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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Leon Surette <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 2 Dec 1998 10:55:55 -0500
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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
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I can't resist this temptation.
Tim Redman wrote:
>I'm not sure that Jonathan Gill is correct when he says "Pound was
>not a linguist."  His Latin was excellent; he possessed near-native
>fluency in Italian and close to that in French and Spanish; his
>Chinese became rather good by the '50s and his Greek and German were
        All the Italian speaking correspondents who received letters or
articles from Pound found his Itlian to be "picturesque," "idiosyncratic,"
or sometimes "incomprehansible." It must be admited that some
English-speaking correspondents also found his letters incomprehensible, so
perhaps one shoud discount the last epithet.
        Tim;s Italian is much better than mine, but what I have heard
ofPoundspeaking Italian could hardly be described as "near native flueney."
        I agree with Jonathan Gill that Pound's linguistic aptitude was not
much better than average--though his motivation and industry in learning
foregn languages was, of course, muc above average. Pound himself admitted
in a letter--whose provenance I have forgotten for the moment--that his
Latin was adequateat best. His Greek was essentially non-existent. His
comand of French was better than any other language--not surprising given
his early study of Provencal, and long association with French letters. I
have not heard any recording of him speaking French, but it is difficult to
imagie that he had a good accent. I don't know of much that would count as
evidence for his command of Spanish--though he certainly did study it. That
language is notable for its absene from the Cantos
Leon Surette                                    Home: 519-681-7787
Dept. of English                                Fax:   519-661-3776
The University of Western Ontario               Email: [log in to unmask]
London, Ontario
N6A 3K7