bookmark_borderFirst word: “Where are you?”

Playing Mummy
Originally uploaded by PhylB

Those of you who have been reading this blog for two years or more might be wondering why I’ve been writing so little about Amaia’s language – after all, when Anna was one, I regularly wrote blog postings describing how her language was developing.

The reason for this is that Amaia seems to use almost no words. Instead, she uses complete sentences, such as “Where are you?”, “Where did you put it?”, “What’s that for?”, “What are you doing?”. Yes, they’re not that clear – it sounds at bit like a drunk person speaking – but in context it’s normally clear what she means.

It’s basically as if she isn’t picking out individual words from what we’re saying but instead hearing the sentences as indivisible chunks to be repeated.

This is slightly exaggerated – she does use names, such as “Far” and “Pudge” – but she doesn’t seem to have any words for concrete objects.

Anna and Léon tended to overgeneralise certain nouns, just like all other babies I’ve ever come across.. For instance, Anna called all walking animals ‘ka’ (from ‘cat’) and all flying ones ‘pippi’ (from Danish pip-pip ‘tweet-tweet’).

So what’s going on? Is Amaia following a well-known (but less common) route to developing her language skills? A bit like the way she’s refusing to crawl and walk and instead bum-shuffles around at a hundred miles an hour.

bookmark_borderThey were lucky Italy didn’t win

The European Broadcasting Union have just released the details of the voting split of the recent Eurovision contest.

On their website, it’s just numbers, so I’ve made a pretty graph to illustrate the difference between the juries’ opinions and how people voted in their living rooms:

It is clear that they were very lucky Azerbaijan won, given that it was the popular winner, too.

If Italy had won, there would have been an uproar today – after all, ten other songs were more popular in the televoting process, so the Italian song really wasn’t the people’s favourite (although I rather liked it).

I wonder whether they’ll continue releasing the voting splits, or whether they’ll stop as soon as the popular winner loses because of the juries.

bookmark_borderScottish passports and the Scottish-English border

Most people have assumed that an independent Scotland won’t introduce passport controls at the Scottish-English border.

I’m sure that’s not the intention, but as a blog posting on Better Nation pointed out today, Scotland will probably have to join Schengen at some point post-independence, simply because England will be seen as the continuation of the UK, so Scotland will be treated as a new EU member, and they generally don’t get many opt-outs (which will also mean that Scotland will eventually need to join the Euro).

Personally I’d be delighted if Scotland joined Schengen, given that we tend to travel much more often to Schengen countries (such as Denmark, Germany, France and Italy) than to England. Who knows, it might even convince the English to join, too.

Writing this blog posting, I was a bit surprised that I couldn’t find a realistic mock-up of what Scottish passports will look post-independence, given that the layout of EU passports is heavily regulated.

It didn’t take me long to make one myself in the Gimp, though. I made the assumption that it’ll be the lion rampant that will be on the front page, although it might of course be some other emblem.

bookmark_borderIndvandrerne er velkomne her

Alex Salmond
Orig. uploaded by Saül Gordillo

Alex Salmond sagde flg. i Det skotske Parlament, da han var blevet genvalgt som førsteminister:

Now these voices of the past are joined in this chamber by the sound of 21st-century Scotland. The lyrical Italian of Marco Biagi. The formal Urdu of Humza Yousaf. The sacred Arabic of Hanzala Malik. We are proud to have those languages spoken here alongside English, Gaelic, Scots and Doric.

This land is their land, from the sparkling sands of the islands to the glittering granite of its cities. It belongs to all who choose to call it home. That includes new Scots who have escaped persecution or conflict in Africa or the Middle East. It means Scots whose forebears fled famine in Ireland and elsewhere.

That is who belongs here, but let us be clear also about what does not belong here. As the song tells us, for Scotland to flourish then “Let us be rid of those bigots and fools / Who will not let Scotland, live and let live.”

Our new Scotland is built on the old custom of hospitality. We offer a hand that is open to all, whether they hail from England, Ireland, Pakistan or Poland.”

Kunne man forestille sig en dansk statsminister sige det samme i det 21. århundrede, eller er Danmark blevet for xenofobisk? 🙁

bookmark_borderEnden på den britiske kontraktpolitik i Danmark

New Labour New Danger
Originally uploaded by Dolores Luxedo

I Storbritannien, hvor det p.g.a. valgsystemet er normalt, at ét parti har absolut flertal i parlamentet (omend dette ikke er tilfældet for tiden), har partiernes valgprogrammer (“manifestos” på engelsk) en nærmest mytisk status: Det regnes for påkrævet at gennemføre alt, der står i dem, og det ses ikke gerne, man gør noget væsentligt, som ikke er annonceret deri.

I Danmark har situationen været meget anderledes, da det er blevet betragtet for givet, at et regeringsparti ville være nødt til at forhandle med mange andre partier, hvorfor valgprogrammerne nærmere har haft karakter af en ønskeseddel, som man slet ikke kunne drømme om at gennemføre fra ende til anden.

Fogh tilnærmede dansk til britisk politik ved at indføre sin kontraktpolitik, der på mange måder mindede stærkt om den britiske “valgprogramspolitik”. Det besynderlige var, at han kunne klare at gennemføre det i et system med så mange partier, men det skyldes nok, at Venstre kunne danne flertal med kun De Konservative og Dansk Folkeparti, og førstnævnte var glade for bare at være med i regeringen, og sidstnævnte var glade, så længe de fik nogle xenofobiske stramninger et par gange om året.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt så ud til helt at acceptere kontraktpolitikken som basis. Dette skyldes måske hendes kendskab til britisk politik – hun er jo Neil Kinnocks svigerdatter og efter sigende en stor fan af Tony Blair.

Problemet er bare, at hun (og mange andre nye danske politikere) havde glemt den gamle kunst med at tælle til 90 mandater. Hun troede, hun bare kunne lave sin kontrakt med vælgerne, sit manifesto, men hun glemte at sikre sig 90 mandater bag sin kontrakt. Nu ligger hun, som hun har redt.

Som gammel radikal (omend ikke længere medlem) glæder det mig, at mit gamle parti igen har lært kunsten at arbejde til begge sider for at få sin politik gennemført. I al for lang tid så det ud til, at man var blevet en del af rød blok.

Nu må vi blot håbe på, at næste valg ikke fører til, at enten venstrefløjen (EH + SF + S) eller højrefløjen (DF + K + V) har flertal alene.

bookmark_borderWhat Labour and the Conservatives need to do now

As part of a discussion on the Better Nation blog, Chris Jones wrote:

A couple of ideas spring to mind that would help Labour to get serious about Scotland:

  1. Re-organising around Scottish Parliamentary constituencies instead of Westminster CLPs – firstly to get the mindset into “Holyrood First” and secondly to ensure that where Holyrood constituencies are incongruous with Westminster that the MSP or candidate is adequately supported. Take Sarah Boyack for instance: she commands respect across the benches yet didn’t have the respect of the Labour Party to initially properly fund and support her campaign because responsibility was equally split across 5 CLPS.
  2. Consider breaking off the Scottish Labour Party into an affiliated model – like the CDU/CSU in Germany/Bavaria.
  3. Open a think-tank in Scotland that is independent from Westminster leadership in policy development terms.
  4. Lose the visceral hatred of the SNP – it masks the fact that there’s a lot of decent folk in the Scottish Labour Party. And, that those decent folk were just tired of the opportunist and vexatious opposition tactics that became the hallmark of the last 4 years.

I very much agree with these points. The only thing I would add is that they need to learn that negative campaigning only works in a two-party system, where being negative about your opponent necessarily will help you, but not in a multi-party system, where criticism of one specific adversary might help all of their opponents, not just you (to be concrete, if Labour criticise the Tories, that might as well make people vote SNP), so electoral campaigns need to be positive.

Also, all of these points apply just as much to the Tories, and to a lesser extent to the Liberal Democrats.