Monday, February 29, 2016

Word of the day: rapacious

Oxford Dictionaries:
aggressively greedy or grasping: 'rapacious landlords'

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary:
wanting more money or goods than you need or have a right to

Wort des Tages: raunen

Wortart: schwaches Verb

Gebrauch: gehoben

Bedeutung: leise, mit gedämpfter und gesenkter Stimme, murmelnd etwas sagen

  •     er raunte ihr Zärtlichkeiten ins Ohr
  •     man raunte (sprach heimlich oder flüsternd) über seine Abdankung
  •     substantiviert: ein Raunen ging durch die Menge
  •     in übertragener Bedeutung: raunende Wälder
Quelle: Duden

Friday, February 26, 2016

Word of the day: Gormenghastian

The current issue of Walk magazine (published by the Ramblers) contains an advertorial re Coo Palace. The description as Gormanghastian in scale contains a typo, but the correct term, Gormenghastian, is no less impressive and deserving of word of the day status.

Further reading:

Food for thought for «Krawattenverweigerer»?

The spat between David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister's Questions this week provides food for thought for «Krawattenverweigerer».

Patrick Harvie is unsure whether the advice that “if you’re going to say something radical, make sure you wear a suit” is accurately attributed to Alex Salmond’s grandfather, but he reckons it has a lot of value.

Meanwhile, John Crace came to the conclusion that the PM's outburst wasn’t about his mother, but about him and his values of pomp, circumstance and entitlement.

Be that as it may, the German motto «Grips statt Schlips» seems quite sensible/attractive.


Wort des Tages: larmoyant

Wortart: Adjektiv

Gebrauch: bildungssprachlich, meist abwertend

Bedeutung: sentimental-weinerlich; mit allzu viel Gefühl [und Selbstmitleid]

Beispiel: etwas in larmoyantem Ton sagen

Quelle: Duden

Gustave Courbet, »Der Felsbogen bei Étretat«

Weitere 'Nachforschungen' im Zusammenhang mit einem Postkartenmotiv, das einen Ausschnitt von Gustave Courbet's Gemälde »Der Felsbogen bei Étretat« zeigt, ergaben, dass Étretat (Normandie) vor allem durch die steilen Felsklippen mit ihren spektakulären Felsformationen, die den Ort auf beiden Seiten umrahmen, bekannt ist, und dass Étretat seit dem Beginn der Romantik ein Sujet der Malerei war [Wikipedia].

Postkarte: Gustave Courbet, »Der Felsbogen bei Étretat«
The Sea-Arch at Etretat, 1869, Courbet, Gustave (1819-77)
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham / Bridgeman Images

Über Gustave Courbet weiß Wikipedia ebenfalls Interessantes zu berichten, u.a:
"1853 stellte die Regierung Courbet in Aussicht, für die Weltausstellung 1855 ein großformatiges Bild zu malen, falls er vorher einen Entwurf zur Begutachtung einer Jury vorlegen würde. Courbet lehnte dies jedoch ab, da er sich in seiner künstlerischen Freiheit nicht beschneiden lassen wollte. Nachdem drei der vierzehn von ihm zur Ausstellung eingereichten Bilder für die Weltausstellung abgelehnt wurden (darunter die Allegorie Das Atelier des Künstlers), errichtete er parallel dazu mit der finanziellen Unterstützung seines Freundes und Förderers Alfred Bruyas seinen eigenen Pavillon du Réalisme. In diesem wurden zusätzlich zu den elf auf der Weltausstellung gezeigten weitere vierzig Gemälde gezeigt".
Weitere Infos zu bzw. Bilder von Gustave Courbet bei Artsy.
Apropos Weltausstellung: die nächste 'World Expo' findet 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan, statt.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Word of the day: posit


verb (posits, positing, posited)

1 [with object] Put forward as fact or as a basis for argument:
'the Confucian view posits a perfectible human nature'

1.1 (posit something on) Base something on the truth of (a particular assumption):
'these plots are posited on a false premise about women’s nature as inferior'

2 [with object and adverbial] Put in position; place:
'the Professor posits Cohen in his second category of poets'

Philosophy: A statement which is made on the assumption that it will prove to be true.

Mid 17th century: from Latin posit- 'placed', from the verb ponere.

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

posit something posit that… (formal) to suggest or accept that something is true so that it can be used as the basis for an argument or discussionsynonym postulateMost religions posit the existence of life after death.She posits that ideas of gender are socially constructed.They were forced to modify the political premises on which the regime was posited. Source: Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The English: Are They Human?

According to a reliable (English) source, the book with the title The English: Are They Human? by Gustaaf Johannes Renier, published 1931 by Williams & Norgate Ltd, is quite entertaining. It is described at as a resident alien's views on the English:
"In expressing my opinion of the English I shall be frank. If I see much that is admirable, I see much also that is imperfect and not infrequently my sense of this imperfection has been heightened by the conviction of so many English people that nothing but perfection dwells within their shores....

I shall be doing no more than thinking aloud, and those I address are those who move around me, the English among whom I live, whose interests are mine, and whose prejudices, to some extent, I have adopted. Honest I shall be, in so far as I shall try honestly to express my bias.

I am speaking about the English, not about the British. There is no question in this work of the Scots, proud, intelligent, religious and unfathomable. Nor the Welsh, minute, musical, clever and tempermental. I am not writing about the charming untruthful, bloodthirsty and unreliable Irish. I shall be exclusively concerned with the English, the unintellectual, restricted, stubborn, steady, pragmatic, silent and reliable English."
According to, G. J. Renier (1892–1962) was born in Flushing, Netherlands, the child of a Dutch father and a French-speaking Belgian mother. He was sent to school in Antwerp and Leuven, and studied History at the University of Ghent, beginning a doctorate under Henri Pirenne. At the outbreak of the First World War he fled to England, and remained there working as a journalist, biographer and translator, before completing a doctorate under Pieter Geyl. In 1936 he succeeded Geyl as Reader in Dutch History at University College London, retiring in 1957.

The Shepherd's Life, or: The Lake District is more than William Wordsworth

James Rebanks reflects on the worldwide response to his book, The Shepherd's Life in: One shepherd and his beloved Herdwick sheep. Rebanks reckons his Twitter feed is popular because it offers a glimpse behind the scenes of a way of life that most people will never experience.

See also David Craig's review in the Guardian, which reports the (little known?) fact that James Rebanks has a second job advising the Unesco World Centre in Paris on how to help communities to benefit from tourism.

Unfortunately, the BBC Book of the Week podcast series isn't available at present. Hopefully it will be back at some point.

The Nurture Eden trails seem well worth exploring, as does Nurture Lakeland, which, according to the website, was originally launched in 1994 as the 'Lake District Tourism and Conservation Partnership' and rebranded in 2008 to "recognise the new challenge of climate change and the role we could play in promoting responsible tourism".

Monday, February 22, 2016

Eton Mess

Now that the "incorrigible attention-seeker" Boris Johnson (to quote Andrew Rawnsley) has finally entered the stage, Guardian columnist Matthew d'Ancona refers to the situation as an Eton mess and suggests that "a battle between two Etonians is a poor way to decide what kind of country we want Britain to be".

Interestingly, Nicholas Watt, the Guardian's chief political correspondent, reckons that: "Johnson will have judged that campaigning to leave and losing is survivable. Campaigning to remain and losing would probably be terminal". See Guardian article here and, on a related note, an article on the Bullingdon Club of October 2015 in the German magazine Der Spiegel.

Boris Johnson and David Cameron were both members
of the exclusive Bullingdon Club. Getty Images.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Brexit saga continues

The Brexit saga continues with an excellent commentary by Andrew Rawnsley:
"So the phoney war is over. The real battle is engaged. After decades of tortured agonising about this country’s relationship with its continent, three years of manoeuvring by David Cameron, 30 hours of sweaty haggling in Brussels and an extraordinary 140-minute cabinet meeting yesterday morning, the referendum finally begins. The United Kingdom’s complicated and often contradictory feelings about itself and its role in the world will now be compressed into four months of intense argument. Rival visions of the country and competing versions of its future will contend to impress voters before they make their choice on 23 June, the date with destiny announced from Downing Street by the prime minister."
David Cameron in Downing Street delivering a statement
on his EU deal. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Selected quotes from Andrew Rawnsley's commentary:
One way of looking at this, always popular among both commentators and opposition parties, is to see this moment as the final, and potentially extremely bloody, act of a Tory psychodrama that has riven that party for so long.
Those who clamour for what they call self-government cannot even agree with each other about how to run a campaign.
Journalists have colluded in the self-pleasuring of Boris Johnson by obsessing over which side of the fence that incorrigible attention-seeker will fall.  
It is certainly correct that this will be the climactic struggle for the soul of the right that has been brewing for so long. It is also true that the stakes couldn’t be more vertiginous for David Cameron.
After all those years in which Europhobia has been pandered to and fed by Tory leaders, it is a novelty to hear Mr Cameron making the arguments for membership. His backing chorus will look impressive ...
... On the other side of the argument will be about half a dozen of the less important members of the cabinet, Nigel Farage, George Galloway, Vladimir Putin, Marine Le Pen and possibly Boris if that is the company he really wants to keep.
his is an age of rage characterised by a widespread and deep-seated alienation from anything and anyone who can be labelled “the establishment”.  
Leaping in the dark will surely feel even riskier when the people urging the blindfolded jump are Nigel Farage and George Galloway.
In or Out will be a generational choice about the future of the United Kingdom.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Cameron fordert EU-weite Umstellung auf Linksverkehr, um Brexit noch abzuwenden

Der Postillion meldet:
Auf dem EU-Gipfel in Brüssel hat der britische Premierminister David Cameron heute erneut klare Forderungen an Europa gestellt, um einen Austritt Großbritanniens aus der Union abzuwenden. Um seinen Mitbürgern zu Hause einen Verbleib in dem Staatenverbund schmackhaft machen zu können, forderte er die EU-weite Umstellung auf Linksverkehr. Andernfalls sei der "Brexit" kaum noch zu verhindern, so Cameron. 

 Der vollständige Postillion-Artikel ist hier zu lesen. 

Friday, February 19, 2016


An updated and expanded version of this blog post can now be found on the HE Translations blog at

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What is the plural of data?

What is the plural of data? Read all about it in the OxfordWords blog.

Cartoon taken from Internet. Source unknown.

All crystal clear, isn't it?

Still, the mass noun argument/explanation in favour of data is could be regarded as rather 'artificial' and/or 'unnecessary'. After all, one could interpret/imagine data as 'pieces of information' in a general context, and (almost literally) 'bits of information' in an IT context, in which case data are makes perfect sense, no?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Nuclear not the answer

The nuclear renaissance pipe dream continues to make headlines in the UK, while anti-nuclear campaigners have known all along that nuclear is not the answer, for a multitude of reasons.

Message from Greenpeace to the Chancellor, 15 February 2016

Press cuttings from Leicester, 1991

Saturday, February 13, 2016


According to Wikipedia, "Jericho is a period drama series created and written by Steve Thompson and directed by Paul Whittington. The eight-part series premiered on ITV on 7 January 2016. It is set in the fictional town of Jericho, a shanty town in the Yorkshire Dales that springs up around the construction of a railway viaduct in the 1870s. The series re-imagines the story of the building of the Ribblehead Viaduct, which is renamed the Culverdale Viaduct in the show".

You can read about The true story of Yorkshire’s own Wild West in the Yorkshire Post

Ribblehead Viaduct in North Yorkshire
Ribblehead Viaduct in North Yorkshire

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Old Hunstanton

Old Hunstanton again last weekend – same procedure every year.

Unfortunately, one of the 'highlights' this year was the stranded whale, just a few hundred metres from the hotel.

This was one of an "unprecedented" number of recent live strandings around the North Sea. According to the report on the BBC website here, it will take "many weeks to months to try to address" the question what has brought the whales into the North Sea.

Some 'less appetising' photos here.

Friday, February 05, 2016

I speak therefore I am: How language makes us human

New Scientist reports:
Frogs croak, birds sing and monkeys chatter. But no other species has our rich and infinitely adaptable language skills. Without them, trade, tribes, religions and nations couldn’t have existed, to say nothing of the internet or the ink on a page.
To what do we owe our ability to share thoughts and influence others? How does it shape us, and how will it change?

 Read more on the New Scientist website.

The pope’s ‘gossip bomb’

Richard Mansell explains why the excitement about the pope’s ‘gossip bomb’ slang is more of a damp squib.

Maybe I was just a bit too cool.
Giulio Napolitano/
Ultimately translators need to think of where, how and by whom their translations will be used, and create a text that works. They are cross-cultural communicators. That is why they need full awareness of culture and context on both sides, and why the translator’s craft is so rich and so complex, but also so rewarding.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Parkhill House, Aylestone Park, Leicester

Dominic Kealey writes in the current issue of the Aylestone Park newsletter:

It has been saddening to see the recent spate of graffiti attacks around Aylestone, this time a stark expression of the less imaginative side of football fanaticism which adds nothing to the local landscape and presents a headache to those responsible for the upkeep of some of our fine old buildings.

Destruction of our surroundings is a not a new phenomenon however. The Elizabethan styled Rectory that gave way to Freemans Holt in the Old Village, for instance.

Recently rediscovered are partial photographs of Parkhill House near the Leicestershire County Cricket Ground. Built in a grand style at the top end of Park Hill Drive, it was demolished around the time of the Second World War to be replaced by a selection of contemporary family houses. Very little remains of the original house other than a few photographs and traces on maps of some of the formal gardens. The residents included Henry Herbert who died there in 1931 aged 90 (as recorded on a memorial in Welford Rd. Cemetery).

Parkhill House (front) c1925
19th Century maps of Leicester show Parkhill House and one other as lone structures in the area, replaced by housing for workers at the nearby Dye Works and commuters from Leicester as the Electric Tramway became established. Aylestone, once served by as many as five mills had been reduced to one at Aylestone Lock and the bottom end of Park Hill Drive was still a cornfield.

Since that time, other large houses in the Aylestone area were demolished in the 1970s to make way for the construction of the Park Hill Court flats that front onto Aylestone Road.

Parkhill House. The lawn (formerly Tennis Courts) c1925
Two properties remain that continue the Herbert heritage. Built side by side in the garden of the old Parkhill House for children of Henry Herbert, they are in completely different styles but they indicate their influence from an earlier time. Meadowbank (Walter Herbert’s house), constructed in the neo-Georgian manner, displays a grand frontage, symmetry and an ordered façade. The other has a fine slate roof though the front has been changed over the years. It would be good to see any other photographic records that exist of the area. It would also be good to think that the brutal removal of our architectural heritage has been slowed. Let’s hope our Councillors are listening.

Highway Spinney, Leicester

Always nice to take the dog for a walk in Highway Spinney after a dentist session at Braunstone Crossroads. According to NatureSpot, "Highway Spinney is a semi-natural woodland and was designated a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) in 1999. It lies at the edge of Leicester and is separated from its sister woodland, Meynell's Gorse, by Hinckley Road. Conservation work is undertaken by the Friends of Highway Spinney ...".

Update 7 June 2016
Another dentist visit (no drilling, phew). Note that, notwithstanding the Welcome to Braunstone Town sign adjacent to the main entrance to Highway Spinney (see below) and the nice wildflower display surrounding it, it is fact in the City.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

'Urgestein' Hans-Jochen Vogel

Hans-Jochen Vogel wird heute 90 Jahre alt.

Die 'Laudatio' im Spiegel ist voller 'Kraftausdrücke': Besserwisser, Großkopferten, Klarsichthüllen, Starrsinn, Detailversessenheit, Wortwolken, Selbstgefälligkeit, Machtdemonstrationen...

Der interessante Spiegel-Artikel trägt die Überschrift: SPD-Urgestein: Was die deutsche Politik von Hans-Jochen Vogel lernen kann

Don't panic!

Another relaxant (in addition to / as an alternative to the German motto Nicht ärgern, nur wundern and/or Baldwin’s Nervous Pills) is: Don't panic!


What do you make of the abbreviation yo?

First seen on Russia Today, perhaps, e.g. here?

Will it find its way into the New Oxford Style Manual?


Translator humour

Translator 1:
"A few months after I posted that intro, I found a mistake in one of the examples. But since nobody had ever complained about it ..."

Translator 2:
"I postponed my complaints. I'm complaining now (no idea what the mistake was, though)."

Not sure what this reminds me of – Marx Brothers, perhaps?

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Return to one's muttons


OED definition:

Chiefly humorous. to return to one's muttons and variants  [ < Middle French, French revenons à nos moutons, lit. ‘let us return to our sheep’ (1480 as revenons a noz moutons), with allusion to a scene from the Farce de Maistre Pierre Pathelin (1464) in which the judge, in order to bring the litigants back to the matter of the stolen sheep, exclaims revenons à ces moutons!, ‘let us return to these sheep’] : to return to the matter in hand. Similarly to stick to one's muttons.  

1820   M. Edgeworth Let. 5 Nov. in M. Edgeworth in France & Switzerland (1979) 288   But to come back to our Muttons—the wind not being fair we did not sail.
1838   Thackeray Second Lect. Fine Arts in Wks. (1900) XIII. 280   But let us return to our muttons.
1883   M. Oliphant Hester (1984) xix. 196   He..turned away from the subject which had given him this momentary pleasure. ‘Let us return to our muttons,’ he said.
1903   A. Bennett Leonora iii. 72,   I shall have to return to my muttons directly.
1930   Punch 28 May 606/3   Both houses, having dealt with the Whitsuntide holidays, resumed their muttons.
1933   Sun (Baltimore) 3 Mar. 6/7   Let's stick to our muttons, old man radio, and make it music alone.
1943   A. Hastings Bright Conversat. 24   Stick to your muttons, and don't talk tripe.
1974   N. Marsh Black as he's Painted i. 31,   I digress... Shall we return to our muttons?

Call for £200m investment in marine power

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is calling for £200 million of government investment to transform the Clyde and make the west of Scotland a global leader in marine power.

Seems eminently sensible! Read more here.

Why the sun is setting on the Boeing 747


Guy Gratton, Brunel University London

It’s difficult to imagine now, in the age of mass global travel, that building an aeroplane to carry hundreds of people at a time was once seen as a huge risk. But as the world’s first wide-body airliner, the Boeing 747 went on to change not only aviation but the entire tourism industry. Its economic design did much to move international travel within reach of middle-class holiday goers rather than just the privileged few.

However, the venerable Boeing 747 may be nearing the end of its production life – its manufacturing rate is to be halved to six a year. A shift towards newer and more efficient aircraft that can land at smaller (and so more) airports and a tendency to use former passenger planes for freight has reduced the remaining 747 order book to just 20, after building more than 1,500 since 1969.

Die Kulturgeschichte des Zeichnens

Die Ausstellung „Punkt, Punkt, Komma, Strich“ in Heidelberg (bis 14. Februar) zeichnet die Kulturgeschichte des Zeichnens mit 120 Exponaten nach. Laut VDI Nachrichten war das Zeichnen von fundamentaler Bedeutung für das Ingenieur- und Vermessungswesen.

Ein Werk aus dem 16. Jahrhundert von Heinrich Lautensack
aus einem Buch von Sigmug Feyerabend von 1564.
Foto: Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg

In den VDI Nachrichten ist weiter zu lesen:
"Die Konzeption der Heidelberger Ausstellung ist im Rahmen des Forschungsprojekts „Episteme der Linien“ entwickelt worden. Dieses behandelt die historische Entwicklung des Zeichnens und der Zeichnung und zielt damit auf einen der zentralen Bereiche der neuzeitlichen Kunst- und Bildgeschichte. Aristoteles verwendet den Begriff „Episteme“ in seiner Nikomachischen Ethik, um ihn als theoretisches Wissen gegen „Techne“, das praktische Können, abzugrenzen. Episteme und Techne sind nach Aristoteles zwei der fünf Grundhaltungen der Seele, die zur Erfassung des Richtigen benötigt werden. Die anderen sind: „Phronesis“ (sittliche, praktische Einsicht), „Sophia“ (philosophische Weisheit) und „Nous“ (intuitiver Verstand)".
Weiter zum vollständigen Artikel...

Monday, February 01, 2016

Ode to Joy

There is a lot of whingeing about Europe. Can we have a little more positivity, please?

Update 11 March 2016:
See also reference to 'David Cameron’s unenthusiastic, eurosceptical campaign to remain in the EU' at No enthusiasm please, we’re British

For further information see Wikipedia and