One fascinating aspect of the country’s foolhardy departure from the European Union is the fate of Britons in the 27 member states of the European Union; and more particularly how they are depicted here now that the “free and independent coastal state” of Brexitannia has “taken back control“.
Keen observers of the British media will note all foreigners seeking to come to the English Empire (which some refer to as the United Kingdom. Ed.) to settle are referred to as “migrants“. When used by the right-wing press or politicians, “migrants” has a clear pejorative tone to the effect that these people are not as good as us.
However, in line with British exceptionalism as Brits seeking to or having taken up residence abroad are termed “expats” by the fourth estate, as per this typical specimen from yesterday’s Daily Brexit, which some still call Daily Express.
Of course, what the Daily Brexit forgets is that even in Greece and Cyprus, holders of those nice, new and allegedly blue British passports will still be classed as third country citizens by the Greek and Cypriot authorities; and if they try staying there for longer than the maximum period without applying for a residence permit, they’ll be regarded as illegal immigrants, just as they are now finding out on the Costa del Sol.
“Expat” is of course a truncation of the term “expatriate“, with the shorter form’s first recorded use in the first half of the 1960s.
When people move for work, settlement or other reasons, the language used about them is always full of meaning. In earlier, less judgemental times those who left British shores to settle abroad might have been referred to as “émigrés” or “emigrants“, whilst those coming here for permanent settlement were “immigrants“, which had more than its fair share of negative connotations in times past.
Nowadays all those negative connotations are to a certain effect by “migrant“, which, unlike “immigrant” or “emigrant” is not specific about the person’s direction of travel.
Nevertheless, I can see the exceptionalism continuing and am not expecting the Daily Brexit to refer to Brits resident abroad as “British immigrants” at any time soon. 😉
PS: Apologies to Robert Browning for this post’s title.
Amazon was forced to apologise and blamed a “technical error” for a customer being unable to post a review in Welsh of a novel written in Welsh, Wales Online reports.
Cathryn Sherrington of Cardiff had submitted a Welsh Language review which she then translated to English of the book Lladd Duw, by Dewi Prysor.
The book is described by its publisher as a “hefty, ambitious novel set in London and an imaginery [sic] seaside town. It deals with the destruction of civilisation from the standpoint of the working class. An intense, dark novel but with the usual humour from Dewi Prysor.“
Cathryn’s review reads as follows:
Gwych Brilliant. I haven’t read a Welsh book for years – sometimes the formality of written Welsh puts me off – this is brilliant though.
Hawdd i ddarllen, stori gyffroes, cymeriadau diddorol. Wedi joio fo gymaint dwi’n mynd i ddarllen mwy o lyfrau Cymraeg.”
In English the review’s second sentence reads: “Easy to read, exciting story, interesting characters. Have enjoyed it so much I’m going to read more Welsh language books“.
However, Amazon which employs 1,000 people in Swansea, emailed Cathryn implying her review might have broken its guidelines.
There then followed a social media and email exchange between Cathryn and Amazon at the end of which the latter relented, stating: “This was due to a technical error for which we apologise. It has now been resolved.”
Walls made of stone blocks are not unknown in Bristol. Since medieval times the local grey Pennant sandstone has been a common building material, as in the wall shown below, which is situated in All Hallows Road in the Easton area.
Please note the second block down in the centre of the photograph; the purply-black one that isn’t Pennant sandstone.
It’s a by-product of a formerly common industry in Bristol and the surrounding area that only ceased in the 1920s – copper and brass smelting. Brass goods in particular were mass-produced locally and traded extensively, especially as part of the triangular trade during when Bristol grew rich on slavery.
Indeed it’s a block of slag left over from the smelting process. When brass working was a major industry in the Bristol area, the slag was often poured into block-shaped moulds and used as a building material when cooled and hardened.
Stone walls were frequently capped with a decorative slag coping stones, as can be seen below on one of the walls of Saint Peter & St Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Lower Ashley Road. Otherwise the blocks were just used like ordinary stone blocks in masonry as above. In some instances, the blocks have been used as vertical decorative features in masonry.
The finest example of the use of slag as a building material within the Bristol area is Brislington’s Grade I listed Black Castle pub (originally a folly. Ed.), where slag has been used extensively.
So if you see any slag blocks in a wall in Bristol, you can be sure it usually dates to the 18th or 19th century, more usually the latter, when Bristol underwent a massive expansion.
Moreover, these blocks are apparently referred to as “Bristol Blacks“.
There’s a link between Bristol’s brass industry and my home county of Shropshire in the shape of Abraham Darby I.
In 1702 local Quakers, including Abraham Darby, established the Baptist Mills brass works of the Bristol Brass Company not far from the site of today’s Greek Orthodox Church on the site of an old grist (i.e. flour) mill on the now culverted River Frome. The site was chosen because of:
- water-power from the Frome;
- both charcoal and coal were available locally;
- Baptist Mills was close to Bristol and its port;
- there was room for expansion (the site eventually covered 13 acres. Ed.).
In 1708-9 Darby leaves the Baptist Mills works and Bristol, moving to Coalbrookdale in Shropshire’s Ironbridge Gorge, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. In Coalbrookdale, Darby together with two business partners bought an unused iron furnace and forges. Here Darby eventually establishes a joint works – running copper, brass, iron and steel works side by side.
Below is the site of Darby’s furnace in Coalbrookdale today.
By contrast, here is what occupies the site of the brass works in Baptist Mills – junction 3 of the M32.
How many of us pay that much attention to road signs when out and about on our daily business on foot as pedestrians?
I mean really pay attention, not just to the instruction being given or the advice being offered by the road sign itself, but the actual words used.
Take the two examples below, both taken during this past week on the streets of Bristol. Both are on a part of the highway used by pedestrians and generally referred to by the general public as the pavement (on which more anon. Ed.). But which – if any – is the correct term? Are footways and footpaths the same?
To answer the second question first, no; they are not the same.
If there’s one thing many decades of being a linguist has taught me, it is that terminology is important – the correct word used in the right context.
One generally has be a legislator, highway engineer or transport campaigner to know the difference between a footway and a footpath.
Fortunately, it is clearly defined in legislation, in this case the Highways Act 1980, which provides the following definitions:
“footpath” means a highway over which the public have a right of way on foot only, not being a footway;
“footway” means a way comprised in a highway which also comprises a carriageway, being a way over which the public have a right of way on foot only.
In addition, Cheshire East Council provides the following information on its webpage entitled “What Are Public Rights of Way?“
You should be careful to distinguish between ‘public footpaths’ and ‘footways’. Pavements beside public roads are not public footpaths – it is better to refer to them as footways or simply pavements.
Footways are not recorded on the Definitive Map as Public Rights of Way. A footway is really a part of the main highway which has been set apart for pedestrians.
Nevertheless, a caveat needs to be added to the clause where Cheshire East Council advises that “it is better to refer to them as footways or simply pavements“.
The caveat is that there’s a world of difference between what “pavement” denotes to ordinary mortals and professionals such as civil and highway engineers: for the former it’s the footway; for the latter more specialised use, Britannica gives the following definition:
Pavement, in civil engineering, durable surfacing of a road, airstrip, or similar area. The primary function of a pavement is to transmit loads to the sub-base and underlying soil.
Who would have thought two words on two such simple temporary road signs deployed for road works could be such a terminological minefield? 😉
In the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, Welsh children who used their native tongue in schools were subject to a particular form of punishment and humiliation – the Welsh Not.
The Welsh Not (also Welsh Knot, Welsh Note, Welsh Stick, Welsh Lead or Cwstom) was an item used in Welsh schools in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries to stigmatise and punish children using the Welsh language, according to Wikipedia.
Typically “The Not” was a piece of wood, a ruler or a stick, often inscribed with “WN“. On any schoolday, it was given to be worn round the neck to the first pupil to be heard speaking Welsh. When another child was heard using Welsh, “The Not” was passed to the new offender: and on it went. Pupils were encouraged to inform on their classmates. The pupil in possession of “The Not” at the end of the lesson, school day or week – depending on the school – received additional punishment besides the initial shaming and humiliation.
In recent times the Welsh Not seems to have transformed from being a physical object to a mental one, but one that is nevertheless still used to stigmatise speakers of one of the country’s oldest languages – one that was already old when Old English (which some call Anglo-Saxon. Ed.) first became established as England’s common tongue.
The persistence of stigmatisation is just one matter covered in a Metro opinion piece by Lowri Llewelyn entitled Why the Welsh language deserves respect not ridicule.
Looking specifically at stigmatisation, Lowri, who learned Welsh as a child and grew up in a bilingual household, writes:
I can’t count how many times English folk have jeered about my ‘dead language’.
At least it wasn’t referred to as “gibberish“, Lowri!
To reinforce her point, she continues:
Fuelled by anti-Welsh sentiment from England, the Welsh even came to oppress and disrespect themselves.
Lowri concludes by pointing out some of the encouraging signs of a renewed interest in Welsh.
For instance, in recent times Welsh has become the fastest growing language in the UK on the Duolingo language learning platform. One explanation might be a renewed interest in the cultures and history of the nations that make up Great Britain, given the severe restrictions on foreign travel imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
For many years the garage sitting at the apex of the junction of Russelltown Avenue, Cannon Street and Whitehall Road in BS5 has featured a changing sequence of slogans painted by Stan Jones, who lives in the house to which the garage belongs.
It was 2017 when I first noticed it and, at that time, it focussed on the madness of Brexit.
In 2019 its message was still focussed on Brexit but had been repainted to featur the wording “Buck Foris” (fine use of a Spoonerism there. Ed.) and “Fromage not Farage“, so I think it’s fair to say Stan is not impressed with the right-leaning part of what passes for Britain’s political class.
In 2019 Stan’s efforts accidentally suffered the attentions of Bristol City Council’s fight against graffit. There was, however, a happy outcome as Stan received an apology and some paint from the corporation, as the Bristol Post reported at the time.
Below is Stan’s latest contribution, which really needs no further comment from me.
On a rare excursion into town, I happened to notice that Castlemead, the city’s tallest office block, is currently undergoing a refurbishment and is surrounded by site hoardings which have the usual aspirational developer’s blurb splashed across it, as can be seen below.
Besides being the new benchmark, the refurbisher’s website describes Castlemead as follows:
Castlemead is a city landmark office building and offers high quality refurbished open plan accommodation from 3,450 – 11,128 sq ft and the UK’s First Platinum Plus 100 Cyclingscore Accredited facilities.
With 360 panoramic views over Bristol’s cityscape and Castlepark [sic] and with the Cabot Circus regional shopping, dining and leisure destination on your doorstep, why locate your business anywhere else?
Nevertheless, a quick glance at the images chosen to illustrate this landmark office building’s quality reveals one glaringly obvious fact.
This quality is only available to white people. All the figures shown are invariably Caucasian. There’s not a BAME face to be seen anywhere either on the site’s hoardings or in the CGIs used on the dedicated website.
According to the city council’s website, 16% of the city’s population of 463,400 persons belongs to a black or minority ethnic group. That’s over 74,000 people.
When will developers realise and start to portray a more accurate picture of our city in their very expensive fantasy doodlings?
After all, this is not the first time the absence of non-white faces from new Bristol property developments has been pointed out. It is a phenomenon that was first highlighted back in 2009 by a fellow local blogger.
One would have expected the city’s major property moguls to have learned something by now and made a start on accurately portraying all the kinds of people in the city who will ultimately be occupying their benchmark and landmark buildings.
Sadly, nothing appears to have changed.
After Wales’ 21-13 decisive victory in yesterday’s Six Nations rugby fixture in Cardiff, Traffig Cymru, the Welsh Government’s traffic information service, couldn’t resist having a bit of fun on Twitter at the expense of the England squad and English rugby fans.
I wonder if the chariot had been rescued by a band of angels before Mr Plod had a chance to find it… 😀
Gloucestershire Live is a sister title of the Bristol Post/Bristol Live and as such provides a similar mediocre quality of journalism to its
Yesterday, it shook off that veil of mediocrity – albeit briefly – as its website published an item confirming what many believed concerning the main politics news story of the week: the exit of right-wing MPs from the Labour Party to form a breakaway group, as shown in the screenshot below.
My Gloucestershire friends have this morning confirmed via social media that as far as the governance of the county is concerned, politics inevitably equals the Conservatives and the Blue Team dominate what is effectively a de facto one-party state.
Hat tip: Westengland.
In Ireland, any predominantly Irish-speaking area is known as a Gaeltacht (plural: Gaeltachtaí). The island’s Gaeltachtaí are shown in green on the map below.
The green-shaded area beneath the Dingle Peninsula is the Iveragh Peninsula (Irish: Uíbh Ráthach) in County Kerry and an interesting appointment has just been made here.
Yesterday Irish broadcaster RTE reported that a Russian had been appointed as an Irish language officer there and would be leading efforts to revive the Irish language there.
Victor Bayda, a native of Moscow, has taken up the post with Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh, a community organisation in the south Kerry Gaeltacht of Uíbh Ráthach.
Mr Bayda is a fluent Irish speaker and has been teaching it in Moscow for about fifteen years. In addition to Irish, Mr Bayda also speaks Dutch, Scots Gaelic, Welsh, Swedish, French, German and Icelandic.
His duties in his new post will include implementing a comprehensive language plan aimed at arresting the decline of the language on the peninsula, where 60% of the residents claim the ability to speak Irish.
According to the 2016 Irish census, just 7% of the Gaeltacht population speak Irish daily outside the education system.
Mr Bayda becomes the tenth Irish language planning officer to be appointed so far in Gaeltacht areas.
In 2017, Victor posted the video below on Youtube.