Posts tagged social media

A Scots terminology question

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One Twitter account I follow is Miss PunnyMany for her insights into Scots English. She’s just asked a very important question of manners and terminology in this tweet, as shown below.

Tweet reads Is hen rude?

Well, is “hen” rude?

Let us see.

An accurate definition would be a good place to start.

A general glossary of Scots vocabulary posted on Stirling University’s website provides the following definition:

hen: vocative term for a woman (e.g. ‘It’s aw richt, hen’), or a general term of endearment for anyone.

Note the phrase “general term of endearment“. That’s a big clue, indicating that its use is confined to close friends and acquaintances.

This view is largely borne out by the tone of the responses to Miss PunnyMany’s tweet.

Furthermore, a few respondents rightly point out that, like “pal” south of the Border, “hen” may be used in a pejorative or threatening manner to people outside one’s immediate social circle.

Mhairi Black MP

You don’t talk shite, hen!

An example of this can be found in a place a fair way from Scotland, namely the chamber of the House of Commons in Westminster.

Back in March 2017, SNP Member of Parliament Mhairi Black gave rise to comment in the media and on social media when appearing to mouth the words “You talk shite, hen” to a response by Tory minister Caroline Nokes, then the Under Secretary of State in the Department for Work and Pensions.

Ms Black had just made an impassioned speech that criticised a Government proposal to withdraw housing benefits for 18-21-year-olds. Her silent, but lip-read comment denoting her clear displeasure came during Ms Nokes’ reply which naturally defended the government’s cruel proposal.

So there you have it, use “hen” sensibly and restrict it to family, close friends and acquaintances, you shouldn’t go too wrong.

Shabby? Not me, says PM

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Worzel Gummidge, the British Prime Minister, has responded to criticism in the press regarding his “shabby” and “disrespectful” appearance, and that he “couldn’t even do his hair” when making a statement in Downing Street about the death on Friday of Philip Mountbatten-Windsor, aged 99.

Lookalikes - Boris Johnson and Worzel Gummidge

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the scruffiest of them all?

Speaking from Chequers, a visibly shocked an astounded Worzel Gummidge apologised to those who had expressed their anger on social media and added: “Anyone would think I always looked as if I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards, like former London Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson!”

Marg’s 10K steps a day for Felix Road

Local councillor Marg Hickman, who is also one of the trustees of Eastside Community Trust, has launched a crowdfunder to raise funds for Felix Road Adventure Playground, one of the Trust’s 2 sites in Easton, Bristol.

Felix Road Adventure Playground

Felix Road Adventure Playground. Photo credit: Eastside Community Trust


Felix Road has been in existence for nearly as long as I’ve been in Bristol and provided a much-needed safe space for generations of local children to play, socialise and develop.

Marg writes:

Felix Road Adventure Playground is an inner-city playground supporting some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people and families in Bristol. Felix Road is an inspiring beacon of inclusive play, a space where children and families can come together and celebrate diversity.

We need resources to continue to run our busy kitchen staffed by volunteers and providing much needed healthy and nutritious meals for children and families every day, and to help run a girls’ group for Somali young women.

I plan to walk or dance 10,000 steps each day in March. I would so appreciate you sponsoring me to reach my goal. Follow my progress on my Facebook page. Much love.

If you would like to support Marg, please visit her crowdfunding page and kindly give what you can.

Update: Marg’s efforts ended up raising over £2,500 for Felix Road. Well done if you also contributed.

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.”

Planning for clichés

The inspiration to write this post was what an old friend referred to on social media as the Town Planners’ Little Book of Tired Clichés.

We were discussing a press report on long-term plans for Bristol Temple Meads, the city’s main railway station and its environs.

The report itself was written up from a press release issued by the literary geniuses employed in the Bristol City Council Newsroom down the Counts Louse (which some people now call City Hall. Ed.).

Bristol Temple Meads railway station

Bristol Temple Meads. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Whilst avoiding clichés has long been a given as advice for good creative writing, the various actors quoted in the Temple Meads piece seem to relish in their use.

Thus the surrounding area “will be rejuvenated with housing, shops and hospitality outlets creating a new area of the city where people can live, shop, visit and socialise”.

Note the exemplary use of rejuvenated.

In addition, how a new area of the city can be created by covering an existing but derelict city area in architecturally contrived arrangements of building materials is beyond me. If you have any clues, dear reader, please enlighten me via the comments.

Then there’s that essential element for anything involving urban planning – the vision thing. This is ably provided in this case in a quotation by Network Rail’s spokesperson: “We are delighted to be working with our partners on this significant regeneration project and Bristol Temple Meads station is at the heart of this vision.”

Helmut Schmidt, who served as the West German chancellor from 1974 to 1982, had a thing to say about visions: “Wer Visionen hat, sollte zum Arzt gehen“. In English: People who have visions should go to the doctor. Genau! Sie haben Recht, Herr Schmidt.

Needless to the whole glossary of hackneyed phraseology seems to have been upended into the phraseology mixing bowl to create something not only unappetising, but indigestible: ambitious; innovative; rejuvenate/rejuvenation; regeneration; gateway; transformation/transformative; integrate; blueprint; showcase.

And on the clichés go, marching tediously across and down the page.

There are nevertheless a couple of absolute gems in the piece to compensate for all this guff.

Firstly,there’s the timescale for the plans. We are are informed that “work is not expected to start for another decade with the expected completion not until 2041 at the earliest“. Thus all that hot air is being expended on something whose actual implementation is two decades in the future; if not more.

A well-known adage springs to mind: pigs might fly.

Secondly, there’s the promise of an integrated transport hub. Basically this means creating a major public transport interchange (as seen in sensible city’s where the local bus/tram serve the railway station). To my knowledge, there’s been talk of a transport hub/interchange at Temple Meads for at least 3 decades already, so for it actually to become a reality within 5 decades would entail the city’s infrastructure planning process moving at more than their usual slower than tectonic plates speed.

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 pleasuring of St Valentine’s Day

February 14th is St Valentine’s Day, a day normally devoted in non-pandemic times to the enrichment of florists and restaurateurs, and generally associated with the pleasures of romance and love.

However, the North Wales Police Rural Crime Unit had matters of countryside damage on its mind that day, when it tweeted the following.

Tweet reads More unnecessary damage caused by illegal off roading, this time on Moel Unben in Denbighshire  Some people just simply dont care as long as they pleasure themselves   If you decide to take your car or motorcycle off road on a protected area you risk losing your beloved vehicle

Pleasure themselves? Surely not!

Take a close look at the second paragraph of the tweet and Mr/Ms Plod clearly meant something completely different.

The person in charge of the force Twitter account clearly spent yesterday in a state of confusion between love and lust. 😀

I do hope they got their vocabulary sorted out by the time they came off shift and headed home to spend time with their significant other.

Premises, premises

When related to property, the noun premises is defined by Collins Dictionary as:

a piece of land together with its buildings, esp considered as a place of business.

When related to property, premises has since time immemorial (or even longer. Ed.) been a plural noun.

However, it is a source of constant surprise how many people these days regard premises as a singular noun, as shown by this recent example, courtesy of Manchester City Council.

Banner in image reads: Machester City Council has closed this premises

A singular example

However, it should be remembered that premise does exist as a singular noun, in which instance it takes the following definition:

something that is supposed to be true and is used as a basis for developing an idea.

Local authorities are not the only people to get confused about premises and premise as regards use of the plural and singular.

Take this example on Twitter courtesy of the constabulary in Shrewsbury.

Tweet reads: COVID patrol 12/2/21  🚓  call to a license premise within #Shropshire. 4 persons located within drinking beer. 3 had travelled from out of county. 4 fines issued and will discuss with council over possible action on the premise licence.

A singular licence

That’s right. Why have a premises licence when a premise licence will do just as well? I’m sure Mr Plod meant the former, but having a licence for a premise raises many new questions indeed.

Professor Paul Brains of Washington State University has included the confusing of premises and premise in his book, Common Errors in English Usage. Read his simple, eloquent distinction.

Premises are also quite particular about where any action takes place too. Anything that happens always, always takes place on them, not in them.

The introduction of a blanket ban on smoking indoors gave rise to a wave of illiteracy, as exemplified by this typical example.

Sign reads No smoking. It is against the law to smoke in these premises

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It does feel as though those of use who are held to higher standards of language use and/or were taught proper English (Ahem! Ed.) are fighting a losing battle. Will premises become increasingly singular? Will actions take place in them ( or it? Ed.) in future?

For the answers to such questions, one must wait and see.

Only time can tell as language always has been dynamic, i.e. a moving target: and what is regarded as proper usage will always be subject to change, just like language itself.

Welsh traffic news

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.

Tweet reads Our control room have received a report of a broken down chariot heading away from Cardiff on the #M4 and traffic officers have been despatched to find it #findthechariot

Swing low…

I wonder if the chariot had been rescued by a band of angels before Mr Plod had a chance to find it… 😀

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