bookmark_borderChanging England’s borders

One of the main reasons there are so many people in favour of separate parliaments for Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland is that England is dominating the UK so heavily.

Just look at the pie chart on the right – England constituted 84% of the UK’s population in 2001.

I therefore decided to investigate some ways of fixing the English problem by changing England’s borders. I’ve mainly used the English Regions for the following maps and figures.

My first idea was to extend Scotland (adding Cumbria and the North-East) and Wales (adding Cornwall and the rest of the South-West), bringing both up to about eight million inhabitants.

It’s nowhere near enough, though – England is still more than big enough to run the show undisturbed.

To make this approach work, I guess Scotland would have to be extended all the way down to the Humber, and Wales would have to encompass the West Midlands, but that would completely undermine the Scottishness of Scotland and the Welshness of Wales.

My second idea was to split England into East and West along a line extending down from the Pennines, but that isn’t enough, either: East England would be able to run the show on their own (but only just – moving a few counties such as Hampshire from East to West would take the East down under 50%).

One might also argue that Cumbria is much more similar to Northumberland than to Somerset, so it might not be a very natural split.

I also wonder whether London would dominate the East so strongly that the genuine needs of the peripheral areas would be completely overlooked.

Another option would be to create a Greater London by merging London with the East and South East of England. This would actually work fairly well – although Greater London would be a lot less populous than the Rest of England, it would probably be able to hold its own given the way London dominates the whole of the UK.

This might also be a very good way for the remainder of England to build up a identity separate from London, perhaps centred around Manchester or Birmingham.

Finally, I tried to recreate the Danelaw. This would actually balance the two halves of England very neatly and would from a mathematical point of view be the best solution. However, it would place London on the border (just south of it, to be precise), and I’m not sure whether that’d be a good or a bad thing.

From the point of view of Danelaw, its economy would be hugely influenced by London (and many people would be commuting from Danelaw into London), but it wouldn’t have any influence on over it.

From the point of view of non-Danelaw England (Wessex?), it would completely dominated by London, although it would be in periphery.

bookmark_borderVale, Hans H. Ørberg!

Jeg opdagede først i dag, at Hans H. Ørberg afgik ved døden den 17. februar i år, 89 år gammel.

Han var forfatter til det fantastiske latinkursus Lingua Latina per se illustrata, som formår at lære den interesserede elev latin uden at bruge andre sprog end latin overhovedet.

Denne måde at skrive sprogkurser på (“Naturmetoden”) var ikke Ørbergs egen opfindelse (se nedenfor), men han forfinede den og holdt fast i den, da den ellers var ved at gå i glemmebogen.

Jeg overvejede en overgang at skrive speciale om Naturmetoden, og jeg udvekslede derfor et par emails med ham. I maj 2001 skrev han flg. til mig:

Arthur M. Jensen er idémanden bag naturmetoden især inspireret af Otto Jespersen og den ‘direkte metode’, men han har mig bekendt aldrig skrevet noget om den teoretiske baggrund for metoden – selv henviste han altid til sit forord til det engelske (og franske) kursus. Han har heller ikke selv formået at praktisere metoden i synderlig grad, for hans forfatterskab indskrænker sig vistnok til de indledende, temmelig indholdsløse kapitler af ‘Engelsk efter Naturmetoden’, resten er, så vidt jeg véd, skrevet af hans datter Thurid Grièse (og hendes mand?) og for en del af Knud Schibsbye; det franske kursus er skrevet af Oleg Koefoed (bortset fra kap. 1-8, som Thurid Grièse har ansvaret for), og det italienske og russiske kursus er helt igennem skrevet af Oleg Koefoed. Alligevel står Arthur M. Jensen som forfatter på titelbladet! Det ønskede han også på det latinske kursus, som han knap nok har gennemlæst, men det protesterede jeg imod. Da jeg forelagde ham mit første udkast i 1952 foreslog jeg titlen ‘Lingua Latina per se illustrata’, men det blev afvist til fordel for ‘Lingua Latina secundum naturae rationem explicata’ (ordet ‘naturmetoden’ skulle indgå i titlen).

Selv er jeg ikke nogen teoretiker, praksis er for mig det vigtigste (og det skal ikke nægtes at det var en hård opgave at tilpasse denne form for direkte metode så den kunne praktiseres på et grammatisk sprog som latin), men i de foredrag jeg har måtte holde om mit latinkursus ved forskellige lejligheder, har jeg prøvet at formulere principperne for hvad jeg kalder ‘kontextuel induktion’ – sidste gang 19. maj i år ved en konference for franske latinlærere i Paris. […]

Arthur M. Jensen var først og fremmest forretningsmand og hans virksomhed ‘The Nature Method Institutes’ havde stor succes i mange europæiske lande, hovedsagelig med det engelske kursus. Jeg var fast medarbejder 1952-61 med den opgave at skrive kursus i latin. Da det var helt færdigt i 1957, arbejdede jeg med metodisk kontrol af Oleg Koefoeds italienske og russiske kursus foruden med følgemateriale til og revision af det latinske. I 1961 søgte jeg tilbage til gymnasieskolen (Ordrup Gymnasium) og kom i 1963 til Grenå. Herfra samarbejdede jeg med Erik Hoder og Knud Schibsbye om en tiltrængt revision af det engelske kursus, som ikke nåede at blive gennemført.

Arthur M. Jensen døde i slutningen af 60’erne og virksomheden blev først videre af hans yngre kompagnon Erik Hoder, som længe havde været den egentlige leder. Erik Hoder døde i 1975, og derefter gik det rask tilbage for virksomheden, som helt ophørte i løbet af 80’erne. Derfor kan man nok ikke få naturmetodekurserne i de moderne sprog idag (især det italienske kursus er fortrinligt).

Som det ses, var der ikke skrevet meget lingvistisk om metoden, så jeg opgav at skrive speciale om den.

Lige siden har jeg dog ment, at det er en stor fejl, der ikke findes Naturmetode-kurser i alle sprog. Jeg brugte selv et tilsvarende kursus til at lære esperanto med, “Esperanto la? Naturmetodo/Esperanto la? Metodo Friis” (den anden titel blev vist taget i brug, da Friis opdagede, han ikke han lov til at bruge varemærket “Naturmetoden”), og det var også fremragende.

Hans H. Ørberg er nok død, men hans værk vil leve i meget lang tid!

bookmark_borderThe emergence of hypergrams in the written language of young people

Anybody who has young Facebook contacts from the UK is likely to have come across weird spellings in recent years.

It started out as text speak, i.e., the abbreviation of words to make them easier to type on a phone, such as gr8t ‘great’, 2moz ‘tomorrow’ and wat ‘what’.

However, recently they seem to have started making the words longer too, typically by repeating letters.

Here are a few examples from my Facebook contacts:

helloooo bestieee ?
ehhh itss kindaa sick :L
NAKKKKEDDD scenes :O wuu2 ?
yu madeee soo many mistaakes i think u comeee tomorrow i think orr maybeee wednesdaaay :S
in londonnn and itss fiaaaaane ! 😀

I’m not aware of any existing term for these spellings, so I’m going to call them hypergrams.

Obviously they help to mark the writer as a young person, but we asked Marcel over dinner whether they served any specific purpose (such as adding emphasis to a word), but he claimed this was not the case.

It would be interesting to know if anybody has done any research on this topic.

bookmark_borderGenerations


Our parents’ generation were born at a time of strife and poverty, but after that things got better and better for them. However, the picture for our generation is much more complex.

I was therefore very interested when I found a book from 1991 (“Generations” by Strauss and Howe), which claims that there are types of generations, and that these types are repeated in a cycle.

In that way, Phyllis and I are part of a generation which in many ways has more in common with the people born between 1883 and 1900 (that is, those who were hit by the Great Depression when they were between 28 and 46 and for whom WWII ended when they were between 45 and 62).

And to Phyllis and me, the following quote sounds very modern: “We have not men fit for the times. We are deficient in genius, in education, in travel, in fortune – in everything. I feel unutterable anxiety.” However, it was uttered by John Adams (1735-1826), a member of our generation, just three cycles earlier.

Of course, this generational cycle idea cannot be proven, but the fact that the book is nearly twenty years old makes it more powerful, because it sounds spookily prophetic in places.

For instance, the book discusses how different generations would handle a terror attack, and bear in mind that George W. Bush was a baby-boomer (“Boomer” in this book’s terminology):

Finally, suppose the terrorists were to strike during the upcoming Crisis constellation […]. Boomer leaders […] would neither hide nor ponder the rumor; instead, they would exaggerate the threat […] and tie it to a larger sense of global crisis. Unifying the nation as a community, these leaders would define the enemy broadly and demand its total defeat – regardless of the human and economic sacrifices required. (p. 375)

This following looks pretty prophetic, too:

By the late 1990s, […] [pay] will be increasingly market-driven […]. Year-to-year results will be rewarded more than lifetime achievement. The stars who can win, show Ruthian bravado, and fill arenas will make fantastic sums (enhanced by international bidding).

[…]

Looking for a lightning strike at success, 13ers will dart from job to job. Their mobility will discourage employers from investing in job training – or from offering pensions to new hires.

I’m not saying the book is correct in all its predictions, but it’s definitely worth a read.

I’ve not finished reading it yet, so I might blog more about it later.

bookmark_borderRotated maps

Some years ago, a colleague of mine from Cartographic gave me a wonderful map: It showed Scotland and Ireland, but rotated so that Scotland was straight above Ireland, and with all place names in Irish and Scottish Gaelic.

I’m not sure why, but the usual way of displaying Ireland next to England makes me feel Ireland is far away from Scotland, when they really are very close together.

The map sadly got lost when I moved from Mavisbank Gardens to Rose Street, but I’ve tried to recreate the effect here, although I’ve arranged the two countries horizontally instead of vertically:

Feel free to tell me that everything looks entirely normal to you.

If you’re anything like me, however, you will be amazed how some places (such as Belfast or Islay) suddenly look like they’re central rather than on the periphery.

bookmark_borderJapanese levels of debt

Private and public-sector debtMcKinseyQuarterly has published a scary article (free registration required) that shows how the UK’s debt (private and public sector) has now reached Japanese levels, far higher than other Western countries, including to the US. (Hattip: Guy Fawkes’ blog.)

I’m not sure how serious this is in its own right. For instance, for Japan it is often said that the massive debt is less of a problem because most of the creditors are Japanese, too. However, this is unlikely to be the case for the UK.

All that I can see is that if the UK’s debt needs to be reduced to American (or just French) levels, it’s going to be very, very painful.

bookmark_borderLangtidsstegning af and



The duck
Originally uploaded by professor evil

Min far og mig bruger hvert år denne opskrift fra dk.kultur.mad+drikke, når vi skal lave juleand (tak til Stig Bergmann):

Ænder bør altid veje 3.000 gr og derover, der er ikke megen kød på mindre ænder.

Anden renses og gnides ind og udvendigt med salt og peber. Til fyld renser du og skære 3-4 æbler i skiver, det må gerne være Belle Boskop eller endnu bedre Cox Orange. bland de skivede æbler med en håndfuld svedsker uden sten, luk anden med kødnåle.

Læg anden på bradenpanden, fuglen skal vende brystsiden nedad. Lad den stege i en 130 grader varm ovn i 4 timer. Vend derefter dyret om og lad det stege færdig i 2 timer. Den er nu så mør at den knapt skal parteres.

I år er jeg dog kommet for sent i gang, så jeg har været nødt til at skrue lidt op for temperaturen.

Glædelig jul, i øvrigt!