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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Language

Wednesday July 23 2014

Bizarre day today, and am only now shoving whatever I can think of to shove up.

I went trawling through the photo-archives, and came up with this weird selfie shot from 2006:

image

Two cameras I no longer use.  My previous pregnant-out-the-back telly.  Some book about Something For Dummies.

The word didn’t exist, but that didn’t stop me, or stop me from photoing others doing it.

Tuesday June 24 2014

I will go on saying that the tower, as featured in all these photos that I recently photoed, ...:

image imageimage image

... should be called the Spray Can, until everyone is calling it the Spray Can.  Or the Spraycan, that’s optional.

Or until someone comes up with an (even) better name.

But meanwhile, what shall we call the ”Salesforce” Tower?

image

The new name should please the residents but piss off Salesforce, for renaming towers all over the damn place, and make them wish they hadn’t attempted this in London.  Salesfuck.  Something along those lines.  Not good enough, because too profane to be printed in regular newspapers.  Salesfarce?  Failsforce?  Close enough to Salesforce to make the connection.  But insulting.  To Salesforce.  The obvious thing would be to just carry on calling it the Heron Tower, but I don’t think that will punish these Salesfuckers nearly enough.  Their stupid name needs to be dragged audibly through the mud.

In case you are wondering, yes I am still a libertarian.  Capitalism, hurrah!  But the thing is, when you complain about a business doing something really annoying, there’s quite a decent chance they may stop, or at least, if they persist, be commercially punished.  At the very least there is a decent chance you can make whoever did whatever it was squirm a little, and generally be made a bit of a prat of.  When you complain about the government, there is much less chance of any such good stuff happening.  No way will you get, e.g., refund.  Just another bill to clean up whatever the original mess was.

So, complaints against capitalism are rewarded, by capitalism.  Complaints against governments are not rewarded nearly so much, by governments or by anything else.

So guess which, in defiance of all sanity, you get more of.

That’s quite profound, I think.  (This is why I like tangenting.  See below.)

City A.M. is now one of my go-to places first thing, and there I read today:

Transport for London (TfL) will be introducing screens displaying how many people are sitting upstairs and which seats are available, in a trial system to begin in two weeks.

The display screens will be situated next to the driver as people board the bus and between the driver and the staircase before passengers go upstairs.

I am struck by two electronic sign innovations that have already arrived on the London transport scene.

There are those invaluable signs at bus stops, telling you what is due, when, and where it will go.  The only problem with these signs is that not every bus stop has them.  I know, I know, you can crank up the bus app on your mobile.  But I prefer not to have to bother, and anyway, that’s a lot of fuss just for a bus.  (Note the vagiaries of the spelling there.)

And the other innovation, much more recent, is those little signs that tell pedestrians - i.e. me - how many seconds will elapse before the pedestrian sign will be turning red.  Very helpful.  I don’t want to freak out motorists by getting in their way, but nor do I want to neglect an opportunity to cross if I can do so without freaking out the motorists.  These latest signs tell me what I need to know.  And it’s amazing how far you can travel in three seconds, if you know that three seconds is all that you have, but that you definitely do have three seconds.

So, will these new sign inside buses be any use?  Judging by earlier TfL electronic signage efforts, my guess is yes.

(More rhyming fun with esses (?) there.  It could so easily have been and gues and yess.  And before that, fus and buss.  (Does such tangenting pis you off?  (And are you fed up with this multiple bracket gag? (This, I think, being the record.))))

As politically controlled entities go, TfL is not too shabby, although goodness knows what it costs.  Especially given that they are now dragging their feet (which is all it will take for Uber to get truly motoring in London) when it comes to crushing Uber.  It’s the same mentality, d’you think?  TfL likes electronic signage, whether the signs are public or personal.  Could be.  Do you think the next thing will be big public Uber signs that you can use to whistle up cheap and cheerful transport, if you don’t have a mobile on you? Again: could be.

Monday June 16 2014

Indeed:

image

Taken by?  No prizes for guessing who.  Country?  “Poland/Georgia”.  Date?  “Jan/Feb” of this year.  That’s what it said in the email.

Thursday June 05 2014

About every other day Google sends me news of Emmanuel Todd, news in French.  Sometimes it is news of him talking on video, in French.  I can just about order a croissant in a French shop, but that’s as far as my French goes.

So, imagine my delight on learning about this video, of Emmanuel Todd talking … in English!

What he is saying is that the different family systems of Europe mean that the different nations of Europe are politically incompatible, and accordingly that the Euro is doomed.  Worth a watch, if that kind of thing interests you.  In particular, the way that the Euro is putting Germany in charge of France is not at all what the French elite had in mind, and this means that sooner or later the French will have to dump the Euro.  But first, their elite has to explain why it made this hideous blunder in the first place.  Because dumping the Euro would mean admitting they should never have done it in the first place.

Tim Evans recently gave a talk to the End of the World Club (silly name, great talks) about politics, David Cameron’s politics in particular.  He said that Cameron has no problem with Britain leaving the EU, while he remains Prime Minister.  Sure enough, about two days later, an email from Tim arrives, complete with the link, saying: And so it starts ...

Moments intéressant.

Wednesday May 28 2014

Goddaughter 2 is at the very early, tadpole stage of becoming an opera star.  She has already been identified as possessing operatic superpowers, but there are, of course, many obstacles for her still to overcome.  So, fingers crossed.

This summer she will be performing at a Festival in Belle-Île, which is off the south coast of Brittany.  Her family, who live in Brittany, are kindly including me in their expedition to see and hear GD2 in action.

Obviously, there is a Festival website, and equally obviously it is basically a French thing, but it also supplies an English translation:

Welcome to the Festival lyrique international de Belle-Île-en-Mer.

With much excitement, the preparations for our 2014 season are well underway, with artists from all over the world preparing to travel to Belle-Île to rehearse and perform two dramatic masterpieces, Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.  Meanwhile the Festival Choir is busy rehearsing Haydn’s sublime oratorio The Creation, heard for the first time on the island.  There will be an orchestral Mozart evening, the ever-popular Ad Libitum gala concert, early-evening recitals by our young artists at the Café Bleu in Sauzon, and a series of masterclasses.

As the excitement builds, we hope you will join our festival family, and be a part of this rich, unique and inspiring season.

Which is fine.  But before reading that, on account of having not at first realised that they offered their own English version of the above, I accepted an offer from a little window at the top right of my screen to do a translation of the French original of the above, with some sort of mechanised-computerised process.

It went like this:

Welcome to the International Opera Festival of Belle-Ile-en-Mer.

The preparations for the 2014 season are progressing well, with joyful excitement.  Artists from around the world are preparing to come to Belle-Ile to rehearse and perform two masterpieces lyric, Leoncavallo Pagliacci and Gianni Schicchi by Puccini which will be donated to Arletty room.  Meanwhile the choir festival works and repeats Creation, sublime oratorio by Haydn, which will be given for the first time on the island, in the churches and the Cathedral of Vannes.  Also on the program, the Citadelle Vauban, an orchestral concert of Mozart and the ever popular concert Ad Libitum.  Finally, two concerts of our talents in the late afternoon at Café Bleu in Sauzon and a week of master classes. 

While riding the excitement, we hope you will join the family of opera festival and be this rich season unique and exciting.

Which I prefer.  It’s actually not that bad.  Most of the mistakes seem to consist of getting words in the order wrong.

The Salle Arletty is mentioned in the original French version, so it also gets a mention in the mechanised English version as a place to which musical performances will be donated.

For the original French version, go here.

My family used to go on holidays to the southern coast of Brittany when I was small, to a place from which you could see Belle-Île, but we never actually visited it.  Expect Belle-Île photos here, when all this happens.  Are you already riding the excitement?

Monday May 26 2014

Whenever I am hit by a question about modern life, I generally get better answers from my tiny band of readers than I do by merely googling.

Today’s question is: What are “chinos”?  I missed it when chinos first arrived, and since that moment of arrival, at which point presumably chinos were explained, nobody has taken the time to explain chinos to me.

What is the difference between chinos and long trousers.  According to this website:

Designed for the British and French military in the mid-19th century, chinos were originally called khakis and are made from a twill fabric usually in cotton.

A “twill” fabric?  What the hell is that?

So, I’m guessing that they stopped calling them “khakis” because they wanted to be allowed to change the colour, and khaki is a colour as well as a style of clothing.

Also, is there any connection with China?

It was like this for me at school.  I kept getting left behind by, you know, things, and then when I asked, people would laugh at me.  But if you don’t ask, how will you ever learn?

I think what the laughers were trying to prove to me was that I was not as clever as they thought I thought I was.  But cleverness is not knowing stuff already all the time.  It’s knowing that you don’t know it and knowing how to find it out, and understanding it once you have found out.  And the way to find things out is to ask.

“Laugher” doesn’t feel like a word, does it?  Laughter (larfter) yes, but laugher (larfer), not so much.  But according to google, laugher is a word.  However, my blogging software puts a squiggly red line under laugher, so it doesn’t think laugher is a word.  But then again, my blogging software puts a squiggly red line under “google”, and that’s definitely a word.

Monday April 07 2014

The English language is strange.

Consider this.  We’re talking football, not something we often do here, but we are.

Suppose one of us says: “Liverpool are back.” This means that Liverpool, as in the single club Liverpool, is now doing very well, and much better than they have been doing for the last couple of decades or so.  Which it is.  Top of the Premier League as of now.

But suppose someone says: “Liverpool is back.” It would be clear from that remark that what is meant is that the entire city of Liverpool is on the up-and-up, footballwise.  And it is.  Both Liverpool (the club) and Everton, the other big club in Liverpool, are doing well just now.  And Everton … are.

So, “are” is singular, and “is” is plural.

Very singular.

In other soccer news, check out the new Spurs stadium that they are going to build, which is to be called the Naming Rights Stadium.

Prediction: Spurs will do surprisingly badly (i.e. they’ll be eleventh rather than seventh, their current default position) for the next few years.  Why?  Because of this syndrome.

Premier League soccer news
Two badly lit views of “Victoria Tower” and why Big Ben is not St Stephen’s Tower or Elizabeth Tower
Sorry for the outage last night
JK Rowling describes two rich girls
Boris Johnson’s London
Big Things on a better day
Comrade Blimp
Friend on telly
Sidwell (and me) on selfies
Fat bastard!
Heroes?
Hampers can be annoying
TIL
Monty Panesar: “I piss on your short pitched fast deliveries aimed at my body!”
The Alex Singleton blog
The right sentences but not necessarily in the right order
There are cranes and there are cranes
BMdotCOM mixed metaphor of the day
So painters also used to “take” pictures
The ups and downs of English
Kissa yrittää mennä laatikkoon
Literally the light switch of leadership
BMdotCOM Headline of the week
Thrashing India
Choosing a Clean Food Outlet in Lawas is as easy as ABC
Emmanuel Todd’s latest book - in English
Misspelt (correction: Italian) signs of the times
Multilingual signage
Excellent new word
Pronouncing on the Six Nations
BM.com quote of the day
More signage
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom spam comment spelling mistake of the day
The Humpty Dumpty Learning Channel
Obamanomics dod not work
English will not last for ever shock
Another strangely punctuated headline and a depressing television play
K Street - metonym - synecdoche
To Serve Man
Reading various bits of Roger Kimball
I flipping told him
Brian Sickle-feather?
Sounds like a brothel with film star lookalikes
One of the many signs of aging
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom modified cliche insult of the day
Stepping forward into the abyss!
Old-school media versus (or becoming) new-school media (again)
All your Quite Interesting questions answered
What a difference a g makes
Spelling Micklethwait wrong and Googling for Brian Micklethwaite
Inappropriate?
Long platform ticket
I am not drunk - I just didn’t know what to put so I just started
Some neologistics
Excellent mixed metaphor
I need to get out less
“I will cause a boy that driveth a plough to know more of the scriptures than thou dost.”
Metaphor muddle alert
Brought?
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
Computer blues
Signs of civilisation
It’s true what they say about how hard it is to pronounce Chinese – oh beansprouts!
New word alert
Robots will transform education
On the appeal or lack of it to Young Europeans of “capitalism”
When inimitable means very imitable
Today I ate something that disagreed with me
Refuting decimation