Shopping in Wales: what’s afoot?

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A Twitter user from Swansea has today discovered a strange physical benefit of being able to speak Welsh in Wales, namely the ability to walk to the shops quicker than Anglophones!

That, of course leaves one question unanswered, i.e are bilingual Welsh and English speakers blessed with dual speed perambulation? 😉

Photo shows 2 minutes' discrepancy between Welsh and English signage

Next time folks, remember to proof the copy for consistency and accuracy!

Currywurst reaches 70

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Although I graduated over 4 decades ago, I still look back with fondness on the days of my modern languages degree.

One of the absolute requirements for the award of the degree was a compulsory period of residence in countries where the languages being studied were used.

In my instance this involved 5 months’ residency in both Perpignan (France) and Saarbrücken (Germany).

While in Germany, I became acquainted with what would now be called German street food, including the currywurst.

Currywurst

Currywurst typically consists of a bratwurst cut into slices and seasoned with curry ketchup, a sauce based on spiced ketchup or tomato paste, itself topped with curry powder, or a ready-made ketchup seasoned with curry and other spices.

It’s often served with chips.

The currywurst reaches the grand of age of 70 this year.

Here’s its history in brief.

Herta Heuwer had been running a snack stall in Berlin’s Charlottenburg district since summer 1949. There wasn’t much happening on 4th September, so she had time to experiment. She mixed freshly chopped paprika, paprika powder, tomato purée and spices together. The she poured the whole lot over a fried, chopped sausage. The currywurst had been invented.

Herta Heuwer subsequently gave her business the address of “The world’s 1st currywurst cookshop” and had the word trade mark “Chillup” (a contraction of chilli and ketchup) registered for her sauce.

You can’t eat a proper original currywurst any more, because Herta Heuwer took the recipe to the grave with her in 1999. In 2003 a memorial plaque was put up at the former site of her snack bar. According to the German Currywurst Museum in Berlin over 800 million currywurst are consumed every year in Germany.

To mark this culinary anniversary the Berlin State Mint has issued a commemorative coin.

Currywurst coin front

This commemorative coin is the sixth of a series of anniversary issues which the city mint started in 2004 and is limited to a production run of 2,500.

West Oxfordshire – first sighting of Brexit unicorn?

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Former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron will go down as one of the UK’s worst peacetime Prime Ministers.

In a bid to solve a decades-old breach in his party caused by xenophobes, racists and Europhobes, he organised an “in-out referendum” on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.

Once the referendum came up with the wrong result, Cameron immediately ran away and left others to clear up the mes he left behind, a process at which his successor Theresa May and her ministers have failed spectacularly and serially, highlighting the shallowness of the Tory Party talent pool.

My brother and his family have the misfortune to live in “Call Me Dave” Cameron’s former constituency of Witney.

Even though his Witney constituency voted to remain in the EU in the MP’s disastrous referendum, there might just be changes afoot.

A unicorn, a supposedly mythical beast, with which supporters of remaining in the EU mock the extravagant and totally unreal promises made by the Leave campaign, has appeared in one of Witney’s main shopping streets, as photographed yesterday by your ‘umble scribe.

a papier maché unicorn spotted in Witney Oxon

An odd stance. What’s the beast trying to do?

The reason for the unicorn’s unusual stance is unknown.

Terminology still a mystery to Auntie

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The BBC has long boasted of the quality of its English.

However, its reputation fort linguistic excellence has started to look very tarnished in recent years. One particular area of concern is the BBC’s failure to use the correct terminology when referring to those who work with languages (posts passim).

Since I first wrote about this seven years ago, very little seems to have changed, as shown today by a news story posted today by a reporter with BBC Newcastle concerning the quality of language services provided to the police and courts by ITL North East Ltd. of Gateshead.

It starts off on the wrong foot, with the headline proclaiming: “Translators were ‘not qualified’ for police interview work“.

Translators don’t do interview work, said my mind, unless they’re working from transcripts!

The first paragraph, however, manages to get the terminology correct:

Unqualified police interpreters have cost the public thousands of pounds by causing court delays and in one instance the collapse of a case, the BBC has learned*.

The error in the headline in repeated further down the piece, as follows:

In addition to Northumbria Police, it provided translators for interviews with the Durham and Cleveland forces.

As regards the quality of the interpreters provided the piece details several cases where unqualified interpreters had caused trials to collapse and unnecessary expenditure to be incurred. For instance, one so-called interpreter couldn’t explain the police caution in full to a suspect.

In another instance, an “interpreter” who had just been in the country for 3 months before being recruited. She freely admitted not being able to understand everything a police officer said in an interview with a suspect.

Since the evidence of poor quality work came to light, Northumbria Police requested a full audit of the qualifications held by all interpreters registered with ITL North East Ltd.

The BBC should follow Northumbria Police’s example and audit the liguistic abilities of their reporters.

For those reporters who still don’t understand the difference between translators and interprwters, I would refer them once again to my handy illustrated guide from 2013 (posts passim).

* = As regards the phrase “the BBC has learnt…”, it has been pointed on social media out that this story was first broken the satirical magazine Private Eye over a year ago. Do keep up Auntie!

The ultimate cheese toastie?

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Earlier this week, Bristol City Council’s licensing committee voted to ban the sale of toasted cheese sandwiches in a north Bristol park due to concerns about anti-social behaviour (posts passim).

Whilst doing background research for that post, your correspondent discovered what must count as the world’s ultimate cheese toastie, particularly if the main metrological criterion for the snack’s assessment is its cholesterol content.

Enjoy! 😀

Desperately seeking Vivian

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One of the more interesting aspects of running a website is dealing with stuff that the ordinary visitor doesn’t see, both the bad (spam comments posted by bots) and the good.

As regards the latter, read on.

For instance, over Christmas I was contacted by a gentleman who’d attended Avonvale Road School (posts passim) in the 1960s as a primary pupil and wrote to me to see if I could update him on its fate.

Unfortunately, I had to tell him that the buildings he knew had been demolished to make way for the modern school that now occupies the site.

Earlier this week I was contacted via this site by Louise Allum, sister of the late Viv, who was on our BA Modern Languages course in Wolverhampton.

Louise read my write-up of the last reunion* (posts passim).

Louise was wondering if any of her fellow students from the course had any photos from their student days featuring her, which they would be willing to share in some form as she has no pictures of her from that era.

If any of my former BAML colleagues happen to read this and can help out, please get in touch and I’ll put you in contact with Louise.

* = In the course of trying to help out Louise, I got hold of a fellow alumnus and received the news that the next reunion is in the early planning stages.

Cheese toastie shocker

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Yesterday’s online version of the Bristol Post (now renamed Bristol Live. Ed.) carried a shocking item about a hitherto unknown catalyst for violence: the toasted cheese sandwich.

According to the Post, this humble snack may not be served at a proposed catering concession in Monk’s Park in Bristol’s Southmead district “amid fears a proposed hot food van could attract booze-fuelled anti-social behaviour and motorbike gangs“.

The Post continues:

Councillors have agreed to grant a provisional licence for cold food, such as ice cream, and tea and coffee in Monk’s Park, Biddestone Road.

But the vendor would be barred from selling hot snacks following dozens of objections from residents, a ward councillor and the headteacher of a nearby secondary school.

A provoker of violence, accompanied by tomato soup.

A provoker of violence, accompanied by not quite so provocative tomato soup. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

However, the fear of violent behaviour was not the only concern for banning hot food: councillors on the city council’s public safety and protection committee also feared children from the next-door school would be tempted to skip lessons due to the lure of grilled fermented curd.

Following the committee’s decision the concession will now be put out to tender.

However, the story does not end there. When your correspondent posted about the article on Twitter, one person to respond was local artist Dru Marland, whose response about fermented curd addiction was hilarious.

XDru's tweet reads they start 'em on Dairylea slices, and before you know it they're mugging pensioners for their next fix of Stinking Bishop

For a more complete understanding of the violence-inducing properties of cheese, I should have asked the committee about their opinions of more exotic varieties of fermented curd, such as Roquefort or Graviera, but pressure of time dictated otherwise. 🙂

Update: Not forty-eight hours after Bristol was opened to national and international ridicule over this affair, Bristol Live reports that residents of Bristol’s Cotham district have branded a hot food catering van an “appalling idea“. You couldn’t make this stuff up!

Morrisons – bottom of the class in Welsh

It’s always good to see Welsh being promoted in Wales.

However, it does help if one uses a professional translator and native Welsh speaker before committing any money to doing works on the ground.

This has clearly not been done by supermarket chain Morrisons with the car park markings shown below at its supermarket car park in Caernarfon.

picture showing bilingual no entry markings with incorrect Welsh wording

Picture courtesy of Richard Jones (@lluniarich)

The error was brought to the attention of non-Welsh speakers by Twitter user Rhysew, who tweeted

C’mon @Morrisons, sort this out! Your Welsh translates as “Arse record” Correct it as DIM MYNEDIAD.

screenshot of tweet

This is not the first time Anglophone companies have treated Welsh – a far older language than English – with the respect it deserves.

Most recently, there was comedy train operating company First Great Western, which will have no Welsh language announcements on its services between South Wales and London (even though it manages to embrace both Welsh and English train announcements at Newport station. Ed.)

Last year there was also Santander, which seems to have problems with Welsh customers expecting transactions in the vernacular despite having a clear Welsh language policy.

In the meantime, would any Welsh-speaking reader care to ask Morrisons if the “arse record” will be available on vinyl. 😉

Post exclusive: fire brigade incident at non-existent tower block

One thing is certain about life in Bristol: it’s quite unlike living anywhere else and can sometimes be well beyond the borders of the surreal.

This feeling is enhanced by reading the Bristol Post, city’s newspaper of (warped) record.

Just skimming casually through the Post website, readers may easily miss some real exclusives, such as this fire brigade incident reported yesterday by Heather Pickstock, who is alleged to be the paper’s North Somerset reporter.

As shown in the screenshot above, Ms Pickstock informs readers as follows in this fine piece of creative writing:

screenshot of part of article

Crews from Southmead, Temple, Kingswood, Hicks Gate, Bedminster and Pill were called at 9.46pm yesterday to reports of smoke billowing from the sixth floor of a high rise block a Littlecroft House, Pip Street, Eastville.

There’s just one thing wrong with the above sentence: it’s completely incorrect; there’s no Pip Street in Eastville and no high rise block called Littlecroft House either.

A research technique known to ordinary mortals, but not to Ms Pickstock, affectionately known as “5 minutes’ Googling” reveals there’s a a council tower block called Little Cross House in Phipps Street, Southville, a good four miles across the city from Eastville.

The Bristol area can breathe a sigh of relief that Ms Pickstock does not work as a call handler on the 999 emergency switchboard. 😉

French IT website praises LibreOffice 6

Yesterday French IT website Le Monde Informatique posted a review of the free and open source LibreOffice 6 office suite.

LibreOffice 6 splash screen

Author Michael Ansaldo speaks warmly of the office suite your ‘umble scribe has been using since its inception in 2010, following the mass departure of OpenOffice.org developers from Sun Microsystems following its takeover by Oracle.

Translated into English, Ansaldo’s final paragraph reads as follows:

In summary, amongst the notable features of LibreOffice 6, we note its excellent compatibility with the [Microsoft] Office formats, as well as an interface that will not disorientate the aficionados of Microsoft’s office suite. Nevertheless, some features are lacking, such as integrated cloud storage or even joint real-time editing. Anyway, LibreOffice 6 is still the best choice for open source fans and all those wanting compatibility with Office without buying Microsoft Office. Its availability for multiple platforms and its frequent updates also make it a clear choice for individuals and businesses.

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