May 12th, 2013

alphabets

The Brussels dialect of English

Thanks to both Cory Doctorow and Bruce Sterling for linking to this "brief list of misused English terminology in EU publications", one of a staggering number of guidelines for translators in and for the EU institutions.

On one level, it's a fair cop. I have certainly encountered every single usage listed by the writer of the document (attributed to one Jeremy Gardner) during my 14 years in Brussels, particularly in the last six years when my office has been in the heart of the EU quarter. (The document omits "cocktail", which in Brussels means a reception where wine and snacks are served, but never actual cocktails.)

But on the other hand, I find myself dissatisfied with some of the analysis. One or two of the listed usages are clearly wrong - for instance, I'll agree that "punctually" or "opportunity" should never be used as illustrated. However, what is the problem with using "badge" to mean a security pass, even if it is not stuck or sewn onto your clothing? And "comitology" and "cabinet" are certainly terms of art which are taught to every student of EU structures and actually have Wikipedia articles (linked); they may not be in the OED but they clearly have legitimacy through widespread use. This is not just the way the EU crowd write, it is the way they talk, and on one level this looks like an attempt to constrain the natural development of linguistic communication to arbitrary rules set by people who are not in the conversation.

In fairness, this document was intended for a fairly small audience - those translators who are drafting material for readers outside the Eurobubble. Considered as a guide to making EU documents comprehensible to native speakers of English (and those who use it professionally as a second language outside the EU context) it is probably a very useful piece of work. But my anarchist soul wishes it had been presented as a dictionary of the Brussels dialect of English, rather than a finger-wagging set of admonitions about right and wrong usage.
rebus

May Books 5) Doors Open, by Ian Rankin

'I spent a lot of time in the library.'
'Might explain why I don't remember you - I only went there the one time, took out The Godfather.'
'Was that for recreational purposes or for training?'
An excellent story of a raid on the National Gallery of Scotland, mostly from the point of view of the upper-middle class robbers who hire an underworld boss as an accomplice, and also that of the detective investigating them. I expected the tension to be about whether or not they would be caught - and knowing Rankin, either is possible - but in fact there was an excellent twist at the end when the real story is revealed.

I see there's a new Rebus novel out, coming in paperback next month. One for the list.

lovejoy

May Books 6) The Judas Pair, by Jonathan Gash

Just when I was in paradise the phone rang.
This is the very first Lovejoy novel, published in 1977 and adapted for TV as part of the first season in 1986. It is interesting coming to it after having read more than half of the rest of the series. Very few of the other books are really recognisable as murder mysteries; they tend to spiral off into grand conspiracies involving antiques and treachery, ending without much resolution. But here there is an actual suspicious death involving obscure antiques (the eponymous pair of duelling pistols) and when Lovejoy is called upon to locate the pistols he inevitably investigates the murder as well, and what's more solves it. It is also noticeable that Lovejoy's supernatural ability to detect antiques is a bit less well developed here than in some later books, and that Tinker Dill (played so lovably by Dudley Sutton on TV) is not the repellent character he becomes later in the sequence.

One very negative point: Lovejoy hits his girlfriend in the first chapter. I am surprised that this was acceptable in 1977 and I would like to think that it would not be acceptable now. I suspect that this (and much else) was omitted from the TV adaptation.

torchwood

Torchwood Season 2 (2nd half)

I haven't given up on my New Who rewatch - on the contrary, I'm about to get to The Last Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith - but I am way behind on writing it up; three entries, to be precise, this one and the two I had planned for Season 3 of Doctor Who. Anyway, better late than never. These entries will be brief, with one exception for the story I really hated.

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Apart from the abysmal Fragments, and with some reservations for Dead Man Walking and Exit Wounds, this run is of much more consistently decent quality than the equivalent run from the first season.

Edited to add: I forgot to do obituaries for Owen and Tosh, the first two regular characters in the Whoniverse to be killed off simultaneously (although for the second time in Owen's case).

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Coming next: Donna Noble!

< The Curse of Fatal Death | The Webcasts | Rose - Dalek | The Long Game - The Parting of the Ways | Comic Relief 2006 - The Girl in the Fireplace | Rise of the Cybermen - Doomsday | Everything Changes - They Keep Killing Suzie | Random Shoes - End of Days | Smith and Jones - 42 | Human Nature / The Family of Blood - Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords & The Infinite Quest | Revenge of the Slitheen - The Lost Boy & Time Crash | Voyage of the Damned - Adam | Reset - Exit Wounds