Saturday, June 08, 2013

Well, I went to my bookshelves and found that, from a collection of Tom Sharpe's entire works, I have but two books left. The rest have all been lent or unilaterally borrowed, reminding me of the (alleged) Confucian saying that: It has never been established who is the more stupid - He who lends a book or he who gives it back.

I approached a crossing in town today, where the lights for drivers were flashing amber. Believing this gave pedestrians priority, I stopped and signalled them to cross. But they all refused. Probably because their little human figure was red. So, now I'm more confused than ever. If the flashing amber lights are equivalent to green, what's the point of them? Why do you need to 'proceed with caution' if no one is ever going to put a foot on the tarmac?

Sometimes in English you're obliged to use the plural possessive 'their' when the subject is singular. Someone has suggested that, as 'their' - like 'your' - used to be both singular and plural, then this use should be brought back into modern English. I have an alternative suggestion - born of regular typos - that we should spell it 'their' for plural and 'thier' for singular.

The latest (bizarre) development in the case of the Possibly Criminal Princess is the the Spanish tax authorities (La Hacienda) have ordered the investigating judge to back off and leave her alone, as they don't consider her to have done any wrong. Which is hardly the point, is it? I guess we can assume that they're acting as a proxy for the government, who'd rather not see her in the dock and sentenced to jail. Or even to community service.

I was going to say how tired I am of reading that Galicia is not only Celtic but also perpetually 'misty'. And to add that I can't recall the last time I saw a mist. But I just looked out of the window and there's one rising above the river.

Something to cheer up Sr Rajoy perhaps - The threat of the Scots voting for independence next year - never a big one - appears to be receding further. Canny as he is, Mr Salmond may have to be happy with a form of independence within the United Kingdom. Something which many believe was all he really ever expected to get.

Finally . . . The EU and the eurozone. It's wrong to say there's no common ground between believers and non-believers. Everyone agrees the institutions aren't working. And that that they're causing truly massive damage to several economies in the process. Disagreement arises as to where to go next. More Europe or Less Europe, with the dominatrix, Mrs Merkel, sending out conflicting signals and poor M Hollande grubbing round trying to build up an alliance against her to promote more Europe for everyone else but less for France. As to what happens next, it's anyone's guess, as usual. The only certainty is that unemployment numbers will continue to rise in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, it's salutary to divide the last decade into two, almost equal phases. The first, from 2002 to 2007, saw EU policies designed to help Germany recover from the trauma of unification and the restructuring of its economy. The winner during this phase? Germany, of course, as 'rules' re debt levels were ignored and ludicrously low interest rates invited, and got, a credit-fuelled asset boom. And then there was Phase 2, from 2007 to 2012, when the consequences of Phase 1 hit home. The losers are obvious but the winners? Well, Germany again. Little wonder some people think she should put her hand in her pocket a bit more to help the less fortunate. Isn't the EU supposed to be about 'solidarity'? Which always means the richer (more efficient and less corrupt) states transferring money to the poorer (less efficient and more corrupt) states.

Anyway, here's a scathing comment by our Ambrose on the way the Troika has handled the problem of Greece. Which was shown precious little solidarity. Being only a little pawn in the great game. As Ambrose writes: What we see is a near perfect exhibit of what is wrong with the European Project. There is no mechanism of accountability. The buck stops nowhere. Can anyone see things changing soon?


Alfred B. Mittington said...

The possessive pronoun 'Their' was once singular? Kindly justify this weird and wild claim, my dear Liverputian...

Nice bit on Europe, by the by...


Colin said...

Have a look here and at its links.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Ow, you are mighty funny, my dear dear Liverputian! Here you object to my every application of splendid and valid Americanisms whenever I put them to good use in my most brilliant epistles; and yet you parrot the nonsense of ideological feminist grammarians... Did you look at the literature list at the end? Where all those 'neutral studies' were published? New Haven, New York, Massachussets, Boston, Chicago... Are they the new linguistic masters of Great Britain?

Yours friend Al

Colin said...

I didn't look at any of it but I knew you would, Al. I have other citations, if you have more time to waste on this weekend. Cheers.

PS Yes, they are. It's the US hegemony to which you bow down with your use of their terrible 18th century spellings.

Colin said...

Here's another citation. and I have read a few paras of this.

What I am proposing is that

"Anyone who thinks they have been affected should contact their doctor"

should be

"Anyone who thinks they[or thei] have been affected should contact thier doctor"

Who but a pedant could object?

Perry said...

"Anyone who thinks they have been affected should contact their doctor"

is better phrased as

"Anyone who thinks they have been affected should contact one's own doctor"

That's because the doctor in the first sentence could be any body's doctor, whereas in the second sentence the ambiguity is absent.

Which is why I clarify my addresses to groups by stating "you all" rather than the doubtfulness of "you".

Grammaticus bene,


Colin said...

Perry, I fancy you would find yourself in a tiny majority, leaving aside the question of what 'better' means.