RE: Wade's hammer

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Wed Jan 09 2002 - 16:14:33 GMT

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Wade's hammer
    Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2002 16:14:33 -0000 
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            <Americans think of Merlin as a magician and Bertrand Russel as a
    > and see no connection between the two. It would be like confusing a
    > chemist
    > with an alchemist or an astronomer with an astrologer.>
            Of course, if you go back far enough, in the days of "natural
    philosophy" there were few differences between astrologers and astronomers,
    or chemists and alchemists. Natural philosophers would mix reasonable
    experiments on the natural world with experiments on things like trying to
    turn lead into gold. A bit like many of the inventions of the industrial
    revolution came from rich amateurs rather than trained scientists. BTW, are
    you really saying the average American has heard of Bertrand Russell? I'm
    pretty certain the average Brit hasn't (maybe a few decades ago more would
    have known of him). On Big Brother 2 in the UK, a couple of the contestants
    (including the winner) did not know the name of the first man on the moon...
    A point of trivia- only in Britain and the US of the 18 countries to have
    run big brother shows did contestants fail to have sex, ah the impotence of
    empires old and new...

            <On the world stage, English has become the language of choice for
    > wanting to do business. But the English they most often choose and
    > specify
    > in their ads for English teachers is American English. There are two
    > reasons for that: first, the business world is dominated by the American
    > economy and second the majority of Asian students expect to go to American
    > universities. Nearly all of the testing for ESL in Taiwan, for instance,
    > is done by Americans and American institutions. But my point is that it's
    > American English that is becoming the worldwide standard outside of
    > commonwealth countries. Asians find it more useful and there's enough of
    > a
    > difference to make people ask for it by name.>
            By the numbers of Hong Kong and Taiwanese students that go through
    our doors I'd dispute that (although it's probably more true of the Japanese
    when learning English). In places like Hong Kong, Malaysia and India,
    Britian's colonial legacy has heavily influenced the English that is used.
    I suspect that Asians dealing with American companies might prefer to learn
    how Americans spell things differently from other English speaking nations
    and in that sense may find it useful. I don't see how a language that is
    exactly the same bar a few spelling changes, and colloquial differences
    (which aren't taught by language tutors) could become dominant in and of
    itself, the economic angle is clearly significant. Still, give it a century
    or so, and we'll all be speaking some version of Cantonese or Mandarin. (if
    th movies are to be believed, we're only 17 years away from speaking that
    cool language Harrison Ford's sidekick speaks in Blade Runner).

            I did recently discover the root of that aluminum/aluminium
    disparity in US/UK pronunciation, apparently it was to do with the British
    rather pompously deciding that the naming of the new element aluminum was
    incorrect as elements ended in -ium (they forgot about, or ignored Platinum
    but there you go). So in Britain an i was added. So it's actually us Brits
    who mispronounce it (or rather pronounce it differently because we spell it
    differently). Us Brits like our words difficult- and (for Aussie list
    members) left un-abbreviated, particularly one I heard recently on
    Neighbours, the use of the word 'tat' to mean 'tattoo'.


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