Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Linguistic Provocation


















The hullaballoo over the climate- (never mind cop-) killing Kia "Provo" has set the Blether Region thinking about a much more "clear and present" danger to Unionist sensibilities — and one that predated the Provisional IRA itself.

Yes, we speak of Provo, Utah, a city of over 100,000 inhabitants and the third biggest in the Mormon-dominated territory.

Wikipedia states that the settlement, originally known as Fort Utah, "was renamed Provo in 1850 for Étienne Provost, an early French-Canadian trapper who arrived in the region in 1825", making it an early example of dodgy American "maneuvers" with le français.

Of course, where much of political discourse turns on competing notions of victimhood, as in Northern Ireland, people will unsurprisingly be quick to express, or simulate, their offence in cases of unintended associations.

One of the most interesting cases known to the Blether Region arose 20 years ago when English Eurosceptics were working themselves up into a lather about the euro. One bright spark, who had studied Greek, probably Ancient, and probably at public school, claimed that "euro" was similar to the Hellenic word for "urine". By chance the Blether Region was living on the European mainland at the time working as an English teacher and was able to ask a Greek-Australian colleague for his view on the matter. He had trouble getting his head round the Conservative's comments but eventually said that, for the Greek word ούρο to sound anything like "euro", it had to be given an initial English-style glide that was simply not present in the original.

The poor case put forward by the Europhobe had not stopped some enterprising journalist presenting his thesis to the Greeks, however — with one respondent producing the witty riposte that the English had a damn cheek, being, as everyone knew, the ones who called their currency "pee".

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