Posts tagged facepalm

Another classic headline

Bristol Live (formerly the Bristol (Evening) Post. Ed.) really has form when it comes to writing ambiguous headlines (posts passim).

Attempting to drive whilst giving birth is extremely dangerous! Do not try it on the roads! 😀

Headline reads 'Dangerous driver had baby in car before crash'

Amazon customer couldn’t post review in Welsh of Welsh book

Cover of Llad Duw novel by Dewi PrysorAmazon 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.”

A language lesson for an ignorant MP

The continuing ignorance of the hardline Tory MPs who spearheaded the UK’s departure from the European Union is a gift that just keeps on giving.

Not only do they not understand how the EU works (clue: it’s a rules-based organisation. Ed.), they also do not know how international trade works (clue: that’s also a rules-based system. Ed.).

When it comes to ignorance of the workings of international trade – and tariffs in particular – Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski has previous form, ending up looking a lemon in respect of, er, lemons.

However, there appears to be no start to Daniel’s ignorance and no end to his vanity in wanting to draw attention to the same. On Monday 22nd February he posted the tweet below on his Twitter account.

Tweet reads: Now we have left EU & creating exceptionally strong global economic partnerships with key non European partners, the time has come for a debate as to which languages are taught to children in schools. I feel the almost total domination of French Spanish & German needs review.

Daniel no doubt believes that these languages are spoken solely in countries such as France, Spain and Germany in the hated EU.

Time to think again, Danny Boy! 😀

Let’s start with your last mentioned language shall we, Daniel (especially as it might be considered the easiest to dismiss.Ed.)?

German is, of course, spoken in Germany. However, it’s also the official language in Austria as well as being one of Belgium’s four official languages. In Italy’s province of Alto Adige (also known as the Südtirol. Ed.), 62% of the population are German speakers. Outside the EU, German is also one of Switzerland’s four official languages. German is a recognised minority language in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovakia. Beyond Europe there are still 25,000-30,000 native German speakers in Namibia, despite it ceasing to be a German colony over a century ago: some 12,000 persons whose first language is German currently live in South Africa. Turning to South America, there are an estimated 1 million German speakers, with German-speaking minorities in almost every Latin American country including Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In North America, there are also German-speaking minorities in both the USA and Canada.

The map below illustrates where German is spoken around the world.

German speaking areas of world

The German-speaking world. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

How does Daniel fare with French?

Equally badly is the answer.

Besides the EU countries of France, Belgium and Luxembourg, French is also spoken within Europe in Monaco and parts of Italy. Throughout the world there are estimated to be some 274 million French speakers, of whom some 77 million are native speakers. Within the EU alone, French is the third most widely spoken language (after English and German), being spoken by 19.71% of the population and is the second most-widely taught language after English. It’s an official language not only in France, but Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco and Switzerland. It is also widely spoken in Italy’s Aosta valley region.

However, it is in Africa – and particularly former French colonies and territories – that the majority of the world’s French speakers live. According to a 2018 estimate from the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, an estimated 141 million African people spread across 34 countries and territories can speak French as either a first or a second language. This estimate does not include those inhabitants of non-Francophone African countries who have learned French as a foreign language.

Looking at the Americas, French is the second most common language in Canada, after English, and both are official languages at the federal level. It is the sole official language in the Canada’s Quebec province. In the USA, French is the fourth most-spoken language in the United States after English, Spanish, and Chinese, when all forms of French are considered, according to the United States Census Bureau.

The following map shows membership of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, the international organisation representing countries and regions where French is either a lingua franca or customary language.

Map of membership of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie

Membership of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

So far that’s two own goals Daniel’s scored on the worldwide importance of 2 of the major foreign languages taught in British schools.

How does he fare with his third target – Spanish?

In short, not any better.

Today Spanish has 500 million native speakers, mainly in Spain and the Americas and is the world’s second-most spoken native language after Mandarin Chinese and the world’s fourth-most spoken language overall after English, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindi. Overall there are estimated to be 586 million speakers of Spanish in the world. As befits its large number of speakers, Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations and it is also used as an official language by the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Union of South American Nations, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the African Union and many other international organisations, as well as being one of the world’s most widely taught foreign languages.

Below is a map showing where in the world Spanish is spoken.

Map of the Hispanophone world

Map of the Hispanophone world. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

So how’s Daniel done?

In brief, not very well.

If Mr Kawczynski had been a footballer instead of a member of Parliament, he would have gone down in the match report as having scored three goals for the opposing side, also know as own goals (Kawczynski 3, og).

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that Daniel has been appointed the UK’s trade envoy to Mongolia. If his tweet was an attempt to increase the teaching Mongolian as a foreign language in British schools, it was, to say the least, extremely clumsy.

Ambiguity

in my first job after graduation (translator and marketing analyst for Imperial Tobacco in Bedminster, Bristol), part of my employer’s house style I had to absorb was an avoidance of all and any ambiguity.

I well remember my chagrin at being admonished for it by my line manager, who had left school at 14 with no qualifications, started out as a messenger boy in the post room and worked his way up to senior middle management.

Collins Dictionary defines ambiguity as “the possibility of interpreting an expression in two or more distinct ways” and “vagueness or uncertainty of meaning“.

This is a lesson that the employees of the Bristol Post/BristolLive (also known by some locals as the Temple Way Ministry of Truth. Ed.) have yet learn, as shown by the latest example below.

Headline text reads: Bristol's Alex Beresford recalls vile abuse from online trolls in GMB interview

Who was interviewed: Mr Beresford or the trolls?

The new benchmark – as long as you’re white

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.

General view of shuttering surrounding Castlemead site
General view of the Castlemead site on Lower Castle Street

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.

Happy office drones at Castlemead 1

Spot the BAME face 1

Happy office drones at Castlemead 2

Spot the BAME face 2

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.

Gloucestershire Live reveals truth about The Independent Group

Gloucestershire Live is a sister title of the Bristol Post/Bristol Live and as such provides a similar mediocre quality of journalism to its victims readers.

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.

Header for piece about Chuka Umunna reads Conservatives

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.

Stupid boy! Another pair of lookalikes

It’s no secret that Gavin Williamson MP, the current Secretary of State for Defence, is nicknamed Private Pike, after Frank Pike, the fictional Home Guard private and junior bank clerk in the BBC television comedy Dad’s Army, who was frequently referred to by platoon commander Captain Mainwaring as “stupid boy“.

Composite of Private Pike and Gavin Williamson

Young Gavin, who is the Member of Parliament for South Staffordshire, had a real stupid boy moment last week.

On Monday, in a gung-ho speech to the Royal United Services Institute, Williamson confirmed that the first of Britain’s next-generation aircraft carriers, the Queen Elizabeth, will tour the Pacific as part of its maiden voyage and that the vessel likely to tour the South China Sea at a time of growing tensions regarding China’s territorial ambitions.

Needless to say this has not gone down well in Beijing, resulting in a planned trade visit by Chancellor Philip Hammond being cancelled.

Even former Chancellor George Osborne has commented, also alluding to Williamson as a stupid boy, but using rather more words, as iNews reports:

You have got the defence secretary engaging in gunboat diplomacy of a quite old-fashioned kind at the same time as the chancellor of the exchequer and the foreign secretary are going around saying they want a close economic partnership with China.

Telegraph exclusive: Brits using ducks to negotiate Brexit

The right-wing Telegraph newspaper has enjoyed a long and close relationship with the Conservative Party. So close indeed that it is often referred to as the Torygraph.

This close relationship means that developments within the Tory Party are frequently reported first in the Telegraph.

It is therefore no surprise that the latest developments on the state of the UK’s Brexit negotiations popped into my Twitter feed this morning with the following Telegraph headline and abstract.

Image text reads Brexit latest news: Theresa May will meet Jeremy Corbyn today as she prepares to send a revamped negotiating teal back to Brussels.

Yes, that’s why the negotiations have been so disastrous. They’ve been handled by ducks, or more specifically a Eurasian teal, a male specimen of which is shown below.

Male Eurasian teal

A top international negotiator according to the Telegraph. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

How a duck or ducks actually managed to deal with the question of the Irish backstop remains a mystery and is probably why the Tory right wing is so obsessed with it. And quite what a revamped negotiating teal is, one could indulge in conjecture. Was it taken to some backstreet ornithologist and given the plumage of, say, an Arctic skua, together with a bit of beak remodelling?

Please Torygraph, tell me it’s not a typo! 😀

An unfortunate juxtaposition

The placing of articles and/or photographs next to each other in newspapers (and on newspaper websites too. Ed.) sometimes has unfortunate consequences and connotations.

This is from the Murdoch-owned Times.

I’ll say no more.

Theresa May pictured next to headline stating Russian sex workers are world's best says Putin

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. 😉

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