And your language(s)?

 I read a report today which dealt with the fact that a broad linguistic repertoire may, instead of being something desirable, in some cases not come useful or even turn out to be a disadvantage. You may ask yourself how this can be possible.

Well, given the fact that most of us see languages as a asset we may acquire, there is no point in believing in this theory (and until I read this article, I thought the same way). But I’ve finally come to realise what I’ve been told over and over again over the course of the past 2 years of my studies- that, as soon as you really take up learning another language, you pick something new and add them to your personality.

So one part of you just becomes (add whatever additional language you’re able of speaking). The thing is that this is something very personal, something most people won’t be able to understand because they’re just not that into languages. With every moment you’re living in this language, your (insert language) world becomes more real to you. And that’s beautiful, but also it’s the hell of a problem. As the report states:

The more linguistic variation you show, the more vulnerable you may become. (… it may) turn into a liability, a critical matter of belonging, and, in 10 out of 10 observed cases, exclusion. The more linguistic resources you boast, the more destinations you could be returned to…

When Plurilingual Speakers Encounter Unilingual Environments (by PluS Research Group, University of Vienna, 2011

It is something every multilingual person, no matter whether by birth or by choice, somehow knows but is not always conscious about. Being aware of it in that way does not resolve the issue, but it makes it easier to deal with it. Somehow, we will never completely feel at home because there’s always some other part which doesn’t get enough attention. But it’s the most beautiful of all gifts to be given – to be capable of perceiving the world in so many different ways.

Multifunctional portfolios – Recycling an old poster

When I sometimes need a break from reading and studying, things like this happen.


Once in a while I need to take a break from all the reading and do something that implies actual manual work. That’s when my creativity breaks out. And as this happens quite unforseeable, I often need to work with what’s available at the moment. And as I furthermore have a quite a big adversion against squander, I started re-using paper products you get for promotion purposes. They very often have either nice prints or a very enjoyable haptics. This episode features 2 portfolios for either sketches, school papers or any other kind of papers you may want to protect from getting all messed up. Both of them were made out of cardboard, a piece of book linnen, black paperboard (Inside), some nice piece of ribbon and an old poster, size A2. The first fits for papers size A5 (or A4 folded once), the pocket version (so to say) if…

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Una comedia italiana

With my new job (read more about what, when, where and why on my new, beautiful and super-tidy blog imprintession) I’ve got to read some books I’d never lay hands on. So it is wierben auf italienischth this one. Anyway, I’ve read it, and here comes the review.

“Una comedia italiana” is the seventh book written by Piersandro Pallavicini, an already well established writer in the Italian literary scene. It’s German translation is about to appear on September 1st in Austria. Working at th publishing house responsible for the release, it goes without saying that I kind of felt it as my duty to read it. The German title being translated as “Erben auf Italienisch” (engl. “Inheriting Italian Style”) already gives a pretty clear first impression of what
the story will be like – fans of the movie “Marriage Italian Style” will thus love the story and be through with it in the blink of an eye. Those who haven’t seen the movie will have to wait until the very end of the story to completely get the whole “fun” behind the screwy family saga starring, beside some side-characters, a megalomaniac father, aged 80, a smug but always favored son, and his successful but since her childhood neglected sister, successful university professor, both aged around 50, him being the first-born.

The story takes off when the father, Adolfo Pampaloni, once a successful entrepreneur but less lucky film producer who annoys his environment by either playing tricks or telling seemingly invented stories about him and movie stars such as Brigitte Bardot, Luis de Funès or Gunter Sachs, learns that he will soon die of cancer. He thus calls for his children to come and see him at their families’ holiday residence in Solarìa, a hick town somewhere in the beautiful but nonetheless remote mountain range of northern Italy. His son, Rogoredo, who is presented as the only reasonable person, (But he clearly isn’t. In fact, it’s rather the other way round.), is once again clearly advantaged by his father regarding his heritage, although the sister has far more reasons to be trusted. It should be added here that the whole family has a rather queer sense of humor. Throughout the whole story, told by the sister, Carla, in retrospect, one learns about all the semi-funny tricks her father used to play on his fellow men, starting by plasticine dog dirt and shooting with olives on passerbys, using a slingshot. No wonder why his children have come up to be that cynical about life.

You won’t come to like (or even prefer) one of the characters. Each of them got his own tick that makes him quite unlikable. But despite all these deficits, the story nonetheless holds together. It’s not the comic sort of “comedy” one would expect, rather a sad, tragic one, which provoke all sorts of unexpected pictures in the readers’  mind leaving him insecure whether one is supposed (or even allowed) to laugh or not. It bursts of irony and sarcasm and, although the story is written in an easy language, it’s difficult to understand from an intellectual point of view. In the end there is a very complex story hiding behind seemingly harmless title. A good read for intellectual readers looking for a cynical, linguistically sharp written story with overboiling emotions and borderline humor.

by Piersandro Pallavicini
304 pp.  Feltrinelli editore (ger. Folio). €22,90

Changing the team – selling my books

This is a call for everybody living in, around or close to Vienna or having my hometown on his itinerary for the weeks yet to come. Reading a lot (as you might have been able to guess by my recent posts) I’m running out of space. I thus made up an index of all the books in my possession and separated them into those I dearly love, and those which I can’t remember or sincerely dislike(d). I furthermore decided to get rid of the balance of my past, meaning all the stories that made me feel uncomfortable or, even worst, made me feel nothing at all.

I’m thus turning to you. Maybe you could give those stories another chance. Maybe you’re just the right kind of person for them (I’m obviously not). Everybody of us has been wrong about a person. This may also happen regarding books. So if you’re willing to give them another chance, you might soon be exploring a world you might not have dreamed of yesterday.

Enclosed, you find a list with all the titles. There are also some CDs and magazines among them. If you’re interested in one (or more) of those titles, you can easily get in touch with me (comment, send a message, whatsoever). They’re all in good condition and you can get them for a song. The income, if there is any, will be used to pay my trip to the Frankfurt book fair.

So choose a title, write a post, and dive in. (German, English and French books available. For more information, you may write me as well ;))

Books To Sell Books To Sell II Books To Sell III Books To Sell IV

17 easy-to-read crime stories feat. a grumpy inspector

As a student of three languages, it’s very important for me to treat all of my “children” equally. Therefore, and as my skills in French are slightly inferior to those in English and German, I’ve chosen something literarily less demanding product_9782070304516_195x320but still fun to read. Here comes the review.

“Les nouvelles enquêtes de Maigret” is a selection of 17 out of 75 stories featuring the literary character “Jules Maigret”  written by the already deceased (1903-1989) Belgian author Georges Simenon. Nicknamed “man of the 400 books”, he published about 3 to 4 books a year, starting off as a penniless writer of dime novels in Paris. His break-through came with the creation of the character  “inspector Maigret” in 1929. Simenons’ last work, his final story about the constantly pipe smoking cop, was published in 1972 (Maigret et Monsieur Charles). Alongside to this already vast number of stories, an equally high amount of different translations into English, German, Italian and many other languages do exist.

Although the separate stories are not interconnected, there are some elements which reappear in every sequence – his docile wife who perfectly reflects the clichés of the period about the duties a good woman has to fulfil (cooking, knitting and supporting her husband all of his projects, no matter how absurd they may seem), his colleague inspector Janvier and Lucas, his “protégée”, the police department situated at “Quai des Orfèvres” in Paris and of course him, Jules Maigret, the (professionally) impeccable inspector who solves every crime, no matter how insoluble it may seem, single-handed.

Leaving aside the fact that the main character bears a huge amount of resemblance to the stories of the world-famous detective Sherlock Holmes (which first appeared in print in 1887), Simenons works offer not much apart from being an easy-to-read summer lecture, ideal to kill long waiting hours at the airport or the train station. Another interesting fact may be that the separate sequences are rather short, about 20 to 30 pages, sometimes longer,  – ideal, if one suddenly decides to interrupt the lecture. The stories all in all are eventually neither extraordinarily gripping nor extremely gory but still have this little something which makes them worth being read – and if it’s only to learn some new swear words in French. A nice blueprint of his British forerunner, even if the resemblances are more than obvious.

by Georges Simeon
528 pp. Gallimard. € 8,00.

The Architect’s Apprentice – Istanbul awaits you

On my second trip this summer I not only travelled through space but also through time. During the last 10 days, I stayed with 51ANLe4-k2Lan elephant tamer and his beast at the royal palace of Istanbuls’ menagerie. He simultaneously happened to be one of the Chief Royal Architect’s apprentices. Many travels to construction sites and famous buildings all over the empire, making friends and foes, crossing miracles and myths, danger and death alike. Istanbul, Ottoman empire, 16th century.

“The Architect’s Apprentice” is the latest novel written in English by Elif Şafak (also known as Shafak) who grew up as the daughter of a Turkish diplomat. After publishing her first novel back in 1997, a lot more were to follow, not only in Turkish but also in English. Today, she’s become one of the most read female writers in Turkey and is also widely known outside the country. Together with her husband and son, Şafak lives in Istanbul and London where she does researches at the  University of Kingston.

The story told is the one of an Indian boy named Jahan, the son of an elephant breeder, and his white elephant Chota. While the latter was chosen by the Indian Shah to become a gift for the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman “The Magnificent”, Jahan, who had become the “milk brother” of the white elephant, wouldn’t accept to get separated from the his friend. Boarding on the ship of Captain Gareth, a sinister figure and traitor, Jahan thus embarked on a journey where he should encounter war and peace, friendship and hatred, nobles as well as beggars and discover the world behind the walls of the palaces. Through the whole course of his history, three figures remain constantly on his side: his elephant Chota, his best an for a long time only friend, the Chief Royal Architect Sinan, who becomes like a father to him and takes him under his wing, employing him as his assistant, and princess Mirimah, his one and only, thus unreachable, love of his life.

Shafak’s writing style is lovely, richly ornamented and perfectly fits to the images it creates in the readers’ mind. The very illustrious vocabulary used literally pulls the reader into the story, making him forget everything else around. Capturing though not clutching, Shafak also managed to strike the right tone using the way of talking adequate at a royal court, a feature with which she adds a lot to the story already that compelling. A nice summer read that takes you on a journey you could never have went on your own.

By Elif Shafak
424 pp. Viking. $27.95.