BBC “Word 4 Word”

Word 4 Word est une nouvelle émission de la BBC Radio 4 sur la langue, liée à son projet de documentation des dialectes britanniques, Voices.

La première épisode est programmée pour aujourd’hui, dans une heure à peu près.

Je vous ferai un topo sur les émissions deradio sur la langue un de ces jours.

BBC Radio 4 has a new programme#[1] on language which will air once a week through August and September: Word 4 Word . It is part of the BBC Voices project and produced with the Open University, so this might be quite interesting.

Quoting Dermot Murnaghan off the Voices page:

Language is a badge. We wear it like invisible uniform that declares where we come from, what we do, whom we like to talk to and hang out with.

In the former pit villages of Northumberland, the winding gear is silent now. The wholesale closure of most of Britain’s coalmines saw to that. But what of the rich, distinctive dialect that made Ashington distinct from Bedlington, and Seaton Delaval different from market-town Morpeth? […]

“Word 4 Word” is all about local talk, about this sense of belonging as expressed through the words we use to frame our thoughts. But what we’re trying to do, too, is investigate some of the big changes that are underway in the vernacular of regional Britain. Not so much the decline of dialect as its evolution.

The first programme of this series airs (”nets”? “cables”?) today at 9 a.m. BST (that’s in just about an hour) and will be available (Real Audio — as far as I can tell they aren’t podcasting it yet) from the linked site, probably for the next week or so.

I’ll have a listen and may be reporting back on language-related radio shows. There’s quite a large variety of those around.

[1]: This is one of the few Brit-spelled words that I always want to Ami-spell. Computer science oblige.

  • 2005-04-07
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Via the comment thread of Language Hat’s post on yet another questionable column of the NYT “language maven” William Safire — no, I won’t link to his article; Language Hat calls it “a nasty piece of work” — I found a much more promising commenter on language in the mainstream press in Jan Freeman, who writes for the Boston Globe. Read her latest piece on “incent”. I wasn’t aware that incentive goes back to Latin cantare (”sing”), and appreciate her reasonable tone.


Collection de petits riens relatifs, pour la plupart, à la date que nous sommes aujourd’hui. Certains des liens sont en français.

  • 2005-04-01
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If this had been posted on about any other day of the year, I’d have loved to check out the C++ version of The Mill on the Floss. (Yet another Victorian novel I never finished. Not yet anyway. Don’t take me wrong, I am very fond of Jude the Obscure and liked Wuthering Heights quite a lot. It’s a concentration issue, most likely).

But lacking this, at least there’s are real, existing translation of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky into ActionScript. An excerpt (six lines’ worth, to be precise) goes thusly:

son.beware (jabberwocky);
son.beware (bird.jubjub);
son.shun (bandersnatch['frumious']);
var time = getTimer();
with (sword in hand) {
  while (getTimer() < = time + 100000000) {
    for (var i = 0; i <= foe.length; i++ ) {
      if (foe[i] == 'manxome') {

(Here is a collection of translations of the poem into human languages.)

In the French blogospheric segment, Jean Véronis treats us to a prime example of the genre, starting out with something so reasonable that it sure not to happen, and finishing on the topic of … “digitising”, or scanning, historical Google screenshots. Digitising, mon œil, as they say here. (I really should comment on Mark Liberman’s coverage (start here and follow the links backwards) of storm in that particular tea cup — a very small tea cup, I might say, but since it contains the French president, there may be some lasting effects.)

On the absolutely serious side, Eolas, a French law blogger (and ruthless capitalist, which is a tautology), prepares us for what is to come by explaining point for point how new popes are elected, as usual with a keen eye for the legal side of the matter. Truly a fo(u)nt of knowledge. His article reminds me of one of the best history books I’ve ever read, Mario Biagioli’s Galileo, Courtier. One point of maybe mostly anectotal interest, but which has stuck with me, was that even as late as in Galileo’s time, the time that the cardinals spent tucked away in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope used to be enough of a physical strain that several of them could be expected not to survive the ordeal. Which, in turn, gave the new pope the occasion to strengthen his own political faction.

Eolas, who professes himself a Catholic, deals with matters of religion in a refreshingly incisive tone. I particularly enjoyed his account of the lawsuit that recently got an advert censored in France because it supposedly insulted Catholic sensibilities (the imagery alludes to Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper and beyond that to the biblical passage, of course). Eolas first speaks as a lawyer (the judgement was slightly unusual in that it went against the prosecution’s opinion, which was that there was nothing wrong with the image), then as a Catholic. (For the record, while I am no great friend of advertising and don’t think that the ad’s ban is certainly no great loss for the art scene, I find it disturbing that a non-profit, which is affiliated with the official church hierarchy, succeeded in having it censored; and disappointed that they tried in the first place — but I’ve said before that I’m getting cynical about that.)

Update: On the topic of the first part of this post, I came across this post on linguaphiles, about an Austronesian relative of Basque. Much, much better than Google Gulp.

The cat and the pigeon

Une autorité de surveillance britannique veut que Emir Kusturica coupe une scène de son film La vie est un miracle. Suivez le lien (en anglais) pour en savoir plus.

This is Emir Kusturica speaking: I love Ken Loach and your football and your working class, but I do not believe the great English culture is going to be undermined by one eastern European cat. I just don’t get it. The pigeon was already dead, we found it in the […]

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Garden paths

Les chemins du jardin qui mènent dans la brousse. Syntaxiquement parlant.

Microsoft debuts a malicious software removal tool today. (link) — Just glad I don’t have any Microsoft software on my computer any more. I might inadvertently install the malicious tool. Powell Surveys Devastated Area — A headline quoted from memory, from, I think, USA Today (which would have been USA Yesterday, or rather USA The-Previous-Day), which […]

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A blogger on the radio

Un blogueur (britannique) à la radio (écossaise).

  • 2005-01-11
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Tom Reynolds, who blogs at Random Acts of Reality about being an emergency medical technician in east London, has been on BBC Scotland talk radio (see also this post). The Real Media file of the segment he was on is here, for a few more days. The programme talks about potential problems that might arise when […]

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