Back to previous post: One Week Standby

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Spectral Evidence

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

June 7, 2011

Four days’ journey into night
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:06 PM * 52 comments

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Dutch are a cycling nation. What’s less well known is that they’re a walking nation as well.

There are two common verbs for “to walk” in Dutch: lopen and wandelen. Lopen is the ordinary verb for going somewhere by Shank’s mare. But if one is walking just to walk, as way leads on to way, that’s wandelen. It’s cognate to Wordsworth’s “wandering lonely as a cloud,” but without the flavor of aimlessness that the term carries in English. Dutch wandelaars know where they’re going. They’re purposefully recreational.

Most Dutch children are introduced to the pleasures of walking through avondvierdaagsen, literally, “four days’ evenings”. These are annual events, usually in late May or early June, where people of all ages get together with their neighbors and walk around their local areas for four evenings in a row. They’re usually organized through local schools, so they bias toward children and accompanying parents, and tend to cover 5, 10, or 15 km (3, 6, or 9 miles) per evening. Fiona completed her second 5 km walk this evening. She’ll be out again tomorrow and Thursday.

And it’s an extraordinary sight to run across of a spring evening. We live near a nature reserve, and during avondvierdaagse season, the paths are thronged with kids, chattering and singing nonsense songs with their friends while the adults stroll along behind them. Everyone carries chilled oranges and lemons, cut in half and wrapped in handkerchiefs (one squeezes the fruit and sucks the juice through the cloth). But I’ve cycled through urban neighborhoods and seen the groups walking together there too, spilling off of the sidewalk and onto the roads, like parades without heroes or marshalls.

Avondvierdaagsen are the gentle introduction to marsen, marches, which serious walkers undertake. There are a couple of vierdaagsen that don’t take place in the avond. They cover 30 - 50 km (20 - 30 miles) per day, four days in a row. The eastern city of Nijmegen’s vierdaagse is particularly famous. It’s been held annually since 1909, with only a brief break during the First World War (the Netherlands was neutral, but mustered troops) and another during the German occupation (vierdaagsen were classed as illegal gatherings).

More dedicated walkers yet participate in Kennedymarsen. These are a Dutch survival of an American fad from 1963: the 50-mile hike. It’s all John F. Kennedy’s fault. One of the themes of his early Presidency was an emphasis on the physical fitness of Americans. And after hearing about similar exercises from Teddy Roosevelt’s time, he enquired whether American marines could cover 50 miles in the space of 20 hours. His brother Bobby did just that the subsequent weekend (in oxfords, in the snow). This led to a brief distance-walking craze that spring, among military and civilians alike.

By that summer, the fad had passed in America. But it’s still going strong in the Netherlands, particularly in the south. There are 13 Kennedymarsen per year, according to the organization that coordinates them (the KNBLO*). The largest, the Sittard Kennedymars, has been held annually since 1963. Over 2600 participants registered to walk 50 miles in 20 hours in 2011, starting at 5 a.m. on Holy Saturday, finishing by 1 a.m. on Easter Sunday.

Of course, most Dutch people don’t go quite that far. But about a third of the staff at my first workplace here took a walk together every lunchtime. And the nature reserve near us is always filled with walkers, usually in groups. Even the best amusement park in the nation, the Efteling, is constructed to give the feel of a Sunday stroll through the woods (albeit one where one stumbles upon roller coasters in every clearing).

And it starts with children carrying citrus fruit in handkerchiefs, putting one foot in front of the other, through leaves, over bridges, during four evenings in the spring.

* Koninglijke Nederlandse Bond voor de Lichaamelijke Opvoeding†
† What, you want to know what it means? The Royal Dutch Organization for Physical Training. It’s the main organization for wandelaars in the Netherlands.

Comments on Four days' journey into night:
#1 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 05:23 PM:

So, lopen vs. wandelen is roughly "walking" vs. "going for a walk"?

I hope to see walking as one of the things we decide to make more feasible for more people (in terms of infrastructure, allowing folks some free time in daylight hours, security etc.). We have a lot of "walking deserts" in the U.S., just as we have food deserts.

#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 05:35 PM:

Lila @1:
So, lopen vs. wandelen is roughly "walking" vs. "going for a walk"?

Pretty much, yes, though lopen does get used for both sometimes. But no one wandelt quickly to the store for a liter of milk.

(And there's a way to distinguish the two reasons to walk grammatically in the past tense of lopen. But that's part of a universal construction for verbs of motion and transportation. It's complicated, nuanced, and not really important for this discussion. I mention it merely to prove myself a pedant.)

#3 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 05:41 PM:

The physical fitness of the modern Dutch is startling. In my heart, I believe that the greatest danger posed to me by visiting Amsterdam is that I will be run down by a bicycle ridden by a six-foot-tall white-haired grandmother with the BMI of a college basketball player.

The very existence of the word omafiets tells you a great deal about all of this.

#4 ::: Jurie ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 06:25 PM:

I've never heard of the citrus fruits! But then, I've never walked a vierdaagse.

#5 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 07:02 PM:

Do they ever stick peppermint sticks into the lemons, then suck on that? There's a school round here that does that for May Fair.

#6 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 07:26 PM:

This sounds like a wonderful thing. I sometimes wish I still lived in Bloomington, Illinois, which had a walking path made of a railroad right-of-way that led straight, straight north into cornfields... eventually. I tell people that I can walk as fast as I jog, and for longer-- I'd have better luck walking a marathon than running one.

This does not help me not want to move to the Netherlands. Abi, do you need a pet environmental engineer?

#7 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 08:00 PM:

I must have come in on the tail end of the Kennedy-inspired heroics. When I was 11 (in the early 70s), we did a quasi-reenactment of the route the Barefoot Mailman used in the early days of Florida's settlement. Billed as 50 miles, it was actually 42 or so, of which we did 32 the first day and the rest after a night under the stars. Literally, under the stars, as we were required to carry all our provisions and clothes (yes, it was just one night but still, a lot of us were pretty young) for the trip: there was no campsite support or haulage. Looking back now, it was more an endurance event than a hike, as the pace was pretty harsh for short legs and we didn't exactly linger. We were walking through a very developed commercial and residential district the whole route until we got to our campsite.

Still like walking, either in nature or in more man-made environs but I wouldn't encourage anyone, no matter what age, to sign up for something like that. I completed it twice and bailed on the third attempt: we got caught in a squall (the event was held in early February and it can get cool, even in Florida, at that time of year) and a few of us had cut it a little too fine, gearwise.

#8 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 08:05 PM:

I like to daydream about doing the end-to-end walk.

#9 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 09:48 PM:

Tim: I found myself tempted by Hadrian's Wall, though since I live not far from the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, that's a far more likely hike-of-a-lifetime, if I ever have both the time and the physical conditioning.

#10 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 10:18 PM:

Lila @ 9: The mile or two of that I've hiked (near the charmingly named village of Twice Brewed) was lovely, but thanks to Peter Ackroyd, my back-up fantasy is currently the Thames Path. Beautiful, historic, and pretty flat!

#11 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 10:20 PM:

I find the thought of walking cities interesting, and what that tells you about their scale. The historic Boston, the peninsula (say, Charles MGH to the New England Acquarium), is easily walked in a half hour. If you include the Back Bay, say from Brookline to North Station, it's around an hour. From Braintree Station to Alewife Station, the two ends of the Red Line (subway), is around six hours and 17 miles.

Manhattan, from the south tip to the very north tip (Castle Clinton Nat'l Monument to Baker Field), is a four-hour walk and 14 miles.

I think they'd be interesting walks to do -- see a sort of cross-section of the city's life. And an advantage of doing walks in the city is that you don't have to carry everything with you, and if you decide to stop early you merely hit the nearest public transit.

(All times and distances from Google Maps.)

#12 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2011, 10:25 PM:

Huh. An end to end via roads is a smidge over 1400km. It's a nice randonneuring or Audax event!

Walking the Appalachian trail has never been an ambition of mine. Probably due to excess Appalachian exposure growing up in Pennsylvania. If I'm going to hike anywhere homey, I'd like it to be in a nature preserve. A small one. Ideally with EMS service.

Somehow the idea of falling off a cliff and breaking a leg just doesn't appeal.

For now tho, I'll stick with my annual bike trip to WI's Sheep and Wool Festival. It's around a 70 mile round trip for me, and it's over a weekend, so it is not a rugged endurance event. I am a sad and cranky creature when I'm overtired or underfed. Maybe when I grow up, I will be stronger and can do longer trips.

#13 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 12:01 AM:

So I was, lijke, what does it mean? Lijke, Koningslijke is, lijke, King-lijke and Lichaamelijke is body-lijke?

#14 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 01:50 AM:

Kevin Riggle @ 11: My wife and I have been trying to make a point of taking long walks in our city (San Francisco). We only manage to do it every few months or so, but we enjoy it a lot, and always find a lot of cool stuff.

#15 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 03:21 AM:

abi@2: If you ever feel like expatiating on details of Dutch grammar, I for one would be interested to read it.

#16 ::: Joris M ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 04:42 AM:

rm @13. ~lijk(e) approximately corresponds to ~ly in English, even if it is used in a slightly different way.
So King-ly (as in royal), and body-ly (as in related to the body / physical).

#17 ::: Dichroic ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 05:23 AM:

@Lila in #1: it's a little more complex, because lopen also gets used for lots of metaphorical uses where an English speaker would probaby use "to run. Your nose loopt when you have a cold, an ongoing project loopt, and so on.

#18 ::: Dichroic ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 05:25 AM:

I'd add to this that walking is so strongly ingrained in the culture that many Dutch people feel that something is missing from the day - in a vaguely unhealthy way - if they haven't done for a least a short walk out of doors. Many of my colleagues walk around the perimeter of our campus at lunch time; if people don't have time for a longer walk they at least walk outside from the cafeteria is to the front door of our building.

#19 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 06:48 AM:

Further to Joris M @16, the Dutch -lijke is also analogous to German -lich, hence Königlich for royal. Interestingly, German has only kept Leichnam for "body" in the sense of "corpse," so Lichaamelijke would not correspond to leichnamlich (not actually a word, even under German's generous provisions for coining words) but rather to körperlich as meaning "bodily".

As for the Koninglijke Nederlandse Bond voor de Lichaamelijke Opvoeding, it would be entirely possible in contemporary colloquial German to have a Bundesorganisation für Fitness Training. I doubt that the national government would commit such blatant Anglicisms in a name, but Fitness and Training are both perfectly ordinary German words these days. (As is Handy, except that it means "mobile phone.")

#20 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 07:50 AM:

Well if any of you within commuting distance of Washington DC are tempted to walk crazy long distances in one day, may I suggest the One Day Hike sponsored by our local Sierra Club outings group.

You have your choice of 100 or 50 kilometer distances (heh, we do metric!) along the towpath of the C&O canal starting in Georgetown and finishing in Harper's Ferry.

I haven't done the walk and have no intention of ever doing so but I've volunteered several times at a support station along the way. The numerous support stations keep track of the walkers and dispense drinks and snacks (and hugs if solicited). Some stations offer sandwiches/soup and have first-aid volunteers on hand to tend to sore feet and other problems.

#21 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 12:49 PM:

David Goldfarb @15:

OK, this particular wrinkle of Dutch grammar: verbs of motion in the perfect tense.

The Dutch perfect tense, like the English perfect, is made up a past participle and an auxiliary verb. In English, it's always "have", but in Dutch, there are two verbs that are used as auxiliaries: hebben (to have) and zijn (to be).

As a rule, verbs of movement and transformation (which are generally intransitive) take zijn* while everything else takes hebben. There are exceptions†, but that's a decent rule of thumb to work with.

However, a particular set of verbs breach this divide. My grammar lists 20 examples, including lopen and wandelen, as well as zwemmen (swim), fietsen (cycle), and rijden (drive or ride); all of them can take hebben as well as zijn.

The distinction is whether you perform the action in order to get somewhere, or simply for its own sake. Here's a minimal pair using rijden (whose past participle is gereden):

1. Ik ben naar werk gereden: I drove to work.
2. Ik heb door Waterland gereden: I drove through Waterland.

So if you want to talk about walking for its own sake in the past, you can either use wandelen, or lopen with hebben. There are nuances of definition I'm eliding (many of which I don't actually grasp myself), but that's the general shape of what I was alluding to in comment 2.

* Which leads me to one of those Sapir-Worf the Dutch consider past events to be more fundamentally transformative than English speakers do? So that your state of having-movedness or having-becomeness is more inherent to them than to Americans?
† This is grammar. Of course there are exceptions.

#22 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 05:24 PM:

Lila @9:

[...] since I live not far from the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, that's a far more likely hike-of-a-lifetime, if I ever have both the time and the physical conditioning.
Physical conditioning? Feh! Meet Grandma Gatewood.

I'll grant you the time constraint, and add in the financial constraint.

#23 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 05:27 PM:

PNH #3: Having seen (in Paramaribo) little old ladies on bromfiets, I'd be more terrified of those.

#24 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 11:20 PM:

abi@21: Have you ever studied French? Their perfect tense is formed almost exactly the same way, right down to the auxiliary verbs being avoir and être, with être being used for verbs of movement. French does have a separate perfect derived from the Latin perfect tense, but I gather it's generally only used in writing rather than conversation. It's sometimes called the passé litteraire (as opposed to passé composé).

#25 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2011, 11:20 PM:

Doug@19: And of course the English cognate "lich" is now only used for powerful undead magic users.

#26 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 12:10 AM:

It's odd-like to me that nobody's pointed out the simple obvious English cognate....

#27 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 12:22 AM:

I like the C&O Canal. Every time we visit my uncle in near-DC Maryland, we spend some time on the towpath. I'd definitely do one of those walks.

#28 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 01:08 PM:

Clearly this is a better thread for musings on the Camino de Santiago than the bicycling thread where I put my last ones.

I'm not going to try to describe the general pilgrimage, but just viewing it as a walking experience, it's unusual: any given year upward of 100,000 people set off for the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, in north-eastern Spain. People start walking (or traveling by bike, horse or wheelchair) from all over the place in Europe—we met a couple who had started walking in Italy, and another who had started walking from their home in Zurich—but most start from a few standard departure points, either on one side or the other of the Pyrenees (about 800km away) or inside Galicia. Most people were traveling alone or in small groups, but with so many people on the road you move in and out of cohorts as you go, and everyone gives a different reason for making the trip: for some it was a form of sport; for many an act of faith, or an attempt to regain faith; for others a form of contemplation at crisis points in their lives. For some it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for a few others (mostly from Spain) it was something they did every year. Abi's post reminded me of something that happens during holy years, where whole villages set off in matching scarves or hats, walking either from their village or from wherever their coach dropped them off. The point is that everyone is converging on the same spot, wherever they set out from and whyever they did so. So, along the road, there's a gradually increasing density of pilgrims all building up and mixing together, sometimes with nothing in common except that they're on the same path.

I highly recommend it. (And I'm happy to talk about it at tedious length to anyone, clearly.)

#29 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 01:10 PM:

I have a post being held for review, and I'd just like to say that I really enjoyed the message telling me so.

#30 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 02:56 PM:

David Wald @29: Now you're teasing us, and I'm tempted to try to construct a post which will trigger a hold, just to see what the message is.

#31 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 03:12 PM:

Jeremy, please don't. It makes work for the mods, and they are subtle and...actually damned SLOW to anger, come to think of it, but even their patience is ultimately a finite resource which we should not squander needlessly.

#32 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 03:34 PM:

Jeremy Leader @30 & Xopher @31: Well, an easy way to test it is to post a comment which includes a trademarked drug name (such as those little blue pills, or various pain-killers).

I don't imagine moderatorial patience would be overmuch taxed if one was willing for the test comment to wind up in the bit bucket, thereby not requiring manual intervention to retrieve.

However, it would probably be wise to make the test post interesting and pointful in its own right, on the off-chance it fails to trigger the spam filter and does show up.

But I could be entirely wrong and blowing smoke out of my nether regions, so probably best to ignore me.

#33 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 03:35 PM:

Alternatively, possibly the more intelligent approach, is simply to wait until someone, in the natural course of events, triggers the message. Whereupon they can capture it and post it in the clear for the rest of us to enjoy.

#34 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 03:50 PM:

Well, I'm touched and flattered that that message tickled people's fancies. It was originally Patrick's, but I gave it a wee rewrite a year or two ago when we realized it wasn't actually matching the problems we were using it to trap.

The message is:

Your comment is being held for review.

High in the glass-and-steel tower that is Making Light Headquarters your post is being examined under criteria both Mysterious and Arcane. Soon, if it passes High Level Review by our Gnomes, it will be released.

The most common reason that a post is held is that it contained a Whole Lot of URLs. Alternatively, you may have used one or more Words of Power, and we must determine if your intentions are Good, Evil, or Amusing.

And though there are many things that make me angry, freeing comments from the clutches of the gnomes isn't really one of them*, provided that the commenter has put a placeholder up immediately upon being notified of the abduction. Because the only thing that makes me crabby is having to review a score or two of comments and clean up up-references. (I don't think all the mods do this, but I try to make time for it.)

* Some of the gnomes are lovely folk. And a couple of them are wicked good mimics up there in the tower; their impressions of you guys are hilarious (the more so because they're so deeply fond of you and tend to imitate your best sides). Also, they keep a stash of really good cookies for when I stop by.

#35 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 04:44 PM:

abi@34: In that case I'm
1) glad that I did post an abduction notice immediately;
2) thankful that you (or another mod, but I'm guessing you) released my comment so quickly; and
3) apologetic to everyone else for saying, "Hey, there's this cute message and I'm not going to quote it to you."

#36 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 04:58 PM:

While there are many words of power, a more common reason for a Real Post by a Real Person to be blocked is the Munged URL, generally caused by leaving off the quote marks around said URL in the hyperlink.

#37 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 04:58 PM:

David @35:

As penance, tell us more about the Camino de Santiago! All will be forgiven.

#38 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 05:02 PM:

...or more than forgiven, if you do it in Italian-sonnet cantos.

But that's an optional extra.

#39 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 09:24 PM:

When I begin to write about the Way
We walked through Spain with packs upon our backs
To keep my thoughts coherent and on track
I have to edit most of what I'd say.
And just as there's no single path to take
When all you know is where the journey ends,
Each time I start, my writing quickly tends
To find a different argument to make.
So only basic facts will do, to start:
The road to Santiago leads you far,
The way is marked with scallop shells and paint.
You get "credentials" stamped when you depart
And stamped again in churches, inns and bars
To track your progress, 'til you reach the saint.

[If I follow Xopher's advice any further, I'll probably end up owing additional penance.]

That's the problem with abi's request: it's not just that there's too much to say, but that there are too many lines of thought to follow, once I get beyond the basic facts. I can try and give more context, though; and if anything I say provokes more interest, let me know.

For those not familiar with those facts, the Wikipedia page on the Way of St. James isn't too bad. A one sentence version (ignoring a lot of obvious questions) is: for the past thousand years or so people have been making a pilgrimage to visit the relics of St. James the Apostle in Galicia, now in the cathedral in the city of Santiago de Compostela.

A thousand years of people passing through have shaped the environment. Some paths became popular, others not. Whole towns and cities have grown up—and sometimes declined—around the popular routes. Anyone living on those routes, especially outside of the major cities, has gotten used to—often grown up with and maybe built their livelihood on—a constant stream of pilgrims. And, bringing that full circle, popular paths with local people invested in them often result in clearer signage. So that's more of the context.

And then there are the other pilgrims. As I said, they're there for all sorts of reasons, some religious, many not, but there's a general feeling of all being on the same path (which, of course, we literally were, as well as staying at the same sequence of hostels and hotels). We might (or might not) compare our reasons for being there, but I can't recall anyone expressing an opinion about who should be there.

What I seem to be working around to in this post is that being on the Camino is being in a very distinct space. Even ignoring the religious element (which seems silly to say of a thousand-year old Christian pilgrimage), you're in an unusual setting, with long-layered history, the details of which change day to day as you move through it. You're surrounded by a general feeling of good-will, and treated differently, even by local residents. ("Pilgrim" is clearly a separate category from "tourist" in most of the places we passed through.) And you have a lot of time to think.

And then, some days, you're trudging along a cow-dung covered mud path in the Galician rain.

It's wonderful. We've done it twice, now, from two different starting points.

#40 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2011, 09:32 PM:

There's a wonderful book Walking the Camino by an Australian former diplomat, who did it at age 63. His description of the feel of it is similar to David's.

#41 ::: Kaleberg ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2011, 12:56 AM:

#11 - I actually did the end to end Manhattan walk back when I was in high school in the 70s. We started at the railroad bridge over Spuyten Duyvel and made our way to the Battery and Castle Clinton. It was a great walk, and we got to see a lot of neighborhoods we might otherwise have never known about.

#21 - English had a to be form of the past perfect into the 19th century. It still shows up now and then in archaic forms like "He is risen", "We are come ... " or "I am become death", Oppenheimer's comment on the A-Bomb detonation citing classic text.

#42 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2011, 01:41 AM:

David Wald @39 -- and there's an excellent Oyster Band song about it. Thanks for leading me to play it again.

#43 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2011, 12:54 PM:

Coincidentally, I read an article today about what Emilio Estevez has been up to lately, and it turns out he's just written and directed a movie about a group of people walking the Camino.

#44 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2011, 12:27 PM:

Tom@42: And thanks to you: I hadn't known about that one.

Paul A.@43: Thanks, I'd heard about that project some time ago and then forgotten about it. There's a review of it here that makes it sound like something I'll enjoy seeing, if only to see the Camino through another set of eyes.

thomas@40: I have heard good things about that book, but haven't yet read it. Nor, though I keep intending to, have I read Paulo Coelho's O Diário de Um Mago/The Pilgrimage.

In general, there's been so much written about the Camino that it can feel redundant to write anything else. (I think the first tour guide for it is the 12th Century Codex Calixtinus, which I have read in translation. The trip has gotten a bit safer since then, but the actual route of the Camino Francés hasn't changed much.) On the other hand, everyone seems to look at the Camino from a slightly different angle, so there's always some chance of saying something original, or at least of passing along something old to someone new.

#45 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2011, 03:14 AM:

Janet K@20, when I was a kid we did a boy scout bicycle-camping trip along the C&O Canal, and it was great. Partly just because it's flat easy terrain near cool scenery, but also Harper's Ferry was a usual stop on family vacations driving down the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, which made it familiar cool scenery. (The first time I read Walden was one of those vacations, in the fall when the leaves were turning.)

#46 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2011, 11:05 AM:

And here's another example of Boulder's accessibility culture.

#47 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2011, 11:56 AM:

English had a to be form of the past perfect into the 19th century. It still shows up now and then in archaic forms like "He is risen", "We are come ... " or "I am become death", Oppenheimer's comment on the A-Bomb detonation citing classic text.

It was (and in German still is) 'be' for verbs in the "motion" class, 'have' for everything else. 'Become' is considered a verb of motion in Germanic languages; so are 'stay' (a verb that denies motion is still in the class that talks about motion...or something like that) and 'die' (I think 'dead' is an archaic past perfect that has now become an adjective).

#48 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 09:08 AM:

Ah... walking, and verbs of motion. Dutch verbs of motion sound like Russian ones, if the Russian ones were sober.

I recall being in Kiev, in high summer, and deciding to take a walk after supper (all of us spoke russian, and the time was ours, no duty until morning). Russian has a verb гулятъ which means "to walk about with no direction/to ramble/to stroll", i.e. to wander.

And it gives one fits, because it never seems to be appropriate. Supper was done about 8, we got back to our billets somewhere between midnight, and 1 in the morning.
мы гуляам; We had wandered.

#49 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 12:53 PM:

gak: мы гуяли Tense

#50 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 02:21 PM:

Terry Karney @48/49: did you ever come across this book?

We used it in my last year at school (long story), and I still have memories of some of the line illustrations used to illustrate the finer points of some of the distinctions between different versions of the verbs 'to carry' and 'to bring'.

#51 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 05:48 PM:

Looking at Terry's link:

Whisky Tango Foxtrot?

from $28.78
9 Used from $28.78

from $537.68
2 Used from $537.68

The lunatics have taken over the asylum!

#52 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 09:44 AM:

praisegod barebones: That looks cool.

Cadbury Moose: There some seriously screwed up with the various "autopricing" algorythms used by some resellers on Amazon.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.