Tuesday, December 23, 2014


A Particular Dialogue

Ronald A. Knox (1888-1957), "A Particular Dialogue," The Salopian (July 1918), rpt. In Three Tongues, ed. L.E. Eyres (London: Chapman & Hall, 1959), pp. 133-134:
If you put your ear to the chink under the door of the Upper Sixth on the night before June the 21st, you can hear the Greek particles talking on the floor. Each of them must chip in once, and none more than once, for fear of being scratched out; so it is rather like a debating society. This is what I heard when I listened.

'Well, as I was saying', began Mentoinun, 'I don't see any use in continuing to exist, when we make no real difference to the prose we live in.'

'Yes, but' interposed Allaoun 'you must confess that we make some difference; the prose would be poorer without us'.

'Well, what about it?' said Timeen, 'I don't see the point of enriching, by our presence, these vulgar nouns and bloated verbs'.

'Be that as it may' said Deoun 'I think in their heart of hearts they do recognize our value'.

'And what's more', added Kaideekai in a great hurry, 'they're coming to recognize it more and more every day'.

'As a matter of fact', said Kaigar, 'I hear they're quite likely to pass a vote of thanks to us'.

'More likely to crush us out of existence', grunted Menoun.

'You don't mean to say', cried Oumeenge, 'that we're faced with an Asyndeton?'

'Suppose, if you like', said Kaidee, 'that they did crush us out of existence, we should still have been, and our memory would still be a sort of protest against sheer materialism'.

'I suppose we should all admit', said Deepou meditatively, 'that posterity will recognize its debt to us'.

'Not but what', suggested Oumeenalla a little doubtfully, 'I think a little asyndeton would be good for some of us'.

'Of course', added Menpou, 'we are not of any great practical value'.

'And proud not to be, I hope', said Kaige.

At this moment, by the merest ill luck, I coughed behind the door.

'Hush' said Kaimeen 'there's somebody coming'.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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