bookmark_borderLast day of school

Last Day of School!
Originally uploaded by cursedthing

On Marcel’s last day of school before the summer holidays last Friday, he claims only 50-60 kids turned up (out of two thousand pupils or so).

However, all the teachers were there.

Now, I might be getting old and grumpy, but the teachers are paid by our taxes, so this seems to be a waste of money.

They should either make it an in-service day, so that the teachers can use the day on something useful, enforce attendance, or start the holidays one day early.

At the moment we pay for the teachers to do nothing, and the few kids whose parents won’t let them be off are suffering while the rest are out having a great time.

bookmark_borderIndependent London

The seven countries of the British Isles

Ken Livingstone was asked in an interview what he would most like to achieve as mayor. He replied:

Total independence for London. If London was independent we would have more people than half the members of the UN do, we’d be able to use more of our wealth to provide better infrastructure and a better quality of life instead of pumping £20 bn more into the national economy than we get back.

I’m all in favour of an independent London. It’s so different from the rest of the country that it skews everything.

For instance, London is multicultural and has lots of really rich people (and very poor ones, too), which isn’t true for the rest of the country. This makes it very hard to create national policies.

However, one issue is how large the Republic (or Kingdom) of London should be.

If it was created based on its current area, so many commuters would be left outside it that England and London wouldn’t be independent at all.

So I think it needs to be fairly big, probably taking in everything within the green belt around it. Perhaps it should also include everything between London and France, given that it would be odd for people from Dover to have to travel through London to get to their capital in central England.

bookmark_borderUd med Morten Olsen!

Det var ganske fortjent, at Japan lammetævede Danmark.

For det første var alle danskere – inkl. landsholdet – iflg. de danske aviser overbeviste om, at Japan var et ubetydeligt hold, som det ville blive let at vinde over.

Til VM er der ingen dårlige hold, og alle modstandere skal tages seriøst. Det er trænerens ansvar.

For det andet tog Danmark ikke højderne seriøst. At placere sin træningslejr ved kysten, når alle ens indledende kampe er i højlandet, er amatøragtigt. De danskere spillere har i alle deres kampe virket trætte i anden halvleg. Sammenlign det med japanerne, der før VM trænede i Alperne for at styrke spillerne. Det kunne danskerne også have gjort. At de ikke gjorde det, er trænerens ansvar.

For det tredie har danskerne ikke haft styr på bolden. De har igen og igen skudt for langt eller for højt. I et vist omfang har det sammenhæng med den manglende højdetræning – bolde flyver højere og længere i den tynde luft i højderne. Det skulle spillerne have lært, og det er trænerens ansvar.

Det kan godt være, at Danmark ikke har verdens bedste spillere for tiden, men med en bedre træner kunne Danmark godt have avanceret fra gruppespillet.

Den danske fiasko er Morten Olsens ansvar, og han må gå.


Opdatering (25/6): Det virker som om, de danske aviser har besluttet sig for at frede Morten Olsen. De kritiserer spillerne i stor stil, men ikke træneren. På den anden side er læsernes kommentarer fyldt med krav om, at Morten Olsen går. Hvorfor er journalisterne så glade for ham?

bookmark_borderMore about the penis/peonies contrast

Ornamentals Not Lawn
Originally uploaded by Scrunchleface

After my recent blog posting about penis vs. peonies, I found this in John Wells’s Accents of English: The British Isles:

Some speakers also have instances of apparently autonomous length contrasts in other environments, e.g. leek [lik] vs. leak [li?k], vane [ven] vs. vain [ve?n], creek [krik] vs. creak [kri?k], choke vs. joke, made vs. maid, badge vs. cadge.

However, when I asked Phyllis to read aloud these words, she didn’t have any length contrasts in them, so she doesn’t seem to be in the group of speakers mentioned by Wells.

Curiouser and curiouser.

bookmark_borderEstuary German

Lena Meyer-Landrut’s weird English pronunciation (only when she’s singing – when she talking, it’s just normal mediocre school English) has attracted some attention.

I’ve tried to transcribe the beginning of the song:

I went everywhere for you a? w?nt ?f??w?? f? ju?
I even did my hair for you a? i?v?n d?d ma? h??? f? j??
I bought new underwear, they’re blue a? b??t nu? and?w??, ða? blu?
And I wore ’em just the other day ?n ? w?r?m d??st ð? ?ð? da?
Love, you know I’ll fight for you l?v, ju? n?? a?l fa?t f? ju?
I left on the porch light for you a? l?ft ?n d? p??t? la?t f? ju?
Whether you are sweet or cruel w?ð? ju? a? swi?t ?? k?u?(l)
I’m gonna love you either way a?m ??n? l?v ju? i?ð? we?
Love, oh, love, I gotta tell you how I feel about you l?v ?? l?v a? ??t? t?l ju? ha? a? fi?l ?baut ju?
‘Cause I, oh, I can’t go a minute without your love k?z a? ø? ai kan ??? ? m?n?t wiða?t ju? l?v

Some people (at least in Germany and Denmark) have been trying to defend her pronunciation by claiming she’s singing in Cockney (by which I guess they mean Estuary English), but that’s a misunderstanding.

It’s true that many native Londoners would pronounce ‘day’ in a way close to [da?], but like all other native speakers of English, they would make it rhyme with ‘way’, which should in this accent be [wa?], not [we?].

In the same way, no matter what accent of English you’re trying to speak, you should use the same vowel/diphthong in ‘oh’ and ‘go’.

Also, no variety of English that I know of conflates the vowels in ‘light’ and ‘day’. In Scottish English, they are [??] and [e]; in RP, they are [a?] and [e?]; and in Estuary English, they might be [??] and [??]. The main thing is they’re always different.

Finally, of course there are features of a London accent that she hasn’t copied at all – for instance, her /l/s and /r/s sound very German to me.

So this is not a case of a German who sings in Cockney; it’s a case of a German schoolgirl with mediocre English who’s copied pronunciations at random from songs she’s listened to.

bookmark_borderMi tío bisabuelo Niels Peter que desapareció en Argentina

¿Qué pasó con mi tío bisabuelo (el hermano de la madre del padre de mi madre), un hombre que se llamaba Niels Peter Sørensen Smidt (o Schmidt) y que nació el 18 de enero de 1878 en Vrinners (o Vrinders) en la parroquia de Rolsø (Mols herred, Randers amt)?

(El hombre en la foto es su padre, mi tatarabuelo, Søren Sørensen Smidt.)

Se casó el 8 de febrero de 1900 con Ane (o Anna) Mikkelsen (n. el 13 de marzo de 1879 en Agri, Mols, Randers).

Parece que emigraron los dos después a Argentina, pero no sabemos si se quedaron allí.

Tampoco sabemos si tuvieron hijos.

He tratado de trovarlos en el web, pero sin suerte.

La mayoría de los daneses que emigraron a Argentina vivían en Tandil, en el campo entre Tres Arroyos y Coronel Dorrego, o en Necochea, pero no hay registros disponibles en el web.

Además es un problema que es posible que cambiaran sus nombres. Quizás Niels y Ane se convirtieran en Nicolás y Ana. ¿Y el apellido? ¿Sorensen? ¿Schmidt? ¿Sorensen-Smit?

Si sabes algo sobre mi tío bisabuelo, ¡por favor escríbeme!

bookmark_borderOne monarchy is plenty, thanks!

Originally uploaded by Bengt Nyman

Today’s wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden was not a big media event in the UK.

Because my mum is a royalist, I tried to find it amongst the hundreds of TV channels on our Sky box, but to no avail. (In the end she watched SVT – Sweden’s BBC – streamed live over the Internet.)

However, in most other European countries it was big news, in both kingdoms and republics.

The British media must clearly have decided that reporting on one monarchy is more than enough.

However, on The Telegraph‘s “Most Viewed” list, the Swedish wedding is number 1, 2 and 4.

That makes me wonder whether the media got it wrong here, and that the British public – just like elsewhere in Europe – would actually have loved a few hours of live broadcasting from Stockholm.

Anyway, as a republican I’m of course happy that it got ignored here. If only the media would also start ignoring the Windsors!