Monday, 5 May 2008

hobgoblins, the occasional foul fiend

...and of course Godzilla, who is just a great bloke. For a radioactive lizard, obviously.

I felt as though I was really getting sophisticated when I learned that Godzilla is correctly pronounced Go-ji-ra.

Then again, when do you pronounce things the same way as the people who invented the word, and when do you pronounce it the English way? -tricky.

Working with multinational crews, I observed that British seafarers almost invariably pronounce forrin places in a Very English Way - "Saint Marlowe", "Lay Harve" - and are contemptuous of Forriners who pronounce English words less than perfectly - "Souss- 'ampton".

Only quietly contemptuous, though. They're not uncivilised. Not completely.

I had a bit of the same treatment from a Frenchman, who sneered at my attempt to pronounce "Le Havre" correctly. But then he was a drummer. And I am still struggling with "pneus".

Before I leave this topic, which I should perhaps never have started in the first place, I offer the observation that the BBC are generally rubbish at pronouncing Welsh words.

Here's a useful tip. Useful-ish, anyway. If in doubt, the ll- sound you get at the beginning of Welsh place names (Llandaff, Llantilio Crossenny, Llanfihangel Crucorney, and so on and on) can be fairly well approximated by making the "tl" sound in Bentley.

You'll thank me for that, one day.

It's a quiet news day at Schloss Marland; bear with me, though, please, if I report that, following on from yesterday's concerns, I found this article in the Daily Mail, which is a fairly stock Daily Mail treatment of a trans story; a bit of a non-story in reality; transsexual woman and her former wife are joined in civil partnership. Rather than view this as at least a pragmatic way forward for the pair, or even a shining example of the principle that "amor vincit omnia" (which it may or may not be), the paper invites its readers to look on this as somehow false and wrong. It also refers to the transwoman's former name and refers to her as 'he', despite her having a GRC and theoretically being protected from this sort of disclosure.

In practice, of course, papers print what they please, because unless you've got some severe financial clout and can therefore muster lawyers, you are going to get nowhere, as I discovered when I made a complaint about the Daily Mail to the Press Complaints Commission.

The comments left on the article about the civil partnership are instructive: the writers admit that they don'[t know much about the subject (er, you don't say...) but are generally agreed that it is somehow immoral and ungodly.

Fairly normal stuff, really. It's odd that people with a medical condition can be described as immoral and/or ungodly because of it. But it happens.

On the other hand, I got a nice e-mail from a red panda yesterday (this is the sort of thing that can happen in cyberspace, and I find that it's easier if you just go with the flow). The panda in question is a Christian, but despite this (or, more likely, because of this) is very far from being judgemental, and said some encouraging things about the book. He doesn't read blogs (it's a busy life being a panda) so there's no point saying 'thank you' here. But I shall.

Maybe I should learn to stop worrying so much, particularly about the opinions of the life forms which exist in ponds and under stones. There are hobgoblins and foul fiends out there, and I've met a few of 'em; but mostly people are pretty much OK. Or better.