Students’ errors (ancient): British and US background studies

Students’ replies in a short oral test on British and US background studies in the 1980s and 1990s. I only tested the UK part. The students were at a Berufsfachschule, a kind of secretarial college, and the test was to show how they expressed themselves in English as well as whether they knew their stuff. I think that over the years, as the teaching got better, the answers got better too:

highest mountain in UK Lord Snowdon
There is a lot of Arabic farming in Kent (= arable farming)
Oxford and Cambridge were found in the Middle Ages.
Dartmoor Tunnei
Citrus fruits in the Scilly Isles
The states under the Ohio River
The Fairy Isles
In Birmingham the main industry is roofing.
In Birmingham the main industry is distilling and biscuit making.
Lake Loman, Loch Almond
What flows through the Great Glen? – The Glen River.
Glen Penn (= the Great Glen)
Gas was founded in East Anglia.
The new universities were found in the 1960s.
The Grumpians (= the Grampians)
The Crumbians (= the Cambrians)
Give an example of what you mean by heavy engineering. – Textiles.
Chicago – they make cans, meat.
The streamsters’ union.
The truckster union
The tramsters’ union (= teamsters)
Old pensioners live there (Florida).
Why is the climate good there? -1 think so.
The Forth Railroad Bridge.
The Caledonian Valley.
The Manchester ferry.
Liverpool is rainy because of the monsoon.
On St Patrick’s Day you wear a clover.
The Norfolk Broads – where most Englishmen go on vacation.
There are pea pots in the Norfolk Broads.
They put rubbish there and got more land.
There are almost no rivers in Britain.
Tweed is a special kind of leather.
Hills in the UK – in the south we have the Pennines.
The maturity vote in Britain (= majority system)
The four saints founded the Union Jack.
What were they digging for in Dover when the Channel tunnel was begun in the 19th c? Steel./ – To find water.
Klondiking in Ullapool – (= cf. the Gold Rush) – people rushing for herrings.
Only 5% of the fishes were eaten in the UK.
The Dust Bowl is a strong wind in Oklahoma.
The St. Lawrence Canal.
I’m thinking of one of the natural wonders of the world (i.e. the Grand Canyon) – Salt? ’One of the great wonders of the world is what I’m thinking of.’- ’I see!’
The North-South division – it has something to do with black and white – The milk and dairy belt?
The capital of Indiana? – India.
The Chilly Isles
What is Hadrian’s Wall? – Oh God, I’m lucky to know the name.
The Flens (= the Fens)
What kind of cat has 9 tails? -1 can’t imagine.
What is a Manx cat? – The symbol of the island. – What kind of a cat is it? – It’s a living animal, it’s a cat with 9 tails.
Cats have 9 tails on the Isle of Man.
Skin Tain; Skin Pain (Sinn Fein) – the extremist Unionist party.
The patron saint of Wales? – The Early of Snowdon.
Indians live on a reservoir.
Dead Valley (= Death Valley)
Constitutional conventions – the Prime Minister is there but he hasn’t to be there.
Colloquial school (= comprehensive school).
What is a big mountain that caused trouble lately? (i.e. Mount St. Helen’s) – Mount Vernon? Mount Rushmore?
They wanted to build a channel through the US (= Union Pacific Railway).
What is a JP? – It sounds familiar, but I’m not quite sure what it is.
A JP doesn’t need a loyal (= legal) training.
A JP can deal with dismeanors (= misdemeanors)
Scottish Gaelic is spoken by about 300 peoples.
The Shilly Isles.
What are you doing next year? (Question after a good test) – I’m working in a bureau as a foreign secretary.
The crofters mainly process peat.
The crofters rent their soil.
The Sellafield re-plant (= reprocessing plant).
If the Queen dies, a new Queen will be elected.
There is never a moment without a monarch.
When the Queen dies, her ancestor becomes a Queen or King. – Which ancestor? – Her son.
What other things are said about the Queen? – They say she always takes water for her tea (i.e. on trips abroad)
What does she wear at the opening of Parliament? – How should I know – I’ve never seen her.
The Queen can abolish the Prime Minister.
What is the meaning of the expression ’The Queen never dies’? -1 didn’t think you were going to ask that. It means she’s always alive in the memory of the people.
When she dies, her son will immediately become Queen.
’The Queen never dies’? – She will be remembered. She is registered everywhere.
’The Queen does no wrong’ means she’s always right in the eyes of the people.
She’s always right – she gets her powers from God.
The Queen can do no wrong – It’s a law, she’s always right
The Queen can’t have a trial except for things which are very severe.
The Queen can’t be persecuted – prosecuted or put in prison.
’The Queen is the fountain of justice’ – She can say, ’No, you must not die’.
The Queen always lets someone of her family become Queen after her.
The Governor of General is the title of the Queen.
The Governor General of Australia vertrets the Queen.
The House of Lords
Who is in charge at the House of Lords? -I don’t know his name. – What does he sit on? – A red sofa, oh dear, I can’t remember what it’s called. -I see. The nameless man on the nameless sofa.
The woolsack is stuffed with cotton from all Commonwealth Countries.
He becomes a peer by hereditary and after his death passes his title on.
Life peers give their seat to their relatives.
The Lord peers.
Harry detory peers
The Lords have their titles because of heir.
Does Screaming Lord Sutch always lose his deposit? – No, he can’t, because he’s a peer, and peers aren’t elected.
In English schools, pupils who misbehave are sometimes canned.
The SDP was founded by three ancient (= former) Labour MPs.
A sandwich course is a course which pupils attend with a sandwich because the course lasts the whole day.
Quakers are very ordinary.
Jersey must be in East Anglia. I found it in my notes but I didn’t know where it belonged.
The Norfolk Broads are handmade lakes (= manmade).
The Irish potato famine: a lot of them starved and the rest of them emigrated.
The highest mountain in the UK? – Big Ben.
How are Manchester and Liverpool joined? – By a bridge.
They have a lot of peat near Stoke-on-Trent – reason for growth of pottery industry.
What author do you think of in connection with the Mississippi? – It’s the father of waters – it’s the biggest river in the USA.
Where would you find tobacco? -I think in the grazing and irrigation area.
Why would you go to Dover? – To see the white cliffs.
GB – the holy island (= whole island).
The Pennines – the backgrate of England (= backbone)
What’s the difference between dairy and beef? – Dairy is cows and beef is oxes. Stratford-on-Trend
The elf-plus (= eleven-plus)
How can you tell if someone comes from the north or the south of the USA? -I can notice it because of their accent. This is a very strange accent.
Where do the children of the rich go to school in the UK? – They go to university.
Most people live in the south of Scotland because the Highlands are not easily to be civilized.
What is Philadelphia famous for? – I don’t know – Philadelphia Cheese?
The oral application of the language is no problem.
Then there is, of course, the well-known Labour politician Mr Food.
The English people exchange friendliness verbally.
Since the use of condoms is an effective method to protect oneself from contraction…
Prince Charles, the Apparent Heir, must at any rate remain the sophisticated dignified person he was brought up to be.
A cash dispenser is a machine which is installed on a bank building.
What is the Square Mile? – East end: dogs; where the poor people live. BFS 2 Sj.
Harrods is situated in Knight’s Brides. BFS 2 Sj.
If you look at the House of Commons, what is different in appearance from the Bundestag? – They have false hair.
Where is there a parliament on this map? – Westminster. – What is the name of the country whose parliament that is? – England. – Well, where is the parliament of Scotland, then? – Dublin.
Battle of the Boyne was the defeat of the Catholic James II by the Protestant William the Orangeman and Mary Stuart.
The squalor in the slums – results of drug abuse, violence, infant pregnancy and other things…
The Isle of Wright
Hong Kong has 60,000 inhabitants
They can own their proprieties in Hong Kong.
A shipping way for the ship or ships (the St. Lawrence Seaway)
The Street (= Straits) of Dover
A law is guilty (= gültig, i.e. valid) orkads (= orchards)
Jersey and Gransey
Public schools are more noble than comprehensives
TVA – the Tennessee Water Association
Where is NASA? – On the Bahamas
Don Quayle
The so-called O levels
Tuscon (= Tucson)
The Normans had red hair (= Vikings)
MPs are appointed by the Prime Minister The Scots were chased from the Romans New York is in Maryland
I could imagine everyone wants to own the Rio Grande, because there are some mineral sources there.
The New York Moors (= the North York Moors)
Which Chinese were not permitted to come? – The Japanese?
What hills are south of London? – The Broads?
The Brofolk Nords (= Norfolk Broads)
The Romans built a Hadrian Wall.
The political name – the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland It’s a constit, constit…monarchy but not an absolute monarchy Who is the present monarch? – Elizabeth I.
What do you know about the Colorado River? – It forms the Rio Grande.
You have the Grampians twice. – Yes, there and there. One’s with a ‘u’ and one’s with an ’a’. (= the Grampians and the Cumbrians)
Why do so many people live in the south of England? – Because of the agriculture there? Sin Fein
What exams do you have to pass to get into a comprehensive? – The 11 +
Grazing is that what cattle does.
The Channel Isles are tax-free (should be: they have no VAT).
Hadrian, which was a Roman – uh – head.
The parliamentary season.
(Becky) What’s the name of this state? -I don’t know. – (Becky) Good.
What kind of vegetables do they grow? – Crops.
OASD-one (= OASDI)
What was the legal status of the immigrants to Britain? – They were welcome.
(Hong Kong) In 1997 they go back to Asia.
In Northern Ireland there are the Catholics and the Conservatives; Catholics are discriminated against.

What it’s like living in England: bank support chat line

Online chat at bank – problems with PIN since at least November 2013
– names changed. This is really what it’s like living here:

An advisor will be with you shortly.
While waiting to be connected, don’t forget you might still be able to find the answer to your question and many more by using our ‘Help 24×7’.
During this chat you will not be asked for any details from your Card-Reader.
Please note if any personal information is given, it will only be used with regards to this specific enquiry and will not be used for any other purpose.
You are currently number 1 in the queue.
You are now connected with an adviser.

Jane: Hi, you’re chatting with Jane. How may I help you?
MM: How can I phone you please? I have been trying for weeks to get a pin unlocked, long story, and today yet again I was given advice which didn’t work (unlock pin only at the XBank, not at Tesco – Tesco machines don’t always work). Yet again, Pin is locked!
MM: Before Christmas they promised me a new pin in the post, but it never came.
MM: It turned out they had two different addresses, in Germany and UK, for me (but both should work)
Jane: Hi M
MM: Went to XBank this week and they cleared up the address problem and said PIN OK
MM: Hi Jane!
Jane: A couple of moments please while I read the above
Jane: Are you still getting the message pin locked when inserting the card in the reader?
MM: Yes, exactly, just now. After ‘unlocking’ it at XBank machine outside XBank in Upminster this afternoon
Jane: Okay as you are still experiencing issues I can order a new card on the account
MM: This will take weeks again, won’t it? I’ll have to wait for the new PIN etc.
Jane: Your replacement debit card will be with you in 5-7 working days.
MM: It took weeks when I first got it because no one told me I need an e-card-reader.
Jane: I am very sorry you have experienced this issue
I will do as much as I can rectify this today
MM: That sounds like the best way to go. Can I arrange a payment online, or shall I just wait?
MM: While I’m moaning, sorry about this, not your fault, I must add
MM: that in December I went to the branch and they told me the e-card-reader needs the online pin, not the card pin. This was wrong!
Jane: In the meantime you can call us so we can arrange payments out from the account for you M
MM: And today I phoned XBank, can’t find the phone number any longer, and they told me my mistake had been to unlock the pin at Tesco.
MM: I just want to make one payment, it isn
MM: isn’t urgent, but it would calm me down and I could forget about XBank for a week
Jane: So I can have the issue resolved asap
Jane: Can you please confirm your full name?
MM: MM, attorney for GRM
Jane: Would you like me to leave the current card on the account active?
MM: It’s not necessary if I can just make that one payment by phone, perhaps, or via you
MM: It isn’t my bank, just PoA for my aged brother, don’t use card much (obviously, the PIN doesn’t work!)
Jane: Okay of course you will be able to make the payment over the phone and I have left the card active so you can still use to make purchases etc
MM: Thanks, Jane – can you tell me the phone number please
Jane: Of course
Please find the contact details for our Personal Telephone Banking team below:

Open 24 Hours a day. Calls may be recorded.
Jane: The card has been ordered to the address above
MM: Thanks very much
Jane: A pleasure to help
Jane: Are you happy that I have fully and correctly answered all of your questions today?
MM: Yes, absolutely.
Jane: Great
Jane: Thanks for chatting with me and have a fantastic day.
Please click here to end our chat and let me know your thoughts on the service you have received.
Jane: I would be grateful if you could take a moment of your time to complete the attached survey in connection with the service I have provided today.
MM: OK, I suppose it will appear

Buried in their own garden

I have a feeling this wouldn’t work in Germany, although you can apparently bury your cat in the garden there, if the garden belongs to you.

The Natural Death Centre, a charity for natural burials, provides useful advice on the practicalities of grave digging on its website: “If you are digging a grave yourself, you need to be careful and have help. If you are fit and enthusiastic, it should take about three hours work to dig a four foot deep grave.

“Try and shore up the first two feet of the grave so that it is supported when the mourners stand around it, and work steadily so that you don’t strain yourself. You might want to take a bucket to stand on so that you can get out of the grave at the end of a tiring day!”

Problems of moving from one country to another

The heading of this blog should now say ‘no longer in Fürth’, unfortunately. But I will get round to that one day, I hope.

Curious factoids:

1. In the UK you can order postage stamps online from various places, but only Royal Mail can send you 88p stamps – the standard for the EU. Another service refers to these stamps as ‘weird and wonderful’ denominations.

In Upminster, you can definitely buy one 78p plus two 5p. This is in the main (sub-) post office.

2. It costs only about 25 euros to have post sent on by Deutsche Post for a year, but Deutsche Post does not recognize postcodes that are longer than 5 digits. Thus the first half of the UK postcode is isolated and identified by them as ‘Länderkürzel’. The county appears straight after my name, the house number after the street. This would all be OK if only the postcode were there. However, after a phone call they have ‘fudged it’ by putting the postcode after the town name – which of course is where it should be anyway.

No wonder the service is so cheap – it is self-annihilating.

St. Jude’s Day Storm/Orkantief “Christian”

It’s strange coming back a day after the storm that hit the UK and hearing on the German news how the same storm is described here.

In the UK the reference to wind speeds seemed more common, but on German TV I heard about 12 on the Beaufort scale. In the UK the storm, originally ‘probably the worst storm since the 1987 storm’, became ‘the St. Jude’s Day storm’, whereas in Germany it was ‘Orkantief Christian’.

The Daily Telegraph remarks that in the UK we don’t name storms:

Laura Young of the Met Office said it wasn’t them. “We don’t actually know where it has come from,” she said. “We don’t name storms in the UK. It could have been Americans who named it and it was reported. Or it could be someone here saw that it was St Jude’s day and decided to name it that.” Traditionally, our storms only merit a name once we have seen the damage they have caused, not before.

LATER NOTE: I forgot the most important thing: the German reports kept showing people whose houses and cars had been damaged by falling trees and saying whether they were insured and exactly how many thousand euros’ damage had been caused. In fact, practically every report on a road traffic accident in Germany is accompanied by an immediate and precise account of the financial loss. How do they know that? I’ve never heard it in the UK.

Lord Justice Leveson

The Leveson Report, the result of the Leveson enquiry on press law, has been published today. The Guardian summarizes:

Leveson said that his proposed new law would enshrine “for the first time” a “legal duty on the government to protect the freedom of the press”. It would also allow the new body to set up a low-cost libel and privacy tribunal to handle complaints instead of the courts – and provide “benefits in law” to those who signed up. Those who do not sign up would be denied the ability to reclaim the often substantial costs of litigation – even if they win – from complainants bringing libel, privacy or other media related actions.

The question now is: why do so many people who should know better think that Lord Justice Leveson is a lord?

A Lord Justice is a judge in the Court of Appeal.
Judges in the House of Lords were Lords. Now the court is the Supreme Court.

Thus Dame Anne Judith Rafferty is a Lord Justice of Appeal
(plural apparently Lord Justices).

IEL 9: The term “Common law”/Der Begriff “Common Law”

The meaning of the term “common law”

This term has at least four different meanings.

1. (in contrast to local law) The law common to the whole of England after 1066, as opposed to local law (which had existed before 1066 and continued to exist to some extent after 1066). This was the original meaning of the term. This common law was the law made in the King’s (or Queen’s) courts. E.g.

The common law was developed gradually over a period of time, beginning in 1066. Eventually it became a rigid system and ceased to develop to any great extent.

The term is only used in connection with legal history.

2. (in contrast to legislation) Law made by the decisions of judges, as opposed to legislation (statutes), which is law made by Parliament. This meaning arose because the law of England was often made by judges. Another expression with a similar meaning is “case law”: much of English law is case law. E.g.

Murder is a common-law offence ( = its definition is contained in an old report of a legal case where the judge defined the offence of murder in the course of giving his opinion). Theft, on the other hand, is a statutory offence (its definition is laid down in a statute, the Theft Act 1978).

3. (in contrast to equity) The law developed by the old common law courts, mainly between the 12th and 14th centuries, as opposed to equity, a separate legal system which grew up later, and was developed first by the Chancellor and later by the Court of Chancery). E.g.

The common law became so rigid that people used to apply to the Chancellor for a remedy. As a result, equity was developed. However, equity eventually became just as rigid as the common law (or: just as rigid as the law).

At law trusts were not recognized, but in equity they were.

Legal remedies, equitable remedies

4. (in contrast to other legal systems) The law of England and Wales and all other legal systems based on it. E.g.

The USA, England and Australia are all common-law countries

Note also the expression “a common-law wife” ( = the woman a man is living with, without being married). This term is used in England without any legal significance, but in some US states and in Scotland there is a form of legally recognized common law marriage (cohabitation with habit and repute).

Cat woman fined/Geldstrafe für Katzenmisshandlung

No doubt all readers saw the video of Mary Bale stroking a cat and then dumping it in a wheelie bin, whence it was reclaimed 15 hours later. Just in case not, here’s a short video with English soundtrack and German subtitles (from the Swiss 20 Minuten news programme).

Yesterday Mary Bale was fined (Independent report).

A woman who was caught on CCTV dumping a cat in a wheelie bin was fined £250 today after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the animal. …

Bale, who appeared close to tears, was fined £250 plus £15 victim surcharge and costs of £1,171.4p.

She was also banned from keeping or owning animals for the next five years.

District judge Caroline Goulborn told Bale the potential of the offence to have caused harm to the cat was substantial, but in reality it had not been hurt.

Just a bit on the legal details: A district judge is what used to be called a stipendiary magistrate. Most magistrates’ courts, which deal among other things with petty crime, have a bench of three lay magistrates, but in big towns there are court with just one stipendiary magistrate – now called a district judge – who is legally qualified and so doesn’t need legal advice from a clerk nor to withdraw and deliberate as a bench of magistrates do.

In England and Wales, prosecutions are made not only by the Crown Prosecution Service, but by other bodies and even individuals. If the CPS had prosecuted, the costs would have been about £1,100 less. This prosecution was by the RSPCA, and according to the Magistrate’s blog, Cash in the Kitty, the RSPCA just claimed all the costs it could think of.