Aphorism of the Day

La civilización es un campamento mal empalizado en medio de tribus insumisas.

Civilization is a poorly-fortified camp surrounded by unpacified tribes.

(Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Escolios a un Texto Implícito, 1.268)

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One Response to Aphorism of the Day

  1. Alfred M. Kriman says:

    Having previously made a big fuss protesting that licuadora does not evoke thoughts of violent liquidación in the mind of a native speaker, and that such puns are less salient in Spanish because they are more common, I would now like to suggest perversely that a pun that is much more rebuscado (cognate with English busking, incidentally, iirc) is indeed evoked in the quote of Dávila.

    The word empalizado is somewhat rare, compared to the word paliza. I think google backs me on this (about 275 vs. about 1,160,000 hits). Paliza means `beating.’ The uneducated reader, trying to make sense of the quoted text, could guess it meant something like `Civilization is a poorly-mauled campground surrounded by rebellious tribes.’ I cannot know what an educated reader would think, but there might be an awareness of the possible misinterpretation.

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