... there's no English translation of my German home page "Das rote Käppchen" available, not really, not yet.
Writing in a foreign language appears to me a bit like drawing a picture with my eyes closed. If I were to draw a picture in my German way (with my eyes open) it might look like this:
As you see, it resembles a house accompanied by a little tree and three birds flying high and a cloud in the sky.
Now I close my eyes and do it in my English way:
Those who have an idea of Modern Art might call it a sort of expressionistic style. Thank you very much for this benevolent assumption but let me be honest: it was meant to be as naïve a picture as my German example above.
By and large, I would like to call it a sort of - bro - ken -.
A line from an old English popsong has said:
Don't say it in Russian, don't say it in German, say it in broken English. [Marianne Faithfull, Broken English (1979).]
Dear Ms. Marianne, many thanks for your encouraging words, but I'm not quite sure if they really do refer to my home page. Moreover, I should never take an advise from a pop singer as they appear not to be the most faithful contemporaries. You know, they allways say they love you, but when you come to the point they give you the cold shoulder, denying everything and claiming it was only a song.
Looking back on my childhood, I can hear my old English teacher scolding me and screaming, "Pay attention please!" in a high pitched frantic voice. If only I knew the meaning of her words. To my excuse, please consider that the Internet wasn't invented by then and the only half-way supplement for a home page was a page in my friends little autograph book. She once gave it to me and there was a single page especially reserved for me to fill in a little poem or proverb so that she might remember me when she's old and grey, but after three month of thinking and digging for words I gave it back to here with my page still blank and now I'm forgotten and that was my first home page and I lost my chance.
Anyway, I wasn't supposed to do it in English and hence all those English lessons seemed to be of no use to me then, and now you see how blind I am on my English eyes.
Going back to school is not a suitable way for me to make up for my careless failures of the past. In particular, I should no more fit into those tiny little forms.
Monsieur Jaques Paganel, a learned man in a novel by Jule Verne, managed to learn Cervantes' language simply by reading loads of books written in the Spanish language. Why should not I, although being of minor lingustic talents, improve my knowledge of Shakespear's language by reading loads of books written in the English language? At least it might sharpen my linguistic instinct.
Following is the complete list of all English books I read in the course of the last year (1998). First of all, it was a great relief that I had no major difficulties in reading and understanding most of them. Nevertheless, I was troubled with a lot of very special and surprising words that made me wonder. I could simply call them "my unknown words", but, as an attempt to conceal my ignorance, I would like to prefer the expression "my favourite words". All those words I used to mark up with my yellow textmarker rather than looking them up in my dictionary at once. So that's what I mean when talking about yellow and yellow spots later on. Now here comes ...
... to my experience, there's no doubt that I'm getting on very well. I guess I have to read just another 294 books until I'm ready for my English home page. At a rate of 7 books per annum it's going to take me 42 years, but as a real artist all my little stories and poems are naturally designed for eternity, so that 42 years appear to be a comparatively short time.
As for my German home page, I'm doing it all for fun and for the sake of god and the fine arts. Therefore I'm not particularly interested in whether or not anybody else might ever take any notice of it. Neither praise nor blame is something, that really matters to me (don't believe it, it's a lie).
On the other hand, refering to a possible English version of my home page, it's a situation completely different. There's obviously no reason for translating any of my German writings into the English language if nobody should ever read it. Disregard requires no particular language.
So there's one important question left to be answered before I'm going to start any effort on the subject: How many native English speaking web citizens are out there, who might happen to visit my home page and, what would be even more pleasant, give me a helping hand supporting my poor English eyes and putting things right?
Let there be about 360 millions of native English speaking people spread all over the world. 50% of them aged between 6 and 58 (as to be likely to survive the next 42 years), making 180000000. 25% of the remaining with a computer at their diposal connected to the Internet, making 45000000 left. 10% of them get their computer running, making 4500000 left. Another 10% who keep their computer running for more than 3 weeks, making 450000. Say 10% again for those doing anything else than keep their computer running, making 45000 left. 8% of them looking for anything else in the Internet than how to keep their computer running, making 3600 left. 6% of them visiting private home pages at all and 0.5% of the remaining 216 coming across my homepage in the next 42 years coming out to 1.08 which is about one and a little one (hopefully dreaming silently in its cradle now).
My precious one! My one and only! I wonder who and where you are. I would very much appreciate if you could please give me a clue. Please don't keep me waiting too long and send me an electronic mail [email@example.com]. A little poem or proverb or even just a little hello will do, signed with your name, to add a great new impetus on my work, and, as it may be, speed up my endeavour so that we might not have to wait so very long. Saving one or two years wouldn't be too bad.
Now, my dear darling reader, I must come to an end. Please forgive me the expressionistic use of your language and thank you very much for all the attention you payed to me without anything in return yet. Please, take good care of your little one and please let her or him grow up to be an efficient reader like you. Guess what a bliss for me, having two readers instead of one!
Tuesday, December 15th, 1998
Copyright © 1998 by Hartmut Schwarz