WARM WEATHER: The British media is going bonkers about "Probably the warmest winter since records began under Alfred the Great". Nonsense. I clearly recall an Xmas day of the same 15/60 temperature only 20 years ago. Ironically, when I was going to the shed to get some coal for the – rather unnecessary - fires in the sitting and dining rooms. Which reminds me . . .
AGW: Here's the inimitable Clive James on the recent jamboree in Paris.
ENGLISH: One of the differences between Brits and Americans is that the former only use the word 'backside' as a polite word for 'arse'('ass'). But the Americans says things like 'At the backside of the storm', meaning behind. Which is another polite Brit term for 'arse'. There are probably 20 more.
SPANGLISH: In an unsympathetic article on President Rajoy, a Spanish commentator wrote that he'd suffered from bulling when he was a kid here in Pontevedra. I suspect this was a typo for 'bullying'. Which now appears to be a Spanish word. Along with un lifting, un footing, un spinning, un jumping, un parking, un bullfighting, un dreaming, un writing, un jogging, etc. I may have made up one or two of these.
SHAKESPEARE'S ENGLISH: A nice leading article (un leader?) from The Times: Shakespeare is universally recognised as the greatest writer in English. No one, however, regards him as the most readily comprehensible. Teachers introducing his work to fresh generations have now happened on a consistent and illuminating observation. Children who speak English as a second language tend to have more confidence in dealing with Shakespeare.
The grammar and vocabulary of modern English differ radically from Shakespeare’s. No one now uses constructions like “What sayst thou?” or “I know not where to hide my head”. Yet even Shakespeare’s contemporaries complained about his impenetrability. Ben Jonson railed against “some bombast speeches of Macbeth, which are not to be understood”. Educators like Jacqui O’Hanlon of the Royal Shakespeare Company maintain that, because Shakespeare feels like a foreign language for everyone, children who have English as an additional tongue are unfazed by him and often have a swifter grasp of his work.
What to conclude? First, Shakespeare really is for everyone. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the United States recently courted controversy by commissioning playwrights to translate the Bard into modern English. It is a well-intentioned but misguided venture. Shakespeare’s language is hard because his ideas are complex and his nuance is constantly debatable. Yet with good educators and actors, and a grasp of language, even children can relish and appreciate the work. Second, the ability to speak more than one language is precious and enriches Britain. When politicians misguidedly fear that English is not spoken widely enough, they should be reminded that it’s a language every immigrant wants to know. English is a tongue, with a literature, with the brightest of futures among its non-native speakers.
FINALLY . . . RANDOMNESS: One has to get used to this in Spanish life. For example, when you go shopping and find that they're either out of stock or out of business. Here's 2 more of the latter from the very centre of Pontevedra.
|This has been a few things but the last one was an expensive looking centre of laser treatment for one thing and another.|
|Walking past this shop for divers the other day, I wondered how long it would remain in business. I suspect the beggar is one of our many Romanain residents.|