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Archive for the ‘Grammar & Linguistics’ Category

A good read

April 6, 2017 3 comments

I frequent the English/American section of the local public library, which offers an apparently random selection of novels of every genre. And a couple of weeks ago I spotted this – not a name I recognised -and gave it a try.

The story reveals the complications arising from the young lives of two brothers brought up near Calcutta; one of whom moves to New England.

I particularly enjoyed the author’s insights into relationships, expressed fluently and never dull, each character revealing their take on the dramatic events they experience.

I’ll be looking out for Jhumpa’s other titles.

It’s time for Basil to act

April 3, 2017 24 comments

Yes, the charmingly slow Iberians are in need of a good slap. Poor dears, they’re mixing up their ideas even more than usual. So let’s help them to behave, shall we?

They don’t believe in self-determination for their regions – or anybody else’s. Or do they? OK, they now think Scotland deserves the chance. Fine. But Gibraltar still doesn’t.

Que?

Try to keep up

March 13, 2017 6 comments

I realised how out of touch I am when one of my young clan emailed me on my birthday, ‘Haps baps Gramps!’ A swift google informed that’s how the incrowd say it these days.

But senility apart, I’ve always been fascinated by dialect expressions, from Cockney slang to common or garden terms. All my grandparents (b. 1878 – 80) used them constantly. ‘Be said!’ ‘It’s a new gansey.’ ‘Give it some elbow grease!’ ‘I’ve got it fast here.’ ‘They’re gilli flowers.’ ‘Give me a dollop o’ that.’ It’s really taters out.’

Still awake? OK – show me yours!

 

That’s the spirit – or is it?

March 10, 2017 23 comments

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/03/09/brain-activity-can-continue-10-minutes-death-new-study/

Who or what is the entity known as ‘I’? The whole composite of mind and body? Or just the persistent voice in ‘my’ head that tries to deal with the rest? And how do ‘my’ deep-sleep dreams fit into the definition you prefer? Thinkers down the ages have wrestled with the topic and supernaturalists have formulated conflicting explanations, leading to revolution and war. And now some new science will fuel the flames of the debate. There seems to be brain activity after ‘death’ as defined by accepted medical practice.

Does this persistent brain activity have any ‘purpose’? Is the owner ‘conscious’ of it? That is, what is it for, if anything? Or is it like the decapitated chicken that keeps on running? Or a turbine spinning after shut-down?

Fascinating, huh?

The so-called President

February 5, 2017 58 comments

donald-duck-trump

His VP says we are getting used to him ‘speaking his mind’. Well, yes, but there is a clear line between expressing an opinion based on facts and expressing an objection in derogatory terms (ad hominem). His latest jibe – the ‘so-called judge’ crosses that line.

This portrait catches admirably his other Donald Duck-like features.

Edgukayshun

January 2, 2017 8 comments

There’s a lot of noise about further education, its price and its value. Let’s not question the principle that studying a subject after school will be valuable, not as a substitute for eventual on-the-job training but as an intellectual challenge by way of preparation for work. Its price varies from country to country. Here in high-tax DK it’s free, as it was for Brits when I were a lad. Now in England somebody has to find £9k p.a. in fees (or thereabouts) and the cost of living on top. Loans, bursaries, etc. are available but it ain’t cheap for the average family to deal with.

But the meeja bang on about the demographic bias in universities – as if it’s a surprise. But have you looked at the mix in fee-paying schools? A lot of non-local children from the nations of the world.

So not surprisingly the top universities appear to be biassed towards the ‘home counties’. Sorry to say it but that’s because they and many of the top schools are there. Not all of course, before there’s an outbreak of under-collar heat! The brightest kids can be found everywhere but life is not an ‘equal opportunity’ experience.

Naturally, if you don’t believe in further education this whole issue is meaningless. But I do and it means  lot.

 

Spoonerism, anyone?

November 5, 2016 7 comments

The only examples we see tend to be vulgar or worse. The Rev himself however is quoted as uttering amusing confusions which did not depend on smut.

So do you know any new ones?

Coincidentally I saw  a real, live footie player today who rejoices in the name of Connor Wickham. So? you ask. Well, when spoonerised he is (yes) Wonnor Cickham! How appropriate, eh? OR he’s a NY chef with limited skills: Cinnor Wockham. Sorry.

So now it’s your turn. People are the best subjects. Laters…..

The Danes have a word for it

November 4, 2016 13 comments

The meeja are going on about it, hygge*, one of the year’s top ten words allegedly.

It’s funny how a common idea can become news. In this case the idea is already global. It’s what the British pub offers,  it’s what elderly denizens of Mediterranean villages enjoy at the taverna, it’s a family barbie in Oz. So why all the fuss this year? It can only be because some ‘opinion leaders’ have discovered a word to encapsulate the thought!

*So the Danes get credit for a Norwegian word pronounced hoo-guh.  But we’ll all stick to our own ways of doing it.

 

French

October 22, 2016 34 comments

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as francophile as the next man. M. Hulot is a hero, Bardot an icon, Paris the real deal. But like so many good things France is badly served by its people when the chips are down.

Remember Charles Le Nez? He’s the fella who decamped to London when les Boches invaded and returned home when the last shots had been fired, declaring he was the saviour of France. But he was the only European who believed it.

And now, when France faces a formidable force of British brains in the Battle of Brexit, what do les Froches do? They puff themselves up and bring out their most horrifying weapon, so often deployed against British tourists: Non speakee Eenglish.

It’s just the French way. Such self-belief! So divorced from reality! You have to admire them – or do you?

By any other name

September 24, 2016 9 comments

Stop calling it the Czech Republic! It’s Czechia! Just like Slovakia.

Yeah, right. And Holland? Or Taiwan? Or Belarus?  And Cologne? Or Calcutta! Not to say Copenhagen.

I know we can’t say Ayer’s Rock any more but p-lease! Potayto, potahto, tomayto, tomahto – who cares? Unless you want to talk about scones.