Sunday, April 01, 2012

Leaving Liverpool's famous Lime Street station this evening, we were welcomed aboard the train with the announcement that we'd be "stopping at such exotic locations as Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Piccadilly, Dewsbury and Leeds". I would've said it was a good example of Scouse humour but the accent was wrong.

Today was my mother's 87th birthday so there was a bit of a family gathering in her flat. Initially to the sound of hundreds of motor-bikes on their seasonal run to deliver Easter eggs to the patients of a large hospital on the Wirral peninsula. I showed both my mother and my sister yesterday's foto of me standing in front of the house we lived in for seventeen years. Neither of them recognised it, though their guesses were rather interesting. In consolation, at least they recognised me.

Over lunch, I asked my mother about life in the 30s and conversation inevitably turned to the war. Talking about my uncle's time in the merchant navy in the Atlantic, she told us his ship had been torpedoed and he'd spent three days in a life-raft. This was bad enough, of course, but things had turned really nasty when one of his colleagues had been dragged off the raft by a shark. I admit to being sceptical about this but, on balance, have opted to believe it. If only because it would be a pretty sick story to make up - by my uncle, not my mother - and would cover no one with even a sliver of glory.

Finally . . . According to The Economist, a 78 character text in English would require only 24 characters in Chinese. Japanese, too, is concise. Romance languages, on the other hand, 'tend to be more verbose'. I'll say. Spanish heads their little league table, requiring 40% more characters than English. Followed in the rankings by Hungarian and Italian. Who'd have thought it?


Alfred B. Mittington said...

Don't believe everything you read in the Economist! What was this about? The economizing of ink? To keep it simple: Chinese uses syllabic signs. In our alphabet, which uses single sound signs, we would write each of those with 2 or 3 letters. Small wonder they use 'fewer characters'! But now let's talk about the ease and economy of learning the necessary signs... Ay, darn Liverputians! They believe everything that they see in the papers!

Colin said...

Keep your hair on, Alfie. The Economist showed the Chinese character and also stressed how easy it was in English to reduce the time spent by using not only abbreviations but also acronyms.

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