Use Italics for Foreign Words

Put foreign words in italics.

In the 1970s, Ohio University President Claude Sowle decided to hold public meetings at which college deans would argue for money for their departments. Of course, these were spectacular events at which college deans wore caps and gowns and argued passionately for money. At one such public meeting, Dr. Henry Lin, Dean of Fine Arts, began his remarks by saying, “Ni hao, Dr. Sowle.” Of course, he was speaking flawless Mandarin Chinese, and he continued to speak flawless Mandarin Chinese—which Dr. Sowle did NOT understand—for the rest of his remarks, occasionally using a Chinese abacus to emphasize a financial point. At the end of Dr. Lin’s remarks, President Sowle told him, “Henry, you know I don’t understand Chinese, but I’ve never understood you more clearly than right now—you need big bucks!” (By the way, the late Dr. Lin is the father of Maya Lin, the genius who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.)

Portrait painting has at least one advantage over portrait photography. Queen Victoria once asked court painter Alfred Chalfont, whether photography would replace painting. The Frenchman replied, “Ah, non, Madame! Photographie can’t flattère.

An advantage of being a journalist is that you may occasionally get to interview actors you adore. For example, when Guardian reporter Libby Brooks was 13, she saw Dirty Dancing on video and fell in love with Johnny Castle, who was played by Patrick Swayze. Lots of young girls who saw the movie, including Ms. Brooks, wanted to lose their virginity to Johnny Castle. Years later, she got to interview Mr. Swayze, who repeated for her his famous line from the movie: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” Ms. Brooks’ interview with Mr. Swayze was never printed, and she admits today, “In retrospect, I think that my editor was less interested in Swayze than in bringing an end to my relentless badgering to let me interview him.” The movie’s rating prevented many girls from seeing the movie in theaters—they had to wait to see it on video. This meant that some girls were able to be cool by seeing the movie in theaters. Ms. Brooks remembers when a French teacher asked Lindsay Cameron in class, “Lequel est le dernier film tu as vu?” (What is the last film you saw?). Ms. Cameron confirmed her status as the coolest girl in class by replying, “Le Dirty Dancing.”

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach once bought a soda to go that cost 50 cents, handed the cashier $2, and told her to keep the change. A friend told him that when you order to go, you don’t need to tip, and you certainly don’t tip $1.50 for a 50-cent soda. Rabbi Shlomo smiled and said, ‘I know, I know. But I’m trying to make up for unzer tierla yiddalach [our sweet Jews] who don’t give tips, and consequently make a chilul hashem [defame God’s name].”

The paparazzi could be annoying to Audrey Hepburn. Once, a photograph of Audrey with her newly bearded son appeared in a magazine. Because of the new beard, the paparazzi had not recognized her son, so this caption appeared with the photograph: “Audrey com il nuovo amore della sua vita.” Translation: “Audrey with the new love of her life.” She said, “Well, apart from the ‘new,’ for once they got something right.” That was one media photograph she cut out and framed.

After World War II, in which she worked for the Resistance and was awarded the croix de guerre and the Legion of Honor with the Rosette of the Resistance, Josephine Baker adopted 12 orphans of several nationalities (including Finland, Ivory Coast, Korea, and Algeria) and several religions (including Buddhist, Shinto, Catholic, Jewish, and Moslem) and brought them to live with her in France. She called the adopted orphans the Rainbow Tribe and hoped that they would be a model for world brotherhood.

Arthur Mitchell of the Dance Theatre of Harlem used to go to schools for lecture demonstrations and say, “I don’t go much to discothèques anymore, so you’ve got to tell me what the latest dances are. Anybody want to come up and show me?” Once the students were up on stage demonstrating the newest dances, Mr. Mitchell would point out when appropriate, “Now you may call this step the ‘hustle’ or the ‘monkey’ or whatever, but what you were really doing was step, plié, step, plié,” and show the student what he meant. Occasionally, one of the students demonstrating the newest dance steps would have real talent, and Mr. Mitchell would give the student a dance scholarship.

Dance teacher Carmelita Maracci was gifted. She was technically perfect and would demonstrate a dance move such as an arabesque to her astonished students, then invite them to try it. They were unable to reach her level of perfection, but they did the move better than they ever had before. One day, dancer Anton Dolan visited her classroom, so she stood up and unleased a series of dance moves—entrechats six and entrechats huit—that he had not been able to do since he was 30 years old, then she sat down. After Mr. Dolan left, Ms. Maracci said, “It nearly sprung me, but I figured I had to do it. He’d heard I was a technician.”

Even an elderly ballerina can remain in control of parts of her art. In 1959, while she was in her 70s, Tamara Karsavina demonstrated some steps of batterie at the barre to Antoinette Sibley, saying, “To get the full benefit from battements frappés, we must train our muscles to give a quick reaction. That means that the dégagé must be sharp and in the nature of a ‘hit out.’” The marveling Ms. Sibley embraced Ms. Karsavina and said, “Oh, Madame, I can never do it like that!”

© 2015, David Bruce, All Rights Reserved

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