Monday, November 8, 2010

Free Lessons for the Educators

There are a couple of these two-page posters still hanging up around Deptford.  This one is pasted onto the wall by Kim's newsagent in the High Street.
Fancy that!  How do you learn a train?  Is it like reciting a tram?  Learning a bus?

Disregarding the fact that there is no company or college name and only a mobile phone number, the offer of  ALLOWANCE CASH OF £££ 95 WEEKLY for only studying HALF A DAY A WEEK IN 6 MONTHS seems just a little too good to be true.  So I phoned the number and asked about these Btec qualifications.  No company or college name, just a ''Hello'', and no apparent immediate knowledge of Btec courses until I asked him about the poster I'd seen when he got his brain in gear.  But he was too busy (well, it was just after lunchtime) and I'd have to call back.  What time?  Around 5.

I was tempted to call back just to see what kind of a scam it was.  But I couldn't be bothered in the end.  But some free advice, worth £299 a month to you as an exclusive offer (no obligation): if you want to pretend to be a business, first think up a business name and then don't make it unbelievable by offering the moon.  And above all, WANT TO LEARN A TRAIN makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  So learn your trade.  Finally good luck with the English lessons.


A local school entrusted with the education of many of our local children recently set out on a consultation exercise about changing its status.  When some people started to voice their disagreement about the scheme, the school, ever keen to vaunt its multi-cultural credentials, leapt instantly to the defence of those who may not have English as a first language:

In particular several of our parents with English as an additional language have expressed how they are finding this lobbying confusing and how it is causing them considerable anxiety. declared.  So, let's examine how much care the school has taken to accommodate people whose first tongue is not English.  Because this would be a good measure of  the amount of respect and consideration the school pays towards newcomers.
 Ok, word by word...

SVP - Better to start with a polite ''Veuillez contacter...''

contacter - But, on the other hand,  if you have to start it with SVP, you're going to need to conjugate contacter, as in SVP contactez

l'office - Nah, that's a faux ami or false friend.  Office is more of a role than a place in French, the normal word is bureau.  And a French speaker would use the word closer to the meaning of the  English reception: l'accueil

Si - The sudden introduction of a capital letter in the middle of a sentence is even rarer in French than in English.  It should be si.

vous avez des  - Very good, three words without an error

difficultes a -  Shame, after 3 correct words, there is now a total disregard for accents.  My computer does them, French-speakers do them.  Difficultés à

comprendre se document comprendre  is fine, so is document. These are the 4th and 5th correct words, se however is wrong, it should be ce.

or -  Or simply doesn't mean /or/.  Or is a French word meaning gold, or it can mean /now/, even a kind of literary marking of the minor part of a syllogism.  One thing we do know, it doesn't mean what our /or/ does.  Pourrait faire mieux....

I make that 8 mistakes and, even after correcting them, I'm not sure that a non-English French-speaker would easily understand what's being said because it's still tainted by Franglais.  They would understand, however, that their language had not been respected.  And the sincerity of the school's commitment to multi-cultural inclusiveness...well, I'll leave you to decide whether they've been co-opted, patronised and contemptuously instrumentalised, or whether we should simply say ''Bless, the poor little dears, the things they come out with...!''

Good luck with the French lessons.

(In case you think I'm making this up, the text can be found here)


  1. Tsk, they clearly haven't attended lessons in spellings.

  2. Heh, rather oddly the Spanish version goes for too many accents (ó?) rather than not enough...

  3. Even Google Translate does a better job. Perhaps they were too busy learning a train to learn French?

    And is learning a train like singing a rainbow?