Archiv für April 2012

The Street Jungle

26.04.2012

The act of driving a motor vehicle on a normal road could possibly be separated into three areas of activity.

They are: 1) controlling the vehicle itself; 2)  avoiding other vehicles; 3) reacting to road signs and symbols. Being successful with 1) is normally just a matter of sufficient practice. With 2) I have acted on the theory, that all other road users are semi-concentrated . This helps me to take counter measures , thus avoiding contact with these vehicles. 3) can be much more difficult.

Road signs are sometimes so close together, that they are simply confusing. Then, there are temporary signs put there, e.g. for road surface repairs.They often don’t agree with the permanent signs, in the same location. Still, other temporary signs are legible during daylight, but are not illuminated during the hours of darkness. Other, electronic signs, light up to tell you that you are driving too fast. O.K., so you slow your speed accordingly, at the same time noting a lot of your neighbouring cars, happily ignoring the signs. There’s no control. Very irritating!

And  then, in GB, at least, speed cameras that do not function. Recently, the Oxford traffic authorities changed the speed limit signs, on side-streets, from 30 m.p.h. (approx. 50 k.p.h.) to 20 m.p.h. To what purpose? Most of these side-streets are  so narrow, that to avoid cars already parked there, 10 – 15 m.p.h. is the fastest speed for any moving vehicle.

Can you imagine the cost of changing all these thousands of signs? And clearly, they are all useless. Maybe, under 2) above, I should have mentioned the growing numbers of drivers, who seldom, or never, use the directional signals on their cars. It’s enough to drive a sane driver to drink?

Maybe my observations are all wrong. If you think so, or have any other comments, please add them to this blog.

The Great Awakening!

26.04.2012

It happens regularly every year, but every year that it happens, it is a surprise. What am I talking about? Well, Spring, of course.

For most of us, Spring is that wonderful contrast to Winter. For the majority of us, Winter is a dark, grey, drab, cold, often wet, series of early evenings, which have been deserted by sunshine. We leave home in the morning, and arrive back again, in the darkness. Then, one day, probably late in the month of March, we suddenly realise that we’re not travelling in darkness any more, but in daylight. That house in the distance, that we’ve been used to seeing, over the last four or five months, is no longer visible. It’s no longer there, because, although so far, we’ve seen it through skeleton-like trees, these trees are now green with leaves, blocking our sight.

Of course, all this change isn’t quite so sudden as my words may suggest. But it, nevertheless is a relatively fast procedure. One morning, I heard a familiar sound from the nearby park. Familiar, but near forgotten. It was the sound of the park-keeper’s grass mowing machine. In England, a sure sign of Spring is the mass of golden daffodils. They are everywhere – along the road verges, in parks, in gardens, on highway roundabouts, in church yards. Yes, simply everywhere. Suddenly, Winter is long  forgotten.

That TV programme we have been used to watching inside darkened windows! One evening we realise that we are watching that same  programme, with the sun still shining through our windows. In the garden, what had, until now, been a dull patch of earth, has been transformed overnight, to green shoots, promising the return of the last year’s flowers, we had practically forgotten. And the little garden birds, which we saw so little of during the Winter, are now shooting around from tree to bush, like mini-size rockets. Their early morning song, becomes a crescendo, now that Spring is here. The whole countryside, has come out of hibernation, to gladden our hearts. We have come back from the darkness into our longed-for world of colour. It all sounds like paradise.

Oh well, back to the real world. The garden needs digging, fertilising, and the many other jobs, that a garden demands. That grass-cutting machine seems to become heavier, with each new Springtime. How nice it would be, just throwing snowballs at our  new snowman.

Glossary

drab - grey, ordinary

deserted -   ignored, left behind

used to familiar with

to mow -  to cut grass

daffodils similar to narcissus, which have a smaller, lighter coloured flower, than daffodils

verge -   roadside, vegetated earth

dull -   opposite of bright

Your Words are My Words

11.04.2012

It is my impression, that not a week passes without another English word being taken into the German language. Often, a German prefix and/or suffix is added. Personally, I think that the German language is complete enough in itself, not to need foreign word additions.

Originally, I believe, certain Germans added the occasional English word, to give the listener an impression of more sophistication. Then came the computer, with its internationally used English words and expressions. Added to these, was the increase in trading world wide, which incorporated worldwide English.

It is interesting to note how some of these words, that are absorbed into German, change their usage. For example, where English uses the word ‘bully’, German uses the word ‘to mob’. In English, the meaning of ‘mob’ is different from ‘bully’. Although those two words are very similar in their meanings, the one would very rarely be used in place of the other, for the identical meaning.

Of course, we could have lots of fun playing with the various uses of the word ‘mobile’ and ‘handy’, knowing that they are also used for one particular object – a form of telephone! This transcription of words from one language to another, is not new. We only have to look at the history of English to see how many foreign words have been absorbed. There are so many English adjectives which stem from French.

In many cases, one may see slight variations of meanings, as in the case of German/English. I suppose it is naturally expected, that there is usually a variation of pronunciation for the same word. Will this language cross-over trend lead us to become more nationally integrated, in the future? Time will tell. A suitable current English saying is, ‘Don’t hold your breath.’

Glossary:

slight -   small, minimal

prefix -   first syllable, before the stem part of a word

suffix -   last syllable after the stem