Operating in the no-man’s-land between languages can challenge you to get inventive. I’ve thus (knowing mostly just karate words in Japanese) had some of my most delicious conversations with English-impaired Japanese friends, and I had one tonight. Trying to explain to a brilliant, gentle philosopher and his (ditto) poet wife the inexaggerable (?) importance of one writer for English, I found myself saying (with lots of help from my hands): You know when you’re making a pot you put it on a wheel, you make it round, and then you put it in the fire and it gets hard? It was the same with English, and the fire was Shakespeare.