Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cash machines have slang option

Aug 24, 2009
Cash machines have slang option

LONDON - WOULD you Adam and Eve it? Cash machines in east London are offering customers the option of using the local Cockney rhyming slang to get their hands on their sausage, so to speak.

Five automated teller machines (ATMs) in the East End are going Cockney for three months from Monday.

While cash machines with several language options are commonplace in some countries, the chance to use rhyming slang could leave those unfamiliar with the east London lingo in a right load of Barney Rubble.

Anyone opting for Cockney rhyming slang will be asked to enter their Huckleberry Finn (PIN) before chosing how much sausage and mash (cash) they want.

Those wanting to withdraw 10 pounds will have to ask for a speckled hen, while the machine may inform users that it is contacting their rattle and tank, rather than bank.

'We wanted to introduce something fun and of local interest to our London machines,' said Ron Delnevo, managing director of operators Bank Machine.

'Whilst we expect some residents will visit the machine to just have a butcher's (hook, look), most will be genuinely pleased as this is the first time a financial services provider will have recognised the Cockney language in such a manner.'


The ATMs displaying prompts in Cockney are all free to use, though most of the group's cash machines charge a fee.

Better-known Cockney rhyming slang includes dog and bone (phone), apples and pears (stairs), whistle and flute (suit), Adam and Eve (believe), Barnet Fair (hair), trouble and strife (wife), loaf of bread (head) and boat race (face). -- AFP

Stalin's bid for a new world order

age last updated at 07:58 GMT, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 08:58 UK

Stalin's bid for a new world order

In the fourth of a series of articles marking the outbreak of World War II 70 years ago, the BBC Russian Service's Artyom Krechetnikov assesses Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's motivations behind the 1939 Soviet-Nazi pact.

Archive photo of Joseph Stalin at work in 1932
Stalin felt a German defeat would delay the global spread of Communism

Soviet government documents released since the USSR's collapse give us a clear idea of what drove Stalin's thinking in concluding the non-aggression treaty - the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact - with Nazi Germany.

On 19 August 1939, just days before the agreement was signed in Moscow, in a speech to a hastily-convened session of the Politburo, Stalin said the "question of war and peace is entering a decisive phase".

He predicted that the outcome would depend entirely on whichever strategic position the USSR decided to adopt.

Should the Soviet Union form an alliance with France and Britain, he opined, Germany would be forced to abandon its territorial demands on Poland.

This, Stalin suggested, would avoid the threat of imminent war, but it would make "the subsequent development of events dangerous for the Soviet Union".

Our aim is to ensure Germany can continue to fight for as long as possible, in order to exhaust and ruin England and France
Joseph Stalin in 1939

Should the USSR sign a treaty with Germany, Stalin suggested, Berlin would "undoubtedly attack Poland, leading to a war with the inevitable involvement of France and England".

Looking ahead, Stalin suggested that "under these circumstances, we, finding ourselves in a beneficial situation, can simply await our turn [to extract maximum advantage]".

What is clear is that Stalin not only appeared unconcerned about the prospect of an attack from Nazi Germany, he actually considered such an attack impossible.

"Our aim is to ensure Germany can continue to fight for as long as possible, in order to exhaust and ruin England and France," he said. "They must not be in a condition to rout Germany.

"Our position is thus clear… remaining neutral, we aid Germany economically, with raw materials and foodstuffs. It is important for us that the war continues as long as possible, in order that both sides exhaust their forces."


Many western historians believe that the Anglo-French security guarantees given to Poland effectively turned Stalin into the arbiter of Europe.

On 3 May 1939, Stalin replaced the pro-Western, Jewish Foreign Minister Litvinov, with Vyacheslav Molotov. It was a strong signal that he wanted to improve relations with the Nazis.

Joachim von Ribbentrop signing the ratification of the Nazi-Soviet pact in Berlin, 28 September 1939

Official Russian history asserts that Stalin believed that Germany, even if it were to emerge from war as a victor, would be so exhausted that it would be unable to wage war with the USSR for at least a decade.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact drew unequivocal criticism from Communists outside the USSR.

Stalin invited the head of the Comintern, the international Communist organisation founded in Moscow, to explain his thinking.

"Hitler does not understand or want this, but he is undermining the capitalist system," he said. "What we can do is manoeuvre around the two sides, push one of the sides to attack the other."

In a written note to foreign Communist parties, Stalin asserted: "The salvation of English-French imperialism would be a violation of Communist principles. These principles in no way exclude a temporary agreement with our common enemy, Fascism."

So was there an alternative?

In the spring and summer of 1939, Stalin could have forged an alliance with Western democracies. Such a move may have prevented a world war, with Europe's borders remaining unchanged.

The problem with this, for Stalin, was that it would have delayed what he viewed as the "final global victory of Communism" for an indeterminable period.

Stalin's actions and deeds made it clear that he could not conceive a protracted period of "peaceful co-existence", the notion that came to determine the Soviet Union's policy towards the capitalist world after Stalin's death.

Stalin and Hitler were united by their desire to destroy the old world order, and to rebuild it as they wanted.

Arguably, this made Soviet-Nazi friendship as inevitable as was its rapid, explosive end.

Shanghai seeks end to 'Chinglish'

Page last updated at 00:01 GMT, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 01:01 UK

Shanghai seeks end to 'Chinglish'

By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Shanghai

Sign in Beijing (file image)
Examples of often baffling Chinglish can be found across Shanghai

The authorities in the Chinese city of Shanghai are starting a campaign to try to spot and correct badly phrased English on signs in public places.

Chinglish, as the inaccurate use of the language is known, has long been a source of embarrassment for the authorities there.

It is also a source of amusement to foreign visitors.

But Shanghai wants to spruce up its image. It is expecting millions of visitors for the World Expo fair.

Student volunteers will check the English on signs throughout the city.

If they suspect the translation is less than accurate they will inform the government. Then the bureaucrats will request that whoever is responsible corrects the mistake.

You can find Chinglish all over the city. Often it can be blamed on software used to translate Chinese automatically.

Please bump your head carefully
Sign in hotel lift

Sometimes you can see what the author was getting at, such as the sign that warns people to "keep valuables snugly", and "beware the people press close to you designedly".

Then there are signs where they have mistranslated a crucial word.

One in a hotel lift advises people "please leave your values at the front desk".

Sometimes they have just got it the wrong way round, such as on the sign in the stairwell of a department store asking shoppers to "please bump your head carefully".

My favourites though, are those which get more surreal, like the one on the Shanghai metro from the public security bureau that reads: "If you are stolen, call the police at once."

Monday, August 24, 2009

UK tourist trapped in French hall

Page last updated at 13:09 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 14:09 UK

UK tourist trapped in French hall

Dannemarie town hall, image courtesy of Ville de Dannemarie website
Dannemarie's hotel de ville is one if the town's most impressive buildings

A British tourist has spent a night trapped in a French town hall after mistakenly thinking she could book a room at the "hotel de ville".

The hapless female visitor arrived in the Alsace town of Dannemarie on Friday and tried to find a bed for the night.

Spotting the impressive-looking "hotel de ville", the tourist popped in to use the toilet before trying to check in.

But as she was in the convenience, officials finished a meeting, left the town hall and locked its door.

The solitary traveller, said to be in her 30s, ended up with the inconvenience of spending the night on chairs in the building's lobby.

'Je suis fermer ici'

The woman tried calling for help and switching the town hall lights on and off to attract attention, Dannemarie's mayor, Paul Mumbach, told the BBC.


But her plight went unnoticed until Saturday morning when a passer-by noticed a message she posted on the inside of one of the building's glass doors.

"The note said 'Je suis fermer ici. Est ce possible moi la porte ouvrir?' (I am to close here. Is it possible me the door to open?)" said Mr Mumbach.

"The woman did not speak very much French, but she did make it clear that the next night she would find a proper hotel to sleep in," he said.

Dannemarie is a small town of some 2,500 people near the Swiss and German borders, but the nearest open hotel is in the neighbouring town, said the mayor.

Sunday, August 09, 2009



相见欢 ·李煜



  “无言独上西楼”,这一句叙述,通过动作揭示人的思想感情。语言通俗明白,而又十分精炼准确。写的动作是“上西楼”,单从这三个字,看不出人的情感。如果是爱妃宫娥,前呼后拥上西楼,那倒是十分欢乐热闹的。然而这却是“独上西楼”,并且还是“无言”!“白鸟无言定是愁”,何况人呢?李后主愁恨满怀,踽踽独上的形象跃然纸上,呈现眼前。“月如钩,寂寞梧桐深院锁清秋”,这两句描景,写后主所处的凄凉环境。他登上西楼,举头见新月如钩,钩起一串旧恨新愁;低头看桐荫深锁,锁住了满院清秋。凄凉的景物中,蕴含着深深的愁恨,景中有情,情溢景外。梧桐,在古典诗词中,从来就是个表现愁情的物象,“梧桐树,三更雨,不道离情正苦”(温庭筠《更漏子》)、“依约相思碎语,夜凉桐叶声声”(陆甫之《清平乐》)“只有一枝梧叶,不知多少秋声”(张炎《清平乐》)等等,表现的都是愁闷的境界;秋天是个萧条悲凉的季节,“何处合成愁,离人心上秋”(吴文英《唐多令》),秋景所引起的是一种凄切、悲伤的情绪。处在这样秋色深锁的梧桐深院中,一般人也都会产生凄寒孤寂之感,何况是由君主沦为囚徒的李后主呢?昔日为君主之时,所居之地是“凤阁龙楼连霄汉,玉树琼枝作烟萝”(《破阵子》),陪伴着的是“春殿嫔娥鱼贯列”(《玉楼春》)。而现在所居之地是“寂寞梧桐深院”,陪伴他的是“月如钩”,其内心的愁恨该是多么深长呀!“剪不断,理还乱,是离愁”,换头处以重笔直抒胸臆,点出自己的“离愁”。他的离愁,不是一般的男女离别之愁,而是失掉故国的深愁长恨。一般人的离愁,还是可以抛掉的:“心中得胜暂抛愁,醉卧凉风拂簟秋”(雍陶诗);是可以洗掉的:“一曲清歌一杯酒,为君洗去古今愁”(刘秉忠诗);是可以割断的:“ 梁园歌舞足风流,美酒如刀割断愁”(刘子翚诗)。而李后主的愁却是“剪不断,理还乱”,可见愁之深,恨之长。有这样的深愁长恨,其心中的滋味该是什么样呢?“别是一般滋味在心头”。“别是”,就是不同于一般,这是由君主变为囚徒的特殊滋味。这种滋味,凡人未能尝试,只有自家领略。其为酸甜,抑或苦辣?其为烦恼,抑或悔恨?自己亲身尝过,尚且说不出,则他人岂可道哉?此所谓“无声胜有声”,此种无言之哀,更胜于痛哭流涕之哀。

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Historians battle over Okinawa WW2 mass suicides

Historians battle over Okinawa WW2 mass suicides
Fri Apr 6, 2007 6:04am EDT

By Linda Sieg

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sumie Oshiro was 25 when she and her friends tried to kill themselves to avoid capture by U.S. soldiers at the start of the bloody Battle of Okinawa.

"We were told that if women were taken prisoner we would be raped and that we should not allow ourselves to be captured," Oshiro said on last month's anniversary of the March 26, 1945, invasion of the Japanese islet of Zamami.

"Four of us tried to commit suicide with one hand grenade, but it did not go off," Ryukyu Shimpo, a local Okinawa newspaper, quoted Oshiro as saying at a gathering of now elderly survivors.

The fighting on Zamami, south of the main Okinawan island, was the prelude to three months of carnage that took some 200,000 lives, about half of them Okinawan men, women and children.

Many civilians, often entire families, committed suicide rather than surrender to Americans, by some accounts on the orders of fanatical Japanese soldiers.

"The army ordered them to commit suicide," said Yoshikazu Miyazato, 58, who plans to publish testimony from survivors on Zamami, where he says suicides accounted for 180 of the 404 civilians -- about half of the islet's population -- who died.

The accuracy of such accounts, however, has been questioned by conservative historians who argue the suicides were voluntary.

Late last month, the education ministry ordered publishers of high school textbooks to modify references to Japanese soldiers ordering civilians to kill themselves.

The textbook revisions echo other efforts by conservatives to revise descriptions of Japan's wartime actions, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's denial that the military or government hauled women away to serve as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers in Asia before and during World War Two.

Abe has sought to dampen overseas outrage over his remarks by repeating his backing for a 1993 apology to the "comfort women", as they are known in Japan, and offering his own brief apology.

"In every case, Abe's administration is saying there was no military involvement," Shoukichi Kina, an opposition lawmaker from Okinawa told Reuters in a phone interview.

"They are distorting history and it is unforgiveable."


One reason cited for the revisions was a lawsuit by a former Japanese army officer and relatives of another charging the two men were was falsely described in works by publisher Iwanami Shoten as having ordered civilian suicides in Okinawa.

That prompted the publisher and Nobel Prize-winning author Kenzaburo Oe to send a letter of protest to the education ministry, criticizing the fact that only the views of the plaintiffs in the court case had been taken into account.

The Battle of Okinawa, which also took the lives of about 94,000 Japanese soldiers and more than 12,000 Americans, looms large in the collective memory of inhabitants of the island -- a separate kingdom until its monarch was exiled to Tokyo in 1879.

The battle, in which up to one-third of Okinawa's inhabitants died, has been described as a futile sacrifice ordered by Japan's military leaders to delay a U.S. invasion of the mainland.

Masahide Ota, a former governor of Okinawa who fought as a member of a "Blood and Iron Corps" of students mobilized to defend the island, says soldiers gave civilians two hand grenades -- "one to throw at the enemy and one to use on themselves".

Many historians and survivors blame military propaganda that sought to convince civilians they faced rape and torture if captured by Americans, as well as an education system that taught the virtue of dying for an emperor who was considered a living god.

"They were taught that Americans were fiends, worse than devils, and that if women were caught they would be raped and men would be killed," Miyazato said. "It was the same as ordering them to commit suicide. They were taught it was better to die.

Ota, a historian as well as a member of parliament, fears the lessons of Japan's wartime past are in danger of being lost.

"Education has the responsibility to convey history accurately to our children so that our country does not repeat the tragedy of the Pacific war," he said in a statement.

"Textbooks are one method of fulfilling that mission. I think that is being forgotten."