Posts tagged language

Press gets it wrong – again


If there’s one characteristic of the English Empire’s free and fearless press and the news media in general that’s immediately apparent to anyone with more than one brain cell, it’s their usually remote relationship with the truth.

In the last week or so a new word has emerged – pingdemic – in relation to the coronavirus pandemic to describe the large volume of self-isolation warnings issued by the Covid track and trace app (aka pings (pl.), as derived from the computer networking utility of the same name. Ed.).

Thus the terms ping and pingdemic have become part of normal newspaper and news media vocabulary, as shown in this typical example from yesterday’s London Evening Standard.

Headline reads Ping threat to our food, tube and bins

Whoever wrote the headline Ping threat to our food, tube and bins has clearly not thought the matter through.

It’s not the pings that are the threat but the viral plague which is giving rise to rocketing Covid, aided and abetted by an apology for a government that has removed restrictions far too soon and relinquished – in exemplary Pontius Pilate mode – all responsibility for safeguarding people’s health in the rush to let all their rich mates resume making Loadsamoney again.

All news is to a certain extent manipulated, but if those that right it cannot even get the basic details correct in a headline, is it any wonder that there is deep mistrust in the media?

Still, never mind with all this gloom and doom. Immediately adjacent is a prime example of look over there in the form of the current 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo.

The staff of the Standard clearly seem to have adopted the comment by Juvenal, the 2nd century Roman poet famous that the common people are only interested in bread and circuses (Latin: panem et circensis. Ed.) as editorial policy

Hidden exclusive: HGVs carrying agricultural vehicles now illegal


The Ipswich Star is not believed to be widely read on your ‘umble scribe’s home turf of the West Country.

Indeed, your correspondent would not have looked at it at all had his attention not been drawn to a report of a local Tory councillor spouting denialist nonsense about racism.

However, checking out the paper’s news section resulted in the discovery of another of those hidden newspaper exclusives that seem so prevalent these days.

This hidden exclusive came in a piece about the successful start made by the constabulary’s new commercial vehicle team, which, since its inception in November 2020, has stopped 969 vehicles, dealt with 1,436 offences and issued £181,950 in fines.

Suffolk Constabulary's Commercial Vehicles Unit

Suffolk Constabulary’s Commercial Vehicles Unit. Photo credit: Suffolk Constabulary

The hidden exclusive can be found in the paragraph below, which details the team’s work.

A total of 189 vehicles were prohibited from the roads, 80 were immobilised and 222 given warnings, for offences including being overweight, mechanical reasons/condition, insecure loads, tachograph infringements, carrying dangerous goods, abnormal loads and agricultural vehicles.

Yes, you did read that right: within the context of that sentence, commercial vehicles carrying agricultural vehicles is now an offence.

Normally at this juncture in a post such as this, your correspondent would be castigating the journalist responsible for this gaffe. However, the sole thing for which I can criticise her is churnalism, i.e journalism based on press releases, rather than the journalist’s own investigation and research.

In this particular instance the sentence in question has been copied from the original police press release without scrutiny of its content and pasted directly into the Star’s piece.

So, now the workplace of the guilty party is known, one can say in conclusion someone in Suffolk Constabulary’s newsroom clearly needs to get hold of a dictionary and consult the definition for ambiguity.

Basic Welsh to be required for Welsh government jobs


Welsh government logoIn July last year, the devolved Welsh government published Cymraeg. It belongs to us all, its strategy on the internal use of the Welsh language, one of whose aims is to have one million Welsh speakers in the country by 2050.

As part of the strategy to achieve that goal, 2 announcements have been made in recent days.

In the first instance, the Daily Post has reported that a basic command of Welsh – a so-called courtesy level – will be required for all Welsh government jobs.

In future employees Workers will have to demonstrate language skills that include the ability to:

    • pronounce Welsh language words, names, place names and terms;
    • answer the telephone bilingually, greet people or make introductions bilingually;
    • understand and use everyday expressions and simple key words related to the workplace;
    • read and understand short texts providing basic information, e.g. in correspondence, or to interpret the content using available technology; and
    • demonstrate language awareness, including an appreciation of the importance of the language in society and an awareness of what is required to provide bilingual customer [sic] service.

Needless to say, there has been criticism, with Tory AS/MS Tom Giffard leading the charge (no doubt with the encouragement of his controllers at CCHQ in London SW1. Ed.) and claiming: “The Welsh Government is becoming a closed shop”.

In the second instance, the Daily Post further reports that 30% of children in Year 1 are be in Welsh-medium education by 2031, compared with 23% last year.

This will entail the opening of a minimum of 60 extra Welsh-medium nursery groups by 2026, in addition to the 40 opened over the past 4 years.

Sunlit uplands – latest


How are matters progressing five years on from that referendum and over 6 months since the end of the Brexit transition period?

In simple terms, what was dismissed as Project Fear has very much become Project Reality.

Crops are rotting in the fields due to a lack of seasonal workers to pick them, whilst a shortage of lorry drivers means that any fresh produce that does get picked might not be delivered to shops and supermarkets.

Photo of empty supermarket fruit and vegetable section over shelving headed Pick of the Crop and Best of British

Floreat Brexitannia!

Court interpreting service – no longer Crapita, but still crap


Ipswich Crown CourtThe contract for the provision of interpreting services in courts and tribunals may have been removed some time ago from the dreadful Crapita to thebigworld Group and any news of it has mostly disappeared from the newspaper headlines, but the quality of the service remains as dreadful as ever, if yesterday’s East Anglian Daily Times report is to be believed.

According to the EADT, the presiding judge, Mr. David Pugh, criticised thebigword after a case involving defendant Dudel Pitigoi had to be adjourned due to the failure of a Romanian interpreter to attend court.

Ipswich resident Pitigoi is accused of violent disorder and possessing a golf club as an offensive weapon during an incident in Norwich Road, Ipswich on November 23 2019.

Adjourning the case until 16th July, Mr Justice Pugh is quoted as saying:

I will stress the importance of ensuring an interpreter will turn up.

Behind that mild-sounding rebuke, there is a very angry man in a horsehair wig and a violet robe with lilac facings.

Whilst the judge managed to use the correct terminology – interpreter as opposed to translator – I recommend the author and any other passing EADT hacks peruse my handy illustrated guide to learn the difference between the two. 😀

Whitehall BS5 sends a message to Whitehall SW1


This blog has written before about the changing messages that appear on a garage wall at the apex of the junction of Russelltown Avenue, Cannon Street and Whitehall Road (posts passim).

The message has now changed again and reads as per the photo below.

Text in photograph reads Boris is a big bumbahole

According to Urban Dictionary, bumbahole is a synonym of arsehole in British English and asshole in American English.

One can safely assume that the Boris being referenced is none other than the superannuated Billy Bunter-like figure of one certain Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who has been inexplicably promoted beyond his competence to the office of Prime Minister of the English Empire, a job he fulfils to his own satisfaction on a part time basis.

Among the less favourable characteristics of Bunter’s personality are gluttony, laziness, racism, deceit, sloth, self-importance and conceit, all of which have been extensively documented down the decades by others more eloquent than your ‘umble scribe (e.g. his former employer Max Hastings) as also being present in the part-time alleged prime minister’s character.

Boats grow legs


Since the widespread dismissal from newsrooms of sub-editors, the very people who would have spotted and corrected any inaccuracies and/or anomalies, many more hidden exclusives are being reported nowadays by our free and inaccurate press, provided one knows where to look and reads carefully.

Last week, the Shropshire Star had a hidden exclusive buried deeply in a piece on towpath repairs to the Shropshire Union Canal and local traders’ fear of loss of footfall in my home town of Market Drayton.

Shropshire Union canal in Market Drayton

Betton Mill on the Shropshire Union Canal in Market Drayton. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Canal & River Trust, which manages the waterway, is planning to close the towpath through Market Drayton for repairs lasting two months. This will also entail a loss of moorings during the works.

The fact that is has chosen do these works in the ten weeks from July 5 to September 10 hasn’t gone down too well with the director of one local boatyard, who is quoted as intimating that the closure would be a hammer blow to the summer trade, preventing visitors from mooring in the town and visiting shops and restaurants.

In a quotation in the report, she said the following:

It is basically the full length of the canal that goes through the town. Boats that would normally moor up and walk round the town, they won’t be able to do that.

Boats that would normally moor up and walk around town?

These two actions surely would be consecutive and not concurrent?

When did boats evolve the means of locomotion to be able to walk round the town?

Why have the national and international media not picked up the Star’s exclusive? After all, it is not every day that aquatic craft evolve enough to generate limbs.

If you have an answer to any of the above questions, please leave them in the comments below. 😀

GBeebies rinsed by Welsh soap

The new right-wing TV channel GB News (affectionately known as GBeebies by some. Ed.) seems to be getting off to an even worse start than had been predicted.

Today Nation Cymru reports that the channel is achieving worse viewing figures than some content on S4C, the Welsh language free-to-air television channel.

The latest figures revealed that a maximum of only 32,000 tuned in on Thursday last week. whilst a mere 31,000 could be bothered to turn in for Chairman Andrew Neil’s own flagship show.

No wonder he announced he was taking a break and flounced off back home to the south of, er, France.

In particular, Nation Cymru notes that GBeebies’ viewing figures were lower than those of S4C shows such as the long-running Welsh language soap opera Pobol y Cwm, which attracts an audience of 44,000 viewers, according to S4C’s latest statistics.

Pobol y cwm logo

Moreover, there are other Welsh language shows produced by S4C that attract even higher figures, such as Patrol Pawennau (the Welsh language version of Paw Patrol. Ed.), which draws audiences of 161,000 people.

With the channel being boycotted by advertisers, the amateurish broadcasting and technical expertise on display and Brillo scarpering back home to Grasse for an indefinite period, one might expect GBeebies’ days as a broadcaster to be numbered.

Lovers of live disaster viewing had better get the popcorn in…

How the forget-me-not got its name

Forget-me-nots (Myosotis) are a genus of flowering plants. The name Myosotis derives from the ancient Greek μυοσωτίς meaning mouse’s ear, which the leaves are said to resemble.

According to its English Wikipedia page, the colloquial English name of forget-me-not has been in use since the late 14th century and is a direct translation from the German Vergißmeinnicht.

Photo of forget-me-nots

Myosotis. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

However, it is to the French Wikipedia article on the foget-me-not that one needs to turn for the presumed origins of this commemorative colloquial plant name.

According to one legend, a knight was walking by a river with his lady. He bent over to pick her a flower, but toppled over due to his armour and fell into the water. While he was drowning, he tossed the flower towards her crying out “Forget me not!”

It goes without saying that the legend fails to explain why the hapless knight felt the need to don his armour for what was ostensibly a safe situation. No health and safety risk assessments or technical standards for PPE in those days!

Talking of risky situations, the forget-me-not has become a flower of remembrance in the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador where it is used to commemorate those who were killed in the First World War.

Similarly in Germany the forget-me-not became a flower of remembrance for those who fell in conflict from WW1 onwards.

In other countries, the forget-me-not has assumed a different commemorative function, one dealing with those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, as happens in the Netherlands and New Zealand.

Modern oxymorons – latest

Brexit opportunities.

Of course, Britain’s departure from the EU is such a shining success, particularly in the light of the fact that, in the words of one Michael Gove, “we hold all the cards“.

No further comment is necessary.

Recruitment advertisement for a Director of the Cabinet Office's Brexit Opportunities Unit

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