Sunday, December 25, 2005

From the heart of Staffs: Warning not to put fat down sink

Goddamn, the water company must have too much time on its hands . (I sympathise). [Sorry about the rubbish paragraphing scheme, but I didn't choose it. My apology does not mean I am liable for any damage it might cause]:

Severn Trent is warning people not to pour turkey fat down the sink this Christmas as it could block drains, causing flooding and pollution.Its message for the festive period is to bag it and bin in.The company has to deal with 25,000 blockages every year with an increasing number over Christmas.Experts say another way of getting rid of fat, which would feed birds at the same time, is to mix it with nuts and seeds and hang it in the garden.

The last paragraph there, as well as being commendable for being longer than one line long, is notable for actual passing on a novel yet plausible fact. Write it down kids.

My job here is done. Merry Crimbo.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Plain English Campaign's latest examples of some hideous travesties of the English language

If we think ourselves competent in a language, it's very humbling to face sentences in that language that are correct in every way, and yet don't seem to have any discernible meaning. Unless it's "small print", in which case it's totally unsurprising, should you even have got yourself into the state of being faced with it. Assuming you're part of us. It's just the Way It (And The Rest of Life) Is. Saying that, maybe it is worth reading those minisculely-written passages, in case they're binding. You might come across physics-defying claims like this one [source: BBC News Online]:

"2. Australian Taxations Office for: 'For the purpose of making a declaration under this Subdivision, the Commissioner may: a) treat a particular event that actually happened as not having happened; and b) treat a particular event that did not actually happen as having happened and, if appropriate, treat the event as: i) having happened at a particular time; and ii) having involved particular action by a particular entity; and c) treat a particular event that actually happened as: i) having happened at a time different from the time it actually happened; or ii) having involved particular action by a particular entity (whether or not the event actually involved any action by that entity).' "
There's more where that came from, though they are a pretty poor selection this year. Depressing, should you have forgotten to take that Prozac or somesuch this morning. Do it now, and reset the computer. Ah, that's better.... Now you can exhale. Who told you an ellipsis is a good time to exhale? Bad. Bad reader. Don't come back.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

An American in (Ye Olde) Hackney

Americans and Cockneys don't mix so well:

"But the one thing that should trip up American audiences and make Layer Cake [a British gangster movie] a liability in the American market is language. We Americans are extremely particular about consonants. We chew the hell out of our Rs and hack out our Ks like we're trying to dislodge a windpipe obstruction. The Cockney and semi-Cockney characters in Layer Cake pronounce most of their consonants like, well, vowels. They all sound like they've just come from the dentist. The easiest guy to understand is the Serb. (When you see one of these Cockney crime films in a theaters, audience chatter tends to consist entirely of 'What'd he say?') But people watching on DVD can just rewind and listen again. Granted, half the time, listening again doesn't really help, but often it does, and just having the option makes you feel that this recondite mix of class and language - so crucial for these films' verisimilitude but so bloody confusing - is not totally beyond your control."
You just have to respect the apologetic tone of his admission.