Thursday’s post on Kučan vs. SDS seems to have stirred the pot a bit – and I’m not thinking people who share the nick with a certain German philosopher. What caught my eye was a brilliant post by no other than St. Luka. In his “Nothing Kučan Says Is Not True…” he constructs a brilliant argument as to what exactly was going on and what exactly was Milan Kučan saying…
Since his post is in Slovene (as is indeed his entire blog) I’ve asked St. Luka for permission to translate and repost his post and he generously agreed. Here it is – his first guest post on pengovsky.com ever.
A: Everything Kučan says is untrue!
B: Nothing Kučan says is not untrue!
A: Everythign Kučan says is not true!
B: Nothing Kučan does not says is not true!
A: Everything Kučans does not say is true!
B: Everything Kučan says is not untrue!
A: Nothing Kučan doesn’t say is not untrue!
B: Everything Kučan doesn’t say is untrue!
A: What does Kučan actually say?
The latest linguistic clash between Milan Kučan and Slovene Democratic Party has once again shown that the beauty of a language lies in the fact that the language by itself, words, sentences, mean nothing. That statements are neither »true« nor »untrue« based on any sort of »reality« of a particular event. Rather, their meaning must be researched on an entirely different level.
What is it all about? POP TV has reported the event, but they were happily oblivious to traps, quirks and beauties of Slovene language, therefore they reported only on SDS’s »witticisms« and Kučan’s »short memory«. In short: they’ve failed to grasp the beauty of the problem. It was – thankfully – highlighted from that side by Pengovsky. This enables us to have a go at cracking the latest linguistic nut in a case of »What did Kučan really say?«
“The arrogance, the audacity that sky-rocketed during the term of this regime and the devaluation of values which negate what we craved in 1990 as we opted for our own state, is such that changes must be made«
And SDS replied:
»This is of course true because the current government is trying hard to prevent that values which negated values of the 90s (communism, Yugoslav centralism, party privileges) would not become the values of today. These actions were supported and are still supported by at least 90% of Slovenians«
Pengovsky claims that SDS simply misunderstood Milan Kučan’s complex sentence, who in this case demonstrated a superior knowledge of Slovene language. But – truth be told – Kučan’s sentence is grammatically not entirely correct. This we can’t really hold against the former president, since he did not put his statement in writing, but was giving a statement directly, off the top of his head and into a camera. Were I in his situation, I’d have troubles formulating a coherent and grammatically correct sentence. But for the sake of it, let’s take a look at the mistakes:
Aroganca in samopašnost, ki sta se razširili pod to vladavino, in razvrednotenje vrednot, ki so negacija tega, kar smo želeli leta 90, ko smo se odločili za svojo državo, so vendarle taki, da so potrebne spremembe.
»Arrogance« and »audacity« are two things, therefore the use of dual is necessary, however, adding »devaluation« makes them three, so use of plural is necessary at the end of the sentence (arrogance and audacity are in Slovene language nouns of feminine gender, while devaluation is neutral, thus in the end use of masculine gender is necessary).
The sentence is grammatically incorrect, but that doesn’t really matter. The question of its interpretation is much more interesting.
SDS claims that Kučan wanted to say something else, but in his evilness he fumbled his words and said exactly what he meant. SDS thus interprets the sentence through Freudian psychoanalysis and says that Kučan’s alleged lapse reveals his subconscious, where his desire imposed itself upon his will. In other words: Kučan’s lapse made him say exactly what he wanted to say.
On the other hand Pengovsky also claims that Kučan said exactly what he thought, it’s just that his argument is based on grammatical analysis rather than psychoanalysis.
Arrogance, audacity and devaluation of values that negate what we wanted in 1990, when we opted for our own state, are such that changes are necessary.
Therefore: Devaluation of values, arrogance and audacity. All of these negate what we wanted in 1990.
The »what we wanted in 1990« part relates to »arrogance«, »audacity« and »devaluation of values« and not just »values« and with this – according to Pengovsky – the sentence is no longer a lapse but rather a wholesome criticism of the ruling administration.
So, how do we correctly interpret this linguistic incident between Milan Kučan and SDS? We can conclude the following:
One: Milan Kučan said what he wanted to say, regardless of the interpretation.
Two: What Milan Kučan said one way or the other unsettles the SDS, regardless of the interpretation, because,
Three: whatever Milan Kučan says, he is lying and manipulating. Whenever a lapse makes him fumble his words and say something truthful, this truth is most likely even more evil than his lies are.
Thus it doesn’t matter whether you subscribe to Pengovsky’s or SDS’s interpretation of Kučan’s statement, the end result is the same: Kučan said exactly what he meant, and what he meant was that it’s time SDS stops running the country.
Language can be so fascinating!