Sunday, March 13, 2005

Sense and Nonsensibility

Language is fascinating. We string together words in a particular way because we want the recipient to understand us. If we are good at what we do (and choose our words carefully) we can even bring a sense of pleasure to the basic task of communication. If we are bad at any of this, we fail to convey our true meaning. And if we are very bad at what we do, then we fail to convey any meaning at all.
It is in this context that I have been searching for a piece of prose delivered by a Pakistani politician many years ago before the United Nations General Assembly. The politician in question had been asked to stick to the text that had been prepared for him by zealous bureaucrats. Our politico did as he was asked to do but, at the very end of his speech, took out a piece of paper from his pocket and diverted his speech. The prose- if it can be called that at all- has entered the annals of UN history. Translators in the official UN languages stopped translating - the words made no sense to them at all. Queues of diplomats formed the next day to collect an official copy of the speech. I reproduce below the section of the speech. I suggest you carry it around with you. Each time you feel low, just take it out and read it. I guarantee instant amusement.
"Now Sir, in conclusion, I humbly submit that the dilemma for the resolution of the conscious outlook is the only remedy. It is said that abhorrence for the learned in his infidelities and the inept in his devotions- our times are impatient of the both and especially the last. Let us not be pestered with with assertions and half truths, with emotions and scuffle. In the closing decades of the 20th century, these cannot conceivably solve any problem and indeed it is the source of positive danger to mankind- or words to that effect. It declares that this community of interest, in interests makes all men, otherwise differently interested partners in the great enterprise of replacing evil with good and and good with better so as to achieve the best possible. It is a proverb that to cut the cakes is never conducive to mankind. Also it is not humanitarian to be with farrago of twisted facts. God save us from the sprangles of cataclysm. And the scuttles of the ship should be repaired expeditiously by this august body. It is said that one man's mickle is another man's muckle. In conclusion I greatly appreciate and express my warm gratitude to you by giving me the floor of this august house. Thank you. "


Blogger Sin said...

I'm dying to know who this repository of eloquence could be!

12:40 am  
Blogger ضیا said...

Hey wasn't this in Khalid Hasan's column in this week's Friday Times?

8:20 am  
Blogger Uber Homme said...

sin: A politician called Jam Amir Ali

Zia: Spot on. He was. Khalid Hassan did the same piece many many years ago. I kept a copy somewhere and then lost it. And then it reappeared in the TFT last week.

10:38 am  

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