Monthly Archives: July 2017

  • Mr Gove pays a visit

    Yesterday the BBC reported on the visit of DEFRA Minister Michael Gove (the man who, when Education Secretary, wanted all schools to be “above average”. Ed.) to the Antrim Show in the company of DUP MPs Paul Girvan and Ian Paisley.

    The DUP are of course the minority Conservative government’s new best friends, having bribed them with £1.5 bn. from the “magic money tree” (© Prime Minister Theresa May) to prop it up in crucial parliamentary votes.

    Whilst courting his party’s new best pals in the DUP, Gove managed at the same time to snub half of the Northern Irish electorate by pulling out of a meeting with Sinn Féin at the last minute.

    However, the BBC fails to make mention of the sterling groundwork done by DEFRA civil servants in communicating the pre-visit wisdom of the Minister to the local media. In this context we should be grateful to Belfast freelance journalist Amanda Ferguson for posting the following on her Twitter account.

    shot of Defra statement for Gove's Antrim visit mentioning Welsh lamb

    No, you didn’t misread the above. Gove mentioned Welsh lamb, a product with a protected food name, the implication of this being that he believes this fine product from west of Offa’s Dyke actually comes from even further west from over the Irish Sea.

    One has to wonder whether Mr Gove could find his backside with both hands with such a poor grasp of geography. It was evidently not a subject at which he excelled at Aberdeen’s independent Robert Gordon’s Academy, to which he won a scholarship.

    For your ‘umble scribe this is yet further proof that the government in Westminster and their sidekicks, the mandarins in Whitehall, care little for anywhere in the country outside the M25 and the metropolitan commuter belt and tend to view the devolved regions of the United Kingdom and the English regions too as little more than colonies of London and therefore ripe for exploitation and patronising treatment.

  • Ambiguity

    Throughout my professional life, writing so that one’s meaning is clear and there is no room for misinterpretation has been of paramount importance.

    However, writing without ambiguity is a skill that’s evidently bypassed those who currently write the news headlines for Yahoo’s UK website…

    caption to news story reads bride-to-be shot dead by police in her pyjamas

    Enquiries are continuing as to how the cops came to be in the woman’s pyjamas in the first place. 😀

  • Tidy Barton Hill

    Bristol Clean Streets logoYesterday, along with Kurt James, Bristol City Council’s co-ordinator for the Bristol Clean Streets campaign, and local resident Eric Green, I joined a group of volunteers from Tawfiq Mosque in Barton Hill (usually rendered as “Bart Nil” in the local vernacular. Ed.😉 ) for a community litter pick.

    Starting at 10.30 in the morning, we split into 6 groups and tackled six different parts of the area for the next 2 hours, picking up litter and noting any larger, fly-tipped items for reporting later.

    While picking, we did get passers-by thanking us for our efforts, but ultimately I’m sure all those taking part would prefer it if our fellow citizens didn’t mess the area up in the first place. 😀

    It was a successful event and I was most encouraged by the cheerful enthusiasm and commitment of those involved. The photo below shows just some of the stuff we collected.

    litter pickers and litter picked
    Some of the litter picked up assembled at the Urban Park collection point.

    Your correspondent understands the mosque plans to make this a regular event. If so, I’ll try and get along again to assist.

    In the meantime, if you spot a problem on a Bristol street, be it an abandoned vehicle, litter, fly-tipping, a blocked drain or anything else, please report it to the council for attention.

  • Child superheroes launch campaign against litter

    Superheroes picture
    Photo courtesy of Bristol City Council
    Local ‘superhero’ schoolchildren are the stars of a new publicity campaign to reduce litter in Bristol.

    As part of Mayor Marvin Rees’ Clean Streets campaign, children from schools across Bristol have been taking part in litter picks to improve their neighbourhoods and now they’re encouraging all Bristolians to do their bit by not dropping litter in the first place.

    Each year Bristol Waste Company collects 3,700 tonnes of litter from the city’s streets, not including rubbish that is fly-tipped or residents’ residual waste. That’s equivalent to the weight of over 290 double-decker buses.

    Chesney, one of the children taking part in the campaign, has been helping with the clean-up as he felt sad at seeing litter in the park. “You try to make a difference but then people just litter again, and it’s like a consistent circle.” says Chesney.

    Taking inspiration from these youngsters, the council is asking everyone in Bristol to help keep the city clean. The message is simple: Use a bin or take your litter with you.

    Find out more at

  • Day against DRM

    Defective by Design buttonToday, Sunday 9th July, is the Day against DRM.

    DRM is the software that comes bolted to your digital media and computerised devices and tries to police your behaviour. The major media companies are its masters, and they justify it as a necessary evil to prevent file sharing.

    However, it does more than that and also does worse than that: DRM gives its owners power over our cars, medical devices, phones, computers and more; in addition, it opens a deep crack in our digital rights and freedoms – a crack will only get wider and more dangerous as our societies continue to interweave with technology.

    I support the global campaign led by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) to raise the awareness of issues related to the so-called Digital Rights Management software. As any other proprietary technology, DRM is killing user freedom of choice and should therefore always be avoided.

    For more details, see Defective by Design’s dedicated Day Against DRM page.

  • IATE reaches double figures

    As a linguist one of the great developments in the way I work has been the development of online resources in recent years.

    These vary from dictionaries to terminological databases and it’s one of the latter that this post is about.

    Last week, IATE celebrated its tenth anniversary of being accessible to the public and proudly publicised its entry into double figures.

    screenshot of IATE website celebrating 10 years

    As can be seen from the screenshot IATE is short for InterActive Terminology for Europe; and it’s a great resource. Searches can be conducted in language pairs from the following languages:

    • Bulgarian
    • Czech
    • Danish
    • German
    • Greek
    • English
    • Spanish
    • Finnish
    • French
    • Irish
    • Croatian
    • Hungarian
    • Italian
    • Latin
    • Lithuanian
    • Latvian
    • Maltese
    • Dutch
    • Polish
    • Portuguese
    • Romanian
    • Slovak
    • Slovenian
    • Swedish

    Searches can also be refined by picking specialist subject areas from, for example, accounting to the wood industry.

    It’s a particularly good resource for terminology involving the European institutions, political matters and international relations in general, but is also no slouch when it comes to specific terms for, say, forestry.

    History & background

    IATE is the EU’s inter-institutional terminology database. IATE has been used in the EU institutions and agencies since summer 2004 for the collection, dissemination and shared management of EU-specific terminology. The project partners are:

    • European Commission
    • European Parliament
    • Council of Ministers
    • Court of Justice
    • Court of Auditors
    • Economic & Social Committee
    • Committee of the Regions
    • European Central Bank
    • European Investment Bank
    • Translation Centre for the Bodies of the EU

    The project was launched in 1999 with the objective of providing a web-based infrastructure for all EU terminology resources, enhancing the availability and standardisation of the information.

    IATE incorporates all of the existing terminology databases of the EU’s translation services into a single new, highly interactive and accessible inter-institutional database. Legacy databases from EU institutions have been imported into IATE, which now contains some 1.4 million multilingual entries.

    The IATE website is administered by the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union in Luxembourg on behalf of the project partners.

    Download the database

    Having been produced at public expense, the entire database has been opened up to the public can be downloaded, all 1.4 million entries!

    Happy birthday, IATE! Here’s to the next 10 years

  • Post politics

    The Bristol Post, the city’s newspaper of (warped) record, hasn’t had and doesn’t have a reputation for accuracy in reporting – a situation which has not improved since it and all the other Local World regional newspaper titles were taken over by Trinity Mirror.

    This is more than evident in the title’s reporting of politics today.

    The last (New) Labour government had a reputation for authoritarianism and what can best be described as “control-freakery“, so it is no surprise to see the Post assigning the comrades an authoritarian and control freak role amongst today’s headlines.

    text reads Labour Party This is where police mobile speed cameras will be in the Bristol area this week

    Mind how you go now! 😉

    Furthermore, for the sake of balance and impartiality, the Post also includes some news of the Conservatives, as per the following screenshot.

    text reads Conservative Party Shocking robbery, YoBike vandalism, van crashes into scaffolding and more - Bristol's top videos this week

    At this point, a small history lesson might be in order.

    The nickname of the Conservative and Unionist Party – to give them their full name – is the Tory Party.

    As a piece of English vocabulary, Tory has interesting origins. Etymologically, it’s derived from the Middle Irish word tóraidhe, which equates in modern Irish to tóraí and to tòraidh in modern Scottish Gaelic. It has the meaning of outlaw, robber or brigand, from the Irish word tóir, meaning “pursuit”, since outlaws were “pursued men”.

    It appears that since the term was coined, the Conservatives’ outlawry has expanded to encompass vandalism and careless driving. 😀

    If more classes of crime can be ascribed to the party, please mention them in the comments below.

    Update: as of this afternoon, one of these howlers has been corrected by the residents of the Temple Way Ministry of Truth. However, the Conservative Party are still responsible on the Post website for robbery and mayhem. 🙂