Feb 272013

I’ve been reading a lot lately about Quebec’s recent language police fiasco, an overzealous Office québécois de la langue française cracking down on an Italian restaurant for its use of the non-French word “pasta” and other, similar terms on its menu. Of course I’ve been reading a lot about it lately; apparently, its news coverage exceeded by a factor of 60 (!) the coverage Quebec premier Pauline Marois received during her recent trip to drum up foreign investment in the province.

Yes, I could go on lamenting the superficiality of the news media these days, and I think I would be right. But I am thinking about Pastagate now for a different reason: I am wondering if I am the only one seeing strong parallels between a zealous police force guarding the integrity of a language and a zealous police force guarding the integrity of a religion.

At least officers of the language police do not come with canes.

 Posted by at 10:49 am
Jul 012010

Here’s a headline from Google News that illustrates just how difficult it is for a non-native speaker of English (or, for that matter, for many a native speaker!) to understand journalists:

ABC Online: Houston expects changes for diggers under Petraeus

OK, so if you watch the news at all, you’d know that Petraeus is the US general who’ll be taking over in Afghanistan. But unless you also know that “ABC” can refer to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, that Angus Houston is Australia’s Chief of the Defense Force, and that “digger” is a slang term for Australian or New Zealand soldiers, you could be excused if you thought that this was not an article title but a cryptic crossword entry.

 Posted by at 8:12 pm