Friday, 6 June 2014

Jolly Tasty Drinkie

Globalisation's down-side can come in unexpected forms as the Chinese are discovering. They seem to  suffer from the French disease of 'language purity' (I understand that the Spanish try it was well via the Real Academia del Idioma), and are finding that in a world full of Anglo-Saxon 'English speakers' who wilfully pick up, create and drop words by the hundreds every year, its near impossible to stop these words invading the Chinese language as well.

So iPad and iTunes and YouTube (all brand names, rather than actual words), have invaded the language untouched by translations, whereas Coca Cola is 'tasty and jolly' in Chinese ... ironically many of the brand terms that are 'translated', are meaningless terms in English.

Jolly Tasty Drinkie!

In the long term, in any battle between a pictographic language and a phonetic language like English, there can only be one eventual winner. Where would English be without other people's words! - taxi, yacht, pyjama, mutton, orthodontist the list is endless ...including bamboo, Ketchup and tea. English wouldn't be the driving force that it is today if it hadn't embraced "foreign" words from just about everywhere.

In Wales, Welsh is force fed to the school population, despite it being all but dead, and they do the same nonsense with Gaelic in the Celtic fringes ... or in England, teaching French to the English. In the real world, Spanish (Americas), German (Europe) or Chinese (Trade) are the only viable alternatives to English, with "Ich bin ein Englander" (I am a monkey wrench) giving us shades of JFK's "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a doughnut).

Welcome to 'Globalisation' China ... you can't have your cake and eat it. Top economy, means global influences .... oh and good luck trying to export Chinese phrases or words nowadays, as you are only selling us our own inventions cheaper, not the brand new concepts that create new words.


  1. Pictographic vs letters must be very similar to Roman Numerals vs numbers, as you said, no contest.
    Speaking of Wales [the birthplace of the equals-sign] I heard that in a few year's time there will be more Englanders than Welsh living there.

    1. Well I live and learn ... the '=' (equals) sign was invented in 1557 by Robert Recorde, a Welsh physician and mathematician ... I admit I had never thought about who had invented them.

      Apparently the '+' (plus) sign was first mentioned by the Italian Nicole Oresme in the 14th century.

      The '-' (minus) sign seems to have developed as a shorthand from a tilde written over a letter 'm' when used to indicate subtraction - the resulting 'm̄' standing for meno, i.e., minus in Latin.

      As for your other point 'more Englanders than Welsh living there.' ... well English speakers certainly. However I would contend that in modern BBC PC think, their children would be 'Welsh' and not 'Englanders' (Except to the native Welsh who will always think of them as 'Englanders'), so the problem, if such it is, will be gone inside a generation ... at least to the BBC's satisfaction LOL.


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