Sunday, March 11, 2012

I have an answer to one of the questions I posed the other day, viz. where has all the money gone that the ECB lent on very soft terms to European banks in late 2011 and early 2012?:- A German temper tantrum has made almost it impossible for Mario Draghi to deliver any more magic at the European Central Bank. His €1 trillion (£837bn) blast of liquidity for banks under the 'LTRO' scheme - actually just €530bn in fresh money - has averted a collapse of the Latin banking systems and bought another lease of life for monetary union. However, banks parked €827bn back at the ECB for safe-keeping last week. They are still slashing their balance sheets to meet the EU’s ill-timed demand for 9% core Tier I capital ratios by June. What the Draghi Bazooka has done is to slow the pace of deleveraging, not stop it. This comes at a cost of big distortions to the credit system and structural subordination of private creditors.

And here's a comment which probably originated thousands of years ago - If you put all the economists in the world in a line, they still wouldn't reach a conclusion.

You couldn't make it up . . . "One of the world’s most powerful wine dealers has been arrested and charged with creating a counterfeit cellar of fake vintage wines that he tried to sell for tens of thousands of pounds per bottle at auctions in New York and Los Angeles." This guy had been operating for years - despite suspicions - and so must have offloaded a lot of crap wine. Which can only mean either the bottles were just commodities and never opened or these very affluent buyers couldn't tell a premier cru from a bottle of piss. Or both.

I was musing the other day about the (northern) 'short a' and the southern 'long a' in words such as grass and pass. Well, I was re-musing on this theme today and realised there are some words which southerners don't pronounce with a 'long a'. For example, thanks, hand, bank, sand, hat, prat, twat, band and land. In contradistintion to last, past, mast, grass and laugh (larf). In fact, I suspect there are quite a few words which aren't given this southern treatment. So, I will now compile a list and try to figure out whether there's a rule. Or whether this is just another example of the bewildering arbitrariness of British pronunication.

But talking of words, here's a guide to British slang for Americans.

Finally . . . I learned today that Prat was the name of one of the most famous French rugby players of all time. Indeed, my sister attended his funeral only a few months ago. So Camping Prat is named after him. Which allows me to tell you that England beat France today in Paris. And that nothing is as quiet as a French stadium when their team is getting beaten. Especially by their enemies of 900 years. Collectively, they do a great impression of a graveyard.


Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Thanks for the guide to British slang, Colin. That's cool. BTW, I just posted about our recent trip to India. Since you like to travel, you might find that interesting. Hope we do see you in April/May trip to Galicia.

Interesting Facts said...

You have mentioned a comment which probably originated thousands of years ago - If you put all the economists in the world in a line, they still wouldn't reach a conclusion. I think the fact is true.

Bill said...

That guide to British slang for Americans is very amusing and quite good - however it is not by any means perfect or completely accurate. In the very first few lines I noticed the definition given for 'aggro' as being short for 'aggravate', or "to make trouble".

It is true that in some ill-educated quarters the meaning of 'aggravate' has changed to more or less mean what the writer says (as in "Don't aggravate me", or don't make me angry), when the word actually means "to make worse" (as in "aggravate a situation" or "intensify" something). The mis-use of this word in certain circles is of course a disambiguation of the word "irritate".

A better explanation for Americans, and less open to misinterpretation, is that 'aggro' means 'aggression' (as in "He's out for a bit of aggro" although even that word has experienced a meaning shift over time). There is an excellent blog written by an American living in the UK which is much less prone to this kind of philological "howler" - the URL is:

Another quite separate pet-hate of mine is the mis-use of the word "especially", when what is really meant is "specially" - people think that by preceding the latter with an "e" the meaning is enhanced, when in reality it is simply confused and wrong. The lazy think that 'especially' makes something very something or other, when in fact it means "exceptional" or different from a cohort being compared. "Specially" is the correct word to stress the ultimate.

Of course all these wrong usages used for long enough by a large enough number of people may well result in the original meaning being lost completely and the new meaning taking over more or less completely. It is probably too soon to know whether "bad" (as in "That's bad, man) to mean "That's good, man" will achieve complete supremacy or whether it is a passing fad amongst the young. There are many words where the current meaning is the opposite of its meaning some centuries or decades ago. Which brings us right back to "aggravate" - I think it is far too soon to aver that this has achieved the transformation of meaning that the author of that slang guide implies.

Colin said...

Thanks for your thoughts and the citation, Bill. I guess I'm one of the 'especially' sinners and fear I will continue to be so.

Colin said...

Thanks, Mitty. Will take a look.

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