Friday, 20 June 2014

Unintended Consequences

The French sentence 'La tortue manges des pâtes'  .... The turtle (or maybe tortoise) is eating some ??? Pasta? Pastries? What is eating What?

By locking their language in to unresponsive straight jacket, the French end up with the ridiculous situation that as 'Pasta' is not a French word, they won't officially use the word 'Pasta', but instead have to use a 'French equivalent which was 'Pâtes', but which also means pastry / pastries. So they end up with ambiguous statements like above.

This is an example of the Law of Unintended Consequences, in this case of trying to freeze a language, but there are numerous other examples of this law in action about.

There Are Numerous Examples Of The Law Of Unintended Consequences

For instance, in the bad old days, when women were treated differently than men, you never saw a man seated when a woman was stood up on a bus or train. Now on my daily commute, I see women stood while men stay seated. This is a by product of 'equality' pressures and aggressive feminism.

I happily admit that I stay seated these days, although there was a time when I would offer my seat. I was cured of that when while in London, I offered my seat to a woman on the underground. I may as well have stuck my hand up her skirt for the negative response that I got. She rather loudly and pointedly refused, in a way which, looking back on it, was meant to embarrass me. Fortunately I was in full 'Northern' mode while down south, so spent the next 20 minutes loudly discussing why northern women had more sense (and manners), than southern women with my companion. She got the point and moved away.

Another example of this law is 'Multiculturalism', which was meant to be a a way of embracing immigrants cultures. Instead, under various socialist regimes, it ended up as an attack on our native culture, and has led to ghettos in the UK where Britishness or whiteness are attacked ....UKIP's rise is a direct result of this wrong 'ism' ... but all three are proof that any 'ism' is suspect as policy!


  1. "Des pâtes" is not ambiguous, it means pasta and nothing else. "La pâte" (singular) means dough. The word for pastries is "viennoiserie".

    1. Well I must have a word with the Duolingo App .... who keep failing me when I translate it as 'Pasta', whereas I pass if I use the word pastries as a translation of Pâtes

    2. Your app is right about 'la tortue' though; it's the same word for turtle and tortoise. You can say 'la tortue des mers' if you want to but it's tricky if it's in shallow water because there's no word for that, you have to say 'not deep' ! Translation programs are part of the reason that I'm skeptical about self-drive cars and autonomous robots.


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