Saturday, 11 February 2017

A bit of a laugh ... and then some serious thoughts!

As a permanent, lifelong student of languages I can appreciate a good joke about language, especially about how seriously regional languages take themselves. Here's one I came across about Welsh:

"The Welsh language was just made up to wind up tourists, Wales has admitted.

Describing the hoax as ‘like crop circles only way better’, Welsh comedian Simon the Williams told reporters how he and some friends invented the language for a laugh one evening using a bag of scrabble letters with all the vowels taken out.

Since that night in 1983, the whole thing just took off, with most of the country joining in just to piss off people from Hampshire on driving holidays.

"You thought we were speaking a real language all this time”, said Williams,  wiping tears of laughter from his eyes. “It’s just run and run and run. You gave us money for it and everything.

"Jesus, you bunch of mugs. We spent it on beer. “

Or ‘Llogryllorhychach’ as we say in Wales”, he added before collapsing into helpless giggles again. 

Tourists are left wondering what else about Wales might just be make-believe to wind them up, and questions are already being asked about Welsh cakes, Newport and Joe Ledley.

In the wake of the revelations, the BBC is looking into the funding of its other regional language services such as Scots Gaelic channel BBC Alba, which receives a huge budget and is run out of the snug of a pub in Dundee."

For any of my Welsh-speaking friends, and I do have a few, I hasten to say that include this in my blog as a bit of fun. Of course minority languages should be preserved. Cultures should be maintained. But we should not lose our sense of fun. That way intolerance lies.

On the subject of tolerance or intolerance, the question of a certain president's state visit to the UK keeps bouncing around. The speaker of the House of Commons spoke out against it, leading to applause, a thing unheard of the House. And now some Conservative MP wants to bring a vote of no-confidence against Mr Bercow because of the apparent inappropriateness of his remarks about Potus. And so it goes on. And suddenly I find myself siding with people I never particularly agreed with before, such as Prince Charles and now John Bercow. It's a funny old life!

They are trying to find a way round the problem by suggesting that the visit should be scheduled when Parliament is in summer recess, thus avoiding the need for POTUS to address the assembled MPs at all. It might be necessary for the queen to rethink her arrangements for the summer but, who knows, she might be more amenable than MPs are.

Then I read this morning about raids on illegal immigrants in the USA in a number of states, enforcing the president's "crackdown". Here's a link.

As I read it, it became clear that President Obama had carried out similar "raids", sending some illegal immigrants back to Mexico. On the whole, they were people with a criminal record and a decision was made not to target people who had done no wrong. Is that going to happen this time around? Now people are afraid. Children are not turning up at school. Those whose work permit is about to run out are worried about their future. Will permits be renewed in the current climate?

The whole thing raises difficult questions. Of course the situation needs controlling but one thing strikes me. When they carry out "raids", do they also target the people who are employing illegal immigrants? Those who get away with paying an illegal immigrants to clean their house, to look after their children, to pick their fruit, to work in their workshops, presumably paying them a good deal less than they would have to pay American citizens, contribute to the problem. Indeed they make the whole thing possible!

And it applies in this country too!

That's my two-penno'rth for today!

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