of empirical judgment belief rather than sensory response (i.e. relating to episteme rather than techne), but I think the point remains that noos is not so easy to pin down.

Also, a reaction to Peter.

[It] is arguable how much logic has truly contributed to the clarifcation of human concepts (personally I think we are more indebted to the agonistic pursuits of scientists than to the armchair theorizing of philosophers and logicians)

I don't know whether the "agonistic" there is meant restrictively, but I think a large proportion of scientific pursuits are not agonistic, and isn't theoretical science as important as experimental science? Applying logic, mathematical induction and yes, even philosophy to abstract models from the comfort of the armchair or bicycle, is, I think essential to efficient construction of experimentation.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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Omnium gatherum macaronicorum

"Macaronics"—John Cowan

John posts on one of my favorite subjects (BTW, if you're not reading John's blog, you're in deep slumber), Macaronics. The first one he posted is probably the most oft cited example of Engligh/Latin Macaronic verse, and with good reason. It's a wicked funny rhyme by the James Appleton Morgan my the favorite Macaronic piece, (it's ): by Morgan

Prope ripam fluvii solus
A senex silently sat;
Super capitum ecce his wig,
Et wig super, ecce his hat.

Another one I really like is Skelton's wry elegy:

Sepultus est among the weeds,
God forgive him his misdeeds,
With hey ho, rumbelo,
Per omnia saecula,
Saecula saeculorum.

Beyond English/Latin there is no end of brilliant stuff in macaronics of all sorts of languages, for example Charles Leland:

In cœlis wo die götter live, non semper est sereno,
Nor de wein ash goot ash decet in each spaccio di vino.

Lessee... Latin to German to English to Latin to Italian to English to German to Latin to English to Italian. Followed all that?

Afficionados (no pun intended) of Pepys's diary will remark his macaronic use of French and Spanish in a vain attempt to dignify some of his more salacious passages.

Macaronics are named after Maccheronea, an Italian renaissance work with passages of Italian/Latin macaronics.

And lest anyone wag their heads saying "people just aren't that clever any more" (for some value of "any more": Leland is of the 19th/20th century, Morgan of the 19th), some of the most clever macaronic language comes from modern singers reaching across cultures. Take the Renaud song from the early 80s:

When I have rencontred you
You was a jeune fille au pair
And I put a spell on you,
And you roule a pelle to me.

Together we go partout
On my mob il was super
It was friday on my mind,
It was story d'amour.

It is not because you are,
I love you because I do
C'est pas parc' que you are me,
qu'I am you, qu'I am you

You was really beautiful
In the middle of the foule.
Don't let me misunderstood
Don't let me sinon I boude.

My loving, my marshmallow,
You are belle and I are beau.
You give me all what You have
I say thank you, you are bien brave.

This is really French borrowing English for its macaronics, but regardless, gotta love "My loving, my marshmallow, you are belle and I are beau." Put that in rivum and bibe, senex.

I've written a bit of Macaronic verse myself. It's a fun exercise. More fun than regular composition, that's for sure.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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Pakistani comedic class terms

Via Language Log I came across this delightful conversation on some whimsical slang terms Pakistanis use to express class and class affectation. It's a hilarious exchange in its own right, and as a bonus it makes me think of similar terms in Nigeria (although I'm over a decade dated in my Naija slang).

[Mr. Fradia]: ...mummy-daddy refers to someone who is not [independent] enough etc. Burger is used more for ppl who are stuck up and wanna-be western types.

There are many terms for both in naija slang, but it makes me think of the term (originally Lagosian, I think) aje-butter, which refers to someone who is a soft, namby-pamby, mama's boy as a result of having lived too much of the supposed good life in the US, UK, etc. I know too well: I was viciously set upon as an aje-butter when we moved from Florida to Enugu, then Owerri, Nigeria in 1980.

[Zakiii]: I can understand someone wanting to Black/Latino but why English/American?

[Mr. Fradia (responding]: i suppose they want to be preppie rather than ghetto [<grin>]

This exchange intrigued me. As far as I can tell these folks are all living in Pakistan. I have been getting the sense recently that if US and UK culture seem to be universally soluble, that lately it's been urban Hip-Hop or yardie culture that has been filling the aspirational role for youngsters in developing nations. I was early to Hip-Hop, and while others in my class wanted to be like Madonna (Travolta was never really that big there, as I recall), I was aspiring more toward The Furious Five and the Treacherous Three. It looks like that dissonance was a microcosm of the trend that has culminated in statements such as "I can understand someone wanting to Black/Latino but why English/American?"

But is that a good thing, when it so often involves a gross distortion of what it really means to be Black or Latino in the US? I suppose Madonna as picture of America is no less a distortion.

[Mr. Fradia]: what teh diff between soemone pretending he is james dean versus someone pretending he is anil kapoor (god knows there are tons of them in karachi..or were rather) except that the james dean wanna be probably does not smell as bad.

[ravage]: Those who ape Anil Kapoor are known as arsewipes in our circle. Dunno if its a generally accepted term though.

Ouch. I was rolling in the aisles at this point. You can't get laughs like this on your local corner.

[ravage]: Mummy Daddy is a catalyst for burgerness, but one may be mummy daddy without strictly belonging to the latter class. For instance I have come across mummy-daddy abcds, Mummy Daddy paindoos, and Mummy Daddy Nawab sahabs.

And so it goes on through "galli ka londa types", "pindi walay" and always back to "burgher".

[sadzzz]: The term Burgher was applied during the period of Dutch rule to European nationals living in Sri Lanka... ...the so called burghars of india are called "anglos" [Hum Sa Ho To Samne Aaye (responding)]: Hey in Peshawar we call these kinda people "tommy" [<big grin>]

Back in Language Log Hobson Jobson is quoted as characterizing the term "burgher" (or "burghar") as follows.

The Dutch admitted people of mixt descent to a kind of citizenship, and these people were distinguished by this name from pure natives. The word now indicates any persons who claim to be of partly European descent, and is used in the same sense as 'halfcaste' and 'Eurasian' in India Proper.

I suppose that the two nuances of "burgher" in this entire thread tend to converge on the Hindi term "firanghi" (originally from Arabic, as I recall). And while I'm on "firanghi", I'm sure I'm not the only language geek that finds it hard to suppress a smile whenever the "Ferengi" show up on Star Trek TNG. The show was always cited for being culturally avant-garde, but not so often recognized for being culturally subversive.

[Uche Ogbuji]

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Onye ma Uche?

"The Mythology of Igbo Names", Uche Nworah

One of my many namesakes muses about the name, and other Igbo names. Interestingly enough, it seems that his name is really just "Uche". Mine is actually "Uchenna", and it's not very usual for one to be given the name "Uche"—. This bare form is much more common as a surname. "Uche" is an Igbo word that approximates English words such as "will", "desire", "plan", "counsel", "intelligence", "knowledge", etc. It's sort of sophia meets consilium meets in animo habere.

As Uche Nworah says:

There is uchenna, uchechukwu, and uchechi which a man or woman can bear.

Yes, and there's also "Uchendu" ("thinking about life"/"will for life", etc.), "Ucheoma" ("good will", "sound mind", etc.), and rare cases "Ucheji" ("will for yam", metonymic for "will for wealth") and "Uchegbum" ("Worries won't be the death of me"). Note: if you're wondering how Igbo packs so much meaning into such small packages, it's largely because of the tonality of the language. So for example, the way the "e" is pronounced in "Uchegbum" actually serves two purposes, one of which is to express the negative sense of the phrase.

"Uchenna" in my experience is by far the most common "Uche" name. I've probably known a hundred or more with that name. I'd say they're three quarters male. This makes it interesting that Nworah finds that people he encounters associate "Uche" with girls rather than boys.

Igbo names like most other names (non-Igbo) have symbolic meanings. These different versions of uche all mean the wishes or heart of God, As some people may think, uchenna does not mean the wishes or heart of the father of the child, Nna in this sense means God Almighty, if it meant the former, then feminists would argue and demand for the naming of children uchenne (the wishes of the mother). While there is no reason not to, I am yet to encounter nor hear of anybody bearing it, a task for modernists and feminists then, you may say.

It is always dangerous to make such generalizations about Igbo names. They are almost always loose formulations upon which a range of meanings can be attached, depending on circumstance. My own name is a counter- example to Nworah's assumption, with "Uchenna" literally meaning the will of my father, Dr. Ogbuji. My mother wanted me to be a girl, my father wanted me to be a boy, it turned out as my father wished, so I was named "Uchenna". Simple as that. I think the fact that you don't see "Uchenne" as a name has more to do with arbitrary convention than any specific code attached to "nna". After all, the name "Uchenna" predates the import of Christianity's single, male god into Igbo culture. The narrow meaning Nworah cites for "Uchenna" is often translated into the English name "Godswill", which feels very alien to me as a translation of my name.

Nworah later on mention "Obiageli" and "Ifeoma" (also "Iheoma") as names reserved for girls, even though there is nothing in their meaning thet has to do with female sex . Other such examples are "Nkechi" ("god's very own", "my spirit's own"), "Uloma" ("good house") and "Nkiruka" ("the future is bright", "the best is yet to come"). There are numerous examples the other way as well.

The rest of Nworah's article is interesting, but I wouldn't swallow it all whole. There is a great deal of generalization in it, and I think in many cases it papers over the huge complexity of Igbo culture whether in pre-colonial or modern times. He also laments a lack of Igbo scholarship over naming in our culture, which I think is very surprising. There is a metric tonne of scholarship on Igbo naming (as with every other aspect of Igbo culture, it seems). I often feel as if we have the most analyzed names on the planet, looking only at modern study. Just a casual poke at Google reveals a lot of material on Igbo names, and I've seen four or five books on the topic.

BTW, the title of this piece means "Who knows Uche?".

[Uche Ogbuji]

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Ghough and other wacky woids

John Cowan blogged the infamous case of the "ough" words which is the standard example of how much of a tricky jackal English can be to poor ESL (EXL?) students. By coincidence this is just a day after I ran into "List of unusual English words in the LaborLaw Encyclopedia" (strange provenience for such content). One of the entries in on that page is the infamous "ough" gang, but there is also a lot of other really interesting Engligh trivia, some of which I've come across, and some of which I haven't, but all of which makes for fun reading. One thing did surprise me. I'd always carried "set" in my head as the English word with the most definition, but this page has it as second, after run (76 to 63), based on the OED. I wonder whether my memory was from a discussion based on another dictionary, or perhaps is was another measure such as longest actual line count for the dictionary entry.

BTW, re: the title. Back in secondary school a bunch of us were riffing off the joke of spelling "fish" "ghoti", and had a competition for who could come up with the coolest words only based on the crazy phonetics of the "ough" gang. "ghough" was one of the entries (mine, if I recall rightly), pronounced "few". There are some even cooler ones, but I leave those as an exercise for readers and commenters. You can use Cowan's list as a cheat sheet (he keeps things a bit simpler than the LaborLaw page).

[Uche Ogbuji]

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Il me faut le cacher au plus intime de mes veines
L’Ancêtre à la peau d’orage sillonnée d’éclairs et de foudre
Mon animal gardien, il me faut le cacher
Que je ne rompe le barrage des scandales.
Il est mon sang fidèle qui requiert fidélité
Protégeant mon orgueil nu contre
Moi-même et la superbe des races heureuses…

Léopold-Sedar Senghor—"Le Totem"

When the late, great Senhgor expressed a sentiment, it stayed expressed. Founding president of la République du Sénégal (after an exile for revolutionary activities), and member of the Négritude movement poet, Senghor was one of West Africa's most astounding minds. "Le Totem" (above is the complete poem) is one of very few French poems I've memorized. It expresses a sentiment that I don't know that I feel directly, but that I can well imagine based on knowing so many Africans in the diaspora (and older ones, in particular). Here is my poor student's translation:

I'm forced to hide in my most intimate veins
The ancestor with the hide of storms streaked and burned with lightning
My guardian animal, I must hide it
So that I do not breach the barrier of scandal.
It is my faithful blood that requires faithfulness
Protecting my inborn pride against
My very self and the superb among the happy races

This poem has a lot that is difficult to render faithfully into English, and in some cases, I've preferred a somewhat unidiomatic transliteration to an anglophone translation that would lose too much of the nuance (the last line is the main example).

Another place where I could barely approximate is "sillonnée d’éclairs et de foudre". I've always had a vague feeling of the distinction between these two French words for "lightning". The first being more a display of lightning and the second being more of a thunderclap, such as Zeus would have hurled at impudent mortals. See below for more on this distinction. I always think of Senghor's line as juxtaposing the white flash of "éclairs" with the blackened result of "foudre", using the apt verb "sillioner", which means "plough" as well as "streak".

I have the same attitude towards the Négritude movement as Nigerian Nobel Laureate, great playwright Wole Soyinka. Soyinka said to Senghor: "A tiger does not proclaim its tigritude. It acts."—from Myth, Literature and the African world (which is coming up on my re-reading list). I agree with complaints about Négritude as an overall notion. For my part, being an avid student of Western classics has never made me feel I cannot also soak myself in my own rich West African heritage. Négritude taken too carelessly can lead to a dangerous combination of anomie and chauvanism. But it's very hard to accuse Senghor and Césaire, the patrons of the movement, of themselves falling into such a trap. They and their colleagues through hard work and masterly writing carved into the world's consciousness a testament to the vast intellectual resources of their native land. They didn't just proclaim. They did act. And the value of their legacy is immeasureable.

I have the poem in Selected Poems of Senghor, edited by Abiola Irele (Cambridge University Press, 1977), which, according to my notes, I bought at Nsukka in 1989 (for ₦10.00). Incredibly, I can't find a good in-print source of Senghor's poetry in French. I must just not be searching rightly. If anyone can recommend one for fellow readers (I'm all set with my Irele edition), please leave a comment.

But appropriately enough, since it's Tuesday again, I have a bit more on "éclairs" versus "foudre". The visceral nature of this distinction was brought home to me a couple of weeks ago at la Table Francophone when Karen was explaining to me how a freak spring thunder and hailstorm had ruined her garden. She said something like "et partout des éclairs", gesturing upwards with both open palms. In my response I said something about "foudre", using the word I'm more familiar with for "lightning" ("fouldre" in Villon's (Old French) L'Épitaph, which I worked from in an earlier Quotīdiē. Karen gave me an odd look, and clarified: "éclairs". Since I'm there to improve my French I asked her for a detailed explanation of the difference. She explained that "éclairs" is lightning with the connotation of distant flashes in the sky, and that "foudre" is lightning with the connotation of striking the ground (or someone), with violent accompaniment of thunder, and the whole bit. Basically, the former is nature's display, and the latter is nature's vengeance. Makes sense given that "foudroyer" means to blast or strike (as with lightning), and "foudrayant!" is an exclamation (based on the participle) mixing terror and excitement. I had to stop using "foudrayant!" when my francophone friends would tease me about its quaintness (I suppose my beloved "donnerwetter" sounds just as quaint to a contemporary German).

[Uche Ogbuji]

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