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Black text refers to the books and short stories, blue text to the strips.
In Le Gant Rouge the agent of La Machine complains: "Why the devil must Garvin talk in that Cockney English when he speaks French like a Parisien."
She struggled to pull free for a moment, then gave up and burst into a torrent of French.
Ransome’s [Willie's] French was fluent but with no rhythm or inflexion except for the American twang and the Anglo-Saxon vowels which grated on the Director’s nerves.
Modesty and Willie use French when meeting Nedic in Yugoslavia.
‘He said “Je ne vais rien faire, messieurs.” His French was fluent, with a Marseilles accent.’
(Last Day in Limbo, chapter 5).
She heard a gruff voice speak with rising astonishment. ‘Il y-a quelqu’un là dedans?’
Willie staggers into the rebel group executing Diana Millard, speaking Spanish but taken for a foreigner.
'José raised a hand in welcome. Both Señor Garvin and the dark girl [Modesty] spoke good Spanish and were pleasant companions to gossip with.'
Modesty and Willie use Spanish with the various officers and soldiers of San Lucero in Maluque.
Modesty receives a telegram from Venezuela in Spanish which Weng reads aloud to her.
(Willie is given a 15-page document to read.) ‘It was in Spanish, but she already knew he spoke four languages including Arabic with fair fluency and had a smattering of two more.’
Willie said quietly in Spanish: ‘Do not be afraid, señorita. You will not be hurt.’ The needle went into her buttock and she gasped, head turned to glare back at him with mingled rage and shock, both transformed to bewilderment as he went on reassuringly, ‘Let us count backwards from ten to one, señorita. It prevents insomnia.’
Willie has lost his memory, but responds to Rima, the girl who has rescued him from the river, in Spanish.
Bandit: You speak Spanish?
‘Your Highness,’ Tarrant said with a slight bow. ‘Allow me to present Modesty Blaise.’
‘Willie Garvin was still closer now. The patch of sand had been carefully smoothed and its surface bore a few squiggles, as if someone had doodled on it with a finger. The squiggles were Arabic words.’
The same technique is used when Modesty leaves Willie's unconscious body on the sand on Moggairne Island.
‘The old Arabic,’ said Willie. ‘Coming on a treat, too. I reckon I’ll be as good as you by the time I get ’ome.’
The guards he had seen were city Algerian, if his guess was right. They spoke no English, a little French. Their language was Arabic, which Modesty and Willie spoke fluently.
Willie Garvin uses a miniature transmitter to talk to Modesty for twenty minutes from inside the Wilderness Estate, using Arabic.
When talking to Sheikh Kadhim on the telephone, Modesty begins in English but suggests switching to Arabic when putting forward her plan.
Modesty uses Arabic to communicate with Willie from her prison cell.
“… And when we talked this morning we used Arabic, so it’s long odds against being understood by anyone roaming the amateur frequencies.”
“… Name of Sam Solon.” She switched to Arabic. “He was on our list of possibles back in The Network days, remember?” …
Then had come the storm, and when it was over Blaise and Garvin had talked mainly in Arabic. This had seemed ominous, but when Fouad, one of Condori’s guards, had been called in to translate the tape recording, it became clear that Dr. Feng’s memory blocks had held firm, and Luke Fletcher had told her no more than that he was Luke Fletcher. The only reason for secrecy in the transmission was Modesty Blaise’s wish to avoid publicity.
Sir Gerald: I'm most grateful to you—it was quite as boring as most functions…but our Arab guest of honour enjoyed talking to you in his own language.
The tunnel grew lighter, hotter, the murmur of the outside world grew clearer, then at last the sun struck down upon her head and she had to close her eyes against its brightness. A pause, two or three voices, the sound of movement. Willie saying in Arabic, “Gently … gently with the stretcher.”
Fluent in Arabic and knowing the Middle East well, Willie Garvin had still been stunned by the unbelievable opulence he had seen.
Willie talks to Weng in Arabic when calling from Athens.
He [Willie] gave me [Modesty] the whole story in a mixture of free cryptic and Arabic, but I had no ideas to offer.
Mr J: Who were these tourists? [Willie and Modesty]
Modesty talks to Weng in Cantonese when calling from Voulakis Island.
Willie Garvin strolled across the compound towards the fuel store, pausing to hawk and spit noisily when he was close enough to make out the figure of the sentry there. No challenge came, only a few casual words in Chinese, perhaps asking a comrade soldier for a cigarette or a light. Willie Garvin grunted a wordless reply …
… every time we ’it a pot-hole he kept praying in Chinese. Well, I think it was praying …
As the last word left her lips she was reaching for the dial to change frequency, turning it to the twenty metre band, then turning to fourteen one-o-three megs. Seconds later she began to speak in Cantonese.
“She [Modesty] was speaking in a Chinese sounding language when Mr. Kypseli came to his senses, I understand,” said Thaddeus Pilgrim musingly. “But one cannot say Kalivari in Chinese, can one? Did Mr. Kypseli hear this word?”
Weng to Tarrant “ I am to tell you that when I report to Miss Blaise [in Transylvania] by radio I shall do so in Cantonese and cryptically.”
Tarrant speaks to Professor Carson on the telephone using classical Greek to avoid eavesdropping. “Not totally secure, but good enough, I fancy.”
She [Modesty] spoke to him in Greek, but apart from telling her to follow him he made no response. … The younger of the two fishermen, who had brought her down from the cliff, said to the other, “She speaks Greek.”
They [Willie and Modesty] were drinking beer and speaking very quietly in German. The waiter thought they were from one of the German technical contingents in the area.
In The Giggle-wrecker, Modesty and Willie play the part of Swedish antique dealers buying stock in East Germany. This implies good command of German.
She [Modesty] looked at him and said in Italian: ‘The name is Forli, isn’t it?’
The child stopped crying and asked a question in the heavily accented Greek of one of the small islands. Modesty Blaise stopped, looked towards the Sicilian, who sat with her arm about the child, and said softly in Italian, “Keep the little one quiet and don’t wake the others. All things will be better soon.”
In a café in Venice, Willie speaks to Modesty in Italian in order to be overheard by the waitress Oliva.
She said gently, ‘What exactly did he say?’
“… You know how you can fool around indefinitely on a boat. After dark I usually spend a few hours with the tape recorder and a Teach Yourself Russian course I’m working on.”
Modesty [going though files in the University of Health]: Cyrillic script and not a language I read fast—but the file headings should help.
“Colonel Mikhail Golitsyn,” said Willie earnestly, “of the Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravlemye, formerly of the Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti, but if you don’t want us to say anything, Colonel, we won’t.”
Modesty: Hold it, Willie—I heard two guards talking and I’m glad I use Russian language tapes.
'To anybody who might have overheard, her words would have been cryptic, for she used a mixture of argot from French, Arabic and English, but to Willie Garvin the meaning of every sentence was plain.'
Modesty tells Willie: ‘Their headman, Djut, speaks some Urdu and English. We’ll have to get by with that.’
Modesty said without moving, very coldly. ‘Alex, there are people here.’ She spoke in Swedish.
Through the glass transom Modesty could hear a soft, sad wailing in a language strange to her.
Willie addresses the tribespeople in Pidgin, with little success.
Soon these belongings included three books and some packets of coarse paper. Lob spoke five languages, and taught them all to her [Modesty]. Each day of every five days they used a different tongue.
“Breakfast, then I must spend an hour with a language tape. After that I’ll be going along to a rehearsal room to dance for a couple of hours.” … She was still disciplined, thought Danny as he put away his razor. Fluent in six languages, close to fluent in another four, she rarely missed spending an hour a day with a language tape, either brushing up on one she knew or following a course in a new one.
Dr. Tyl had spoken several words to Willie in a language Modesty thought was Czech. He seemed to expect or to hope that something would happen, and when there was no response he went away looking unhappy. Willie recognised him as the man he had been made to believe was Garcia, the man who had brainwashed him. They concluded that the Czech words were triggers, implanted under narco-hypnosis so that simply by uttering them at any time Dr. Tyl could immediately cause Willie Garvin to fall into a state of deep hypnosis.
[Rudi speaks to his brother in the language of their childhoopd—Czech.]
His [Willie's] speech is Bethnal Green--though I believe his French and Arabic are very good.
‘He can. I think he hangs on to it because it fits the niche he’s found for himself. He likes that niche. But he can lose the accent when he wants to.’ She lifted her voice a little. ‘Willie, love. We’d like a comment on the claret. Wine Society style.’
Hagan broke off the argument and grinned at Tarrant. ‘This slays me,’ he said.
Willie picked up his glass and field it to his nose. He sniffed appraisingly. Taking a little wine into his mouth he rolled it around and swallowed. Tarrant noted that the mime and the expression were exact, without exaggeration.
‘A good little wine,’ Willie said. His voice was low and rich, the voice of a well-bred gourmet. ‘Splendid quality of tonal sonority in the shape … but rather thick legs, perhaps.’
(Modesty Blaise, Chapter 11)
Page created by John Higgins, last updated 26 June 2019