Friday, 8 January 2010

A Right Balls Up

Ed Balls, the UK’s Children’s Secretary (and why do I smile whenever I hear his name?), wants secondary school pupils to learn Mandarin. He points to the economic benefits of having a grasp of Mandarin when doing business with China.

While I agree that Mandarin is used a lot in China and for some inexplicable reason appears to be quite popular there, most Chinese (and people of all other nationalities) seem to learn English in order to engage in international business.

In the 60s I learned Latin, French and Spanish, with a smattering of Japanese from a Japanese girlfriend in later life. Despite an early career at sea and a subsequent career in international sales (including the far east), I have never once used any of these languages in anger as everyone I have ever dealt with was keen, if not desperate, to demonstrate their knowledge of English. What I can say is that a basic knowledge of Latin (I never progressed beyond the basics) made it easier to learn French and Spanish and to understand more about the origins of many English words. Dutch, having been my first language, enabled me to understand the basics of most northern European languages – however, I never had occasion to use that knowledge either.

How about schools teaching our pupils how to spell and write in English, as well as teaching them basic arithmetic? Now there’s an aspiration to aim for – one which seems to have eluded a lot of schools, despite them churning out pupils with ten or more A* grades, yet lacking the ability to write a decent job application letter or play a game of darts without a calculator.

Last night Hay and I were coming up with the old names for new disorders:

  • Bi-polar Disorder = Madness
  • ADHD = Naughty Kid
  • Post-Natal Depression = Baby Blues
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder = Shell Shock
  • Morbid Obesity = Lack of Self Control
  • Clinical Depression = Melancholy
  • Dyslexia = Lazy
  • Learning Difficulties = Slow
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease = Smoker’s Cough
  • Lactose Intolerance = Fussy Eater
  • Vegetarian = ??? (there weren’t any)
  • Vegan = Non Human Alien
  • Swine / Bird / Asian Flu = A Seasonal Cold
  • Total Allergy Syndrome = Neurotic
  • Aspberger’s Syndrome & Tourette’s = Rudeness
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome = Not Enough Sleep
  • Benzodiazepine Dependence = Drug Addiction
  • Münchausen Syndrome = Hypocondria
  • Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy = Child Cruelty

Did you know there’s something called Foreign Accent Syndrome? I think my younger daughter has it; since moving here from Southport via Reading she’s started speaking with an awful Yate accent. I suppose it’s all to do with a need to assimilate and be accepted. I’ve embarrassed her countless times about it, but my jibes fall on deaf ears.


  1. 像往常一样主席比尔您的想法是像柳树说服力

  2. In order to save you having to go to Google Machine translation - it means "As Usual, Chairman Bill, your thoughts are as cogent as a willow tree"

  3. Alan: One demerit for bad spelling in Mandarin.

  4. Chairman has very interesting experiences!

    Some Americans say the sound of Mandarin is poetic.

    Japanese adopts a lot of Chinese characters, so, some Japanese know the advantages of the Chinese language. A learned Japanese states that Chinese language is very systematic and logic.(Though Chinese has lerned a lot from English for the past 3 hundred years.)

    I'd say the writing of Chinese characters is beautiful.

    It's also very interesting to note that every Chinese character and pronunciation has a reason or logic behind. That means we can learn Mandarin much easier if we understand the reasons or logic behind.

    Learning Mandarin can be entertaining and fun. I have an mission to help people in the world learn Mandarin easily with lots of fun.

  5. Sam: I must say I fond the sound of Mandarin more pleasing than Cantonese. The latter is somewhat gutteral.

  6. Here in Texas they want us all to learn Spanish. I guess so we can understand our lawn service works and house help not to mention the person at the drive thru window.
    There is a lot "Spanglish" spoken around here.

    Great job on the list. The fact that you can spell those new disorders names is impressive alone. :)

  7. oops meant to say lawn service worker not works.