More on languages

· life ·

Language seems to be a bit of a theme this week. I noticed that Maciej Ceglowski[1] of Idlewords had written about a Quebec blogger who was threatened with a fine by the Quebec Office of the French Language because parts of his web page were in English. In other words, exactly the opposite problem that we have in the UK--too many languages on one page.

Idlewords is always a great read, and his article also provided two other points of interest. One was the following joke:

"What do you call a person who speaks two languages?" "Bilingual." "Three languages?" "Trilingual." "One language?" "American."

You could, of course substitute 'British' for 'American' without killing the punchline. The other thing that caught my attention was an offhand reference to the term on the gripping hand. This neatly solves a problem I regularly bump into when writing; you start off by saying, "on the one hand...", followed by "on the other hand...", only to realize--too late--that you've got a third thing to refer to but no more hands. Step forward "on the gripping hand"--sorted!

[1] Bearing in mind what I said about my lack of linguistic ability, I'm heartily thankful that you don't have to hear me try to pronounce his name.