Thursday, September 20, 2007

"In Somalia, they speak Somali" by Patrick Phelan

Patrick Phelan wrote: Whenever I show up to a Left Behind thread, especially... er... when it's a week later, everyone's already said most of what comes to mind for me, and the only respite is to join in and take joy in the off-topicery ("Hello. My name is Infernape Montoya. You whited out my Trainer. Prepare to faint." Two of a kind! I demand to take the pot!) which is why I've been mostly lurking for, y'know, years. But it does occur to me here that it's interesting how many of the efforts to Redeem the Left Behind series-of-events circle around changing the viewpoint character. It's nice to suggest that the problem is Rayford and Buck, and then you remember... um... Nikki Uluru's* speech to the UN, and then only the sweet embrace of sugar dulls the pain.

Actually, I do think that would have been an effective introduction to a speech, if delivered with the proper charisma (Informed Attribute, yes?) and, most importantly, wouldn't involve a hundred and ninety two separate countries. It's like a political version of "HELLO, CLEVELAND! ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?" And by the same token, a sentence or two in Swahili at the start of his response to the Somali ambassador would be a nice gesture, but, yes. Overegging. Rosemary is nice, but if you packed a bunch of rosemary into a thick, egg-solidified log of rosemary, and roasted it, and provided it to me, I wouldn't think it a delicious dinner.

Jeff said: That's because it's neither steaming nor drenched in butter!

Jake said: "Just being here, but the primary language spoken in Somalia is Somali, a semitic language. Swahili is spoken by a small minority of the population, but your suggestion would be equivalent to Carpathia answering the American diplomat in Spanish."

Patrick Phelan responded:

"Asante sana," Nicolae Carpathia said to the man, the expression on his face something like a young Robert Redford being insufferably pleased with himself. "Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali served..."

His expression quickly changed to that of a young Robert Redford wondering exactly why a group of diplomats were hiding sniggers behind their press kits.

"Plank," he hissed out of the corner of his mouth, "I'm losing the crowd."

"Most Somalians don't speak Swahili," said Steve Plank, equally covertly. "They speak Somali. It's a semitic language..."

But the man of the mountains had heard enough, and without thinking twice about it, sent out a wave of Satanic power with a sound like twenty thousand metal voices crying "Hail!" that was quickly forgotten.

The next day in the newspapers, every column but that of Cameron "Buck" Williams (who had better things to do) dealt with a loving hagiography to Nicolae Carpathia - what other man would have remembered Elmi Ahmed Duale's childhood on the coasts, and his speaking of Swahili amongst his immediate family? Certainly not Elmi Ahmed Duale, who spent several hours trying to remember when he'd ever spoken Swahili outside of his professional career - though he surely must have, or he wouldn't have felt so flattered by the great man's attentions - and eventually retired to bed with a headache.

...by which I mean thank you, my one-second investigations with Google plainly served me poorly, and I shall know better in future. Though I am not entirely sure I will not start saying that in Somalia, they speak Spanish.

1 comment:

Mad Latinist said...

... but... but... Somali isn't Semitic, it's Cushitic! Granted, both of those are subgroups of the Afro-Asiatic family.

But otherwise, nice work!