Former East Lobby

Important

Propria & Tie to Germany

Thomanerchor

This year I am travelling to Leipzig to hear the Thomanerchor!

Newsflash! The Yorkshire Viking Norway is going to Germany!

Last year it was unfortunately not possible to carry out the planned holiday, announced in this blog. God willing that will be different this year. Yesterday I was able to buy one of the last tickets to the grand opening of the Bach Festival in Leipzig.

I’ll write a little more on the coming German Tour this weekend. In the meantime, I shall be changing my own rules a little.

With respect the propria and (school) tie, the propria were designed to spare the latter in order to keep it in good condition. The German Tour will however see both in use.

For a variety of personal reasons, it seems very fitting to me to use propria for this particular trip, and for those same it must therefore be even more so to use the real thing for the opening concert itself. Going to Germany is yet another irony in my life history, for those who remember me from my childhood. It is for that reason I mention this here. If you’re one of those, do get in touch!

More on this later. Watch this space.

Why Does Hardly Anyone Know About SeaMonkey?

SeaMonkey

SeaMonkey is the successor to Netscape.

I’ve been using SeaMonkey for two years. I’m amazed there aren’t more of us.

Many don’t even know what SeaMonkey is. I’m referring to the browser. Today a lot swear to Chrome, or Safari, and there are even a few who stick with Internet Explorer. It’s not these people who surprise me; it’s those who have chosen Firefox, and specially those who use that with Thunderbird I can’t quite understand.

Seamonkey does the work of both! This browser has the same “engine” as both Firefox and Thunderbird. It has the same technology underpinning it. The only difference is that you get everything in one process on your machine! Like the older Netscape, SeaMonkey is a “suite”. Indeed you get an address book, webpage builder, and chat module as well – and it still goes a lot quicker than Firefox in my opinion!

There’s something odd about us human beings. We’ll use lots of money on software like Microsoft Office when alternatives like Open Office are just as good, and won’t cost a penny! That said, I have to admit that SeaMonkey could have been promoted a lot better than it has been. Many people have quite simply never heard of it.

Nevertheless I strongly want to encourage you to try SeaMonkey. If you’re coming from Firefox, there’s no need to feel uncomfortable with something you’re unfamiliar with: you can actually make SeaMonkey look exactly like your old browser by using a so-called “theme”. So try SeaMonkey now!

this post was a translation from today’s post in the sister blog, CQD.

Language Change on Radio Sheffield

Radio Sheffield

Video Didn’t Kill the Radio Star – listening to Radio Sheffield in Norway!

Andy Crane has just been talking about language on Radio Sheffield. More specifically, those expressions that “really get one’s goat”.

I don’t buy the linguists’ reassurances. He had one of these on his program. The English language is getting simpler. That isn’t in dispute. As it does so, however, my opinion is that it is losing nuances. Having more and more new words, which linguists like to mention supporting the idea of language growth, is a red herring. When I broke a set of china that I had inherited (during moving house), I had many more pieces of china than I had had before – but it certainly wasn’t worth the same.

Having now been away from England for a quarter of a century (!), I am sensitive to quite a lot of the changes. The wonders of the internet have allowed me to listen to Radio Sheffield, and it is a surreal experience listening to what I used to listen to as a schoolboy from my DAB/FM/and Internet radio here in Norway. I notice the language immediately, and when Andy Crane decided to talk about this – I couldn’t resist writing.

One of my pet gripes is the loss of the word “pupil”. Right from primary school, children are now called “students”. I know from correspondence with teachers this is done deliberately. “Student” is felt to be more respectful, or as the Outwood empire of schools based at Wakefield puts it “Students First” (yes, I know they are “academies” now, but I don’t have time to moan about that here). Yet this is firstly a loss of an important distinction, and secondly disingenuous in my opinion.

Firstly, a word about “in my opinion” though. That has to be the last time I write this. I remember when I went to the former Polytechnic of Huddersfield, we were told by our lecturer David Lennox that we should have the confidence to write what we thought. It should, he said, be obvious that it was our opinion; and now that we had got a place in higher education we should have that confidence about our own competency on the subjects we were writing about. I mention this because I can almost hear somebody thinking already, “well, that’s only your opinion”. Yes indeed it is my opinion, and that is why I write a blog about it!

By calling children “students” one is being disingenuous. Contrary to what you would think from an age with corporal punishment, schools were less autocratic when I was brought up. Looking at the “discipline policies” anyone can read for themselves on most schools’ websites, it seems to me that instead of calling it “a rule” one calls it now “a policy” – and somehow “policies” seems much nicer. My impression of the “student” life at school is that it is just as controlled as mine ever was as a pupil, if indeed not more so. Now these same policies for “students” are regulating their life even outside the school gates.

Yet there is another problem with “student”, which really comes back in the face of teachers thinking they are showing them respect. Let us say these teachers are successful in sending these “students” into higher education, there will now not be anything special about their new status – as students.  Being a student formerly implied a greater degree of autonomy. If this were not so, then there would be no argument either for abandoning the term “pupil”: as we have seen, “student” is thought to be more respectful. Yet now this word “student” has become devalued and one denies today’s youngsters this later status.

I have already written about how language can sometimes do one’s thinking for a person, instead of the other way round. That English is simplifying (acknowledged by the linguists) means that everything we say today, Shakespeare could have said – but the opposite is not true. No Shakespeare didn’t know about computers, but he like we would have been able to invent a new word for something he hadn’t seen before. That is because in addition to words, as in the above example, we also have grammar. It is the grammar – not words – that is simplifying. In one respect, the argument that modern translations of the bible are more accurate is patently false: the English language can no longer distinguish between the singular and plural address. Given that biblical texts constantly alternate between “thou” and “you” within one sentence just like we alternate even today between “I” and “we”, there is no way that the paraphrasing into Modern English can be more accurate.

In 2004 I wrote a deliberately provocative essay on just that. It is called “Your Body Is NOT the Temple of the Holy Spirit”. Most churches in England and America are completely wrong on this. You can read why here. http://www.scribd.com/doc/49207268/Your-Body-Is-Not-The-Temple-of-The-Holy-Spirit

The distinction between “you” (singular) and “you” (plural) always used to be a problem for me when I lived in England. Once you grasp this, and start thinking it, then it can become a constant irritation for you. The model of communication is supposed to be TX (transmitter, ie speaker/writer), medium, and RX (receiver, ie hearer/reader). If I am transmitting “you” (plural) but in my receiver’s brain “you” (singular) pops out…. there is a real problem.

There is a problem.  Most of you cannot see this, and if you do then chances are you have another language. It was only because fate brought me to a country where this distinction is a day to day part of my language that I escaped this.

So yes language is changing. That does not mean that this is necessarily progress, if that word is only understood to mean something good. I think the English language is much poorer today. One reason may well be that it is a victim of its own success. In order to become an international world language, it has had to adapt and simplify. Yet that has come at some cost.

The Subversive Grammarian

By David Grünewald

It wasn’t until after I had left school and several failed attempts that I finally got my English. Photo: David Grünewald

I like blogging. Language fascinates me.

It wasn’t always so. Though my blogs’ theme is based on my old school uniform, my schoolboy English was not something to be proud of. I consistently failed the old “O” level English examination until 1983, two years after leaving school. Indeed I also failed the examination in the Summer of that year as well!

When I decided to retake my failed examination something remarkable happened. This was at the former Doncaster Metropolitan Institute of Higher Education in that same Autumn. They held evening classes at the now demolished site in Waterdale, in the centre of town. All of us attending were there to redo in a matter of a few weeks what we had tried, and failed to do that Summer.

I wish I could remember the name of our teacher. He changed the course of my life – in more ways than I knew at the time, and not only in the English language. He shut the classroom door, and gesticulated that he had something to say to us almost as though he were afraid of saying it and might lose his job if he said it out aloud.

I can’t remember now when the course began, but he didn’t have a lot of time to change our failed examinations into passes. Therefore I can’t remember exactly how many weeks he said that we had, but what he said was truly astonishing. He said that we had only so many weeks until the examination, but he could guarantee us success if we would follow his method. There was only one catch: his method was an old fashioned one, and some did not approve of it in modern teaching.

Until these evening classes, I had used English “automatically” with my internal “autopilot”. That is to say that I wrote what I should say, and never thought about it any more than one thinks about how one walks. It is my belief that many people are now doing this very thing, and without most of these realizing it, their language does their thinking for them rather than letting them express ideas that they themselves have put together. Our teacher wanted us to analyse our language.

Obtaining so our surreptitious consent, he then introduced us to what we had thought was a very dirty word – grammar! In some respects, English is like a building that has lost one of its rooms. We started looking not just at how that building was today, but how it once used to be.

English address is a good example of this, where the plural has now to double up as a singular. Unless you know that, then it seems like the use of a plural verb, “are” for example, when one is addressing only one individual is just one of the many exceptions-to-the-rule that plague anyone who wants to use the language. Unless you have the grammatical bird’s eye view from above, then indeed it will seem like many complicated rules and exception to the rules just as in our example here.

We started writing out tables…. I am, thou art, he/she/it is, we are, ye(you) are, they are. We briefly looked at Middle English, but I have to say that most of what I now know of that came later. Nevertheless it was from the interest this evening class ignited inside me. Needless to say, I could see why verbs ended the ways they did very quickly. In Modern English, one simply cuts out the “thou” address, and replaces the “eth” verb ending with the “s” that we have today in the third person singular. Not complicated at all!

One of my major sins used to be the misplaced apostrophe. This subversive grammarian taught us that there were two types of apostrophe: the first when the apostrophe was used to show omission, and the second use to show possession. This was before I ever even heard of things like the genitive case, through my own study that followed!

Since I often pop into George Barton’s blog, and follow him on Twitter I have been introduced to the term “the apostrophe police”. This refers to those (like me) who have the audacity to pick people up on misplaced apostrophes. Nevertheless, for those of you who once and for all – guarantee! – want to learn this so you never make a mistake again, I shall give you the infallible rule.

The first use of the apostrophe is for an omission. Instead of writing the two words “it is”, you can contract these to “it’s”. The apostrophe stands for the omitted letter “i”. Instead of writing “you are”, you can contract to “you’re”, and the apostrophe is in place of the omitted letter “a”.

The second use, which I began this post with when I referred to the school uniform theme my blogs now use, is to show possession. You can very simply find out where to put the apostrophe here by rewriting the sentence using the preposition “of”. For example:

  • the children’s toys – rewrite, the toys of the children (you know to put the apostrophe between “n” and “s”)
  • the child’s book – rewrite, the book of the child (you know that the apostrophe is between “d” and “s”)
  • the boys’ choir – rewrite, the choir of the boys (unless you really mean that one boy has started, and perhaps leads the choir, and that it is his project – then you know there are several of them, and the apostrophe comes after the “s” at the end)
  • the boy’s friend – rewrite, the friend of the boy

So, whatever it is that you actually mean, write it first as an “of” sentence it you are in doubt! This always works! So if anyone thought that I had made a mistake at the beginning of this post, it should now be apparent that I was writing about the theme of my blogs (and not my blog). Yorkshire Viking Norway is twinned with a Norwegian sister blog.

I wish I could remember the name of our teacher who got me my English qualification. I should like to thank him. However I cannot, but I pay tribute here. What is more, if you follow the advice above, neither will you go wrong. Ever!

Assessment Report

School gone

Where Adwick School used to be. This is where the old main building was, looking towards the demolished 6th form and music block (where the trees in the middle are). Photo: J. Roberts

Before my school was demolished, a full record of the building was made for posterity. That was a condition before the demolition might go ahead.

There are some inaccuracies in this report. I believe that it is wrong in citing 1999 as the creation of Doncaster North Technology College. According to my sources, the former Adwick School applied for status as a technology college in 2001, and although I am only inferring this from the fact that I know the conversion to have been made by September 2002 – I believe that Adwick School must have continued nominally at least until July 2002. I base that on the time needed to put in the new dress code.

Other errors have also been pointed out to me too. If you find some yourself, do let me know either by commenting on this post or else by contacting me using the “contact” option on this blog (go to the blog Lobby and you will find it there). An option for feedback on the school report is not currently there, but I shall have it added shortly. Do not be afraid to use the form, in the meantime, for this purpose.

You can find the assessment report online, and there is a permanent link to it on the archive menu here.

Cookie Banner

Norway has now followed the United Kingdom implementing an EU Law concerning cookies. This is the reason you are now required to choose whether or not to accept them when browsing my websites.

Although the authorities are giving owners of websites a period of grace, we must eventually tell our readers if our websites use cookies. It is not enough merely to state that we use them. We are required by law actively to give readers the choice to approve or reject them. There are potentially severe penalties for non compliance. After the period of grace at the beginning, it is reasonable to expect that these will be used.

The Yorkshire Viking introduced the cookie banner earlier this year (in anticipation of the situation after the law was introduced in the UK), but because of the new law in Norway the Norwegian sister blog has now followed suit. As the blogs’ owner, I am none too pleased. Apart from the unnecessary and distracting pop-ups, my CQD blogs have a format and colour scheme that is quite unique. Nevertheless I have been able to find a plug in for WordPress that permits sufficient customisation so as to fit into this.

The colours of the website and the cookie banner still need to be “tweaked”. Both CQD and Yorkshire Viking Norway use a style-sheet based upon the uniform of the former Adwick School in England. The green colour still needs standardizing, and this is the reason the banner is a slightly different hue. This will be corrected in due course.

The King’s Men Return to Lødingen

Seafood Festival

His Majesty’s band (divisjonsmusikk) visited Lødingen for the Seafood Festival

Today the king’s men returned! Once an important military town, we lost our fort eleven years ago. Today the best band in the North of Norway, the military “divisjonsmusikk” based in Harstad, visited Lødingen in connection with our Seafood Festival.

The band gave the public, who packed the tent down at the waterside, a free concert beginning at 12 midday. The schools had allowed their pupils to take time out of their lessons. Because of that, and because there fortunately were no funerals in the church either, I too was able to go. Indeed it so happened that my route to the festival crossed that of the hoards of primary school children who had already set out from the school.

Tent

The tent down at the water’s edge was completely packed

While the band entertained us, we were served with fish soup. This was absolutely delicious. Nobody seemed too worried that “experts” now claim that salmon be dangerous. Apparently it can damage one’s IQ! Still the warning was only for women and children. There was nothing mentioned about us men, who one must assume are already too brain-damaged to notice any difference!

Seafood Festival

Lødingen Seafood Festival 2013

I think we must become acclimatized to living in the Arctic. Like a class of the youngest children, I found that it was far too warm for me – and had to stand by the tent opening in order not to be drenched in my own sweat. Even outside it was 23 degrees in the shade, and today has not been sunny.

Nevertheless, the concert was wonderful. For a few moments, one might have imagined Lødingen as it was in its heyday before the military left back in 2002.

Update

I received news today that the last building from Adwick School has now come down. I was waiting for confirmation of this before the launch of the third CQD Site at http://adwickschool.cqd.nu. In common with the existing twin blogs, the tribute site uses the Adwick colour scheme. However, the logo is in its original (school) form.

Changes to Sister Blog (CQD)

The sister blog, CQD, has not been affected by the changes to its English twin. However, from today, the link to CQD should only work in Norway.

I do not anticipate this will affect a great many people. The sister blog is intended for Norwegians. However, if you are Norwegian, and live or work abroad, contact “support” in the lobby, and it is possible a work around can be arranged.