Interview: With – Lindsay does Languages

Polyglot Interview

This is an e-mail interview with Lindsay Williams from “Lindsay does languages”.

Lindsay works as Language Tutor and Blogger. She is based in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

Lindsay Does Languages

Lindsay has a language learning blog with all kinds of fun and exciting games and resources for language learners at;

http://www.lindsaydoeslanguages.com/

I first discovered Lindsay on her Facebook page, where she has wonderful tricks and tips for language learners, along with movie and music recommendations.

https://www.facebook.com/lindsaydoeslanguages/

Interview

Learning French: Hello Lindsay.

Lindsay

Lindsay: Hi Todd

LF: Just for the record how many languages do you know at this time? Including languages that you have just started learning?

Lindsay: I’m a native English speaker, then in order how much I’ve studied/how well I know them – French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Dutch, Esperanto, and Korean.

LF: (Wow!) What language/s are you working on at this time?

Lindsay: Indonesian at the moment!

LF: What first attracted you to learning other languages?

Lindsay: Croissants and Shakira! Haha.
I went to French club in primary school and kept going because they gave us croissants and orange juice at the end of term.

And Shakira is the reasons I wanted to learn Spanish – to translate lyrics on her Laundry Service album!

Shakira

[Note: Shakira is also a bit of a polyglot. She was born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, in Barranquilla, Atlántico, Colombia. She grew up speaking Spanish and learned Portuguese while touring in Brazil as a teenager. Shakira also speaks English, Italian, and Arabic.]

LF: Ha ha! I love Shakira!
I’m learning French at this time and would like to learn Italian next? What languages would you like to learn?

Lindsay: Ooo, so many! I’ve been drawn to Burmese for a few years now but haven’t got there yet. I’d also like to look a little closer at Russian and Arabic but I think there are others I’ll end up studying before that.

LF: I make a bucket list from time to time of all the languages I’d like to learn. (I’d like to learn Greek and Spanish, Dutch, Swedish and German at some point and many more.) Do you have a bucket list of languages? What attracts you to a language and or culture?

Lindsay: I certainly do! Normally it’s travel-related. If I’ve been to a place and fallen in love with it then I’ll be drawn to the language as a way to learn more and go beneath the surface. However, sometimes, it can be pure curiosity.

LF: I live in Sydney, Australia, where there are local newspapers printed in Italian, and a few other languages. We used to get the French newspaper Le Monde at newsstands, but only rarely now. Do you read newspapers in your target language/s?

Lindsay: I do online sometimes yes. I really like the website http://newspapermap.com/ to find newspapers in the language I want.

 LF: Thanks for that! (Spends the next few hours at newspapermap.com). Are there any podcasts that you can recommend in French?

Lindsay: Oh yes! I wrote a huge blog post called The Ultimate Guide to Podcasts for Language Learning recently and there’s plenty in French there to get into. (Here’s the link: http://www.lindsaydoeslanguages.com/language-learning-podcasts/)

LF: What is your daily routine when learning a new language? Do you use cue-cards? Or do you have other methods that you have created yourself?

Lindsay: I normally have an hour for language learning each weekday morning (Mon-Fri). I plan my time out using my free monthly planner link:  https://ldlpages.leadpages.co/languageplanner/  ) and that helps me to make the most of my learning time. What I do exactly varies, but it always includes Memorisation and it incorporates a mix of activities such as italki lessons, listening activities, course books, setting myself my own writing and speaking tasks on social media.

LF: When do you, yourself believe that you have reached the level of proficiency with a new language? Is it when you can read a book or hold a conversation? Or is it when you can watch a movie in your target language?

Lindsay: I think it’s when you feel comfortable. If you can hold a conversation, but you’re concentrating so hard to listen to what’s being said, that your answers are a little monosyllabic, then (although that’s a great place to be) there’s still room for improvement. However, as soon as you feel comfortable using a language, that’s where you’re likely to also feel comfortable calling yourself proficient.

LF: What do you do to keep languages alive once you’ve moved on to a new language?

Lindsay: To be honest, not much! Other than my stronger languages of French and Spanish, all the others need a little time to reactivate because I don’t have time to study/use/practise 11 languages each day. But that’s a choice I’ve made. I learn languages because I enjoy learning a little about people, cultures, and places different to where I’m from. People are always so pleased if you can even just say a few words in their language that I’m not worried about reaching crazy native-like fluency in all the languages I’ve studied.

That said, my main language goal for this year is to review the languages I’ve learned so far more or less one at a time because I don’t want them to fade completely.

LF: Do you have any polyglot heroes that have inspired you?

Lindsay: Yes – everyone around me when I’m at a polyglot event. Hearing people’s individual language stories is always crazy inspiring!

LF: Personally I never thought it would be possible for me to learn a new language. I always dreamed that I would. But I found language learning in School really boring. It was only when I went to France a few years ago and then found all the Polyglots, like yourself, giving advice on Facebook on YouTube that I decided to give it a try.
Were you always gifted with languages or was it just a strong desire to learn other languages that turned you into a language learner?

Lindsay: It was definitely a strong desire to learn other languages! By learning French in primary school, I could ask people their names at the park or order a baguette in the morning when I went camping in France.
With Spanish, I had the music that I loved from the start to keep me going. From there, it was a Spanish teacher who said how easy it would be for me to learn Italian or Portuguese with my knowledge of Spanish and I suddenly realised this whole world of multiple languages had opened up to me, which was pretty exciting!

LF: I am looking forward to the day when I can watch movies in French and understand them. I have a way to go. What is your big goal with a new language?

Lindsay: It varies from language to language. With Indonesian at the moment, it’s to get to a level where I can have casual conversations with street food vendors, shop keepers etc. without too much worry.

LF: I see on your blog you just posted your top ten favorite French films. I’m also a big fan of the 1960 movie “Breathless”. Do you have any tips or tricks to watching movies in other languages?

http://www.lindsaydoeslanguages.com/10-essential-french-films/

Lindsay: Ooo yes! Films are great because they’re so versatile. Once you find a film you love, you can start by watching it with subtitles in English or your native language, then change the subtitles to the language you’re learning, then watch without subtitles.

You can also take small segments and focus on pronunciation and vocabulary if you want to take things further and make it more of an active task.

LF: I’m also a big fan of Tintin and Asterix. Do you read comics, graphic novels and or Manga in your target languages?

Lindsay: Sometimes I do, yes! Tintin is one of my favourites!

LF: Thank you so much, Lindsay!

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You can find Lindsay’s Blog at;

http://www.lindsaydoeslanguages.com/

And on Facebook at:
https://www.facebook.com/lindsaydoeslanguages/

My free monthly planner link:
https://ldlpages.leadpages.co/languageplanner/

And Lindsay’s recommended podcast here:
http://www.lindsaydoeslanguages.com/language-learning-podcasts/

Lindsay recommended 10 essential French films.
http://www.lindsaydoeslanguages.com/10-essential-french-films/

Lindsay also recommended the following newspaper site:
http://newspapermap.com/

 

 

Book Review: Paris Reborn

(Above) 1852 cartoon showing the inside of the new George Haussmann style apartment building.
Book Review:

“Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City”

Author: Stephane Kirkland

Review by A.T. LeMay

Modern Paris is not as old as one might think. Although Paris is one of the oldest cities in Europe, dating back to the time of Julius Caesar, the city as we now know it was recreated and modernized in the middle of the 19th century.

Between 1848 and 1870 Paris was rebuilt in one of the largest building project ever undertaken before the age of the bulldozer, and modern building techniques. This was when Paris was transformed from a city of dark crowded streets to the “City of Light”.

The 19th century were turbulent times in France. Starting in 1789 with the French revolution France went from being a country ruled by a king, to a republic, to an Empire created by Napoléon, back to a kingdom back to an Empire for one hundred days as Napoléon escaped his captors and led an army to Waterloo. In 1848 France was back to being a Republic once more.

This political turmoil took quite a toll on the city as Paris had been rocked by riots and mass executions and war. The Notre Dame Cathedral had been badly damaged in 1789 when crowds of Parisians attacked the building as a symbol of the church which had protected the corrupt rule of the king.

Napoleon III

In 1848 Napoléon’s nephew was elected president of France. Louis Napoléon (who later became known as Napoléon III) was elected the first president of the new republic. He won the election more because of his uncle’s name than any political leadership experience he had.

Louis Napoléon at once decided to rebuild the city that had been so neglected and devastated by the events of the preceding 50 years Paris was also suffering from the effects of overcrowding and poor waste management (Paris had no effective sewers) and disease was rampant.

Paris was so bad that in 1682 King Louise XIV had moved his court from Paris to Château de Versaille. Napoléon III first order of business was to rebuild Paris. Transforming it into a clean modern city.

Baron George Haussmann

Georges-Eugène Haussmann was a successful no-nonsense bureaucrat with a reputation for getting things done. Haussmann was given the title “Prefect of the Seine” and the job to manage the rebuilding the great city.

Stephane Kirkland gives an account of Haussmann’s tearing down and rebuilding of Paris. Haussmann as Prefect of the Seine, dealt with accountants and architects, artists and hosts of bureaucrats. Haussmann unlike many modern more pragmatic city planners cared deeply about the aesthetics of the new Paris, choosing carefully the architects and artist whose designs and work he used to refit the city.

At the same time, Haussmann could be completely ruthless using the government’s right of ‘emanate domain’ to take possession of and demolish family homes in order to carve out great boulevards through the middle of the city.

 

Haussmann style apartment building.

In his designs for Paris Haussmann incorporated new ideas, like parks to give the people a place to relax and enjoy themselves. He also championed new concepts like gas lighting.

Paris was the first city to be built with street lights that ran on natural gas. These street lamps when lit up gave Paris it’s new nick-named “The City of Light.” Although taken for granted now, street lights at night were a miracle of technology in the 19th century.

In the 1860s Paris streets were illuminated for the first time by 56,000 gas lamps.

But the political situation in France had not yet been settled. In 1852 Louis Napoléon declared himself Emperor Napoléon III. A war was fought with Prussia. The people of France demanded that their republic be restored once more. And through all this work on the City of Light continued.

“Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City” is an excellent book for anyone who has ever wondered about how the modern city of Paris came into being.

«»«»«»

“Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City” By Stephane Kirklanz



In the mid-nineteenth century, the Paris we know today was born, the vision of two extraordinary men: the endlessly ambitious Emperor Napoléon III and his unstoppable accomplice, Baron Haussmann. This is the vivid and engrossing account of the greatest transformation of a major city in modern history.

Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City

 

Who makes the language rules?

Lexicography” is the art or craft of compiling, writing and editing dictionaries.

Lexicographer” is a person who writes dictionaries and studies the history and meaning of words.

There are few different elements that go into making the rules of a language. I am still not an expert in French by any means. But this is a little essay on where our modern languages come from.

I remember reading about Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) who led a team of nine scholars in creating one of the first English language dictionaries. In 1755 “A Dictionary of the English Language” was published for the first time. In doing so Dr. Johnson actually changed the language.

Before 1755 there were no real standardized spelling rules. Different parts of England had different names for different things. A “bumble bee” in some areas of England was known as a “dumbledore” in other places. Dr. Johnson chose one name for an object and stuck with that one name.

Many of the older names for objects are now considered to be slang terms. E.G. An older term for a “girl” was “bird”. “Bird” is now considered a slang term but it is, in fact an older word that was discarded from the mainstream.

I’ve been studying in French and Italian recently it’s interesting to me that the languages are very similar, as they are both based on Latin, but their choice made at some point in history as to what constituted a word was made. Take a look at the simple statement, “follow me” translated into Italian, French, and Latin.

English = Follow me.

French = Suivez-moi.     (Suivre= follow, moi = me)

Italian = Seguitemi.     (Seguire  = follow,  mi = me)

Latin = Sequi me. =      (sequi = follow,  me = me)

In English (the newest of the four languages) “Follow me” is two words.
In French, it is two words joined with a dash.
In Italian, it is one word.
And most interesting of all, in Latin, the granddaddy of all these languages it’s two words.

At some point in time four sets of Lexicographers working in four different countries, most likely working with quill pens, decided if “Follow me” was one or two words. Hundreds of years later we still live with their decisions.

These are the kinds of choices made by ancient Lexicographers that we are still living with today.

It should be pointed out that Languages change over a period of time. Shakespeare is considered “modern English” yet most people today find Shakespeare’s plays difficult to understand.

So who made the rules for the French Language?

Published more than 60 years before Dr. Johnson’s dictionary Le Dictionnaire de l’Académie Française {The Dictionary of the French Academy} was published in 1694.

It’s interesting to think that the Lexicographers of Le Dictionnaire de l’Académie Française were exploring uncharted territory. For as in English, French which had been written for centuries before the Dictionary, there were no set rules. And the rules and traditions of the language were different in different parts of France.

The Lexicographers compiling the Dictionary of the French Academy said that their mission was to “preserve the status of the French Language as it should be written (and spoken).”

Work on the first dictionary took more than forty years. The second volume of the Dictionary was a little quicker taking only 36 years.

Now this may seem like a lot of time and it can be pointed out that the first English dictionary took only nine years and the English language has more words than the French language, however, it should be noted that the French language was in official use for a lot longer than the English language. The researchers of French had to go through a lot more material than those compiling the English dictionary.

French, was in fact, the official language of the British House of Lords until the beginning of the 20th century.

For many years English was considered to be a sort of street slang language. It was spoken but not written down. The British nobles spoke French, the House of Lords kept their records in French and the Clergy spoke Latin. English was spoken by most of the people without any rules so it was allowed to evolve and become more fluid.

It’s always interesting to me that the French don’t pronounce the final consonant of their words. I’m sure that at some point and time these consonants were pronounced but slowly but surely they were dropped from speech over the years.

This most likely happened after the creation of French dictionaries. So now the population of France had a spelling and an oral tradition that out of sync. This happens in English as well but as English was standardized later the Lexicographers could record a more modern version of the language.

I don’t want to seem bias here. As a native English speaker, I have grown up with the language. I realize that other language learners find English confusing. Spanish has very exact rules and is a very consistent language, from what I understand. I’ve seen comedy routines where a native Spanish Speaker makes fun of the inconsistencies of English.

The inconsistencies of French, in my opinion, may have been caused by the earlier creation of a dictionary. Before 1694, did anyone really know what a dictionary was supposed to be? It may simply be that English being a language of the masses and not the nobility was a lot less formal than French, but it could also be that Dr. Johnson learned from and improved on the idea about how the French language was recorded in Le Dictionnaire de l’Académie Française, when creating his own English dictionary.

In English we say,

  • I go
  • You go
  • He goes
  • They go

(There are only two versions of the root word “go”.)

In French:

  • Je vais = (I go)
  • Tu vas = (informal – you go.)
  • Vous allez = (formal – you go)
  • Il va = (he goes)
  • Ils vont = (they go).

(The French root word “go” = «aller» changes with each usage.)

By creating all the tenses and adopting all the word genders from Latin the early French Lexicographers may have felt that they were making the language more logical, scientific and in the Latin tradition. As French was a language of the Royal court it would have also been important to have a formal word for “you” and as well as an informal version.

Latin was considered the most important of Languages at the time when the French and English dictionaries were created. As members of the church and universities spoke and wrote in Latin. Latin was also the language of the early scientists.

Francis Bacon

English scholar Francis Bacon, (1561 –  1626) who only ever wrote in Latin, saying that it was a much more expressive language than English.

Latin was once considered a B-class language. In the time of Julius Caesar (100 BC to 44 BC) the Roman upper classes spoke to each other in Greek. Greek was considered to be the language of learning. It is interesting that Caesar’s last words were in Greek, however in Shakespeare’s play Caesar’s last words “Et tu, Brute?” are in Latin which was more prestigious than English and more widely understood than Greek in Shakespeare’s day.

Gaius Julius Caesar Born 13 July 100 B.C. – died 15 March 44 B.C.

Caesar’s last words according to Roman historian, who lived at the time of Caesar, Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (69 BC – after 122 AD) were;

“καὶ σὺ τέκνον “
(pronounced Kai su, teknon) = {You too, my son/child.}

The Greek Language predates that of Latin by thousands of Years. Homer’s epic poems “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” were written about the Trojan war that took place around 1194–1184 BC. As a result of this ten year war the survivors of the Troy fled for their lives and settled in what is now Rome. They lived in small villages for the next few hundreds of years. The early kingdom of Rome was founded around 753 BC.

Greek was the older language and greater language. There were books and plays written in Greek. People from other countries around the world studied Greek. On the other hand, Latin at this time was just the language of the Romans. Who were for the most part unknown to the rest of the world. And they would have been looked down upon as the offspring of Trojan refugees and escaped slaves.

Latin gain importance because of Rome’s military prowess in the time of Julius Caesar. Caesar lived about 700 years after the founding of Rome. Caesar marched with his army around Europe conquering the broze age tribes in what is today, Spain, Britain, France, Germany and Belgium.  The language of Latin was spread all over Europe. Caesar spread the language to Gaul, which is now modern France and the language mixed with the language of the native

Caesar spread the Latin language to Gaul, which is now modern France and the language mixed with the language of the native Parisii people (the people living in and around modern Paris) and Frankish and Norman invaders and eventually formed French.

Book Review: “The Way of the Linguist”

“The Way of the Linguist: A Language Learning Odyssey”
By Steve Kaufmann

I think I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again, Steve Kaufmann is one of my language learning heroes. I’ve always wanted to learn a second language but never really knew how. A few years ago when I turned 50 I found Steve Kaufmann’s videos on YouTube. I found his fresh and supportive approach to language learning very helpful and encouraging and he is an excellent role model.

Steve knows someplace between 9 and 15 languages. (Depending on which Youtube videos you watch as he is always learning more.) He may be up to 16 or 17 by now. It’s hard to tell.

Anyway, I am currently reading his book, “The Way of the Linguist”. It is very well written. I guess if you are going to speak 15 plus languages you know how to get your point across with as few words as possible. The book is very tightly written with just the right amount of detail about his travels to different countries around the world to make it interesting. I’m sure he could have written a book about just his travels and another about the food he’s eaten and anther about doing business in foreign lands, but this book is focused on language.

After college, Kaufmann was work with the Canadian Foreign diplomatic Service.  His first government posting was in Paris where he learned to speak French properly, studying the language under a native speaker. Kaufmann studied in Paris for two years.

His next post was to Hong Kong and also mainland China where he learned Chinese. Next Kaufmann was posted to Japan where he undertook to teach himself Japanese, and so on.

Kaufmann ended up with enough contacts overseas that he was able to set up his own export business in the private sector in Canada. It wasn’t until I read Kaufmann’s book that I realized what a good investment it is for a government to train its diplomats in foreign languages. Even if the diplomats don’t continue to work for the government.

Steve Kaufmann’s language learning website; LingQ.com

Kaufmann took his language training and his overseas contacts and set up a successful export business in Canada. Thus improving Canada’s exports and GDP. Canada got it’s investment back from him.  Kaufmann, whom I believe is in the lumber business, says that he has done business with a number of clients from different countries around the world in the client’s own language. That has to be helpful to a private business owner.

America has a Foreign Service Institute (FSI) that trains Americans with overseas postings on foreign languages. I hope with all the budget cuts and the attacks against so-called “big government” the recently elected party realizes the long-term value of the FSI is to America.

Kaufmann learned his languages one at a time over a period of time, by a combination of;

  • Study of interesting written content
  • Talking to native speakers of his target language
  • and “living in the language”

Living in the Language

For me, Steve Kaufmann was really the first Linguist that I ever heard about that made language learning accessible. Prior to Kaufmann most polyglots I read about or saw interviewed seemed to have some sort of chip on their shoulder. They knew all these other languages and I didn’t blah blah blah. And they never encouraged anyone to emulate them. They were part of an elite group that didn’t seem to want any new members.

Kaufmann shares my frustration with how foreign languages are taught in school. Kaufmann being Canadian was required to take two years of French. He passed the test but. However, he quickly found that he was unable to speak French after he was finished with school.

Kaufmann points out that there are a number of reasons for this. He also talks about this in a few of his videos. Basically, in school, you are taught what you need to know to pass a standardized test. But that test has little to do with fluency or practical use of the language.

To really learn a language, Kaufmann points out, one has to “live in the language”. This doesn’t mean one has to go to France to speak French. But one needs to set aside time, each day (consistency is important) to read and study a language. He also said that it is important to meet and talk with native speakers of that language. This can be done by seeking out native speakers of your target language in your neighborhood, and or via Skype.

Kaufmann says that language is more about food and culture than it is about words and grammar.

In his early days of studying German on his own. Kaufmann went to the second-hand bookstore and bought about nine or ten German books. Many of these books were formally owned by other students of the language so they had helpful notes scribbled on the pages. Now days, we have it easy, with the internet and iPads and iPhone we have a world of books in all languages at our fingertips. Not to mention google translate and other such sites.

The Way of the Linguist: A Language Learning Odyssey

The Little Prince.

 

 

 

 

A Poodle is a Poodle is a Caniche

What’s more French than a French poodle?

When one thinks about the cliché of Paris one often thinks of the Eiffel Tower and people wearing berets and carrying baguettes and walking poodles.

When one thinks about the cliché of Paris one often thinks of the Eiffel Tower and people wearing berets and carrying baguettes and walking poodles.

That’s why I was surprised to learn the other day that many French people don’t know what a poodle is. I spoke to a French person, who even owned a poodle, and they did not know what a poodle was.

“Poodle” is actually an English word.

In French “the poodle” is «le caniche» (pronounced kan-ish-a).

The caniche gets its names from “canard” (duck).

Duck = canard (kan-ard)

Dog = chien (she-awn) (remember chien, by thinking that a dog bites a the mailman on his shin.)

The Caniche/poodle were originally bred for hunting ducks.

As a duck-dog you can imagine that a caniche would love water. This is where the name “poodle”comes from.

Poodle is the Old English name and it comes from the word meaning “swimmer”. The word poodle comes from the same root word as puddle.

“Puddle” in French is «flaque» pronounced flack.

Prince Rupert and his Poodle.
Prince Rupert and his Poodle.

Famous Poodles of History

During the English Civil War Prince Rupert, who fought on the side of the king had a pet poodle named “Boye”.

* (Prince Rupert of the Rhine 1619 – 1682, was German, He was the nephew of King Charles I of England.)

In this drawing, you can see that Prince Rupert’s poodle looks more like a lion than a dog. The traditional hair cut of a poodle was based on that of a lion.

The traditional haircut of a poodle was intended to look like the mane of a lion.
The traditional haircut of a poodle was intended to look like the mane of a lion.
A drawing of a lion, looking more like a hound, from the Book of Kells. Created around 800 A.D.
A drawing of a lion, looking more like a greyhound, from the “Book of Kells”. Created around 800 A.D.

Lions are mentioned in the bible and the Roman and Greek texts, but I have often wondered if the people of Medieval Europe knew what a lion really looked like. Some of the early pictures from the “Book of Kells”, which was made around the year 800 A.D., the lions look more like greyhounds than big cats.

The Crusades may have changed things as many European soldiers traveled to the Middle East and North Africa and saw lions first hand. The first Crusade started in 1069 A.D.

Lion Rampant
Robert the Bruce’s pet lion on his Lion Rampant

After returning home from the Crusades many of the European kings even kept lions as pets in their own personal menageries.

King Robert the Bruce of Scotland (1274 – 1329) had a pet lion which appears on his Lion Rampant flag.

I guess for the common people, owning a poodle (or a caniche) would have been the next best thing to owning their own personal lion.

We own two cavoodles. A cavoodle is a cross-breed of a Poodle and a King Charles Cavalier – Spaniel. My daughter picked them out because I am somewhat allergic to dogs. The cavoodles are low allergic. I love dogs but our last dog I could not even pet without getting allergic.

Big Ollie and little Thistle having a nap in the sun shine.
Big Ollie and little Thistle having a nap in the sunshine.

It worked and I’m not allergic to Ollie and Thistle our two black cavoodles.

I never saw myself as a person that would own a poodle, but these guys are great dogs. They are amazingly fast, they are also great jumpers and spend a surprising amount of time walking on two legs.

If they want to see over or on top of something they stand on two legs, unsupported and can walk around like this. This isn’t a trick that they have been taught. (I wonder what Charles Darwin would say about this.)

I have been in the park and met other dog owners including purebred poodle owners. A full-size poodle has almost the exact build as a greyhound.

I’m no expert but when you see a full size poodle and a greyhound stand side by side they both have the same rounded chest and slim hips and long legs (see the picture of Ollie the larger of the two cavoodles above). They also have the same pointed upturned nose of a greyhound. And both breeds have long thin tails.  Poodles, in my opinion, are basically greyhounds with afros.

Their personalities seem to change with every hair cut. Where the dogs that I have had in the past have always had hair that didn’t need to be trimmed  poodles (cavoodles) doesn’t shed. Which is good for allergies, however, their hair just keeps growing.

Our cavoodles have had some very interesting experiments in hair styles. We tried the more traditional poodle styles on Ollie. Which made my daughter and me break into laughter when we picked him up at the dog groomer.

Ollie had changed so much! It was as if our happy little puppy was suddenly appearing on a Paris catwalk.

Ollie had the shaved nose which made him look a little stuck up. And he had shaved paws which made him look like he was wearing gloves and a puffy shirt.

Ollie with his Teddy Bear style hair cut.
Ollie with his Teddy Bear style hair cut.

Ollie now gets what is known as the Teddy bear look. The hair on his snout is left a little longer and cut rounder.

We don’t go to the dog groomer anymore as it’s cheaper if I do it myself.

 

 

“I, Claudius” & “Claudius the God” Book Review

We are slowly working are way through French history. In the last blog post we looked at Julius Caesar conquest of Gaul. This time we are looking at politics and drama in the house of Caesar and how the Roman Emperors that came after Julius Caesar affected the fate of Europe.

In this review we will be looking at “I, Claudius” (1934) “Claudius the God” (1935) By Robert Graves.

Claudius did not consider himself to be a Frenchmen, largely because France or the French did not really exist until about 500 years after his death, however the man who would one day be Emperor of Rome was born in what would one day be Lyon, France, which in Claudius’s day was called Lugdunum in Gaul.

Original covers
The original covers of “I Claudius” and “Claudius the God”

Claudius the God

 

 

Claudius’s father was a general in the Roman army who was at the time of Claudius’s birth, engaged in military activities with the Gauls. The book “I, Claudius” is an excellent introduction into the ancient Roman world. France, Spain, Germany, Belgium and Briton were still barbaric lands that the “civilized” Romans were in the process of colonizing. Meanwhile in Rome the first family of the Caesars played a deadly game of not so civilized house politics.

Based on historical sources “I, Claudius” is a partly fictionalized, or should I say dramatized, account of the early history of four Roman Caesars.

After reading I, Claudius I went back and read many of the original source books (in English). These include works on Roman history by Tacitus, Plutarch, and especially Suetonius, who wrote “The Lives of the Twelve Caesars.”

Written from the point of view of Claudius (Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 10 B.C. – 54 A.D.) who for most of his life was believed to be the family fool.

Graves said that he was inspired to write the book after Claudius came to him in a Dream and demanded that he write the true version of his life. Claudius had been dismissed by many historians as a halfwit but as the Caesar Claudius did more for Rome than the two Caesars before him and the one that followed after him combined.

Augustus Caesar
Augustus Caesar

The book starts in the mid-point of Augustus Caesar’s reign*. As Augustus and his wife Livia rebuild Rome from the ravages of past civil wars (Rome had three civil wars, The last one was between Augustus and Mark Anthony and left Augustus in power in Rome)

*Augustus Caesar lived 63 B.C. to 14 A.D. and was Emperor of Rome from 27 BC to 14 A.D.

Augustus is married to Claudius’s grandmother Livia. Livia is a master in the art of politics, manipulation, revenge and murder. It is Livia along with Augustus that transform Rome from a republic to a dictatorship.

Caligula.
Caligula Caesar 12 A.D to 41 A.D.

The book gives great insight into the politics of power in the ancient world through the problematic years of Tiberius and the deadly years of Caligula. Whose name meant “little boots” in Latin.

For as a child Caligula traveled with his father who was the general of the army. Caligula had his own mini-version of the soldier’s uniform including little sandal-boots known as “caliga” that the soldiers wore.

In “I, Claudius” and the sequel “Claudius the God” writer and poet Robert Graves uses the modern place and country names in place of the old Latin names. So that the interested reader can easily find the places on a modern map.

imagesI, Claudius From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius Born 10 B.C. Murdered and Deified A.D. 54 (Vintage International)

Robert Graves was an Oxford Don who was able to speak and read both Greek and Latin fluently. Graves was also a veteran of the trenches of World War One and saw Europe at one of its most barbaric stages.

 

Roman "swordsmen"
Roman “swordsmen”

Graves writes the book as if Claudius were writing in Greek. The Romans spoke Latin, but upper class “educated” Romans wrote and spoke Greek to each other. This device give Graves and excuse to translate and explain such common Latin words as “gladiator” into their real meanings; (Latin for sword is “gladio” a “gladiator” is a “swordsman”).

This device gives Graves a chance to explain some of the hidden meanings of many Latin based words that are still in use today.

This is an excellent book for those who wish to understand the early formation of Europe and the Roman Empire. France (Gaul) was considered to be part of the Roman Empire in Claudius’s day. As were Germany and Spain and eventually Briton. In the second book “Claudius the God”, Claudius leads a military expedition to conquer Briton.

“I, Claudius” is a great historical work, the times and dates are accurate and based on pains taking research. The characters are fresh and vivid and the politics are credited with having many other writers who came after Graves. (Fans of George R.R. Martin may notice certain similarities between “I, Claudius” and the “Game of Thrones”.)

Robert Graves; 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985)
Robert Graves; 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985

Robert Graves was the son of an Irish poet and a German mother. He attended an English school where he was beaten up almost daily because of his parentage. Graves finally joined the boxing team and was given some respite from the constant bullying. He served in World War One achieving the rank of Captain and return to England to live and work at Oxford University. Where he became friends with T.E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia).

Graves finally moved to the Spanish island of Minorca in the Mediterranean where he spent the rest of his life as a poet and writer.

Written at age 34, Graves autobiography.
Written at age 34, Graves autobiography.

In Spain Graves wrote a biography called “Good-Bye to All That” (1929). Graves suffered from bullies at boarding school and then with the start of the first World War he is shipped off to France where he gives a first hand account of life in the trenches.

Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography